Video games make for ideal stocking stuffers for the young and young at heart — but with so many console and computer titles to choose from, shopping for a gamer can be an overwhelming endeavor.
In other words, how do you know which games are worth getting blisters over and those likely to become drink coasters? After all, with most games hovering around the $60 mark — not including freemium games like “Fortnite,” of course — you don’t want to gift a dud.
To help you out, the following are a handful of recommended gaming picks, divided into various age groups. Prices are $60 unless otherwise specified.
One of the most beloved cartoon brawlers is back, and this time it’s playable on the Nintendo Switch. InNintendo’s “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate,” you can unlock and play as every character ever released in the franchise’s history — 66 fighters, to be exact — and battle against others across multiple game worlds. Play solo or with a friend on the Switch’s screen (say, while in the backseat of a car), but then continue the action on a big-screen television while back at home by docking the Switch.
Ubisoft’s “Starlink: Battle for Atlus” ($75 for Starter Kit) fuses the physical with the digital, as you snap toy spaceship parts, weapons and pilots onto your controller, and those real-world items instantly appear in the video game. That is, depending on your specific mission in this open-world space saga — such as destroying enemies while dogfighting in space or taking out targets on planet surface — you’ll want to mix and match items to customize your ship accordingly.
Featuring more than 450 cards to collect and modify, Microsoft Game Studios’ “Forza Horizon 4” for Xbox One and Windows PC is a racing game that lets you tear around Great Britain, through several seasons and with varying weather and road conditions. Along with solo and multiplayer modes, tournaments, and stunt and speed challenges, this driving sim supports TVs with 4K resolution, and with High Dynamic Range (HDR) support.
Also check out 2K Sports’ “2BA 2K19,” Enhance’s “Tetris Effect,” and Square Enix’s “Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age.”
Marvel’s “Spider-Man” from Sony is a ridiculously fun single-player action game that lets you climb into the suit of the Webbed Wonder; swing between New York City skyscrapers, use parkour to nimbly scale obstacles, and engage in stealth and combat sequences. Exclusively available for PlayStation 4, you can unlock dozens of suits — such as the Advanced Suit, the SpiderPunk Suit, and the Noir Suit — each with its own unique power and customizable modifications.
If you’ve ever dreamed of running down the pitch and striking against a nervous goaltender, Konami’s “Pro Evolution Soccer 2019” lets you play as or against your favorite soccer teams. Along with the most licenses in the franchise’s history — allowing you to choose between many different leagues around the globe — PES 2019 delivers realistic gameplay and authentic ball physics, multiple game types (including a revamped my Club online mode), adds former superstars, too, like David Beckham. The game is available for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
Other great teen games include EA Sports’ “NHL 19,” Capcom’s “Monster Hunter World,”Ubisoft’s “Child of Light,” and Square Enix’s “Life Is Strange 2.”
Playable on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, Rockstar Games’ best-selling “Red Dead Redemption 2” is a western-themed action game that starts in 1899, at the end of the Wild West era. American federal agents and bounty hunters alike are going after the last of the outlaws, to be taken dead or alive. From the creators of “Grand Theft Auto V,” you’ll find yourself in the middle of this struggle and must make key decisions that may change the course of history.
For only $39, you can pick up the extraordinary “God of War” from Sony Computer Entertainment America, a dark action game that plays as good as it looks. While traipsing through an unforgiving realm of Norse Gods and monsters, our antihero Kratos must fight to survive — and teach his son Atreus to do the same. Between its responsive controls, visceral combat, gorgeous set pieces and emotional story, this single-player PS4 exclusive is a must-have for mature players.
One of the more underrated games of 2018, Ubisoft’s “Far Cry 5” is a great-looking first-person shooter that focuses on story, exploration, and intense combat, as you roam about huge outdoor environments to complete various objectives. Along with the single-player missions there’s a handful of multiple modes and maps worth indulging in (like the pirate-themed town). The game is playable on PS4, Xbox One and PC.
Also consider Activision’s “Call of Duty: Black Ops 4,” EA’s “Battlefield V,” and Warner Bros.’ “Hitman 2,” and “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.”
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