Metro offers advice on the best presents to get the gamer in your life, from a new console to Fortnite toys and merchandise.
Christmas is already closer than you think but if you need to buy video game-related gifts for your favourite gamer the choices are not always obvious. Especially not now that so many games are just bought online – which means no box to wrap up and put under the tree.
But just working out what they want, or how to surprise them, is difficult enough; so heres our guide to what will be the most wanted gifts at Christmas, from the games themselves to the consoles you play them on and all the various accessories and toys that will show the gamer in your life that you really care.
Video game consoles
A new video game console is not exactly an impulse purchase, but that only makes it an even better gift for someone that wasnt expecting it. Video game consoles are released in waves referred to as generations, which generally give them a lifespan of about five or six years. But even though the concept has recently been complicated by upgraded consoles, released halfway through the generation, its still expected that new PlayStation and Xbox formats will be launched in the next year or two.
But that makes now the ideal time to pick up whichever console you didnt get at the start of the generation, to experience its exclusive games at a time when prices are starting to fall. Or you could consider the Switch – which is actually Nintendos second console this generation – or an upgrade console for either the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One.
Sonys current console is by far the most successful of the generation, both in the UK and worldwide. It has an excellent range of exclusive games, that you cant get on any other console, and is more powerful than the Xbox One S (but not the Xbox One X).
The PlayStation 4 Pro runs all the same games but is a little more powerful, allowing for smoother and more detailed graphics. It can also support higher resolutions of up to 4K, although youll need a 4K TV to see the difference on that.
As ever, there are lots of hardware bundles around at Christmas, that include the consoles and one or more games, and these can often be better value for money than getting them separately. The most common official bundles at the moment come with Red Dead Redemption II, Call Of Duty: Black Ops IIII, FIFA 19, Fortnite, or Marvels Spider-Man.
Prices can vary greatly from store to store so make sure you shop around first and be aware that consoles can come with different sizes of hard drive – used for storing downloaded games – and this will also have an effect on price. 500GB is the minimum at the moment, but 1TB is more desirable.
PlayStation 4 ~£240
PlayStation 4 Pro ~£350
There is a third option in terms of Sony consoles and thats the retro PlayStation Classic. This is a recreation of the original PlayStation 1 console with a selection of 20 games, including everything from Final Fantasy VII and Metal Gear Solid to Resident Evil and Tekken 3. There are a few classics missing though, and the whole package isnt quite as well put together as last years Classic Mini SNES, but its still a very tempting stocking filler for retro fans. Itll be released on December 3 for £89.99.
This is not a new console, because it needs a PlayStation 4 to run, but Sonys virtual reality headset is a perfect Christmas gift for those that can afford it. Especially as its now commonly being sold with the camera needed to use it, and a game, for around £180 (and likely even less in the sales). At the same time its stable of exclusive games has become very impressive, with titles like Astro Bot, Moss, Firewall Zero Hour, and Tetris Effect being amongst the best released this year on any format.
Microsofts console has been lagging behind the PlayStation 4 for years, but with the introduction of the cheaper Xbox One S and the more powerful Xbox One X theres been a noticeable increase in interest, especially following initiatives like backwards compatibility (which allows you to play old Xbox 360 games on your new console) and Game Pass (essentially Netflix for games).
The Xbox One X is Microsofts equivalent to the PlayStation 4 Pro, with similar benefits, except its even more powerful. Which makes it currently the most powerful console ever made.
In terms of bundles theres some good value ones for the Xbox One S that start at £250 and include a one-month Game Pass subscription and a game, either Fortnite, Forza Horizon 4, or Minecraft. There are also special £450 Xbox One X bundles that comes with Battlefield V, Fallout 76 (not recommended), or Forza Horizon 4. Thats expensive but the consoles themselves are special editions in unique colours.
Xbox One S ~£210
Xbox One X ~£420
The Switch was an instant hit when it was released last year, but its had a relatively quiet year so far as Nintendo struggle to catch up with its unexpected success. Things are expected to even out after Christmas though and the release of key title Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Like all Nintendo consoles the Switch is very different from its rivals, with one of its main appeals being the fact that it is both a portable and home console. You can play it on your TV as normal, using detachable controllers, but you can also take it out of its dock and play exactly the same games on the go.
The official hardware bundles for the Switch are themed around the two big games for Christmas: Pokémon: Lets Go and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. These come with copies of the game and specially-branded consoles, although theyre quickly running out of stock. The Pokémon one is £339.99 and the Smash Bros. one is £319.99. Other bundles with the standard version of the console are also available though, usually for £300 with one or two games.
