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Sony has released an upgrade to the PlayStation Plus program. The new version of the program offers a number of features and benefits that are sure to appeal to parents and gamers alike. In this article, we will discuss all the details of the new PlayStation Plus program so that you can decide if it is right for your family. We will cover topics such as price, content, and how the program works. So whether you are already a PlayStation Plus member or are just considering signing up, read on for all the information you need!

PS+ has been around since 2010. During that time it has delivered a ton of free games and discounts to subscribers.

The program has always been optional, but it was a requirement for anyone who wants to play online multiplayer games on their PlayStation console. The vast majority of PS+ members are happy with the service and don’t mind paying $60/year for it, but there are some that feel like they’re being forced into it. Forced or not… PS+ is a key part of the PlayStation ecosystem so you need to know how it works in order to make the most out of your console.

  • Classics Catalog
  • Game Trials
  • Cloud Streaming

PlayStation Plus is divided into three tiers: Essential, Extra, and Premium.

PlayStation Plus EssentialPlayStation Plus ExtraPlayStation Plus Premium
Monthly Games Monthly Games Monthly Games
Online Multiplayer Online Multiplayer Online Multiplayer
Exclusive Discounts Exclusive Discounts Exclusive Discounts
Exclusive Content Exclusive Content Exclusive Content
Cloud Storage Cloud Storage Cloud Storage
Share Play Share Play Share Play
PlayStation Plus Collection PlayStation Plus Collection PlayStation Plus Collection
Game Help Game Help Game Help
Game Catalog Game Catalog
Ubisoft Classics Ubisoft Classics
Classics Catalog
Game Trials
Cloud Streaming
This chart shows a quick view of the benefits of each tier.

PlayStation Plus Essential

“Enjoy all the core PlayStation Plus benefits: join your friends in online multiplayer, add new games to your collection every month, get incredible deals from PlayStation Store, and more.”

  • Monthly Games
  • Online Multiplayer
  • Exclusive Discounts

PlayStation Plus Essential also includes:

  • The PlayStation Plus Collection*
  • Share Play
  • Game Help*
  • Cloud Storage
  • Exclusive Content

PlayStation Plus Extra

“Get all the great benefits included in the PlayStation Plus Essential plan, as well as access to the Game Catalog, featuring hundreds of games from genre-defining blockbusters to innovative indies, with new titles added regularly.”

  • Game Catalog
  • Ubisoft+ Classics

PlayStation Plus Extra also includes:

  • Monthly Games
  • Online Multiplayer
  • Exclusive Discounts
  • The PlayStation Plus Collection*
  • Share Play
  • Game Help*
  • Cloud Storage
  • Exclusive Content

PlayStation Plus Premium

“Enjoy all the core PlayStation Plus benefits, hundreds of games in the Game Catalog, as well as exclusive benefits like game trials, cloud streaming, and the Classics Catalog.”

PlayStation Plus Premium also includes:

  • Game Catalog
  • Ubisoft+ Classics
  • Monthly Games
  • Online Multiplayer
  • Exclusive Discounts
  • The PlayStation Plus Collection*
  • Share Play
  • Game Help*
  • Cloud Storage
  • Exclusive Content

How Much Does PlayStation Plus Cost?

1 Month3 Month12 Month
PlayStation Plus Essential$9.99$24.99$59.99
PlayStation Plus Extra$14.99$39.99$99.99
PlayStation Plus Premium$17.99$49.99$119.99
This table shows the subscription price for each tier of PlayStation Plus.

Advice

If you own a PlayStation 5 and want to play games online (with a few exceptions like Fortnite), then you’ll need to buy one of the plans to do so.

At that point, it is just a matter of choosing which of the three plans you want to buy into. The Essential plan works just like the PSPlus did at launch. It grants access to online play, discounts, two free games a month (determined by Sony), the PlayStation Plus Collection, and a few other minor benefits.

The Extra plan is an extra $5 a month (or $40/year). That extra cost gives you everything from the Essential package but includes access to a catalog of PS4 and PS5 games at no extra charge.

The Plus Premium plan is only a few dollars more a month and adds access to the classics catalog. This is a collection of older PlayStation titles like Dark Cloud and Ape Escape. This is a great move if you have nostalgia for these older PlayStation titles, but have gotten rid of your older PlayStation consoles.

Other Guides

There are a ton of other premium video game services out there so we wrote guides for all of them.  Take a look below:

A Parent’s Guide to Xbox Live Gold

A Parent’s Guide to Xbox Game Pass

A Parent’s Guide to PlayStation Now


The new PlayStation Plus program is definitely worth a look if you are in the market for a gaming subscription service. With its low price and wealth of content, there is something for everyone in this program. Not to mention, the added features make it an even more appealing option for families. Be sure to check out all the details on Sony’s website so that you can decide if PlayStation Plus is right for you! And don’t forget to let us know what you think about the new program in the comments below.

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Update – 08/14/2022

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It’s no secret that video games are extremely popular among kids and teenagers. In fact, gaming is one of the most popular pastimes for young people all over the world. If you’re a parent, you may be wondering how you can get your kids into video games.

Here are a few tips:

Set up a gaming area in your home.

A lot of parents ask us to recommend good locations in the house for gaming areas. It’s a good question because everyone’s house is different. Our recommendation is that you have game consoles set up in one of the main areas of the house where it will be convenient and comfortable for you, as parents, to be with your kids while they are playing. This will give your kids their own space to play games while still making it easy for you to monitor their activity. My only specific recommendation is to make sure the area is well-lit and comfortable so they can enjoy their gaming experience. If it isn’t comfortable, then they might not use it.

Buy them age-appropriate games.

There are literally thousands of video games on the market, so it’s important to choose ones that are appropriate for your child’s age and interests. If you’re not sure what to buy, then that’s ok. We have plenty of recommendations for all consoles in our EFG Essentials recommendations. These lists of games include recommendations across a variety of genres and themes. You can check out our essential family game recommendations for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, or Xbox at these links.

Encourage them to game with friends.

One of the best things about video games is that they can be enjoyed with friends. If your child is interested in gaming, encourage them to game with their friends. Not only is it a great way for them to stay social, but studies have shown that playing video games with friends can improve teamwork skills and communication skills.

Play Games with Your Kids!

One of the best ways to get your kids into gaming is to get involved yourself. Play video games with your kids and let them show you how it’s done. Not only will this help you bond with your kids, but you might just find that you enjoy gaming as well! (Who are we kidding? Of course, you’ll enjoy video games!)

Talk to your kids about games

Show an interest in what your kids are playing and ask them about their favorite games. This will help you bond with them over a shared interest and will make it easier to monitor their gaming activity.

So there you have it! Our tips on how to get your kids into video games. What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to share this post with all of your friends who have little ones at home. Gaming is a great way to bond with your children, help them learn new skills, and have some fun together. And who knows – maybe they’ll even teach you a thing or two about the latest gaming trends.

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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to video games:

Battle Pass


A Battle Pass is a collection of rewards and cosmetics that slowly becomes available through play over a set period of time. These collections are often available either through real-life or in-game currencies and are often paired with rewards that are free for all players. 

Battle Passes reward players who consistently play throughout the month, with rewards that renew on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Battle Passes are often priced so that they can be purchased using real or in-game currency.

Fortnite Battle Pass

The Battle Pass’s name originated in Fortnite, but most major free-to-play multiplayer games have integrated some variation of a Battle Pass into their play and reward offerings.



Examples:

  • MTG Arena Season Pass
  • Fortnite Battle Pass

So, what do you think? Are Battle Passes a good way to keep players engaged and coming back for more? Or are they just another ploy by developers to get more of our hard-earned cash? Let us know in the comments below! And don’t forget to check out our other blog posts for more great content like this.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

You can also look at our other video game definitions from previous weeks here!

