Need a last-minute gift that's still thoughtful? These are the perfect video games for 10 styles of play.
Need a kids game? A sports title? How about a Western? There’s a game out there for you.
Welcome to the 2018 holiday season, when there’s a video game for everyone.
The video game landscape has been robust with gift options for the past few years, but it’s never been more expansive than it is right now. The gaming library keeps growing, as do the accessories around the games.
But that doesn’t mean you need to be overwhelmed looking for the perfect gift for your special gaming someone. Just consult this list of our favorite gaming gifts for all types of players.
For history buffs: “Red Dead Redemption 2”
This sequel chronicles the story of outlaw Arthur Morgan, delivering a rare genre in video games — a Western — and doing so splendidly. It’s a more grounded “Grand Theft Auto,” with a stronger story and slightly better gunplay (and horses instead of cars).
And it’s the only option for gamers who dig history. “Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey” also delivers a fine adventure, telling the story of Sparta and opening up the franchise’s stealth gameplay even more to deliver a massive gaming world filled with charm.
For story lovers: “God of War”
Sony’s resurrection of Kratos in the fourth direct game in the “God of War” franchise isn’t all hack and slash and yelling. The titular protagonist is the star of a game that elicits plenty of emotion from the gamer, and plenty of intrigue as well. Kratos has a son now, who helps us see a different side of Kratos. The first half-hour of the game sets the tone for a tale worth paying attention to — and the gamer in your life will love it.
Fans of anime will fall in love with “Zone of the Enders: 2nd Runner” for the PlayStation 4, an HD revamp of a classic PlayStation 2 game that involves plenty of mechs. (Think Gundam-style gameplay with a Metal Gear-wacky story.) And “Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise” delivers some insane, wild, helter-skelter gameplay — along with another anime-inspired story that you can’t help but love.
For comic book fans: “Marvel’s Spider-Man”
We’ve come a long way since the days of shaky comic book game ports. Sony and Marvel teamed up for this game that finally captures all the fun of being a web-slinger. It’s never been quite this enjoyable to swing your way around the Big Apple, and a solid story and boatloads of fan service complete the package.
DC Universe loyalists have options too. “Lego DC Super-Villains” is another game overloaded with comic fan service, as well as plenty of humor. Best of all, it’s the kind of game you can get for a young gamer, then play with them to push them through to the end.
For shooter fans: “Battlefield V”
The pre-eminent gaming franchise is at its best with “Battlefield V,” which includes both a solid campaign (with a few interesting story points) and a wildly deep multiplayer that can support plenty of gamers. It’s the war game to have this holiday.
For less realistic war gaming, check out “Call of Duty: Black Ops 4” instead. This year’s COD entry is even more multiplayer-focused than usual, but if your favorite gamer tends to skip the story, this is the game they’ll want.
For fighters: “Soul Calibur VI”
Fighting games often feel inaccessible, but not this one. “Soul Calibur 6VI” manages to make the genre feel easy to get into, thanks to in-depth explainers on how to use every character. And once you learn the game, there’s endless fighting fun to be had, courtesy of two story modes, a strong character creator and stable online play.
For more lighthearted (but still incredibly challenging and deep) fighting game fare, pick up Nintendo’s “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” for Switch. Expect fast and furious action, and a game that can play equally well at a party or at a tournament.
For kids: Nintendo Labo: Vehicle Kit
Nintendo’s Labo kits are all about changing how your children think about games. Users learn the basics of physics and programming while building and prepping cardboard toys that work with the Switch system. It’s learning blended with gaming, best showcased in the vehicle kit, which turns the Switch into a car for racing games.
Switch’s “Kirby Star Allies” may be the best game for youngsters this year, loaded with easy and forgiving gameplay for little kids, with just enough depth that adults can find fun ways to enjoy it too. Or step things up with “Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze,” and help your youngster through the action.
Your final kid-friendly gaming option: “Starlink: Battle for Atlas,” a unique title that aims to be Disney Infinity for the next generation, letting you build and customize cartoon-style space jet fighters atop your controller for online play. It’s an addictive experience that’s loaded with fun — even if the worlds may get a little repetitive for adults. Starlink’s available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Switch, but it’s at its best on the Switch.
For strategy gamers: “Valkyria Chronicles 4”
For all the strategy gamers out there, Sega’s “Valkyria Chronicles 4” took the franchise back to its roots, delivering terrific turn-based gameplay and a fantastic story about the fictional Second European War. The voice acting and anime-style cutscenes and portraits draw you into the tale, and the unique battling keeps you invested throughout. There’s terrific replay value in this game too; aim for the Nintendo Switch version if you can, because this is a game that’s perfect for a train commute.
“Valkyria” wasn’t the only stellar turn-based game on the Switch this year. “Civilization VI,” the excellent turn-based strategy game, was ported over to Nintendo’s versatile console as well, and it makes the trip with stunning success. You won’t lose much from the PC version, although the interface does take some getting used to. If the gamer in your life loves science and history, this is the game for them.
For adventure lovers: “Shadow of the Tomb Raider”
Lara Croft returns for her third adventure on next-gen consoles, and early on, this one establishes itself as a wild ride, pushing you through a wet-and-wild flood that Lara causes. Whether you love or hate Lara by the end of this one (and you’ll have moments of both), you’ll almost certainly enjoy the excellent puzzles and the new stealth mechanics.
If your gamer wants to take on the world in first-person instead, check out “Far Cry 5.” Ubisoft’s latest “Far Cry” delivers a story with plenty of local intrigue, and that certainly has its downsides (not enough lions and tigers). But its first-person stealth gameplay is still some of the best in the biz, and the open world has plenty to do; the gamer in your life can easily spend upwards of 20 hours trekking around Hope County, Montana.
For sports fans: “NBA 2K19”
Gaming’s best sports franchise was better than ever in 2018, fueled by a bigger, badder franchise mode and (finally!) draft class customization. It’s perfect for the sports fan in your life, especially if they love hoops, and it’s great on all consoles, from Xbox One and PlayStation 4 to the Nintendo Switch, which finally gets a proper version of NBA 2K.
If the gamer in your life isn’t a hardcore sports fan, consider “NBA 2K Playgrounds.” It’s a little more lighthearted fare, but it plays well nevertheless and offers plenty of replay potential.
Don’t know anyone who digs hoops? Then check out “Madden 2019” instead; this year’s game feels fluid and plays fast. “NHL 2019” and “FIFA 2019” also hit their strides this year.
For role-playing fun: “Fallout 76”
Bethesda’s new “Fallout” online game isn’t perfect, but it does deliver an interesting experience. While that may not make for an MMO game-changer, it does make for plenty of fun. It’s a top sleeper pick for 2018. Want classic role-playing action? Check out “Divinity: Original Sin II, Definitive Edition.”
Want more classic role-playing action? Check out “Divinity: Original Sin II, Definitive Edition,” a loaded role-player in the “Baldur’s Gate” mold that hit consoles in August. Hours of turn-based action lie here, with plenty to unlock — so much so that you can spend more than an hour in the tutorial alone. Role-playing action doesn’t get much better than this.