Shopping for a gamer (or yourself) during the holidays? We got you covered. Here are the platforms, plus thirty must play titles this holiday season.

By Brian Neal

Nintendo Switch

Nintendo’s hybrid handheld/gaming console is a hot commodity this holiday. The ability to take console games on the go has paid off for the big N. With both a base model, and a new smaller, portable only Switch Lite for $100 less, choices are plenty. Look out for a base model bundled with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, plus a special Pokemon Sword/Shield themed Switch Lite.

Price: $299.99 (bundle) $199.99 (Switch Lite)


PS4

Although we’re all anticipating the PS5 in 2020, the best selling console this generation still delivers the goods this holiday. Look out for multiple deals including the PS4 Pro 1TB Death Stranding bundle, plus a PS4 Slim Holiday bundle that includes God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete:, and The Last Of Us: Remastered.

Price: $399.99 (PS4 Pro Bundle) $199.99 (PS4 Slim Bundle)


Xbox One

As we gear up for Microsoft’s uber-powerful next generation console Scarlett, there’s much more gaming to be done on Xbox One until then. Bundles include a stylish limited-edition Gears 5 1TB Xbox One X package, an Xbox One S Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order bundle, and more. All holiday bundles include a free month of both Xbox Game Pass, as well as EA Access- both offering a vault of classing and current game titles.

Price: $399.99 (Limited Edition Bundle) $199.99 (XB1 S Star Wars bundle)

Price: $299.99 – $499.99


PC

While being a part of the PC “Master Race” generally comes with a higher price tag, there are still great deals you can find to enjoy the ultra high graphics settings, uncapped frame rates, and customization that help the PC platform stand out from the rest. Two deals this season come in the form of the HP OMEN Obelisk- an 8 core Intel rig fitted with an Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti- great for 1080p gaming at high to Ultra Settings- plus there’s room for expansion. Another great find is the Dell G7 laptop- a 17.3 inch portable featuring Nvidia RTX graphics, capable of running advanced ray tracing effects bringing your gaming experience to new heights.

Price: $899.99 (HP Omen) $1,099.99 (Dell G7)


Stadia

Google officially throws its hat in the ring in time for holidays with Stadia- a full streaming gaming platform designed to work on a wide range of devices including your TV, laptop, desktop, and phone (so far only the Pixel 3 series has been announced). Stadia Premiere Edition includes a Chromecast Ultra, the Stadia controller, and three months of the Stadia Pro streaming service ($9.99 per month afterwards). Featuring AAA titles streaming up to 4K resolution at 60 FPS and cross-screen sharing- the prospect of not waiting for game downloads just may be the future.

$129.99 Stadia Premiere Edition $9.99/month


Apple Arcade

Apple gets serious about gaming by launching Apple Arcade, a $4.99 per month ad-free subscription service that’s already home to unique indie titles, anticipated sequels, and even exclusives from Square-Enix. The best thing is that it works across multiple devices devices the Apple TV 4K, iPhone, and iPad.

Price: $4.99/month


THE GAMES

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

Developer: Infinity Ward
Publisher: Activision
Platform(s): PC, PS4, XB1

COD

Call of Duty is back bigger and better than ever. This is a complete revamp (not remake) of the popular Modern Warfare series- many a fan favorite. Featuring a gripping campaign where your decisions affect each scenario, plus engaging multiplayer components built on an entirely new engine which elevates the series to new heights- Modern Warfare brings the Call of Duty franchise back to true form.

Astral Chain

Developer: Platinum Games
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform(s): NSW

Astral chain 2

Platinum Games delivers an entirely new IP for the Nintendo Switch that turns out to be a contender for best action game of the year across any platform. Play as a futuristic detective in the year 2078, and summon your Legion companion to perform devastating Melee and long-range attacks against menacing enemies. Enjoy the extremely detailed cyberpunk cell-shaded world solo, or share a joy-con and go co-op with a buddy. This is Platinum at their best.

Borderlands 3

Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2K Games
Platform(s):PC, PS4, STA, XB1

Borderlands 3

One of this year’s most anticipated sequels, Borderlands 3 delivers the fun and the guns. Expect a seemingly infinite amount of arsenal at your disposal, all new enemies, locales, vehicles, and mounds of humor weaved in an all new action packed story that the series is known to deliver.