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get

Your Family Game On!

The EFG Essentials

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GTA6 is coming! And that means parents need to start paying attention. This game is rated M for a reason. It’s not appropriate for kids. In this blog post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about GTA6 (that we know so far) so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not it’s appropriate for your child.

GTA games are known for their violence, gore, and sexual content. GTA games have always been popular among kids and teens. GTAV was no different. The game was so popular that it sold over 11 million copies in its first week. That’s a lot of copies! And that means a lot of kids were playing it.

I’ve said it before on Engaged Family Gaming content. I’m not here to judge. You know your kids and your family better than any of us here at EFG do. So if you want to let them play, then by all means. Our goal is to provide as much information as we can about the content of the game so that you can make a real decision.

Grand Theft Auto 6 Is Going to be Everywhere

A recent report revealed that GTA6 is deep in development. We also know that Rockstar Games, the developer behind the game, has all hands on deck developing it. That tells us that an official announcement isn’t far off and the hype train for its launch will only start building from there. GTAV is one of the best-selling games of all time. Its successor will likely be a MONSTER. It will be a major topic in every available form of media once it releases. There won’t really be any way for you to avoid it.

And if you can’t avoid it, then your kids can’t either. They will see ads. They will likely watch streams and YouTube videos. And, more importantly, they’ll hear about it from other kids either at school, in sports, or on the bus. It is almost inevitable that they will ask for the game so we want to make sure you have all the information that you can so you can be prepared.

The Potential ESRB Rating

Grand Theft Auto 6 is still in development and doesn’t have a release date (or even a release window at this point. That means we don’t have ESRB information about it yet. But, we can infer what the ESRB rating will be based on the rating information for GTA5. It was rated M for mature with the content descriptors “Blood and Gore,” “Intense Violence,” “Mature Humor,” “Nudity,” “Strong Language,” “Strong Sexual Content,” and “Use of Drugs and Alcohol.” That is quite the laundry list of mature descriptors.

Sexual Content and Violence Against Women

One thing that I think is worth being called out separately is the sexual content. Parents often think of violence when they think about GTA games. But, the sexual content is often either forgotten or isn’t even thought about at all. This leads parents who are less concerned about violence to let the game slide. (This is a pretty common thing in the US. Many parents are far more concerned about nudity and sexuality than they are about guns and violence.)

Another detail from the Bloomberg report is that GTA6 will feature a Latina protagonist. That is, admittedly, a big step for the franchise. It does mean that all of the violence being done against you while playing the game will likewise be done to a woman.

The Choice is Ultimately in Parents’ Hands

So there you have it, parents. Everything you need to know about Grand Theft Auto 6. It’s coming out soon and it looks like it will be just as violent and explicit as its predecessors. Let us know what you think in the comments below! Are you going to let your kids play? or will you be staying away?

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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to video games:

Metroidvania

Metroidvania is a genre of games that features an interconnected map where shortcuts or entire portions of the map are locked away. These inaccessible areas are opened by in-game keys, or with new abilities acquired by the character during play.

This term comes from its first popular use in the SNES title Super Metroid and the PS1 title: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. The interconnected nature of this design encourages exploration without tedious backtracking.

Metroidvania-style games often fall in the action/adventure genre of video games, but exist in other genres as well.


Metroidvania games will often include abilities and items that encourage players to rethink and re-explore places that have already been traveled through during the first part of the game.

The player will often encounter branching pathways where one or more exits are made inaccessible by being too far, too high up, or too hazardous to access.

These games will often have maps that loop back on themselves after unlocking more of the map through a key or new ability, which creates this feeling of an organically expanding world instead of a series of curated experiences.

Some examples of these types of abilities are:

  • Missiles (Metroid Series)
  • Double Jump (Symphony of the Night)
  • Cut/Surf (Pokemon Series)
  • Pollo Power (Guacamelee)

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

You can also look at our other video game definitions from previous weeks here!

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get

Your Family Game On!

The EFG Essentials

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Looking for some fun this August? Check out our family-friendly video game release calendar! We’ve got all the best games for kids of all ages. Whether you’re into action, adventure, or puzzle games, we’ve got something for everyone. So get ready to have some fun!

Family-Friendly Video Game Calendar

South of the Circle 

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

August 3

South of the Circle is an upcoming adventure game, set in Antarctica in the year 1911, and follows the story of explorer Simon Collier as he seeks to uncover the secrets of a lost expedition. South of the Circle is a point-and-click adventure game, which means that players will be able to interact with the environment and solve puzzles in order to progress.

Turbo Golf Racing 

Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC

August 4

Turbo Golf Racing returns players to the familiar and frantic format of multiplayer arcade golf. This time, however, the fairways are covered with obstacles and Kart Racer power-ups and players will have to use their wits and clubs to make it to the green in one piece. With a variety of game modes, including a story-driven campaign, Turbo Golf Racing promises hours of fun for golf fans and newcomers alike.

Two Point Campus

 PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

August 9

Two Point Campus is the latest game from Two Point Studios, and it’s a campus building simulator that lets you build the school of your dreams. The game is set in the fictional town of Two Point, and you’ll be able to build and manage your own campus, complete with dorms, classrooms, and other buildings. You’ll also be able to hire staff, recruit students, and decorate your campus to make it look just the way you want.

Lost in Play

Switch, PC

August 10

In Lost in Play, gamers take on the role of a young girl named Maya who finds herself transported to a strange world where she must use her wits to find her way home. The game is set in a colorful and vibrant world, and it’s up to the player to help Maya navigate through its many puzzles and challenges. Lost in Play looks to be a unique and enjoyable gaming experience. Definitely worth keeping an eye on!

Rumbleverse

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

August 11

Rumbleverse is a multiplayer arena brawler that pits up to four players against each other in fast-paced battles. Choose from a diverse roster of characters, each with their own unique abilities and playstyles. Then duke it out in a variety of arenas, ranging from medieval castles to futuristic cityscapes. With its accessible yet deep gameplay, Rumbleverse is perfect for both casual and competitive gamers.

Marvel’s Spider-Man

PC

August 12 

The original Spider-Man on PS4 was our Game of the Year. This is a PC port with all sorts of graphical bells and whistles. If you haven’t played the original release and have a PC powerful enough to take advantage of the update, then this is a must-own.

Blossom Tales 2: The Minotaur Prince

Switch, PC

August 16

Blossom Tales 2: The Minotaur Prince is a charming sequel to the original Blossom Tales. In this game, you play as Lily, a young knight who sets out on a quest to save her kingdom from the evil Minotaur Prince. The game is full of cute characters and lively scenery, and the gameplay is simple and fun. We were big fans of the original, so this is high on our lists right now.

Cursed to Golf 

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

August 18

In Cursed to Golf, players take on the role of a cursed golfer who is stuck in a never-ending loop of golfing torment. Along the way, players will encounter various power-ups and items that can help them overcome the curse. Cursed to Golf is a fun and challenging game that is perfect for any fan of golf or platforming games.

RPG Time: The Legend of Wright 

Switch

August 18

RPG time is a very cool action RPG that combines all sorts of different art styles. I’ve written a handful of descriptions and none of them do it justice. So… here is a video to show you what it looks like.

Madden NFL 23 

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

August 19

Madden NFL 23 is the latest installment in the long-running football video game franchise. As with previous games in the series, Madden NFL 23 lets players take control of their favorite teams and compete against friends or AI opponents. One of the biggest improvements has come to the Face of the Franchise mode. Instead of being a rookie, you play as a 5th-year veteran. This is a significant change, but a welcome one as your player is higher ranked and the context for your activities changes since you’re established in the league. Additionally, Madden NFL 23 features a number of improvements to gameplay and visual graphics, making it the most immersive football gaming experience yet. Whether you’re a diehard fan of the series or just getting into it, Madden NFL 23 is sure to please.

