The Best Video Games to Gift this Holiday Season

The holiday season is coming up, and that means buying a ton of video games for yourself as well as your gaming-inclined loved ones. 2018 has seen a particularly high number of great titles to choose from, and it can be a bit overwhelming for those not keeping their finger on the pulse of the industry – but that’s what we’re here for! Using data from the Nielsen research group, as well as our own expertise (we do this for a living, folks!), we’ve prepared a guide to the best video games to buy this holiday season. No matter what type of game you’re looking for, there’s something here for you or a wonderful gift for your favorite gamer.

Shooters

‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’ (Out now for Xbox One, PS4, PC)

The latest entry in Activision’s massively popular Call of Duty series, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 throws some big curveballs that we haven’t seen before. Gone is the campaign, but in its place in a battle royale mode called Blackout, which puts 100 players against each other in a last-man-standing contest. The competitive multiplayer remains as fast-paced and exciting as ever, and the fan-favorite Zombies mode also returns with three distinct stories. Despite being the fifth entry in Treyarch’s sub-series (counting Call of Duty: World at War) Black Ops has never felt fresher, and it has enough content to be your only game purchase for the rest of the year.

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Amazon

‘Battlefield V’ (Out 11/20 for Xbox One, PS4, PC)

Call of Duty’s main competition, Battlefield V, is also shaping up to be a great option for first-person shooter fans and World War II buffs. Multiplayer has been expanded, with a new “Tides of War” system giving players reason to come back and battle it out in historic locations several months after the game launches, and the environmental destruction the series is known for returns in full force. Battlefield V also includes a campaign mode called War Stories, which tells lesser-known tales from the war, and the battle royale mode Firestorm is expected to arrive shortly after the game’s initial release in November.

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Amazon

Action

‘Hitman 2’ (Out 11/13 for Xbox One, PS4, PC)

The 2016 reboot of Hitman managed to bring the series back to its glory days with open-ended environments that gave Agent 47 dozens of different ways to murder his targets, and Hitman 2 builds on the formula without needing to drastically alter it. Once again taking place across several large maps, including a Miami racetrack, Hitman 2 offers up unique scenarios that will let you kill your enemies with everything from a poisoned syringe to a rogue Terminator-style robot, and you’ll have to play through each mission several times in order to see everything IO Interactive has packed into them.

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Amazon

‘Marvel’s Spider-Man’ (Out now for PS4)

Everyone’s favoring web-slinging superhero has had a somewhat rocky relationship with video games over the years, but Insomniac Games managed to (nearly) scrub our memories of that with this year’s Marvel’s Spider-Man. Set well after Peter Parker has acquired his powers, the game is filled with all the fan-service moments you’d want from a Spider-Man game, including appearances from famous allies and villains. The best part, however, is the web-swinging, which feels close to perfect. Soaring through New York City has never been this much fun, nor has beating up the literal thousands of criminals apparently roaming the street.

Read our full Spider-Man review

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Amazon

‘Darksiders III’ (Out 11/27 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC)

Darksiders II developer Vigil Games met an untimely demise when parent company THQ went bankrupt, but Gunfire Games rose from the ashes and took it upon itself to develop a third game. Darksiders III stars Fury, a mage with a remarkably different set of skills than either War or Death before her. As such, Darksiders III has a more deliberate and methodical combat system, but it doesn’t ditch the flashy special moves, comic-style characters, or gorgeous environments of its predecessors. With plenty of puzzles to solve and the Seven Deadly Sins to destroy, Fury has her work cut out for her, but we’re ready to unleash the apocalypse on her enemies.

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Amazon

‘Just Cause 4’ (Out 12/4 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC)

The Just Cause series is famous for its enormous maps and make-your-own-fun design philosophy, and it looks like Avalanche Studios pulled out all the stops for Rico Rodriguez’ latest outing in Just Cause 4. Building on the crazy action from Just Cause 3, the sequel introduces a new weather system that can drastically change environments and cause paths of destruction. Combined with the physics-based gameplay of Just Cause, it’s a recipe for disaster in the best possible way. Who even needs a gun when you can wield the power of a tornado, instead?

