Alcohol's use in games can be as varied as the drinks themselves. It's most commonly used as a restorative item or pickup, but sometimes the games include a nod to the darker side of alcohol: the sickness and impairment that comes from drunkenness. As example, here are a few games in which the player can feel both positive and negative effects of alcohol.
Alcohol is a fairly common pickup in the BioShock series, as befitting Rapture's society of excess. Regardless of drink type, alcohol items restore the player's health while decreasing their EVE, the game's "magic" resource. It also has a temporary drunkenness effect if the player consumes several in a short space of time, blurring vision and reducing accuracy.
Both the first and second BioShock games include a gene tonic, Booze Hound, that causes alcohol to restore EVE instead of decreasing it. This tonic makes alcohol a potent all-around restorative, although it doesn't prevent the drunkenness effect.
Beer was included in the first Fable, with a drunkenness effect and eventual vomiting, and includes an achievement for getting oneself or a friend drunk. The second game greatly expanded upon the available alcoholic options. Drinks in that game have varying ranks based on quality, and provide some experience points along with the usual healing and "fatness" increase.
The third game did away with some of these effects, but its focus on ruling a kingdom allows the player to govern the use of alcohol for everyone. One option is even blanket prohibition, forcing taverns to sell fruit juice and healthy snacks.
Alcohol makes frequent appearances in the Witcher series as sellable items, gifts, or bases for potion crafting. The first Witcher, however, includes an additional way to use beer and wine in the form of drinking contests.
If Geralt manages to outdrink his rival, he is able to receive a variety of rewards, from cash and material prizes to valuable information. The risk, of course, is the blackout that occurs upon a loss, as well as the usual debilitating drunkenness effects — although these can be negated with a Wives' Tears potion.
The Dead Rising series can feel like an extended shopping trip. It's set across a variety of malls, entertainment areas, and sometimes whole cities, all completely filled with zombies. Survival means scavenging weapons, food, and yes, alcohol. Alcoholic pickups, wine in particular, are some of the strongest healing items in the series.
Newer players might prepare for a boss fight by filling their inventory with wine from the grocery store. In truth, however, this is a risky strategy, since the player character can't drink multiple bottles without consequence. Too many, and they will randomly freeze in place, throwing up onto the ground.
The Grand Theft Auto series has long revolved around vice, drinking included, but it wasn't until the fourth game that drunkenness became an in-series condition. In the game, protagonist Nico is able to go out for drinks with other characters.
This relationship-boosting activity is also included in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, but the new addition in 4 is the drawback: Nico will leave a bar suffering significant penalties, unable to walk straight, shoot straight, or even use the phone menu until he's sobered up. His condition even depends on his drinking partner; drinking with a girlfriend only leaves him slightly inebriated, but a male friend could leave him passing out drunk.
Since its original release in 2004, World of Warcraft players have been able to get completely smashed. Vendors across Azeroth sell varieties of alcohol, and drinking enough causes a range of effects. A drifting camera and unsteady movement are the most obvious consequences, but there are other, lesser known penalties.
Drunk players' text chats are altered to look slurred, and they perceive enemies as being weaker than they really are, encouraging reckless behavior. Although regular alcohol in Warcraft doesn't usually include any benefits, there's a dedicated "Brewmaster" specialization for the Monk class that uses "brew" to gain powerful defensive skills.
Part of what makes this space-based mining game great is its embrace of traditional dwarven values, such as the love of gold and precious minerals, and, of course, the love of strong drink. Between missions, players have the option to order a round from the station's bar, including a variety of drinks with strange effects.
Unlockable beers can freeze the drinkers solid, or cause them to randomly detonate, sending them flying around the station. These effects are usually pointless, but the option to order drinks for the whole mining team adds a great deal to the game's flavor — as long as players don't start the next mission while drunk.
In the Fallout series, alcohol has long been a useful consumable. It comes in several varieties and brands, and tends to increase strength and health while decreasing intelligence and perception, depending on the specific drink.
Fallout 76, however, takes the application of alcohol even further. One major update added "Nuka-Shine," an extremely potent beverage that can cause the player to black out and reawaken in a random location on the map. This same update added brewing stations and numerous recipes, allowing players to make several bottles of the stuff.
As any pirate will attest to, grog is an essential part of seafaring life. In Sea of Thieves, players can fill up their ever-present mugs at any grog dispensary, and have a drink. Even a little grog will cause impairment, making ship operation more difficult, while offering no actual benefit.
Just as in Deep Rock Galactic, having the option to drink is itself an important element of game flavor. It's also possible to drink oneself into sickness, and the resulting vomit can be stored in a bucket and used later as a projectile weapon.
The long-running Yakuza series is closely tied to alcohol. Series creator Toshihiro Nagoshi based much of the games off of his own experiences going out drinking late at night. The protagonists across the series can always take a break from the main plot to visit a variety of bars, with different bonuses and penalties depending on the game.
Sometimes individual drinks will give experience points, other times ordering one of each will grant the player a completion bonus. The effects of drunkenness vary from game to game, but their most common effects are raising the gain of the Heat gauge, allowing for more frequent power attacks and attracting enemies' attention, forcing the player to get in drunken brawls.