Pac-Man World Re-Pac 

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

August 26

Who doesn’t love Pac-Man? The original arcade game was released in 1980 and quickly became a global phenomenon. Over the years, there have been many different Pac-Man games released, but none quite like Pac-Man World Re-Pac. This new game is a full remake of the original Pac-Man World, and it’s coming to PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC on August 26.

So what’s new in Pac-Man World Re-Pac? For starters, the game has been completely modernized with HD graphics and 60fps gameplay. The controls have also been updated so that you can play with either a controller or keyboard and mouse. In addition, there are now four difficulty levels to choose from, making the game accessible to players of all skill levels. And of course, no Pac-Man game would be complete without ghosts! In this new version of the game, you’ll be able to choose from four different ghost characters, each with their own unique abilities.

Destroy All Humans 2: Reprobed 

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC

August 30

The wait is finally over! “Destroy All Humans 2: Reprobed” will be released on August 30th for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC. The game picks up where the first one left off, with Crypto 126 crash-landing on Earth and having to rebuild his ship. However, this time around there are new challenges to face, including an all-new enemy faction. In addition, the game will feature updated graphics and gameplay mechanics, making it the ultimate “Destroy All Humans 2” experience. So mark your calendars and get ready to blast some humans!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection 

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC)

August 30

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back and they’re looking better than ever in their new 4K remaster, The Cowabunga Collection. This collection includes all four of the classic TMNT games, updated for current-gen consoles with better graphics, faster performance, and all-new features. You’ll be able to team up with your friends in local co-op or online multiplayer, and there’s even a new mode called “Turtle Power” that allows you to play as one of the Turtles’ friends or foes. Whether you’re a long-time fan of the franchise or just getting into it, The Cowabunga Collection is a must-have. So grab your pizza and get ready to shell out some serious ninja action!

Tinykin 

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

August 30

Tinykin is an adorably animated Pikmin-like puzzle game. You play as a scientist named Milo who finds himself in a massive house that has been frozen in time. You explore the house and collect Tinykin (Pikmin-like critters) that have different powers to help solve puzzles.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your That’s it for our video game release calendar! We hope you find something that your family can enjoy. Which is your favorite? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts! And don’t forget to check out our other posts for more great gaming content.

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Historically, summer has been a slow time for video games. Publishers would often push their games off to the fall to have their games incorporated into the Holiday rush. That doesn’t happen so much anymore. There are so many video games being released each year that there really isn’t any dead time. This June is no exception.

Below is a list of some of the best video games being released to consoles and PC in the month of June. All of them are rated T for Teen or lower by the ESRB.

Silt 

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC – June 1

Silt is a black and white, atmospheric adventure game that is a cross between Limbo and Song of the Sea. It’s rated T for Teen by the ESRB, but it has a creepy vibe that might shake some kids.

Card Shark 

Switch, PC – June 2

I didn’t think I would ever be writing about a game like this. Card Shark is a game set in 18th Century France and you play as a gambler trying to win games of cards to get access to the King. The key here is that you win by cheating.

Souldiers 

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC – June 2



We’ll have to play it and find out if it is any good. But, Souldiers is the combination of Souls-like combat, Metroid-like map exploration, and RPG elements. You choose one of three classes and progress through a fantasy world full of traps, monsters, and other hazards. I’ve been looking forward to this one since it was announced and was pretty bummed when it was delayed from its original release date in May, but the time is almost here!

Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy 

Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC – June 2

Unexplored 2 is an Open World, Roguelite RPG that is all about exploration. It has a gorgeous hand-drawn art style, snappy combat, and a massive world to explore.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords 

Switch – June 8

It’s a good time to be a Star Wars fan. The Disney + TV shows are (mostly) well-loved and there are plenty of great video games to play. Star Wars: KOTOR 2 is a blast from the past that is being pulled forward into the Switch for a new generation of players to enjoy. The only question that remains: Which side of the Force will you choose?

Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Hinokami Chronicles 

Switch – June 10



Demon Slayer is a very popular anime right now so a video game adaptation was inevitable. This has already been available on PC, Playstation, and Xbox, and is now being brought to Switch. This one earns its T rating with anime blood splatter and some foul language. With that said, the action in the game is no better or worse than the anime so if your kids are watching the show (on Netflix) then you can feel comfortable letting them play the game.

Mario Strikers: Battle League – EFG Pick of the Month!!!

Switch – June 10

I have to be honest. I never thought I would see the day when Nintendo would release another Mario Soccer game, but here we are. Mario Strikers: Battle League is a 5 v 5 soccer game that features Mario characters and over-the-top action. It isn’t a traditional soccer game though. This is a battle soccer game with full contact, an electric fence, and most of the weapons from Mario Kart. Our family has been counting down the days since its announcement and it’s almost time to take the pitch!

Redout 2 

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC – June 16

F-Zero and Wipeout are well-loved franchises that are mostly dead in the water right now. Redoubt 2 is a new entry in the Zero-G racing genre and it is FAST. If you liked those games in the past, or think your kids might, then this looks like a great option.

Fall Guys

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Switch – June 21 

Fall Guys is finally coming to Switch and Xbox! It’s been a huge hit on PlayStation and PC and I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t continue that success elsewhere. As an added bonus: It’s now a free-to-play game that everyone on those consoles can enjoy!

Wreckfest 

Switch – June 21 



Wreckfest is a destruction derby simulator with a whole bunch of game modes. There isn’t much to say about it beyond that. If you like the idea of crashing cars into each other, then this is a game to keep on your radar.

Sonic Origins 

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC – June 23

This is a collection that includes Sonic 1, 2, 3, and Sonic CD in one package. They are remastered with improved visuals and animations and a bunch of other perks (like being able to play as either Tales or Knuckles in any of the games). The original versions of the games are included in the package as well.

Capcom Fighting Collection 

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC – June 24

This is a massive collection of Capcom fighting games. The cynical among us might assume that This is just a collection of Street Fighter games, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The collection also includes a number of Dark Stalkers games (some of which were never released in North America), Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, as well as Cyberbots and Red Earth (two fighting games that were never even released on consoles before!) Fighting game fans should keep their eyes peeled for this one.

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes 

Switch – June 24

Fire Emblem is an immensely popular strategy RPG series that, somehow, blends perfectly with the bombastic one vs many combat in Musou games. My oldest is a massive Fire Emblem: Three Houses fan and Three Hopes is presenting an alternate universe story with many of the same characters.

DNF Duel 

PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PC) – June 28

DNF Duel is a wild fighting game from ARC System Works where each of the characters are adventuring classes from a dungeon crawler like Ranger and Berseker as opposed to named characters.


What do you think? Are you picking any of these games up this June? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

The EFG Essentials

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The Engaged Family Gaming team has the mission to provide information and support to families who want to play video games with their kids (and board games too). We work hard to provide parents with the tools they need to make informed decisions about their children’s gaming. To facilitate this, we help parents who might not be “gamers” themselves learn to understand the games their children are playing and help them find great video games for their kids.

The “EFG Essentials” is a core collection of games we frequently recommend across different genres. The purpose of these essentials is to provide a starting point for families to engage with high-quality games. Below are our EFG Essential games for kids for both the PS4 and PS5.  We have chosen at the moment to include both of these systems on to one list as there are currently very few PS5 exclusives at the moment and even fewer that would fall under the “Family Game” umbrella.

Minecraft

  • ESRB rating: E 10+
  • Survival
  • Also Available On PS4, Xbox One, and Everything that has an electronic signal

 Minecraft is one of the best-selling games of all time, and one of EFG’s family games of the last decade. It is so well known that I questioned whether or not to include it here. But, it is too important of a game to leave off. 