Destiny 2: Shadowkeep

Developer: Bungie
Publisher: Bungie
Platform(s): PC

Destiny 2 Shadowkeep

Upon acquiring the full rights from a series they developed, Bungie returns the futuristic fight to the moon, with an expansion of epic proportion. With all new terrain, weapons, exotic gears, and a completely overhauled armor system, Shadowkeep will have you engaged for some time. The base game, Destiny 2, is now free to play and included all previous content and DLC at no additional costs- exclusively Steam.

Disco Elysium

Developer: ZA/UM
Publisher: ZA/UM
Platform(s): PC

Disco

Hailed as delivering one of the best story experiences this year, Disco Elysium’s tongue-in-cheek humor, expansive open world setting, and witty writing leap it to the top of the pack and is a must buy for those who love great dialogue, and NPC interaction. This expansive isometric adventure challenges your intellect, as you take the helm of a detective trying to solve a murder case, but must overcome his own struggles.

Doraemon Story of Seasons

Developer: Marvelous
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Platform(s): NSW, PC

Doraemon 2

Doraemon Story of Seasons is a love letter/ crossover that places all the familiar faces of the Doraemon series in the setting of Marvelous Story of Seasons franchise. Farm, fish, raise animals, decorate and customize your home, all while participating in festivals and enough events to make u lose track of time. The charming aesthetics lend to the game’s overall relaxed nature.

Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age: Definitive Edition

Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform(s): NSW

Dragon Quest 2

There’s a saying that good things come to those who wait- and for Switch owners who waited more than a year for Dragon Quest XI, Square Enix made the wait worth it. Feature new areas, and expanded storylines for central characters, plus the option to switch to 2D or 3D on the fly- and already astounding RPG just got better, plus you can take the entire experience on the go.

Gears 5

Developer: The Coalition
Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Platform(s): PC, XB1

gears 5

Gears 5 takes the acclaimed saga in bold new directions. The Campaign features stunning graphics and open world elements never before charted in a Gears title, with three-player split screen co-op play. Horde mode has been overhauled, while the new multiplayer Escape mode requires teamwork to escape some very challenging vaults.

Grid 2019

Developer: Codemasters
Publisher: Codemasters
Platform(s): PC, PS4, STA, XB1

Grid

The Grid series receives a reboot built to take advantage of modern hardware. The Arcade/Sim crossover offers a full career mode that puts you behind the wheel in FA Racing, GT, Invitational, Stock, Touring, and Tuner races on incredibly detailed courses- and your rivals will test your maneuverability to the max. Meanwhile, the multiplayer options give you opportunity to put your pedal to the medal against those you know.

NBA 2K20

Developer: Visual Concepts
Publisher:2K Games
Platform(s): NSW, PS4, XB1, PC

NBA 2K20

The NBA 2K series has become the quintessential basketball title for some time now. NBA 2K 2020 ups the ante with new physics, better graphics, and the inclusion of all twelve WNBA teams- a first for the series. Classic teams have also been updated, plus the MyGym and MyLeague modes return bigger and better than ever.

Need For Speed: Heat

Developer: Ghost Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform(s): PC, PS4, XB1

In Need For Speed: Heat, EA places you in the fictional locale Palm City- where day races are legally sanctioned, and you can earn money to upgrade all aspects of the 127 cars from 33 manufacturers. Come nightfall, you can participate in illicit street races which increase you reputation, plus this gives access to higher quality parts- but it won’t be easy. Not only are the challenges tough, but the police will hunt you down quickly. The Frostbite 3 engine delivers an experience unlike any Need For Speed title before it.

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered

Developer: Level-5, QLOC
Publisher:Bandai Namco Entertainment
Platform(s): NSW, PC, PS4, XB1

Ni No Kuni 2

Level-5’s PS3 classic has been remastered, with 4K visuals, or enjoy the game at 60fps .
Studio Ghibli design and animation make you feel like you’re playing an animated movie, while the story is engaging, and the real-time battle system still hold up today as one of the best. PC, PS4, and Xbox One get the remaster, while the Nintendo Switch get a port of the PPS3 original for play on the go.