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Amazon

Action-adventure

‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ (Out October 26 for Xbox One and PS4)

One of the most anticipated games of 2018, Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2 aims to redefine open-world games with an unprecedented level of detail and destroy. The epic sees a group of outlaws fighting against a world moving away from the Old West, and this means a whole lot of robbing, burgling, thieving, murdering, looting, and assorted illegality. With the option to play the whole game in first-person mode, tons of side activities, and an engrossing story only Rockstar Games can deliver, it’s a must-play game, and the online component arriving in November will give you even more missions to do.

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Amazon

‘Shadow of the Tomb Raider’ (Out now for Xbox One, PS4, and PC)

Lara Croft’s latest adventure is also her darkest, sending the young explorer into darkest Peru in search of an artifact that could prevent the end of the world – or expedite it. Shadow of the Tomb Raider is an intense, bloody, and thoroughly enjoyable thrill ride that mixes in plenty of action movie set-pieces to get your blood pumping, but it also features moments of stealth that show Croft’s newfound predator abilities. With terrific acting, gorgeous visuals, and well-designed puzzles, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is a worthwhile sendoff for the trilogy, if Square Enix doesn’t decide to make a fourth one.

Read our full Shadow of the Tomb Raider review

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Amazon

Role-playing games

‘Fallout 76’ (Out 11/14 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC)

Bethesda Game Studios has been known as a single-player developer for decades, so it came as a huge surprise when the company announced the online-only multiplayer game Fallout 76. Set shortly after the nuclear apocalypse, the game doesn’t include non-player characters and instead has you interact with other players to do almost everything. Completing missions and public events with a friend puts a new twist on the usually isolated Fallout experience, as does the threat of another player launching a nuclear weapon hidden somewhere on the massive West Virginian map.

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Amazon

‘Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’ (Out now for Xbox One, PS4, and PC)

Taking the role-playing influence of last year’s Origins even further, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey completes the series’ transition from stealth-action to full-on RPG. Set in Ancient Greece, you play as one of two mercenary siblings cast out from the Spartans and thrown in the middle of a war between Sparta and Athens. Greece has been recreated with an impeccable attention to detail, and the abilities and weapons at your disposal allow you to slice and dice your way through enemies. With more mystical and fantastical elements than we’ve seen from the series before, this isn’t your father’s Assassin’s Creed, but it’s a worthwhile journey of its own.

Read our full Assassin’s Creed Odyssey review

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Amazon

Racing and sports

‘FIFA 19’ (Out now for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, Switch, and PC)

FIFA 19 doesn’t reinvent the soccer franchise, but it is unquestionably the best soccer game on the market right now. The on-the-field action is as fluid and frantic as it has ever been, and the introduction of the Champions League gives dedicated fans another challenge among the game’s many other modes. FIFA Ultimate makes its return, naturally, as does the third chapter in The Journey, the multi-year story mode focused on young star Alex Hunter. This year, it also features protagonists Kim Hunter and Danny Williams, and its quieter moments are just as enthralling as the thrilling matches, themselves.

Read our full FIFA 19 review

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Amazon

‘NBA 2K19’ (Out now for Xbox One, PS4, Switch, PC)

NBA 2K19 is among the best sports simulations around, combining true-to-life basketball with plenty of more “gamey” features to help anyone be a superstar. This year’s game gives you much more choice over customization options, including more tuning sliders, as well as MyLeague additions such as “live timers.” Created players can also be finely tuned to look even more like your real-life self – or Chuck Norris if you prefer – and the story-focused MyGM mode can be turned into a classic, more gameplay-heavy experience for those not interested in dialogue.