Minecraft holds a special place in a lot of kids’ hearts because it is so flexible. It can be so many different games for so many different people. It can be a survival game, a creative outlet, a multiplayer battle game, and more. It even ends up being the equivalent of a popular TV show considering how many hours of the game are consumed globally each month (Hint: It’s a lot.)

Marvel’s Spider-Man

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Action-adventure
  • Exclusive

Spider-Man was our game of the year in 2018, and would easily hold its own against other games of the year that we’ve announced in the past. Insomniac Games was the perfect developer to bring the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man to life. They were able to capture the true essence of what makes Spider-Man a fun hero to watch and to play: the traversal.

Swinging around New York City looking for backpacks, finding crimes to fight, and battling with supervillains was a blast from the very first second until its emotional end.

Madden 2021

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Sports Game
  • PC, Xbox One

Madden 2021 is the singular NFL title for all your gaming needs. If you are looking for a high-quality football simulation with all the applicable NFL licenses this is going to be your go-to.

MLB The Show 21

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Sports Game
  • Exclusive

The exclusive Major League Baseball property across all platforms, MLB The Show 21 is an exceptional baseball simulation.  This year’s version brings two changes to the classic game. First, there is now a ballpark creator mode that allows you to custom-build your own ballpark to whatever specifications you desire.  Secondly and we believe more importantly this is the first time that this is not a Sony Exclusive and instead has been released on both the Playstation and Xbox platforms, allowing access to the game to a whole slew of players that could only look on from behind a Sony sized wall.

NBA 2K22

  • ESRB Rating E
  • Sports Game
  • Also Available On PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5

Buy NBA 2K22 on Amazon.

The NBA 2K games are far and away the most consistent and best performing NBA property on the market today.  This is truly a basketball simulation that allows you to play as any of the current NBA teams, customize your own, or even play as some of the iconic teams of the past. 

WWE 2K22

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Genre: Sports Game
  • Also Available On PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series

Buy WWE 2k22 on Amazon.

In WWE 2K22, you can take your dream of becoming a WWE superstar and make it a reality. With over 200 superstars from throughout WWE’s history to choose from, you and your family will enjoy laying the Smackdown on each other in a family-friendly way.

2K20 was remarkably bad. So bad in fact that they took a year off from publishing in order to refine the game engine. 2k22 is a return to form for the franchise.

This year’s entry gives you the chance to relive highlights from the brilliant career of Rey Mysterio Jr. Some of his biggest highlights are missing because the opponent isn’t in the game. But, it is a fun ride through history nonetheless.

Rocket League

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Sports Game
  • Also Available On: PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, macOS, Classic Mac OS, Linux

Rocket League is, quite literally, soccer as played by rocket-powered vehicles. It launched in 2015 to great fanfare and has only grown as they added more game modes like “hockey” and “basketball”

This is a great game to play (and watch) because of how wild the matches can be. There is just something exciting about watching race cars flying around a trach crashing into a massive steel ball and trying to score a goal.

The Messenger

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Platform Game
  • Also Available On PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Simply put… The Messenger is a modern response to the Ninja Gaiden series from the NES era. Sabotage Studio is a team full of people who love that game and have gone out of their way to show their reverence in game form.

It isn’t an easy game, but the experience is well worth the effort. The soundtrack alone is worth spending time with the game. But, exploring the different levels AND playing with time travel mechanics are rewarding.

This is definitely a game that needs to be on your radar.

Sackboy: A Big Adventure

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Platform Game

LittleBigPlanet gave the world a gift in Sackboy. Sony didn’t really have a mascot until he came along and he finally gets his own dedicated game in Sackboy: A Big Adventure.

Overwatch

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • First-person Shooter
  • Also Available On PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Overwatch is a great alternative for parents looking to let their kids play a multiplayer shooter. It features cartoonish graphics, a diverse cast of characters, and a number of game modes that keep things interesting. One of the things we love about Overwatch is that the cartoonish aesthetic helped keep the ESRB rating down, and makes this more of an Avengers-like experience than a Saving Private Ryan one.

Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart

  • ESRB Rating:E 10+
  • Platform Game
  • PS5 exclusive

The sixth installment of the wildly successful Ratchet & Clank series, Rift Apart leverages the capabilities of the PS5 to provide exceptionally smooth gameplay and stunning visuals that were not possible on the previous versions of the Playstation.  This game stays true to the themes and style of the previous Ratchet and Clank installments; it introduces plenty of new twists and turns such as the “Rift Tether” that allows the player to instantly change worlds, and the introduction of Rivet, the first playable female character in the franchise.

Kingdom Hearts All-in-One

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Action Role-playing
  • Also Available On Xbox One

The Kingdom Hearts All-In-One package includes 10 different Kingdom Hearts experiences dating back to the PlayStation 2. This is an amazing value for Disney fans who are looking for an Action RPG series to sink their teeth into. Once you finish this amazing collection you can pick up Kingdom Hearts 3. 

Stardew Valley

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Simulation
  • Also Available On: PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, Playstation Vita

Stardew Valley is a remarkable game. It is a farming and life simulator where you play as a younger person who inherits relatives run-down farm. You need to build it up, explore the surrounding wilderness, meet people, get married, etc. It is a wildly engaging game that has been a sensation since it’s release. This is a great game to relax with. 

Final Fantasy XV

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Action Role-playing
  • Also Available On: PC, Xbox One, Stadia

The Final Fantasy Series is a benchmark against which all role-playing games are weighted. Final Fantasy 15 is one of the best stand-alone role-playing games of the PS4/Xbox One era.  The Final Fantasy series incorporates fantasy and futuristic elements into a compelling story.  

Final Fantasy 15 is a coming-of-age story, as the young prince Noctis grows from a brash teen to an adult and wielder of magic powers. His journey is assisted by three friends that are as many mentors as they are friends, each with stories in their own right. 

With a steady, fast pace in mind, Final Fantasy 15 handles the action in the third person view. It has simple commands mapped to the controller ahead of time. Combat happens in real-time, players can choose to pause the action for an opportunity to plan and strategize which is an anchor point of the RPG experience. 

The Final Fantasy Series represents a collection of stories throughout gaming history. All of the games are great in their own right, and everyone has a favorite that can be endlessly argued

FIFA 2021

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Sports Game
  • Also Available On PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Stadia

Soccer (Football for our international readers) is the most popular sport on Earth. It stands to reason then that the digital version would be wildly successful as well. If your kids play soccer, then they likely have this game on their wish lists every year. I can’t say that I blame them. FIFA does amazing work each year in crafting as authentic and fun of an experience as they can.

Tetris Effect

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Puzzle
  • Also Available On PC, Oculus Quest

Just like the original Tetris, Tetris Effect requires you to place tiles in order to clear lines.  This update though adds themes and music through different levels based on the beat of the music.  It also adds a mechanic that allows you to place several blocks at once and a VR compatibility that varies greatly from your standard Tetris game.  This is a high-quality addition to one of the most popular gaming titles ever.

Horizon: Forbidden West

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Action Role-playing

Buy Horizon: Forbidden West on Amazon

Horizon: Forbidden West is an open-world action and adventure title that takes place in a land so far removed from a global catastrophe that civilization has reset again in the ruins of ancient cities. The game encompasses a rich story, beautiful landscapes, and great voice acting.  In addition, there is the thrill of hunting giant robot dinosaurs.

The Story of Horizon: Forbidden West continues the story of Aloy, a young woman raised as an outcast, and her struggles to navigate and explore the lands beyond her home. This time around she is recognized everywhere as a hero who has already saved the world. She has to face the ramifications of that newfound fame while trying to save everyone from a dangerous blight that threatens to choke out all life. This takes her to new regions and introduces her to new tools, new people, and new robot beasts to fight.

