Hey! Christmas is nearly here! And you want to buy someone in your life the latest console or game, right? Well, don't worry, our gift guide is here to provide ideas and advice on how to make it a very merry Christmas, this year. Jump in using our quick links below, or read on.
Consoles and Hardware
Some of the most exciting consoles remain difficult to get at the moment due to a global chip shortage - damn you bitcoin! But if you're looking to buy someone a console this Christmas, here are your choices.
Arguably the most hot ticket item in games this holiday season, the PS5 is the follow up to the wildly successful PS4 console and remains difficult to find in stores. If you're after one, your best bet is to sign up for a stock checking service or app that sends you notifications when stock becomes available - but act fast, you'll only have a few minutes before it's bought up by your shopping rivals! Play teamer Ben Joy recommends the Hotstock app, which is free and available on Android and iOS.
Xbox Series X
PS5's main rival and also difficult to come by, the Series X is the most powerful Xbox ever made - and you will see a few different kinds of Xbox in online store listings, so if your recipient is after the best of the best, make sure you're looking for the Series X edition. Like it's PlayStation counterpart, stock is so limited that your best bet is to use stock checking services (like Hotstock on Android and iOS) to let you know when they become available. And act fast!
Xbox Series S
The Series X's less powerful little brother is a lot easier to find, and a lot cheaper. Built for the casual Xbox fan, this console plays all the latest games, just at a lower resolution - you won't even notice unless your TV is 4K - and for £200 less. Not a bad deal at all. One other caveat to consider is that the Series S doesn't have a disk drive, so there's no point buying physical copies of games for it. You can find the Series S at a number of major retailers.
For wholesome games, family fun, and portability, you need look no further than the Nintendo Switch. The platform may not be as new as the latest offerings from Sony or Microsoft but the Switch is still a fantastic console and offers a lot, and we did get a new upgraded edition this year.
You've got a few choices when it comes to the Switch - the newest model is called the Nintendo Switch OLED and boasts a bigger, brighter screen. If your gift recipient wants the best Switch available, this is the one. It's available at most major retailers, but note that at times, Switch consoles do sell out for odd weekends, so don't leave it too long.
If your family member/partner/friend isn't that bothered about the pixel density and screen resolution, the classic Switch will save you a bit of money. Or, as a real budget option, you could opt for the Nintendo Switch Lite, which is significantly cheaper. However, the Lite is handheld only, which means some games aren't supported, and you won't be able to dock it to play on your TV at home like you can with the others.
The Oculus Quest 2, now hastily rebranded as the Meta Quest in the wake of Facebook's rebranding efforts, is really the go-to name in affordable home VR. If you'd like to give the gift of virtual reality, and you can stomach giving money to Mark Zuckerburg, then this is the gift to go for. Other VR options, such as the Valve Index and Vive Pro 2, are more technically comprehensive but will set you back a lot (a LOT) more money.
There are some games which are big gifts basically every year. Titles like FIFA 22 and Call of Duty: Vanguard are household names which you might see on a number of Christmas lists, and are available for all major platforms. You'll also find licensed titles, like the surprisingly good Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, and sequels to big franchises, like Far Cry 6, on any platform of your choice. But let's take a closer look at some of the other titles the major consoles have to offer!
For the PlayStation fan
The PlayStation brand has always been synonymous with great games, and there's a few in particular which would make great gifts. Let's take a look!
One of the most inventive shooters of the current generation, Deathloop is one of the most wanted games for the PlayStation 5. It's not currently available on any other console, and really takes advantage of the PS5's strengths. It is also available on PC if you think someone would love it but you just can't find one of those pesky PlayStations!
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
One of the best platformers of the year and also an extremely polished third person action title in it's own right, the latest Rachet & Clank is exclusively available for the PlayStation 5 and is a great showcase for the console. Plus, if you're buying for someone on the younger side, this is less violent than the alternatives!
For the PS5 gamer who wants a real challenge. Returnal offers fantastic visuals and punishing difficulty, rewarding players who practice the deadly combat again and again until they have become masters.
Looking for games for the PlayStation 4, or something different for the PS5? For shooters, try Call of Duty: Vanguard or Battlefield 2042. For sports fans, try FIFA 22 or Riders Republic. Looking for something less obvious? Try Jurassic World Evolution 2, Hitman 3 or Resident Evil Village.
For the Xbox fan
Buying games as gifts on Xbox has become a little trickier in the last couple of years, thanks to the rise of Xbox Game Pass. It's a subscription service, like Netflix or Spotify, that gives users access to a huge number of games. This means, in the same way that DVDs have become a bit rubbish to give as a gift to someone who could watch the film on Netflix, giving people games has become a minefield - they could already technically be able to play it for no additional cost!
You can gift people Game Pass in the form of digital codes - it comes in a few different tiers, but Game Pass Ultimate is the best value for money and best gift to receive for an Xbox gamer who hasn't tried it yet, or simply wants to extend their current subscription.
Let's take a look at some of the big games this holiday season!
Undoubtedly the biggest title for Xbox this Christmas, Halo Infinite is the latest game in the Halo franchise which is synonymous with Xbox consoles. This time around, the multiplayer is free to play, so if you buy the game you're buying the single player campaign only. It's also included on Xbox Game Pass (see above), so don't buy it for someone who has that already! But if your recipient doesn't use Game Pass and likes first person shooters, this is the blockbuster title they could be looking for. It launches on December 8th.
Forza Horizon 5
The best rated new game of the generation so far, Forza Horizon 5 is the perfect game for anyone who likes cars, racing, beautiful graphics, or even just things that are fun. It's included on Xbox Game Pass, so don't buy it for someone who has that already, but if your recipient doesn't use Game Pass, you can't go wrong with a title that is this polished. ¡Viva Forza!