Read our full NBA 2K19 review

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Amazon

‘NBA Live 19’ (Out now for Xbox One, PS4)

The series often lives in the shadow of NBA 2K, but NBA Live 19 proves that Electronic Arts’ own basketball game has made great strides toward being a true competitor. Focusing on both traditional basketball courts as well as street courts, NBA Live 19 is filled with modes, including The One career mode and Court Battles. For the first time ever, you’ll also be able to create a female player, and adjustments made to the motion system make NBA Live 19 almost as real as if you were to take a basketball and go onto the court yourself … and you’ll look a lot let silly playing it.

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Amazon

‘WWE 2K19’ (Out now for Xbox One, PS4, PC)

If you’ve fallen out of love with the WWE 2K series as of late, WWE 2K19 just might be the game to draw you back in. This year’s installment sees the return of the story mode 2K Showcase, starring the eccentric Daniel Bryan, and if that isn’t enough story for you, you can also play the narrative-heavy MyCareer. The mode includes voiceover from more than 20 different wrestlers, but you’ll start your journey in the independent wrestling scene. You better be prepared to take some real blows to the head before you start faking it on national television!

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Amazon

 ‘Forza Horizon 4’ (Out now on Xbox One and PC)

Playground Games just might be the best racing developer on the planet, and Forza Horizon 4 just might be the best racing game on the planet. With hundreds of cars to choose from, ranging from the saddest of station wagons to fully-loaded hypercars, you can speed across the British countryside and complete a huge number of different activities. Ever wanted to race a train or the Pelican from Halo: Combat Evolved? Only Forza Horizon 4 lets you do both, and the changing seasons drastically alter the map and force you to rethink how you approach each race.

Read our full Forza Horizon 4 review

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Amazon

Family and party

‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’ (Out 12/7 on Switch)

Nintendo must have gotten tired about the biggest Super Smash Bros. fans asking for their favorite character to return for the next game because Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has all of them. Every character to ever appear in a Super Smash Bros. game is included in the Switch exclusive, which also packs in a huge number of stages, each with multiple customization options to suit every style of player. There might not be a good reason for Chrom, Ike, Marth, Roy, and Lucina to all appear in the same fighting game, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to enjoy playing as all of them.

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Amazon

‘Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu!’ and ‘Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee!’ (Out 11/16 on Switch)

Combining the battling and exploration of the main Pokémon role-playing series with a more casual approach to catching new monsters, Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! help to bridge the gap between the hardcore fans and those who were introduced to the series through Pokémon Go on their phones. Let’s Go even features connectivity between the games, as you can send the Pokémon you’ve caught in the real world to your Switch game, and you’re free to trade with your friends just like you can in a more traditional Pokémon game. Check out Everything we know about Pokémon: Let’s Go if you’d like to know more.

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Amazon

‘Super Mario Party’ (Out now on Switch)

The Nintendo Switch is the ultimate party console, as it can be played on your TV or wherever you happen to be gathering with your friends. Super Mario Party takes full advantage of that with support for simple single-controller setups, and with the use of a second Switch system, you can even control objects in ways we’ve never seen before. In our Super Mario Party impression, we talked about the 80 new mini-games are included this time around, and the classic turn-based board game mode offers the same fury, joy, elation, and horror that we’ve felt since the very first game release for Nintendo 64 nearly two decades ago.

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Amazon

 ‘Lego DC Super-Villains’ (Out now on Xbox One, PS4, Switch, and PC)

We’ve gotten the chance to play as some of the most legendary DC heroes in history with the Lego Batman trilogy, but what if we could turn the tables and take on the role of a villain? In Lego DC Super-Villains you must stop the bizarre “Justice Syndicate” after the real Justice League mysteriously disappears. Alongside the Joker, Harley Quinn, and other famous DC villains, you can customize your own villain into the ultimate terrifying enemy, and if you want to bring a friend along for the adorable and hilarious ride, you can do that, as well.

Buy it now from:

Amazon

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