Rocket League

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Sports Game
  • Also Available On PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, macOS, Linux

Rocket League is, quite literally, soccer as played by rocket-powered vehicles. It launched in 2015 to great fanfare and has only grown as they added more game modes like “hockey” and “basketball”

This is a great game to play (and watch) because of how wild the matches can be. There is just something exciting about watching race cars flying around a trach crashing into a massive steel ball and trying to score a goal. 

Hollow Knight

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Platform Game/Metroidvania
  • Also Available On PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, macOS, Linux

Hollow Knight is an independently developed action game that blends the best of Castlevania and Dark Souls into a beautiful and family-friendly title. You take on the role of a wanderer who is brought to the entrance of The Hollowness from unknown circumstances. 

The Hollowness is an interconnected dungeon with multiple entrances and exits to each beautifully crafted zone. Every part of the Hollowness is built to be both journey and destination, with levers and gates revealing backtracking paths to the surface, and many difficult challenges focusing on platform-based movement and fair, but brutal combat. 

Hollow Knight is built to unfold by itself in a very organic path. Exploration and curiosity open up alternate paths and entire sections of the world. Your skills and the story are shown rather than told and are left for you to discover through environment and inference rather than straight and simple exposition.

LEGO Games

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Action Adventure
  • Also Available On PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, macOS

From Harry Potter and Star Wars to Marvel and DC, LEGO has consistently captured the imagination of kids 0-99.  That they have somehow managed to consistently do this with their video games titles is somewhat remarkable.  Most of their games follow the same basic format of providing you with familiar characters to interact with your environment while collecting blocks either by battling enemies or destroying objects in the world around you.  This has proved a winning formula time and time again and has provided tens of thousands of hours of entertainment to its fans.

Plants vs Zombies: Neighborville

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Tower Defense
  • Also Available On PC, Xbox One

Parents regularly approach the EFG team looking for alternatives to more violent M-rated shooters on the market. We regularly suggest the Plants Vs Zombies Garden Warfare series. This is the latest entry to the series, but any of them are worthy additions to your collection. 

Everything about this game is all bright colors and goofy characters.  There is even a Disco Zombie character! 

Everybody’s Golf

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Sports Game
  • Exclusive

The latest installment in the series “formerly known as Hot Shots Golf” was published specifically for Sony platforms.  Everybody’s Golf is a cartoony arcade-style golf game that allows for single-player or online multiplayer gameplay.  The gameplay is refreshing and simple allowing for easier accessibility to players of all ages. In keeping with the theme, Sony has also decided that if you need a break you can feel free to drive your golf cart anywhere you like.  This is typically frowned upon by the “establishment” for those that would like to know and infinitely entertaining.  Go out, play golf with everybody, and have a great time.

Journey

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Adventure Art Game
  • Also Available On: Playstation 3, PC, iOS
Journey Video Game Review - Video Game Review of Journey on ...
Click the image to purchase

Journey is one of the best games to come out in the last decade. It is a relatively short experience where you guide a cloaked wanderer through a desert, but the way that this game handles multiplayer will take your breath away. 

No Man’s Sky: Beyond

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Survival
  • Also Available On: PC, Xbox One

No Man’s Sky was released in 2016 and wasn’t very well received. However, Hello Games has been releasing regular, free updates since its launch. It is almost unrecognizable from its original form now. It still has the exploration mode, but it has base building, a creative mode, multiplayer, and more!

Dragon Quest 11: Echoes of an Elusive Age

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Role-playing
  • Also Available On PC, Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS

Dragon Quest XI is the most recent edition to an ongoing series of role-playing games by Square Enix. The series is known for the art style of Akira Toriyama, the creator of Dragon Ball. 

Dragon Quest is a series that consistently comes out with a reliable turn-based combat system that has seen nothing but simple improvements. 

Its place as an EFG essential is based on its ease of entry in an ongoing, fantasy story. The fantasy elements that many other games work off of got their start here with a chosen warrior of light and a band of friends and heroes rally to fight the darkness. 

Dragon Quest has had a consistent following in Japan since its first incarnation on the NES in the 1980s. That following was earned by creating a game that was as much a storybook as it was a turn-based game.

Addendum: Fortnite

At this point almost every kid on Earth has played Fortnite. But, we wanted to include it here for the sake of completion. It is a worthy recommendation though. Fortnite is huge. It is a great alternative for more mature shooters since there is no blood and most of the action is over the top and silly as opposed to violent.

The EFG Essentials are reviewed and updated every few months to make sure we have the most current information for our readers. Last updated 4/10/2022.


The EFG Essential Guide Collections

Check out our other Essentials Guides for great collections of games!

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

Follow us on Facebook!

Like us on Twitter!

Follow us on Instagram!

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Subscribe to our Podcast!

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The Engaged Family Gaming team has the mission to provide information and support families who want to play video games with their kids (and board games too). We work hard to provide parents with the tools they need to make informed decisions about their children’s gaming. To facilitate this, we help parents who might not be “gamers” themselves learn to understand the games their children are playing and help them find great video games for their kids.

The “EFG Essentials” is a core collection of games we frequently recommend across different genres. The purpose of these essentials is to provide a starting point for families to engage with high-quality games. Below are our EFG Essential games for kids on the Xbox One.

Minecraft

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Genre: Survival
  • Also Available On PS4, Xbox One, Everything that can play video games

Minecraft is one of the best-selling games of all time, and one of EFG’s family games of the last decade. It is so well known that I questioned whether or not to include it here. But, it is too important of a game to leave off. 

Minecraft holds a special place in a lot of kids’ hearts because it is so flexible. It can be so many different games to so many different people. It can be a survival game, a creative outlet, a multiplayer battle game, and more. It even ends up being the equivalent of a popular TV show considering how many hours of the game are consumed globally each month (Hint: It’s a lot.)

Madden 2021

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Genre: Sports Game
  • Also Available On: PC, PS4

Madden 2021 is the singular NFL title for all your gaming needs. If you are looking for a high-quality football simulation with all the applicable NFL licenses this is going to be your go-to.

NBA 2K22

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Genre: Sports Game
  • Also Available On: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X

Buy NBA 2K22 on Amazon.

The NBA 2K games are far and away the most consistent and best performing NBA property on the market today.  This is truly a basketball simulation that allows you to play as any of the current NBA teams, customize your own, or even play as some of the iconic teams of the past. 

WWE 2K22

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Genre: Sports Game
  • Also Available On PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series

Buy WWE 2k22 on Amazon.

In WWE 2K22, you can take your dream of becoming a WWE superstar and make it a reality. With over 200 superstars from throughout WWE’s history to choose from, you and your family will enjoy laying the Smackdown on each other in a family-friendly way.

2K20 was remarkably bad. So bad in fact that they took a year off from publishing in order to refine the game engine. 2k22 is a return to form for the franchise.

This year’s entry gives you the chance to relive highlights from the brilliant career of Rey Mysterio Jr. Some of his biggest highlights are missing because the opponent isn’t in the game. But, it is a fun ride through history nonetheless.

New Super Lucky’s Tale

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Genre: Platform Game
  • Also Available On: PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4

An adorable game perfect for families.  This cartoony platformer is the sequel to the original Lucky’s Tale and follows the adventures of a fox, Lucky Swiftail, as you try and protect the Book of Ages and all the characters and worlds within.  The gameplay varies from your standard open level 3D worlds to the occasional puzzle levels and even some 2D side-scrolling just to add flavor. This is wholesome entertainment great for the whole family to enjoy together.

Rocket League

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Genre: Sports Game
  • Also Available On: PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, macOS, Linux

Rocket League is, quite literally, soccer as played by rocket-powered vehicles. It launched in in 2015 to great fanfare and has only grown as they added more game-modes like “hockey” and “basketball”

This is a great game to play (and watch) because of how wild the matches can be. There is just something exciting about watching race cars flying around a trach crashing into a massive steel ball and trying to score a goal. 