For fans of 3D platforming games (things like Crash Bandicoot or Mario), Psychonauts 2 is an inventive, original ride that lets players jump, swing, and punch their way through the minds of a cast of colourful characters. It's included with Game Pass, so don't buy it for someone who has that already, but for gamers who like to play things outside the traditional realms of shooting and racing, this is a great option. Thanks to a complicated development history, you can also get Psychonauts 2 for the PlayStation 4!
Looking for games that aren't on Game Pass? For shooters, try Call of Duty: Vanguard or Battlefield 2042. For sports fans, try FIFA 22 or Riders Republic. Looking for something less obvious? Try Jurassic World Evolution 2, Hitman 3 or Resident Evil Village.
For the Nintendo fan
The Nintendo Switch is home to an incredible stable of content, much of which is unique to the Switch. Many of these games also fill niches that simply aren't well served on other consoles, including motion controls and couch co-op.
Here's our top three Switch titles for this Christmas.
Warioware: Get It Together!
If there's one thing Nintendo does well, it's create experiences that simply couldn't exist on other consoles. One of this year's best is the new Warioware, which pits players against hundreds of lightning quick "microgames". Players can go it alone or bring a friend and play together. Expect chaos.
Pokémon: Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl
If you've got a millennial gamer to buy for, chances are they've got some nostalgia for Pokémon. There's a lot of Poké-content available on the Switch, including the new-ish Sword and Shield editions, and the remade classic Let's Go Pikachu!
The latest to hit store shelves are Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl - two remasters of older titles Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. Don't get confused between Diamond and Pearl, they're the same game with a few minimal differences and it doesn't really matter which one you get!
If your favourite Pokémon fan already has the main games they want, don't forget there's also New Pokémon Snap!
While most of Nintendo's software lineup is fun for the whole family, they have games that appeal to hardcore gamers too. For the best of the bunch in 2021, look no further than Metroid Dread, which will delight retro gamers and anyone looking for a real challenge.
Looking for something else? Dancers will enjoy Just Dance 2022, while the whole family can get involved with Mario Party Superstars. Budding coders may enjoy Game Builder Garage, and fans of roleplaying will find lots of love in Shin Megami Tensei V.
For the PC gamer
No machine can boast as many games as the PC. So your options for the PC gamer in your life are pretty vast. One of our PS5 recommendations, Deathloop, is also available on PC. And thanks to Microsoft's renewed efforts to claim a slice of the PC gaming market, you can also get all of our Xbox recommendations on PC. That means Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5 and Psychonauts 2 are all great on a decent spec Windows computer, and you can even get Game Pass for PC. Our two extra recommendations will focus on truly unique PC experiences. Let's go!
For gamers who seek quirky experiences, Inscryption is both an affordable gift and a game which defies conventional explanation. It's a card game, escape room, and a spooky horror story and... Well, suffice to say, if you're looking for a gift for a gamer who likes to try new and unusual things, you could do a lot worse than this. If you're looking for other strange gems, consider Loop Hero or Death's Door.
For fans of RPGs (especially things like Dungeons and Dragons), there's no game more exciting right now than the videogame adaption of Gloomhaven. It's a complex, rich board game that has been translated into a turn-based, tactical game that lets players crawl through dungeons to their heart's content. If your recipient already has Gloomhaven or prefers a different vibe, Wildermyth offers dynamic storytelling while New World is the massively multiplayer game of the moment.
For that shiny new VR headset
"Hey, this headset is pretty cool. Now, what do I play on it?" - Every new VR owner
If you've taken the plunge on VR, or know someone who has, here are the titles worth your attention this holiday season.
Resident Evil 4 VR
A stunning remake of a beloved horror classic, this is Resident Evil 4 as you've never played before. It's an absolutely essential purchase for the Quest 2, as long as you can stomach the scares. At time of writing, it's exclusive to the Quest 2 hardware.
It may be a year old, but Half-Life: Alyx is still one of the best showcases for virtual reality. Best of all, it works on most VR headsets rather than being tied to specific hardware, so if you're not sure what kit your friend has but they haven't tried Alyx, you can buy this with some confidence.
As well as being available to play traditionally on PC or console, the PS4 version of Hitman 3 has a virtual reality mode which works with PSVR. PC players don't have long to wait though - support for VR on PC is being added in January, so it makes a good gift for VR fan who wants to have it ready to go as soon as the update drops
Accessories and Other Stuff
Some gamers buy all their own games, and make themselves tricky to buy for. Fear not! We have other ideas.
Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2
Controllers make all the difference. Just ask anyone who had to use the designated "Player 3" controller at a child's birthday party. Xbox consoles come with pretty good controllers, but they also offer these premium ones, which are better for pulling off pro gamer moves. And if that pricepoint is too spicy, you can also make a great gift using the Design Lab to create a custom controller in a unique colour combination. All Xbox controllers also work on PC.
Razer BlackShark V2 Pro
The current best in terms of PC wireless headsets, this puppy will have your gamer friend barking out orders and receiving information from teammates in crystal clear audio. If you're looking for a wired option on PC, try the Corsair HS60 Haptic (which is USB).
The gift options don't stop there, especially on PC. A gaming mouse, mouse mats, and keyboards all make great gifts. Retro fans will love Nintendo themed trinkets such as this mushroom light and the Zelda Game and Watch. For avid readers, books such as Blood, Sweat and Pixels by Jason Shreier and Console Wars by Blake Harris make entertaining reads that pull back the curtain on the games industry.
Whatever you buy or don't buy, remember that the real magic of the holidays isn't button mashing, it's spending time with the people you care about - and letting them know you've been thinking about them. If you're reading this, you're halfway there already. Good luck out there, and have a great Christmas!