Indivisible

Developer: Lab Zero Games
Publisher: 505 Games
Platform(s): NSW, PS4, XB1, PC

Indivisible

From the developers of the acclaimed hit Skull Girls, Indivisible is an action RPG/platformer that uniquely stands out in the genre. The hand drawn sprites and animation are top notch, the battles are intense, and there are plenty of allies to accompany the main protagonist Anja- a no-nonsense girl who would fit perfect as a Skull Girl- instead she’s out to save the world.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform(s): NSW

Links Awakening review

If this is one of the directions Nintendo’s taking the Switch, I’m all for it. A complete remake of the 1993 Game Boy Color classic, Link’s Awakening features completely overhauled graphics that give the overworld, characters, and enemies a toy-like aesthetic, while retaining the pseudo top-down perspective. Charming as ever, plus a remastered score. If you have never played the classic, there’s no excuse now- this is a must buy.

MediEvil

Developer: Other Ocean
Publisher: SIEA
Platform(s): PS4

MedEvil

It’s the year of great remakes, and the PS4 exclusive MedEvil is no exception. Resurrecting the PSONE classic from the ground up, MedEvil utilizes the power of the PS4 to fully realize the Tim-Burton inspired visuals. Take the helm as Sir Daniel Fortesque once again in a classic adventure that supports native 4K visuals.

Ghost Recon: Breakpoint

Developer: Ubisoft Paris
Publisher: Ubisoft
Platform(s): PC, PS4, STA, XB1

Ghost Recon

The follow up and continuation to the massive Ghost Recon: Wildlands, Breakpoint takes place in the fictional setting of Auroa. The map is larger than Wildlands, and this time you’ll need to rely heavily on survival elements- as enemies will hunt you down in even bigger groups than before. Choose from four character classes, and conquer intense air, land, and sea battles. For the first time in the franchise you’ll also undergo massive raids.

Luigi’s Mansion 3

Developer:Next Level Games
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform(s): NSW

Luigi mansion

Luigi’s Mansion 3 serves up the thrills and humor in this fun-filled sequel set in a spooky luxurious hotel. King Boo is up to no good, and once again the often cowardly, yet determined Luigi must set out to free Mario and the rest of the gang. With seventeen floors to explore, including an indoor pyramid, disco, and more- Luigi has his hands full. Go at it solo, or local co op with the slippery doppelganger Googie. The graphics are a Switch highlight, with a CG like visuals- and real time cut-scenes. An intense eight player online multiplayer component rounds out this well polished package.

GYLT

Developer: Tequila Works
Publisher: Tequila Works
Platform(s): STA

gylt

The first Stadia launch exclusive comes in the form of an Unreal Engine 4 developed eerie puzzle/action title that’s giving us serious Silent Hill feels, with the atmosphere Little Nightmares. Choose to confront your fears, or hide and escape- but don’t make the wrong choice, as every decision has an effect on the story. Can you make it out?

Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm

Developer: Cornfox & Bros
Publisher: Cornfox & Bros
Platform(s): AAR

Oceanhorn 2

Apple Arcade’s first exclusive is the sequel to the Legend of Zelda-inspired, multi-platform hit, Oceanhorn. Running on Unreal Engine 4, the visuals in Oceanhorn 2 instantly remind you of Breath of the Wild, but the protagonist in this adventure won’t set out alone. In fact he’s joined by two other companions who will assist in battle, and use their unique abilities to solve puzzles during this epic 15 hour adventure.

Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield

Developer: Gamefreak
Publisher: The Pokémon Company/Nintendo
Platform(s): NSW

pokemon

The first core Pokémon experience on Nintendo Switch casts players in the all new Britain-based Galar region. New story, new starters, new Pokémon and returning Pokemon round out an expansive landscape filled with grassy regions, water areas, caves, snowy hilltops, and more. Customize your avatar, camp with your Pokémon to increase their abilities- then participate online in the Battle Stadium. Unleash all-new Gigantamax transformations to gain momentum in epic battles.

Death Stranding

Developer:Kojima Productions
Publisher: 505 Games
Platform(s): PS4

Death Stranding

As the world stood still waiting to see what famed Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima would create next after exiting Konami, Death Stranding is finally here and nothing short of spectacular. You play as Sam Bridges, a courier set out to network and assist remote cities after the United States has been transformed into an apocalyptic landscape by otherworldly creatures. You’ll need to to utilize stealth, sometimes hand to hand combat, vehicles, and a variety of tools and abilities to combat these creatures, but watch out- MULE (an organization of bandits) threatens you objective at every turn. The game is a stunning coup, running on a customized Decima engine-the same engine responsible for Horizon: Zero Dawn.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Developer: Rockstar Games
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Platform(s): PC

RedDead

PC Gamers rejoice- Red Dead Redemption comes out guns blazing, with a PC port that features a number of enhancements over its console counterparts. Uncapped frame rates, HDR/4K support, higher quality textures and effects, plus widescreen/multi monitor support. A definitive way to play a story rich, western setting, massive open world adventure that has no dull moments.