The Messenger

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Genre: Platform Game
  • Also Available On: PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4
Click Image to Purchase

Simply put… The Messenger is a modern response to the Ninja Gaiden series from the NES era. Sabotage Studio is a team full of people who love that game and have gone out of their way to show their reverence in game form.

It isn’t an easy game, but the experience is well worth the effort. The soundtrack alone is worth spending time with the game. But, exploring the different levels AND playing with the time travel mechanics are rewarding.

This is definitely a game that needs to be on your radar.

Steamworld Dig 2

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Genre: Platform Game/Metroidvania
  • Also Available On: PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, macOS, Linux, Playstation Vita, Nintendo 3DS, Stadia
Click Image to Purchase

Image and Form games is a small game development studio from Sweden. They have made several games in various genres that are feature steam powered robots as the characters. Steamworld Dig 2 is all about … digging. You are constantly digging deeper into a planet in search of resources and secrets. This is a wonderful exploration game that everyone should try! (The rest fo the Steamworld games are worth a look too!)

Overwatch

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Genre: First-person Shooter
  • Also Available On: PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4

Overwatch is a great alternative for parents looking to let their kids play a multiplayer shooter. It features cartoonish graphics, a diverse cast of characters, and a number of game modes that keep things interesting. One of the things we love about Overwatch is that the cartoonish aesthetic helped keep the ESRB rating down, and makes this more of an Avengers-like experience than a Saving Private Ryan one.

Kingdom Hearts 3

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Genre: Action Role-playing
  • Also Available On: PS4

Kingdom Hearts 3 is the culmination of a gaming franchise that dates back to the PlayStation 2. The series is a mish-mash of Final Fantasy characters and Disney worlds that has no right to be as good as it is. The story is … complex… but visiting Disney worlds and battling evil monsters is a lot of fun. 

Stardew Valley

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Genre: Simulation
  • Also Available On: PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, Playstation Vita

Stardew Valley is a remarkable game. It is a farming and life simulator where you play as a younger person who inherits a relatives run down farm. You need to build it up, explore the surrounding wilderness, meet people, get married, etc. It is a wildly engaging game that has been a sensation since it’s release. This is a great game to relax with. 

Forza Motorsports 7

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Genre: Racing
  • Also Available On: PC

Forza Motorsports 7 is a simulation racer. It is significantly more challenging than its arcade racer cousin Forza Horizon. It is intended to provide a more authentic driving experience. It also happens to be a drop-dead gorgeous racing game that features famous race tracks from around the world. 

Forza Horizons 4

  • ESRB Rating:E
  • Genre: Racing
  • Also Available On: PC

Forza Horizon 4 is an arcade racing game that has so many cars in it, that any car person will have trouble recognizing all of them. The game has an amazing single-player campaign but an even better multiplayer. With the wide range of minigames and races to participate in you will not get bored, you can even customize and design your own cars. 

Final Fantasy XV

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Genre:Action Role-playing
  • Also Available On: PC, PS4, Stadia

Final Fantasy 15 is coming of age story, as the young prince Noctis grows from a brash teen to an adult and wielder of magic powers. His journey is assisted by three friends that are as much mentors as they are friends, each with stories in their own right. 

With a steady, fast pace in mind, Final Fantasy 15 handles action in the third person view. It has simple commands mapped to the controller ahead of time. Combat happens in real time, players can choose to pause the action for an opportunity to plan and strategize that is an anchor point of the RPG experience. 

FIFA 2021

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Genre: Sports Game
  • Also Available On: PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Stadia

Soccer (Football for our international readers) is the most popular sport on Earth. It stands to reason then that the digital version would be wildly successful as well. If your kids play soccer, then they likely have this game on their wish lists every year. I can’t say that I blame them. FIFA does amazing work each year in crafting as authentic and fun of an experience that they can.

Ori and the Blind Forest/Ori and the Will of the Wisps

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Genre: Platform Game/Metroidvania
  • Also Available On: PC

We went ahead and put both of these games on the list because, while they are separate games, they are both great. These are a pair of Metroidvania games that tell the story of Ori, a nature spirit, and their adventures through a dangerous, magical land. These are pretty challenging games – not for the easily frustrated – but they are beautiful and would be a great additions to your collection. 

The Show 2021

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Genre: Simulation Sports
  • Also Available on PS5

The exclusive Major League Baseball property across all platforms, MLB The Show 21 is an exceptional baseball simulation.  This year’s version brings two changes to the classic game. First, there is now a ballpark creator mode that allows you to custom-build your own ballpark to whatever specifications you desire.  Secondly and we believe more importantly this is the first time that this is not a Sony Exclusive and instead has been released on both the Playstation and Xbox platforms, allowing access to the game to a whole slew of players that could only look on from behind a Sony sized wall.

Celeste

  • ESRB Rating: E 10 +
  • Genre: Platform Game
  • Also Available On: PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC
Click Image to Purchase

In Celeste, you play as Madeline on a quest to survive her inner issues. This game is a platforming game that is really difficult. Each screen poses its own challenges, of which there are 700+ of them! As you learn new skills along the way, the game becomes more complex. As you run, air dash, and climb you will learn more about Madeline and the difficulties that she must face. If you want an even deeper challenge, you can go for all of the strawberries in the level, which require your best platforming abilities. Each world also has a B-side, which is a more difficult version of that world. Overall, Celeste is challenging but is not unforgiving. Anyone who is up to the challenge of a difficult platformer should give it a try!

LEGO Games

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Genre: Action Adventure
  • Also Available On: PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, macOS

From Harry Potter and Star Wars to Marvel and DC, LEGO has consistently captured the imagination of kids 0-99.  The fact that they have been able to do that with their video games has been remarkable. Most of their games follow the same basic format of providing you familiar characters to interact with your environment while collecting blocks either by battling enemies or destroying objects in the world around you.  This has proved a winning formula time and time again and has provided many many hours of entertainment to its fans.

Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Genre: Third-Person Shooter
  • Also Available On: PS4

Parents regularly approach the EFG team looking for alternatives to more violent M-rated shooters on the market. We regularly suggest the Plants Vs Zombies Garden Warfare series. This is the latest entry to the series, but any of them are worthy additions to your collection. 

Everything about this game is all bright colors and goofy characters.  There is even a Disco Zombie character! 

No Man’s Sky: Beyond

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Genre: Survival
  • Also Available On: PC, Xbox One

No Man’s Sky released in 2016 and wasn’t very well received. However, Hello Games has been releasing regular, free updates since launch. It is almost unrecognizable from its original form now. It still has the exploration on mode, but it has base building, a creative mode, multiplayer, and more!

Riverbond

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Genre: Action Adventure
  • Also Available On: PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4

Riverbond is a four-player drop-in/drop-out cooperative game that is a cross between Gauntlet and Minecraft with very simple controls that consists of attack, ranged attack, special attack, pick up/throw, block and jump. You and your friends slash your way through more than 100 levels, interacting and destroying everything in your path. The combat was easy to pick up and learn while at the same time being complex enough that I think that veteran gamers will be able to stay engaged and happy for quite a long time. I think it was the simplicity of the combat as a whole that is what made this game so great.  There was no need to get used to the controls, we just picked up and played and were able to focus on the game without getting lost in the mechanics of this. This is why I chose this game as my “Game Of The Show” for E3 2017.  It hit all the marks for me.  Family-friendly, easily accessible, and endlessly playable in any environment.

Slime Rancher

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Genre: Simulation
  • Also Available On: PC, PS4, macOS, Linux

In Slime Rancher you play a space-faring explorer who has landed on a planet filled with adorable bouncing slimes of different colors. The goal is to capture them, place them in enclosures, breed them, and collect resources they drop to expand your settlement. 

