On Memorial Day weekend, return to video games you've put aside recently

Mike Snider and Brett Molina

Memorial Day is a day to remember those in the military who have died serving our country.

The three-day weekend also unofficially marks the start of summer, which for many means barbecues or parties – or catching up with some recent video game releases you've had to put aside in recent weeks.

Our choices include "Overwatch," which celebrates its third anniversary, "Days Gone," the PlayStation thriller released last month, and "The Division 2," a massive action game out in March.

Overwatch

Three years in, Blizzard Entertainment's hero-centric first-person shooter continues to thrive. On Tuesday, "Overwatch" (available on PC, PS4 and Xbox One) launched its Anniversary 2019 event to commemorate the video game's third anniversary. As with previous years, Overwatch Anniversary will introduce new skins for characters, such as Orbital Pharah sporting an astronaut suit and Gargoyle Winston resembling a stone statue. Players also get access to new stickers, emotes and more.

New to "Overwatch" or haven't played in a while? Here are a couple of quick tips:

Embrace training. There are 30 heroes in the game, divided between tank, support and damage roles. Take time to get to know them – or reacquaint yourself with them – so you know what characters fit best with your play style.

Start small. Find 1-2 characters in each role that you prefer and attempt to master their skill sets. Then when you get comfortable, you can branch out. The more you know about every character, the faster you can learn their strengths and weaknesses.

Play as a unit. Don't try to do everything alone or you will get burned time and again. Those voice commands alerting allies where to group up or when you need to heal are valuable. Use them.

Fortnite

In case you missed it, the videogame-turned-pop-culture-phenomenon kicked off its ninth season earlier this month. Last season concluded with a massive volcanic eruption, opening up new areas including the Mega Mall (where Retail Row used to live) and Neo Tilted, previously known as Tilted Towers. The other big change: slipstreams. The latest mode of transport lets players pop inside a wind tunnel and vault themselves toward further destinations. 

'Fortnite' Season 9: Everything you need to know

Days Gone

There's still plenty to explore in this PlayStation 4 exclusive starring main character Deacon St. John who, along with his pal and former motorcycle gang member "Boozer," has survived a global pandemic. 

In all, this open-world action-adventure ($59.99-up, rated Mature for ages 17-up) has about 60 hours of engagement – the main story involves about 30 hours; additional missions, another 30 hours.

'Days Gone': A thrilling and scary ride through the post-apocalypse

Here's some tips we've culled from the game's developers at Bend Studio to help you better survive your return to this fictitious Pacific Northwest populated by zombie-like transformed humans called "freakers."

Park your bike strategically. Not only do you need it for a quick escape, but you can buy upgrades to store ammo on your bike for easy access during a fight, and you can save your game at the bike.

Find the NERO sites. These locations, created by the National Emergency Response Organization, have upgrades including injectors that will increase your health, stamina, and focus, each of which helps you survive the increasing challenges.

Shop wisely. Learn the strengths of the merchants in each camp. Some camps have better mechanics for bike upgrades, while others have more weapon upgrade options. You can earn trust and credits with camp merchants by performing camp jobs, as well as clearing infestation zones, ambush camps, and hordes in their region.

The Division 2

Now is a good time to re-engage with Ubisoft’s third-person action and role-playing game ($60-up, ages 17-up, for Microsoft Xbox One, Sony PlayStation 4, and Windows PCs). A new eight-player raid mission called “Operation Dark Hours,” just became available for those who have reached level 30 and finished the main game. (Note: if you haven't, there's 40-plus hours in the main game to play.)

The game’s backstory: Seven months ago, a virus passed via U.S. currency during Black Friday has killed much of the population. You are part of a team of sleeper agents with the Strategic Homeland Division mobilized to maintain order and protect surviving civilians.

For "Operation Dark Hours," you need to team up to force your adversaries the Black Tusk from the Washington National Airport.

'The Division 2': Tom Clancy video game brings a battered Washington, D.C., to life

Not a lot of experience teaming up? You can join or create a clan within the game, “as many clans would not require much social interaction,” said Johan Lindholm, the community manager for Massive Entertainment, the Ubisoft studio that developed the game, in an email exchange.

“Clans primarily exist in 'The Division 2' to enable likeminded people to enjoy their favorite type of content together," he said. "A clan leader or event organizer would commonly ask for players who are interested joining them and the player would only need to notify them that they are interested, or simply join the group via the in-game menu.”

Another option – use the game’s official Discord server, where you can chat with other players while in the game. ”We regularly see raid groups calling for additional group members to take on the raid there, and I feel that many introverts would feel comfortable with that, as they do not have to take the first step in the social interaction,” Lindholm said.

Follow USA TODAY reporters Brett Molina & Mike Snider on Twitter: @brettmolina23@MikeSnider.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: On Memorial Day weekend, return to video games you've put aside recently