Game On With Our 2016 Video Game Holiday Gift Guide
Weren’t able to secure an adorable NES Classic in time for the holidays? We know how you feel. Fortunately, the past couple months has been a cornucopia for great games for every console.
If you’re still looking to get that special gamer in your life the perfect holiday treat—or just want to hibernate with some great games during your break from work or school—check out our list of must-play titles for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, 3DS, and Windows. Game on!
The Last Guardian (PS4)
While somewhat difficult to classify in terms of genre, much like creator Fumito Ueda’s 2005 game Shadow of the Colossus, The Last Guardian focuses on puzzle-solving and platforming. What really sets it apart from others of its ilk is how you must simultaneously learn to work alongside Trico, a giant bird-cat hybrid, who’s also your ally. Like an actual pet, Trico’s erratic mood swings and limited attention span requires patience, which might not be a characteristic some gamers are looking for, but once you get the hang of things and form a better bond with your fantastic beast, it certainly makes for one of the most unique and memorable gaming experiences around. Read our full review here.
Titanfall 2 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows)
Titanfall 2 has a thrilling single-player campaign and rock-solid multiplayer modes that outshine its predecessor in every way. Like the previous entry, there are two types of battles: those fought on the ground and those fought aboard colossal Titans. While the latter is what sets Titanfall 2 apart from most first-person shooters, the on-foot action is considerably more kinetic than the competition. Wall running, ground sliding, and double jumping are responsive, fluid, and fun to pull off, making for some of 2016’s most spectacular action moments—in terms of gaming and movies. Read our full review here.
Dead Rising 4 (Xbox One, Windows)
A decade has gone by since we first met wise-cracking photojournalist-cum-zombie slayer Frank West. Now, Dead Rising 4 not only reintroduces us to the original game’s loveable hero, but also brings us back to Willamette, Colorado, which boasts a lavish new mall to wreak bloody havoc in, just in time for the ho-ho-holidays! While not that much has changed in terms of Dead Rising’s core mechanics involving comically inventive weapon combinations and a whole lotta zombie massacring, this is the most visually polished addition to the beloved hack-and-slash franchise, and a welcome return to familiar times. Read our fill review here.
Super Mario Maker 3DS (Nintendo 3DS)
If you own a Wii U and for some reasons didn’t manage to pick up one of its most super games (that would be 2015’s Super Mario Maker), then you really should just stop reading this and go play the damn thing. However, if you don’t own a Wii U and do own a 3DS, then you’re now in luck, because Super Mario Maker is available on Nintendo’s beloved handheld. This iteration won’t let you share your creations as easily as the Wii U’s did, however when it comes to solo play, this Mario Maker in some way surpasses its Wii U predecessor. Read our full review here.
Watch Dogs 2 (PS4, Xbox One, Windows)
While there are plenty of action-packed moments in the game, what makes Watch Dogs 2 so unique and enjoyable is its balance between action, stealth, and puzzle-solving. Thanks to Marcus’ super-powered smartphone, he can manipulate objects like cars, cranes, drones, and security systems, or set intricate traps with all of them combined. There’s a ton of stuff he can work off of to make each task feel different from the last—something the original Watch Dogs lacked. Read our full review here.
Pokémon Sun and Moon (Nintendo 3DS)
With temperatures dropping, it’s time to trade that phone for a 3DS and check out Nintendo’s latest offering in the beloved series. Aloha, the tropical, Hawaii-inspired setting for Sun and Moon is lush, beautiful, and will make you want to spend a vacation there pretty much immediately. With new territory comes a whole new set of Pokémon to catch and marvel at. But there are also regional variations of well-known Pokémon we’ve seen before, with differences in colour, appearance, and typing. Read our full review here.
Dishonored 2 (PS4, Xbox One, Windows)
Whereas Dishonored permitted players to complete Corvo’s missions in either violent or sneaky ways, Dishonored 2 builds heavily on that unique formula. By the time that last severed head hits the ground (assuming it’s not yours), you’ll want to replay the whole adventure again just see how differently things could’ve gone had you taken a less lethal approach. Fortunately, the makers of Dishonored 2counted on just that, so not only will the game leave you with an urge to attempt an entirely different playthrough, you can do so with a different protagonist. Read our full review here.
Arkham Asylum and Arkham City Remastered (PS4, Xbox One)
Whether or not you explored the streets of Gotham or its home for the criminally insane on the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360, these two remasters are well worth playing on today’s new generation of consoles. Aside from playing (or replaying) two indispensable games from a few years back, both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City have been given a substantial facelift by transitioning from Unreal Engine 3 to Unreal Engine 4. The differences are immediately noticeable, even if you’re already accustomed to today’s graphical standards. Read our full review here.
Gear of War 4 (Xbox One, Windows)
Fans of previous Gears of Wars titles should rest assured knowing this one pays tribute to the series iconic gameplay we know and love, evokes the horror/sci-fi spectacle from the original Gears, and presents a new threat (the Seran Swarm, replacing the Locust) that will undoubtedly instigate another highly memorable (and also fun as heck) saga. Gears of War 4 doesn’t reinvent the cog so much as tweak it, and that’s good, because the formula has always worked. Read our full review here.
Paper Mario: Color Splash (Wii U)
While the fun but flawed Sticker Star lacked several mechanical ingredients to make it as enjoyable as its predecessors, Color Splash has fine-tuned its mechanics in order to appease both the classic Paper Mario crowd and newcomers. As we’ve come to expect from the series, the writing is aces. Almost every quirky encounter and plot development will leave you with a goofy grin on your face. Read our full review here.
Lego Dimensions (PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U)
It’s been over a year since LEGO Dimensions first launched, and we’ve built and played through a significant numbers of expansions ever since. While Level Packs for Back to the Future, Doctor Who, Midway Arcade, and Ghostbusters have been more than welcome additions to the Dimensions catalogue, we were beginning to wonder if, after five Waves, the series would start to feel like it was spinning its bricks. Good news: everything we dug about those Level Packs has been expanded on in these newfangled Story Packs. In addition to a vehicle and minifig, these babies also come with a brand-new Gateway to build atop your Toy Pad that previously only sat underneath Dimensions’ Gateway Portal. In addition to Ghostbusters (based on last summer’s movie reboot) and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Story Pack, there are also new Level Packs for Mission: Impossible, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Adventure Time, Team Packs for Gremlins and Harry Potter, and Fun Packs for E.T. and The A-Team.
Yo-kai Watch 2 (Nintendo 3DS)
Yo-kai Watch 2 sets you right back down where you left off, only this time your memory has been wiped—and it’ll take a little bit of hustling around town to get things back to the way they were. After watching your parents have a weirdly intense fight about donuts (yes, really), you’re quickly reunited with your friends and ready to get back to hunting and battling Yo-kai and exploring the many corners of your town. Read our full review here.