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There have never been more options when it comes to video games. But with all those options comes the paradox of choice. Just like with streaming services and prestige television, when it comes to gaming it can be hard to know what to pick and where to start when it comes to spending your money and your time. And when you’re buying for someone else, you want to stick the landing.
With the embarrassment of riches that is modern gaming, finding the best of the best requires help. Which games from big publishers are worth buying and will keep you hooked this holiday season? What indie title is worth the hype? And in a landscape rife with accessories destined to sit in a drawer, which dongle is actually useful?
We’ve got you covered with some of our favorite titles, accessories and other gaming-related gifts this holiday season. Gifts sure to satisfy your biggest gamers of all ages without leaving you broke.
Untitled Goose Game
Untitled Goose Game was teased earlier in 2019 and, upon a September release, immediately became a viral darling. And for good reason. It’s a hilarious indie title from Australian developer House House, which used Debussy piano bits to create a minimalist soundtrack that adds to the game’s charm. Untitled Goose Game is far from an epic take, but it’s an extremely funny one that’s perfect for a weekend where you need to be a terrible, terrible goose.
If you have a console, there’s an 8bitdo controller you can connect to it via Bluetooth. These work great, especially if you want to play retro games on your Switch or PC. From replicas of retro designs, color and all, to modern versions that will match your favorite Switch controller, there’s a lot to like at a great price here.
Super Mario Maker 2
Super Mario Maker was less a game and more a tool to create something that’s usually offered in a game, and the 2019 sequel to the original has even more to offer on that end. The story mode is a taste of what’s possible with the game’s level creation tools, which span some original Super Mario territory and extend into what the game looks like on the Wii U.
This is a great game if you are extremely creative, need a gift for someone who can occupy themselves making increasingly difficult levels or just want to pay for an existential crisis.
This is a movie almost entirely about fan service, but is absolutely worked for gamers. Seeing the Pokemon world brought to life was tremendous, even if the third act made about as much sense as the trailer for Death Stranding. With Pokemon Sword and Shield set to hit consoles in mid-November you should also make sure Pokemon fans have a movie to put on while they go catch ’em all once again.
Jackbox Party Pack 6
This is an easy pick because it’s brand new and available on basically every platform imaginable. The local multiplayer party game pack has a ton of replay value and improves on the archetypes of its earlier titles. Joke Boat is a stand-up mad libs game and a great way to get laughs with friends. Trivia Murder Party 2 is the sequel to a fan favorite trivia minigame from earlier in the series, while Press The Button is a Werewolf-style alien detection game with a mix of drawing, writing, and deception.
With the right group, this is the life of the party.
Ring Fit Adventure
Like the Wii and its Wii Fit before it, the Nintendo Switch finally has a workout accessory in a flexible, ring-shaped device that takes you through a variety of games with its first companion title, Ring Fit Adventure. If you have a Switch Lite you’re out of luck here, as you need detachable JoyCons to strap to the ring and your thigh to track your movements. But if you’re looking for a way to work out this winter without leaving your house, there are certainly less adventurous options.
tomtoc Switch Cases
The Switch is the device most in need of accessories because of how portable it is, and this is one that solves a lot of those issues. A good, thin Switch case is hard to nail down, but these form-fitting and durable cases are great whether they’re for just the console or some other accessories like a pro controller.
Available on the Switch and PC, this jazz-filled romp is bright and brutal and a whole mess of fun to play. Take your ape through various levels to freedom at the expense of some very bloody guards. The secret to a good indie title is simple controls and a surprising amount of depth to discover once you master them, and Ape Out has all that and much more.
Blood Sweat And Pixels
Making a video game, whether an indie or a AAA title backed by millions, is hard. Game design is full of long hours, grueling deadlines and a lot of pressure to please the public. And the stories behind the development of those games are fascinating, especially if a title turns into a disaster. Jason Schreier’s 2017 title details all that and more, and it’s a fascinating look at the modern gaming industry and titles like Stardew Valley, Destiny and the problems facing the future of video games.
The Outer Worlds
The most recent title on the list, the sci-fi epic is still getting explored by RPG fans but has a lot to offer. The character-building is impressive in its own right, and from there it’s truly up to you to build your own story. It doesn’t feature a Hudson News on the moon, but it’s a fascinating look at capitalism in space that you’ll almost certainly play for a lot longer than Ad Astra.
The Outer Wilds
This beautiful space epic finally hit the Xbox One and Playstation 4 this fall, just before the above title hit shelves as well. We’re going to make this simple: they’re not the same game but both are very good. Get both.