This has been a big year for new video games, many of which debuted this fall—perfect timing for holiday gifts. There are titles for everyone, from seasoned gamers looking for new challenges to children who play with their families.
With so many games to sort through, it can seem daunting to choose the best gift. The following guide will help sort through the options so that whatever your select, the gamer in your life will be ecstatic.
Virtual reality in video games has struggled to catch on with the public, but for it to have any chance, there must be titles worth of playing. Astro Bot is the first quality original game for a VR platform, marking a departure from many previous efforts that were remakes or add-ons to existing franchises. It’s a fun game that children and adults can easily enjoy. It’s a platformer, a type of video game that involves moving around an area, avoiding obstacles and often trying to capture prizes, coins, or something similar (think Mario Odyssey or Little Big Planet as examples) and that is challenging to anyone trying to complete every facet. To play the game, though, you’ll need to buy the PlayStation VR kit, which sells for $300 and typically includes one or two games, to use with your PlayStation 4.
Nintendo Labo: Vehicle Kit
Many people were skeptical when Nintendo announced a new video game, Labo Kit, for the Switch last year that incorporates physical cardboard into the mix. Users follow on-screen directions to turn the cardboard pieces into larger toys, like a small piano or a steering wheel. Despite the doubts, Labo Kit turned out to be a hit with young players.
Hoping to build on that success, Nintendo’s new Vehicle Kit arrives with a more fleshed-out feel. The Toy-Cons, the finished objects that players build, feel more cohesive. Players use each one in the game’s open-world as they explore a whole area rather than being guided through certain sections. There are also side games that can be enjoyed in multiplayer format, like a racing and fighting game.
To actually play with others, you’ll either need another Toy-Con set, or you can build your own using your own supplies. The materials you use can be anything, but that will likely prove more difficult as the some Toy-Cons are complicated to build. Overall, the new Labo Kit is better geared to kids ages 6 to 12, but it may fall flat with teenagers and older.
Super Mario Party
Nintendo Switch makes group play more of a priority than other consoles, so it was only a matter of time before Super Mario Party debuted on the new platform. You play with others in the same room while going around a board within the game and trying to collect stars. The movement on the board itself is similar to a traditional board game like Monopoly, but in between each round, a random mini-game (there are 80 mini-games in total) is chosen. Playing the mini-games allows you to get coins, which are used to buy stars or items that can give your player an advantage or give the other players a disadvantage. The mini-games range from soccer matches to tug-of-war to puzzles that require a team effort. The mini-games can also be played on demand. It’s enough to get competition going as a party game and can serve as a fun time for families.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
The latest Assassin’s Creed is a tour de force that creates a larger world and gives players more ways influence the game. It’s an action-adventure role-playing game in which you play as a mercenary in ancient Greece. Fans of last year’s Assassin’s Creed: Origins title likely won’t be disappointed. Odyssey is set even earlier in the timeline than other Assassin’s Creed games including Origins, and moves further from the eponymous Assassin Order, the organized group of assassins that the games follow. Origins was a prequel to the franchise, and Odyssey’s story takes place before the Assassin Order even exists. However, that early timeline makes the game a bit easier to pick up if you haven’t played the other Assassin’s Creed titles since you won’t need to know as much history to follow along. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is playable on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Microsoft Windows.
Insomniac Games captures some of the superhero fervor of the many superhero movies that premiered over last few years with this PlayStation exclusive. However, it’s not a continuation or adaptation of any of the recent Spider-Man films. In this storyline, Peter Parker, the face behind Spider Man’s superhero mask, has had his powers for a few years now and finds himself with a greater struggle in his professional life. Parker’s long-time love interest Mary Jane Watson is also playable. The action-adventure game has other features like its “selfie mode,” which players can use to post in-game pictures of characters to social media.
Red Dead Redemption 2
You may have heard of this game, which had the biggest opening weekend—a whopping $725 million—in all of entertainment of all time—bigger than any other games, albums, and movies. If you were not among those who bought Red Dead Redemption 2 when it first came out, it’s a massive role-playing action-adventure game including hunting and engage in shootouts, to make playing enjoyable for quite a while.
Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee!
This game is for younger fans, a strategy designed to hook them onto Pokémon franchise, but it’s not to be overlooked. Fans of the first Pokémon games (Red, Blue, and Yellow) will enjoy references to old characters and stories without straying too far from most of the preceding Pokémon’s games. One consideration before buying the Switch game is whether to buy the Pokéball Plus, which adds a unique motion control for catching Pokemon and unlocks the legendary pokémon Mew in the game. The cost for the base game is $60, but jumps to $100 with the Pokéball Plus.
Cost: $59.99, $99.99 with the Pokéball Plus bundle
The Wasteland (the name for the post-nuclear apocalyptic U.S.A. landscape that the Fallout games are set in) goes back in time with Fallout 76. This time the game is set shortly after the bomb drops, and players can explore what’s left of West Virginia, fight other players, and build C.A.M.P. sites (which stands for Construction and Assembly Mobile Platform) for yourself or that others can use.
It’s also the franchise’s first online multiplayer game. There’s less emphasis on a single story, but it’s still a role-playing game that is similar to other Fallout games. You still fight other characters (shooting or with melee weapons), and you can still suit up in Power Armor (a set of heavy-duty armor that enhances strength, protection, and can offer other benefits).
It’s the first Fallout game that allows people to play together and interact. You don’t have to know someone to interact with them in the game, but getting a group of friends together will likely enhance the experience. Fallout 76 is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows.
While the Switch is certainly Nintendo’s crown jewel these days, Nintendo’s handheld lineup shouldn’t be overlooked. The 2DS and 3DS lineup (the 2DS plays the same 3DS games but without the 3D feature) debuted way back in 2011, but Nintendo has continuously updated the line, most recently redesigning the 2DS last year. It’s half the price of the Switch and has a solid collection of “Nintendo Selects” titles, popular classic games priced at $20. New games, like a remake of Luigi’s Mansion, itself a remake of the GameCube game of the same name, are also available, making it a solid choice for younger or more casual players who haven’t picked up a 2DS (or 3DS) before.