We’re getting down to the wire when it comes to holiday gift giving, which may have gotten a bit more complicated in 2020 for a variety of reasons. Especially when it comes to gaming. The year in games has been filled with delays and stock issues as well as a bunch of fun titles that have eaten up endless hours of social distancing and nights indoors.
So what’s left for the holiday season? Maybe you’re shopping for someone who has spent much of the year devouring all the biggest new games on the market and you’re wondering how to buy something for them they don’t have. Or you’re looking to upgrade their gear and give them something unique that will stand out in the crowd of streamers and gaming setups. Better yet, you’re looking for something nice for yours truly after what’s been a truly weird year.
Whether it’s the latest in video games, tabletop games or the accessories to make it all a reality, we’ve got you covered.
Part 1 — The Hardware
A Next-Gen Console
Listen, if you can get your hands on a PlayStation 5 or an Xbox Series X or Series S to give as a gift, you have won the quarantine holidays. Perhaps this is more about the status of having next-gen console at this point because, quite frankly, the killer app making it a necessary purchase simply isn’t there yet. But if you’re hoping to get an upgraded Madden experience or are trying to play Cyberpunk 2077 with as few crashes as possible, a next-gen console is certainly nice to have.
Whether you are willing to queue up on websites to get it or just hit StockX to snag one off the secondary market, well, that’s between you and your bank account. But there are plenty of things you can buy without needing the latest and greatest below this. That’s what you’re looking here for, anyway. Just have to get the basics out of the way.
This is not the time to get a PlayStation 4 of a last-gen Xbox no matter what kind of deal you can get. And a new Nintendo console is likely coming in 2021. But there’s a long winter ahead, and unlike the early days of quarantine you can actually get a Switch for a decent price. It’s a great, portable console for when you can travel again and has a huge indie library that makes it a great gaming device for the coming months and the jet-setting future you will dream of instead of sugar plum fairies this holiday season. There’s also a much better chance you can actually snag that Animal Crossing Switch bundle your loved one had their eye on but couldn’t snag.
Part 2 — Accessories
Razer Gaming Headsets And Peripherals
You may have missed out on the A Bathing Ape collaboration, but word on the street is that might return in stock soon. If you’re looking for something a little more substance than style, the Kaira Pro is designed for the Xbox and is almost certainly an upgrade over your current setup especially if, like me, you held onto the one you got with your Xbox One for far too long.
Mavix Gaming Chairs
Here’s just some good advice in general: buy a gaming chair. They’re wildly comfortable, and in an age where having a nice place to sit for long hours at home is suddenly much more important, upgrading your home office with a gaming chair might actually be a more reasonable (and cheaper) option than trying to replicate the chair you had that might still be trapped in your actual office.
Mavix is a newer brand on the market, but I really like that they have the comfort and support options of a gaming chair without looking like it belongs inside an F1 car or on the touchline of a soccer match in Europe. Compared to office chair prices, this is a good way to upgrade for someone in the market to make their neck and back feel a whole lot better at the end of the day.
Being at home for so long leads to a lot of necessity meet mother of invention moments. One of these was wanting to bring the live gaming event atmosphere back to the house. And now with any number of decent, inexpensive portable projectors, any blank wall at night, and some sort of portable audio device, all you need is your system and a long extension cord and you’ve got yourself a big screen whether you’re playing Among Us, WarZone, or your favorite retro emulator. The Pill is slick because the sound carries outdoors and has enough bass to still feel like your soundbar, the battery life is strong, and (becoming rarer these days) it features a 3.5mm port, allowing for seamless connecting to some of the projectors that don’t yet offer bluetooth.
And it’s good at its normal job – playing music at a reasonable volume – too.
Part 3 — Games
The AAA Hits
If you know for sure someone hasn’t already bought these, add them to their collection and breathe easy knowing these are easy holiday wins.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
This was the game that got many through what was a difficult spring, but if someone you love is on the fence about traveling to an island and building a new home with some animal friends, why don’t you save them the purchase anxiety and gift them that instead. They’ll thank you for it.
Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2
This is one of the few remakes that not only makes for a complete, extremely satisfying game but is at a great price point. It’s as fun as you remember, the updated soundtrack is still fantastic and the jolt of nostalgia alone is worth the space on your console’s hard drive.
The Last of Us Part II
This is perhaps not the cheeriest of games in what’s been a tough year, but it’s the game that got more hype than nearly any other and managed to live up to it this year.
Chill Nintendo Switch Games
Your loved one probably has all the big games that make the Switch great. Now get them some smaller, indie titles to show them that you care.
It’s kinda like video game Carcassonne, except you’re an adorable little girl flipping tiles around in a puzzle game that doubles as a fun island-hopping adventure.
What The Golf?
A very silly golf-ish game full of laughs and replay value. It’s a ‘try it once and you’re hooked’ game that’s worth every penny.
Kentucky Route Zero
Act 5 of this game finally closed out the saga in 2020, and a full Console Edition is a great way to introduce new or even experienced KRZ gamers back to the complete story. It’s a wonderful, touching ride with great music and visuals. A must-play.
OK, so this one isn’t so chill. But it is a wildly good roguelike, and certainly worthy of inclusion here. Even people who don’t like roguelikes like Hades.
Part 4 — Tabletop Gaming
We’ve already laid out the best two-player games for life in quarantine, but there are plenty of other games and accessories perfect for holiday gift giving. And not just more dice.
Rick and Morty Dungeons and Dragons
If you’re looking for an easy way into Dungeons and Dragons or perhaps are an experienced RPG player looking to change things up, the Rick and Morty-themed starter set is a great choice. It makes for funny campaigns, and unexpected storylines and offers a bit of modern flexibility and unpredictability while being a very well-designed dungeon crawl.
I’ve successfully played through this during quarantine with friends in several states, and it’s sparked a really fun homebrew campaign with no end in sight. The campaign has a bunch of nice little references to the show, but
Designed by noted game designer Richard Garfield (Magic: The Gathering, King of Tokyo) and written by Jeopardy! GOAT Ken Jennings, this trivia party game manages to make trivia fun and competitive no matter how much otherwise useless knowledge you may or may not have in your head somewhere. It’s quick, offers a variety of questions and keeps even reluctant gamers engaged. Easy to play and learn but tough to master, it’s an easy upgrade for anyone who thinks Trivial Pursuit is the end all, be all of trivia games.
Hunt A Killer
This subscription service tabletop game puts you (and maybe a companion) at the center of a six-episode mystery that must be solved using clues found in the items, documents and other things included in each box. It’s kind of like an escape room, or an episodic tabletop experience where your wits and investigative skills determine whether you can figure out the whodunit.
Each month costs $25, but it’s surprisingly addicting and certainly something to look forward to for tabletop gamers who like puzzles and interactive experiences. The company has two different versions: a mystery subscription and a newer Blair Witch-inspired horror game that launched earlier in 2020. It’s a great last-minute gift idea, and the company’s website has clues and recaps to help struggling sleuths along if they get stuck.
IPEVO Document Camera
If you’re tired of Zoom happy hours and know someone who misses hosting game nights, there’s a pretty good chance you can get some of those dust-gathering games off the shelf with the right camera setup. Cooperative games like Pandemic work great with an overhead document camera and a little creativity, and this plug-and-play option in particular is relatively affordable while offering some flexibility to get the right angle on games. Everything is a little bit harder in 2020, but this guy made things just a bit better.
Part 5 — Other
The Untitled Goose Game Soundtrack
The soundtrack from the indie darling of 2019 is double-grooved so the Debussy tracks abruptly skip and jump around just like in the honk-filled and hilarious game. It’s a neat gift for the bird who truly has everything.