This is an adorable exploration game that is a great idea for kids looking for a temporary alternative to Minecraft. 

HALO 5: Guardians

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Genre: First Person Shooter
  • Also Available On: PC

The HALO franchise has never appeared as a recommended game on this site due to its M rating with the ESRBHALO 5: Guardians, however, is the first time in the series that has a T rating.  The conscious decision to create a game with a T rating finally brings this to our table for a larger cross-section of the population is amazing and if you own an Xbox One you need this game in your library.

Minecraft Dungeons

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Genre: Action Role-playing
  • Also Available On: Nintendo Switch, PS4, PC

Take Diablo but make it Minecraft. Sounds stupid but it makes a really good game. With infinite possibilities for weapons due to the enchanting system, and plenty of different ways to tackle every problem, and a very in-depth difficulty system. Minecraft Dungeons makes a great game for all ages.

Addendum: Fortnite

At this point, almost every kid on Earth has played Fortnite. But, we wanted to include it here for the sake of completion. It is a worthy recommendation though. Fortnite is huge. It is a great alternative for more mature shooters since there is no blood and most of the action is over the top and silly as opposed to bloody and realistic.

The EFG Essentials are reviewed and updated every few months to make sure we have the most current information for our readers. Last updated 11/7/20.

The EFG Essential Guide Collections

Check out our other Essentials Guides for great collections of games!



What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

Follow us on Facebook!

Like us on Twitter

Follow us on Instagram!

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Subscribe to our Podcast!

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestRedditEmail

The Engaged Family Gaming team has the mission to provide information and support families who want to play video games with their kids (and board games too). We work hard to provide parents with the tools they need to make informed decisions about their children’s gaming. To facilitate this, we help parents who might not be “gamers” themselves learn to understand the games their children are playing and help them find great video games for their kids.

The “EFG Essentials” is a core collection of games we frequently recommend across different genres. The purpose of these essentials is to provide a starting point for families to engage with high-quality games. Below are our EFG Essential games for kids on the Nintendo Switch.

Minecraft

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Survival
  • Also Available On: PS4, Xbox One

Minecraft is one of the best selling games of all time, and one of EFG’s family games of the last decade. It is so well known that I questioned whether or not to include it here. But, it is too important of a game to leave off. 

Minecraft holds a special place in a lot of kid’s hearts because it is so flexible. It can be so many different games for so many different people. It can be a survival game, a creative outlet, a multiplayer battle game, and more. It even ends up being the equivalent of a popular TV show considering how many hours of the game are consumed globally each month (Hint: It’s a lot.)

Super Mario Odyssey

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Platform Game
  • Exclusive

Super Mario Odyssey is a great Mario game that just about anyone can play and enjoy. In this edition, you can throw your hat at enemies to take control of them and you take over their bodies to use their powers. There is plenty of content here and collecting all 999 power moons is a challenge that does not get old. This is a must-buy for all Nintendo Switch owners

Super Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Racing
  • Exclusive

The Mario Kart series has slowly grown to be the biggest game in their stable of exclusives. Ever iteration is met with thunderous excitement and delivers fun that the entire family can enjoy! Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the definitive version of the very best that the franchise has to offer.

Every track is masterfully created (or recreated) and the music is jazzy and fun in all the right ways! Not only that, but the deluxe version includes the DLC that introduced Link and Isabelle to Mario Kart and made the case for the next game to just be called, “Nintendo Kart.”

This is the first game I recommend to families who buy the Nintendo Switch. It is an absolute must own.

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Action Role-playing
  • Exclusive

Long time EFG fans will know that this is one of my favorite games of all time and that means that the games above it have to be pretty significant in order to leave Breath of the Wild in the 4th spot. That isn’t to say that this isn’t one of, if not THE, best video games Nintendo has ever made though.

Breath of the Wild was our game of the year in 2017 and it faced stiff competition from Horizon: Zero Dawn.

It earned its place because it took the Legend of Zelda franchise in a bold new direction by eschewing the linear path of item collection and temple dungeon completion in favor of an open world that could be tackled in any order. Open world games are by no means new, but this was a welcome addition to Zelda and I can’t wait to see where they take it next.

Captain Toad Treasure Tracker

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Puzzle Game
  • Exclusive

Captain toad Treasure Tracker is a simple puzzle game that can be challenging but is very accessible. This was originally a minigame in Super Mario 3D World that was so in-depth they made it into a full game. We love spending time solving these puzzles.

It’s a top-down puzzle platformer without a jump button. Your goal is to get to the star usually at the top of the level, so you have to figure out how to get to the top. Definitely a fun time for all Puzzle game fans.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Fighting Game
  • Exclusive

The phrase, “Let’s settle it in Smash!” is very common in our house, and I can’t imagine that it is uncommon elsewhere.

The Super Smash Bros. series has been around since the Nintendo 64 era and it continually grows in scope and in popularity. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate lives up to his name and its fan base is huge as it is the best selling fighting game of all time. There are obviously members of the Super Smash Bros. community that prefer earlier games like Super Smash Bros. Melee. But, as far as we’re concerned it is the best game in the series.

It’s often difficult to recommend fighting games to anything other than fighting game fans. Smash is the exception I can recommend this game to anyone that owns a Nintendo switch and feels comfortable that they will enjoy it.

Super Mario Maker 2

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Platformer +
  • Exclusive

Super Mario Maker 2 is one of the best creative tools for young and adult gamers alike. This game lets you create Super Mario levels using art styles and mechanics from across the history of Nintendo. It has a well-made tutorial that offers plenty of new ideas. Players can browse player-made content by individual creators or select an endless mode that selects levels based on difficulty. Super Mario Maker 2 is easily the best level creation experience for the Nintendo Switch.

Pokemon Sword and Shield

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Role-Playing
  • Exclusive

Pokemon Sword and Shield are great Pokemon games and are great RPGs. With a team of six Pokemon, you will travel the Galar Region on your quest to become the champion. Though the campaign is short the post-game content is enough to last hundreds of hours. You can catch all the Pokemon, make a competitive team, and participate in online tournaments, or you can battle your friends. 

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Platform Game
  • Exclusive

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze is one of the best 2d platformers available on the Nintendo Switch. This is actually a rerelease of the original game that was available on the Wii U. It has been polished, and a new gameplay mode featuring Funky Kong has been added to help make the game more accessible to newer/younger players. Funky Kong moves through levels on his surfboard so he doesn’t take damage from spikes and can hover while he comes down from jumps. 

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Platform Game
  • Exclusive

One of the best games from the Wii U can now be played on your Nintendo Switch! This includes the original Super Mario 3D World and adds in a whole new adventure with the Bowser’s Fury add on. Bowser’s Fury is an open world type Mario Game that people of all ages can enjoy. If you have a little one, you can even have them play along with Mario as Bowser Jr.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Simulation
  • Exclusive

Animal Crossing New Horizons is a life sim game where you move to a deserted island with a group of animals. The goal is to spend time on your island making it beautiful, befriending other animals on the island, and earning money (bells). The available tasks change with the seasons, but there is always something to do. This is a must-have for Switch owners looking a relaxing game.

The Adventure Pals

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Platform Game
  • Also Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC

The Adventure Pals from Armor Games is an absurd jaunt through a bizarre world where almost nothing makes sense. Turtles can do backflips. Whales complain about “hashtag body shaming.” The hero’s best friend, Sparkles the giraffe, can use his tongue like a propeller to slow their collective fall. The villain wants to turn everyone into hot dog monsters. Every single one of those sentences is true. And here’s one more: This game is just as fun as it is ridiculous.

Shovel Knight Treasure Trove

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Platform Game
  • Also Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Wii U, 3DS

This wily Kickstarter from 2013 is still alive and kicking. Shovel Knight does an amazing job of taking all of the things that we love about old school platformers like Mega Man, Duck Tales, and even Castlevania and smashing them together into a wonderful, cohesive whole.