Nintendo Switch ~£250
The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 might be a few years away from retirement, but Nintendos dedicated portable is almost literally on life support. Very few new games are being released for it now and its only really being kept going because its much cheaper than the Switch and so easier to give as presents to kids. The actual 3DS console, with the ability to see 3D without glasses, has all but been phased out now, with the New 2DS XL being the main variant that Nintendo are pushing now – at around £130 each.
Games for kids
Modern video game consoles are notoriously bad at catering to kids and if it wasnt for Nintendo thered be almost nothing available. Although the huge success of the Crash Bandicoot and Spyro The Dragon remake collections should hopefully see other publishers wising up next year…
Spyro Reignited Trilogy (Xbox One/PS4)
The companion release to last years Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, this features high-tech remakes of all three original PS1 Spyro The Dragon games. That makes it incredibly good value and perfect for kids and nostalgic adults.
Lego DC Super-Villains (Xbox One/PS4/Switch/PC)
The Lego video game formula has been getting increasingly stale and this years big new game feels worryingly over-familiar, even though it does have the neat idea of focusing on villains like The Joker instead of the usual heroes.
Pokémon: Lets Go, Pikachu!/Lets Go Eevee! (Switch)
The first Pokémon game for the Switch is both a remake of Game Boy game Pokémon Yellow and a bridge between the regular games and Pokémon GO, so its actually perfect for both kids and adults.
Super Mario Party (Switch)
If youre dreading getting out the Monopoly board this Christmas then this video game alternative is a lot more fun. The Mario Party games have varied in quality a lot over the years, but this is one of the best.
Sonic Mania Plus (Xbox One/PS4/Switch/PC)
The original version of the game came out last year but this slightly updated edition is the first time its been released in shops and is easily the best Sonic The Hedgehog game of the last two decades.
Detective Pikachu (3DS)
One of the most obscure Pokémon spin-offs has somehow become the inspiration for the first big budget Pokémon movie. Its actually a really fun little adventure game though, so if you or your kids want to know why Pikachu can talk now this will explain all.
Nintendo Labo (Switch)
A mix of video game and Meccano-like construction toy, Nintendo Labo is not only fun for kids but educational too. There are currently three main kits available: the Variety Kit, Robot Kit, and Vehicle Kit.
Games for casual gamers
What constitutes a casual gamer has always been a matter of great debate, but when it comes to gift-buying its fairly straightforward. These are the most prominent games of the Christmas season, that even most non-gamers have probably heard of and have a reasonable chance of enjoying. There are other heavily-advertised games such as Fallout 76 that might have made this list, but really arent as good as their marketing pretends.
Fortnite: Deep Freeze Bundle (Xbox One/PS4/Switch)
There cant a person on the planet that hasnt heard of Fortnite by now, but this is the first time the games ever been released as a boxed copy. The base game is still free but for your money you get some extra in-game items and currency.
Call Of Duty: Black Ops IIII (Xbox One/PS4/PC)
Although it initially caused controversy by not including a story campaign this years Call Of Duty is one of the best for years, with its own take on Battle Royale thats just as much fun as Fortnite.
FIFA 19 (Xbox 360/PS3/Xbox One/PS4/Switch/PC)
This years new FIFA is a solid but unexceptional update, with welcome improvements to the controls and tactics. Its still the same old game underneath but that wont matter at all to committed fans.
Football Manager 2019 (PC)
Unlike FIFA this has been something of a breakthrough year for Football Manager, with an overhauled training module and the most accessible gameplay yet – but still rubbish graphics.
Assassins Creed Odyssey (Xbox One/PS4/PC)
The setting for this years new Assassins Creed is Ancient Greece, in what is an even better game than last years Origins. The combat and storytelling can still be a little bland but its as competent a crowd-pleaser as ever.
Forza Horizon 4 (Xbox One/PC)
Easily the best racing game of the year and arguably the best exclusive so far on the Xbox One. This sequel is set entirely in the UK, with a recreation of the changing seasons that looks absolutely stunning.
Red Dead Redemption II (Xbox One/PS4)
The biggest game of the year thats not Fortnite, this adult-themed cowboy adventure from the makers of Grand Theft Auto features some of the best graphics ever seen on a console.
Marvels Spider-Man (PS4)
This isnt anything to do with the Marvel Cinematic Universe but it is easily the best ever Marvel game, with something stunning graphics and a great rendition of all of Spideys powers and bad guys.
Games for core gamers
Theres no rule to say causal gamers wont enjoy any of the following, or vice versa, but these games do tend to be more involved than some of the previous ones weve mentioned. And a few may prove a bit too esoteric for someone that doesnt play regularly.
