Picking a holiday gift for the video game lovers on your list can be as difficult as deciding on your starter Pokemon, your Skyrim character class or which augmentations to apply to Adam Jensen’s cybernetic body. (The gamers will understand those references, even if you don’t.)
For the star warrior: Star Wars games – well, good Star Wars games – comes in two flavours. Star Wars Battlefront Ultimate Edition ($ 39, for Xbox One and PS4) is all about fighting against foes online in familiar Star Wars locations, while Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($ 69, for Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, also on last-gen consoles) adorably retells the adventures of Rey, Finn and BB-8.
For the Minecrafter: If your giftee is immersed in the gentle world-building adventure of Minecraft, they’ll probably love just about anything you can find at minecraft.net/store, like the Lego End Portal set ($ 74) or the Minecraft Stop-Motion Movie Creator ($ 54).
For the hacker: The virtual San Francisco of Watch Dogs 2 ($ 79, for PS4, Xbox One, PC) is a playground for high-tech misadventure, and happens to be one of the best open-world action games we’ve seen in a while.
For the sci-fi action hero: Titanfall 2 ($ 79, for Xbox One, PS4 and PC) has a fantastic single-player storyline, and its online multiplayer battles are a hoot. For those who’d rather watch Jon Snow take over the solar system, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare ($ 79, for Xbox One, PS4 and PC) has a decidedly sci-fi spin, starring Kit Harington as a villain with planet-conquering ambitions.
For the dungeon-crawler: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition ($ 79, Xbox One and PS4) is a remastered re-release of 2011’s best game of the year, and arrows to the knee have never looked better. The only game that might surpass it is The Witcher 3: Complete Edition ($ 69 on Xbox One and PS4), a re-release of last year’s fantasy masterpiece which includes all of the meaty new add-on content.
For the sneaky stabber: Games where you can play as an all-out action fiend or a silent, stealthy ghost are among our favourites, and two fantastic examples came out this year: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided ($ 79, for Xbox One, PS4 and PC), set in a sci-fi Prague, and Dishonored 2 ($ 79, for Xbox One, PS4 and PC), which takes place in a wonderfully detailed steampunk dystopia.
For the Pokemon trainer: If they gotta catch ’em all and they’ve got a Nintendo 3DS, then they need the new Pokemon Sun or Pokemon Moon ($ 49 each). If they’ve already got both games, then the true Poke-fan can dream of Solgaleo and Lunala while sleeping in their Pokemon Bed in a Bag sheets and comforter ($ 89 USD via thinkgeek.com)
For the virtual reality explorer: If your giftee happens to have a Google Pixel or Pixel XL smartphone, the Google Daydream View ($ 99) is well worth a look, and the latest Samsung Gear VR ($ 139) works with a wider range of Android phones. If they’ve got a PS4, PlayStation VR ($ 549) hits the best price/performance sweet spot.
For the very good boy or girl: Not a lot of gamers have the entire suite of game consoles, and with both Microsoft and Sony having refreshed their offerings recently, this is a great year to jump in. The PlayStation 4 Pro ($ 499) is a beefier version of the classic PS4 that’s designed to take advantage of new 4K televisions, while the Xbox One S ($ 379) is also 4K-friendly (and the only one that has a 4K Blu-ray player.) If your giftee is a devoted (or even competitive) PC gamer, the stunning Samsung CFG70 24-inch curved gaming monitor ($ 599), with its Quantum Dot display and 1ms response time, is right up their alley.
For the very, VERY good boy or girl: Whether your gamer plays on console or PC, the latest wave of gaming hardware is designed to take advantage of the newest 4K HDR TVs. We’ve been liking the LG UH8500 Super UHD TV a lot ($ 1,999 for the 55-inch model), but the LG B6 4K UHD HDR OLED TV, aside from having the most acronyms of any electronics product ever, is the TV of our wildest dreams. And at $ 6,999 for the 65-inch model, in our dreams is right where it will stay. Not even Santa himself has been that good this year.