Ring Fit Adventure

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform(s): NSW

Ring Fit Adventure

Who says video games aren’t productive? Leave it to Nintendo to create a unique fitness experience/adventure game that’s actually fun. Utilizing a ring and leg strap, each fitted with a JoyCon- you’ll make your way through the colorful landscapes. Eventually, you’ll run into enemies, and bosses where turn-based RPG/fitness battles test your skill. The areas are divided into multiple courses, and you’ll gain xp rewards for completion.

Shenmue 3

Developer: YS NET
Publisher: Deep Silver
Platform(s): PC, PS4

Shenmue 3

The wait is over for fans who’ve been yearning for a sequel to 2001’s smash hit Shenmue 2. Ryo Hazuki is back Shenmue 3, and is determination as ever in finding his father’s killer. The game is during the early 80’s in China, and Ryo will court love interests, train for combat, assist NPC characters, all while searching for intel leads to his father’s murderer. PS4 player and PC (via Epic Games Store) are in for a truly cinematic experience.

Song of Horror

Developer: Protocol Games
Publisher: Raiser Games
Platform(s): PC

Song of horror

Take Silent Hill, thrown in a dash of Resident Evil, and a splash of Until Dawn- and you’ve got the downright scary concoction Song of Horror. This PC exclusive enables you to take control of multiple characters, as you research a haunted house to find a missing novelist and his assistant. The game features an AI system that learns your actions, and responds to the decisions made. If fear is detected you better watch out.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform(s): PC, PS4, XB1

Star Wars

While recent Star Wars titles have been excellent, it’s been a while since we’ve had a game more focused on the single player experience. Enter Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, a third-person adventure games based on the events after Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith. With platforming elements similar to that of Tomb Raider/Uncharted, combat akin to God of War, and arguably the best looking Star Wars title to date, Fallen Order seems to fill the void that fans have been wanting for ages.

The Outer Worlds

Developer:Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher: Private Division
Platform(s): PC, PS4, XB1

outer worlds

The Outer Worlds continues Obsidian Entertainment’s track record of delivering unique single player experiences with strong writing, humor- oh and guns. The quirky retro/futuristic adventure/rpg has you traversing planets and colonies on the edge of our solar system. A threat to wipe out your destination places you in the position to prevent this from happening. With tons of weapon/gear customization, colorful graphics, and a more light-hearted yet serious approach parallel but different to what the Fallout series offers, The Outer Worlds is a top holiday find.

The Touryst

Developer: Shin’en Multimedia
Publisher: Shin’en Multimedia
Platform(s): NSW

The Touryst

The Touryst is an adventure/simulation/puzzle/platforming title that encourages exploration. After arriving at your vacation spot, you have the freedom to surf, play arcade games, go shopping, attend beach parties, and more. Things begin to shake up as you explore caves, underwater areas, and exotic location-s where the game introduces a myriad of platforming challenges and puzzles. Once again Sin’en flexes its development chops on switch with a fluid 60fps, and charming graphics style. This is certainly an indie experience you don’t want to miss.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt- Complete Edition

Developer:CD Projekt
Publisher:CD Projekt
Platform(s):NSW

Witcher Switch

If someone were to say a few years ago that I’d be able to play the entire Withcer 3 experience on the go I’d never believe it- but the wizards at CD Projekt have delivered everything for the debut of the series non a Nintendo platform. All DLC expansions and extra content are all here on a single cartridge.. Still one of the best RPGs to date, Switch owners who have never played though this captivating tale are in for a thrill.

Pilgrims

Developer: Amanita Design
Publisher: Amanita Design
Platform(s): AAR, PC

Pilgrim

Coming from the studio behind the cult classics Machinarium and Samorost, Pilgrim keeps good company. In this light-hearted adventure, you set out across a landscape collecting various items that you’ll use to complete tasks/puzzles and befriend the land’s many inhabitants. The hand drawn art style is charming, the dialogue is funny, and with so many ways to complete the game- replay value is high.

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