Battlefield V (Xbox One/PS4/PC)
This years new Battlefield has returned to a Second World War setting, which is perhaps not the most inspired option, but the game itself is even better than Battlefield 1 – even if its a bit short on content at the moment.
Hitman 2 (Xbox One/PS4/PC)
The assassination-themed adventures of Agent 47 have always been a favourite of more patient gamers, and this new sequel is the best yet – even if it is short on any genuinely new ideas.
PlayerUnknowns Battlegrounds (Xbox One/PS4)
The Xbox One version of Fortnites great rival came out this time last year but PUBG, as its known, is also coming to PS4 on December 7. Its the same game but has some exclusive in-game items based on PlayStation titles Uncharted and The Last Of Us.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Switch)
The biggest Switch game of the year is Nintendos iconic four-player fighting game, that features almost every character they own and more besides. And for once it seems to have a decent single-player mode too, although its not out until December 7.
Shadow Of The Tomb Raider (Xbox One/PS4/PC)
The final part of Lara Crofts modern trilogy of games seemed to come and go without much impact but despite a dopey story its the best of the three, with some pleasingly tricky puzzles to get your teeth into.
PES 2019 (Xbox 360/PS3/Xbox One/PS4/PC)
As usual, Pro Evolution Soccer lacks the polish and razzamatazz (and official licences) of FIFA but it plays a much better game of football, especially now the launch problems with the single-player have been sorted out.
Sid Meiers Civilization VI (Switch)
If youre getting someone a Switch and youre looking for something a little less family-friendly then theres been a good range of suitable games released this year, including this excellent new version of the classic strategy sim, as well as Dark Souls Remastered and Diablo III.
Destiny 2: Forsaken (Xbox One/PS4/PC)
The Destiny games always seems to be lurching from one crisis to another but the Forsaken expansion has been a recent high point for the series. It can be bought separately or as a bundle with the main game, which could make for a particularly good present.
God Of War (PS4)
Sonys critically acclaimed exclusive was released much earlier in the year but if the person youre buying for hasnt played it yet then its an absolute must-have and one of the best games of the generation.
Non-games gaming gifts
As easy as weve tried to make this, the truth is if you dont know anything about video games trying to figure out which one to buy as a gift is still very difficult. Keeping the receipt is obviously vitally important but the simplest solution is to just not get them a game at all.
Theres no getting away from it: this is the boring option. But its also the only one thats guaranteed not to end up in something theyve already got. You can get gift cards for almost any major store, including Amazon and GAME, but you can also get gift cards for online credit on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Theres also a huge range of gift cards for individual games, including download codes for the games themselves to in-game extras for the likes of Fortnite and Hearthstone. These are often sold at supermarkets and other stores, but if youre looking for something specific just google the name of the game followed by gift card and you should find it easily.
The good thing about headphones as a present is that theyre super useful for games but also something many people never get around to getting for themselves. You can just get a normal pair of headphones and theyll work, but whats better are those that are made specifically for consoles. Turtle Beach is the top brand for these, with the Recon 200 being especially good because not only is it fairly cheap but its also compatible with both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 – as well as PC, mobile, and Switch. Youll need the usual Xbox One controller headset jack to make it work with Microsofts console but other than that its a great all-rounder and very good value for money at just £49.99.
A new controller is also something that most gamers covet but rarely get around to buying themselves. And for good reason, since the best ones are all very expensive. The Elite controller for Xbox One is particularly desirable, but at £120 youd expect it would be. Or theres the standard controllers at £60 that you can design and colour yourself at the Xbox Design Lab. The PlayStation 4 doesnt offer as many options, but if you know someone with a Nintendo Switch theyd almost certainly appreciate a Pro Controller. It costs around £55 but is the preferred way to play many of the more complex games.
Another good bet is some kind of book based on your loved ones favourite game or console. Strategy guides are more like artbooks nowadays so searching on Amazon or eBay for almost any game should turn up something. A lot of the more popular titles also have novelisations, comic collections, and other types of tie-ins, which even a keen gamer might not be aware of. And with a new Pokémon game out an official pokédex always makes a welcome, and useful, present.
Theres one final type of present you cant really lose with: toys. Once again, theres almost no popular video game series that doesnt have at least an action figure or keyring to its name, and theyre very easy to find via a quick search on Amazon or Forbidden Planet. Just type toy after the games name and you should be able to find something almost instantly. If youre look for presents for kids then Minecraft has an especially wide range, including some spectacular Lego sets. Fortnites sudden success means theres not yet as much available as youd expect, but there are some basic action figures, Funko POP! toys, a licensed Monopoly board, and a lot of plush loot llamas.