Shovel Knight is a fun protagonist whose adventures are silly more often than not, but packs some serious challenge. The other games in the treasure trove are all wonderful and feature different knights from the first game in their own wild adventures; each with their own mechanics and stories.

It’s hard to find a better value than Shovel Knight Treasure Trove and it is easy to recommend it to anyone, especially folks looking for an old school challenge!

Super Mario Party

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Party Game
  • Exclusive

The most recent update to the Mario Party franchise brings back to 4-player board game mode that has been so beloved as well as introducing a 2 vs 2 mode with grid based maps.  You can test your skills against the others in your living room as well as see how you stack up against others across the globe in the new Online Marathon feature.  Nintendo has also leveraged the ability to link two Nintendo Switch systems side by side on a table to play arena games or mini baseball.  This is going to be the party game that you want for game night.

Snipperclips

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Puzzle Game
  • Exclusive

Snipperclips is a two-player puzzle game where players each take on the role of different shapes. The goal is to overlap parts of each other’s “bodies” and “snip” off the overlapping pieces. This will let you complete challenges like creating a bowl-like shape to carry a ball across a playing field. This is a fully cooperative experience that is unlike anything else that you’ve seen before. 

Rocket League

  • ESRB Rating:E
  • Sports game
  • Also Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Rocket League is, quite literally, soccer as played by rocket-powered vehicles. It launched in in 2015 to great fanfare and has only grown as they added more game-modes like “hockey” and “basketball”

This is a great game to play (and watch) because of how wild the matches can be. There is just something exciting about watching race cars flying around a track and crashing into a massive steel ball and trying to score a goal. 

The Messenger

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Platform Game
  • Also Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Simply put… The Messenger is a modern response to the Ninja Gaiden series from the NES era. Sabotage Studio is a team full of people who love that game and have gone out of their way to show their reverence in game form.

It isn’t an easy game, but the experience is well worth the effort. The soundtrack alone is worth spending time with the game. But, exploring the different levels AND playing with time travel mechanics are rewarding.

This is definitely a game that needs to be on your radar.

Stardew Valley

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Farming Simulator / RPG
  • Also Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Mobile
Click the picture to purchase on the online Switch Store.

Stardew Valley is a remarkable game. It is a farming and life simulator where you play as a younger person who inherits a relative’s run-down farm. You need to build it up, explore the surrounding wilderness, meet people, get married, etc. It is a wildly engaging game that has been a sensation since it’s release. This is a great game to relax with. 

Tetris 99

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Puzzle Game
  • Exclusive

Tetris is an all time classic, but Tetris 99 surprised us by adding in a HECTIC battle royale mode. You play Tetris against 99 other players in a frantic race for survival. 

I have spent hours playing this game and building my Tetris skills. Everything moves at a desperate pace so the games move very quickly as well. Its definitely worth a look. 

Dragon Quest Builders 2

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Role-Playing
  • Also Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC

The Dragon Quest Builders series paints itself in a much lighter tone than the Dragon Quest series.  Specifically, Dragon Quest Builders 2 integrates co-op multiplayer that shows promise for both epic exploration, combat, and construction to put it in league with Minecraft in terms of its possibilities. Unlike Minecraft though, the story of Dragon Quest Builders 2 is meant to also serve as a tutorial and narrative focus for its block based construction.  This is in contrast to the much more open world that is traditional Minecraft. The play dynamic will give some structure to keep the sprawling options presented in a meaningful way and keep the more casual fan engaged in the gameplay.

Kirby and the Forgotten Land

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Platform Game
  • Exclusive

Buy Kirby and the Forgotten Land on Amazon.

Kirby and the Forgotten Land

Kirby and the Forgotten Land is, without question, the best game in the franchise. This time around Kirby takes his adventure into 3D and it is a LOT of fun. When it was first revealed everyone assumed that it was going to be an open-world game like Breath of the Wild. It becomes clear very quickly that it shares more in common with Super Mario Odyssey. That’s not a bad thing though! Each level in Forgotten land is beautifully crafted with all manner of secrets to find and challenges to complete.

Kirby games have always been on the easy side and Forgotten Land is no different. It’s perfect for younger kids who are easing into gaming.

Pokemon Legends Arceus

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Platform Game
  • Exclusive

Buy Pokemon Legends Arceus on Amazon.

Pokemon games have shared the same formula for twenty-five years. Arceus bucks that trend by taking players back in time within the Pokemon Universe and serving up an action game. Players go on a wild adventure in the ancient Hisui region during a time before Pokemon trainers were common. Some might think that a break from the norm would be a problem, but Arceus ends up being a refreshing change of pace for longtime fans.

The core gameplay loop in Arceus is very fun. You venture into one of several different biomes within the region and run around capturing pokemon. You do this by sneaking up on them in tall grass and throwing pokeballs. You can even do it on the run! Once you run out of Pokeballs (or your bags are filled up with other materials) you return to base to get credit for the work you have done. Then you resupply and head back out! It’s a great experience.

Yoshi’s Crafted World

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Platform Game
  • Exclusive

After Yoshi’s Wooly World, Nintendo has done it again and added a cute aesthetic to a Yoshi’s Island game. This time around the levels look like a child made them out of craft supplies including cardboard, paperclips, paper cups, and tape. While you traverse the levels, there are the typical Yoshi collectibles, hearts, flowers, and red coins. The collectibles are what really make this game a challenge. You can go through the levels, or you can try and collect everything. At certain points during the game, you will need to replay levels to search for certain items in the background and foreground. Each level also has an opposite view where you much search for a Poochy puppy. While the game can be tedious with replaying levels, sometimes multiple times with different objectives, this is a great stepping off point for your young children to play a platformer.

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age Definitive Edition S

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Role-Playing
  • Also Available On: PS4, PC

Dragon Quest XI is the most recent edition to an ongoing series of role playing games by Square Enix. The series is known for the art style of Akira Toriyama, the creator of Dragon Ball.  Dragon Quest is a series that consistently comes out with a reliable turn-based combat system that has seen nothing but simple improvements. 

Its place as an EFG essentials is based on its ease of entry in an ongoing, fantasy story. The fantasy elements that many other games work off of got their start here with a chosen warrior of light and a band of friends and heroes rally to fight the darkness. 

Dragon Quest has had a consistent following in Japan since its first incarnation on the NES in the 1980’s. That following was earned by creating a game as much storybook as turn/quest based game.

Luigi’s Mansion 3

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Action Adventure
  • Exclusive

Luigi doesn’t get the spotlight very often. That honor is normally reserved for his brother Mario. The Luigi’s Mansion series is the exception. These spooky adventures feature Luigi while he tries to rescue his lost brother from King Boo. Luigi’s Mansion 3 and includes a lot more variety in the environments than previous editions because it takes place in a massive haunted hotel. This will be a great game for kids who love to explore and solve puzzles. (Note: This game is definitely more silly than it is spooky so don’t be super concerned about kids getting scared.)

Addendum: Fortnite

At this point almost every kid on Earth has played Fortnite. But, we wanted to include it here for the sake of completion. It is a worthy recommendation though. Fortnite is huge. It is a great alternative for more mature shooters since it there is no blood and most of the action is over the top and silly as opposed to violent.


The EFG Essentials are reviewed and updated every few months to make sure we have the most current information for our readers. Last updated on 08/01/2021.


The EFG Essential Guide Collections

Check out our other Essentials Guides for great collections of games!

https://engagedfamilygaming.com/parent-resources/efg-essentials-great-video-games-for-kids-on-xbox-one/

https://engagedfamilygaming.com/parent-resources/efg-essentials-great-video-games-for-kids-on-ps4/

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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