The holidays are approaching quickly and some amazing new games have come out this year. There are so many more games than we can fit into one article, so if you need more ideas check out the links at the bottom to other articles that may inspire your gift shopping or wish list creation!
It’s All About the Video Games!
The best place to start is with the games. Our fancy consoles are just paperweights without them.
Some of the most popular video games in the world are multi-platform games. This means they are made to be played on more than one of the major consoles. Below are some of the best multiplatform games released this year:
Minecraft is probably the biggest game in the world. Minecraft Dungeons is a spin-off that features an isometric action RPG like Diablo. It was one of our most anticipated games coming into the year and it did not disappoint. Dungeons is particularly note worthy because it is a great multiplayer game that families can play together. It is worth mentioning that this is a digital game unless you purchase the “Hero Edition” for Switch, Xbox One, or PS4.
Hades is one of the biggest surprises in gaming this year. Super Giant has made great games in the past, but Hades really is something special.
You play as The son of Hades as you attempt to battle your way out of … well… Hades. The action is wild. The weapons are cool. And the rogue-lite elements are well designed. Every time you die you are sent back to the main hub to get a bit of story content before you are thrown back into the action.
It is worth mentioning that this is a digital-only game, so the only way to purchase it for anyone is to get them a gift card for their console of choice.
Star Wars: Squadrons
Star Wars is a perennial favorite. I know some “fans” say it is dying, but there are ALWAYS going to be people, especially kids, that are hungry for more Star Wars stuff. Squadrons is great for three reasons. First, it is a great fighter pilot simulator where you alternate control of imperial Tie Fighters and Rebel X-Wings. It does a great job of being modern, while also respecting the nostalgia for classic space shooters like Rogue Squadron and X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter. Lastly, it is a budget title with free content updates planned (It’s only $40 compared to the usual $60!)
One of the major factors that influences what brand of console people choose is the slate of exclusives the system has. Below are some of the noteworthy console exclusives for each system.
Super Mario 3D All Stars
Super Mario 3D All Stars is a collection of three Mario games from the past: Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64), Super Mario Sunshine (GameCube), and Super Mario Galaxy (Wii). Not much has been done to remaster them (if anything at all), but they are all great games in their own right and this is a great way to get them into your kids’ hands! This collection is only available until the end of March, 2021 so don’t let this one slip away!
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
What can be said about Animal Crossing: New Horizons that hasn’t been said already? This game was a cultural phenomenon this year, in part due to its wholesome nature and relaxing gameplay. If your family has a Switch (or is getting one) and doesn’t have this game yet, then I would put this right at the top of the list!
Clubhouse Games 51 Worldwide Classics
When this was announced I was VERY skeptical. This reminded me of a LOT of the Shovel-ware that was released en-masse during the Wii era. But, I was very pleasantly surprised to find out that Nintendo has lovingly crafted this collection of minigames and board game experiences. This is a great game for families that enjoy light board games like Yahtzee (called Yacht Dice in Clubhouse Games). The low price point ($40) doesn’t hurt either.
There are several PlayStations out there right now (I discuss them below), but the good news is that most of the biggest games will be playable on all of them. Here are two great suggestions for PlayStation games for families:
Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Marvel’s Spider-Man was our Game of the Year the year it came out. It was an amazing game that nailed what it would feel like to Switch through New York fighting crime (at least as far as we can tell. ;)) Miles Morales is a follow-up that takes place on the same map, save that it takes place over the Holidays, and features Miles Morales on a journey to figure out how to be Spider-Man. This is a shorter experience than the first game (I finished it in about 10 hours), but every second of it is intense and the payoff at the end is well worth it.
The PS5 version is $70, but it includes a download for Spider-Man Remastered. This is a great chance for a newly minted PS5 player to experience the original if they missed it.
Falls Guys: Ultimate Knock Out
Fall Guys came out earlier this year and took the world by storm as a fun social game to play before Among Us ate its lunch. Regardless, this is an adorable multiplayer game that combines the action of silly physical challenge game shows like Knockout with the battle royal format. This game is a LOT of fun and the rounds are short enough that your family can take turns passing the controller and laughing at the hijinks.
This is a tough one to write this year. Xbox really didn’t release any new exclusives this year that should be included here. They are building for the future with all of the studios they bought in the last 2 years, but those investments haven’t paid off yet.
That isn’t to say that the Xbox is bereft of great games though! The best recommendation we have here is to take the price of a game you WOULD have bought for the Xbox and buy a game card for Xbox Game Pass. Giving Xbox game pass is giving the gift of unlimited access to hundreds of games on the service.
Which Console To Buy?
New consoles are here!!! Nintendo doesn’t really care though. The Nintendo Switch has been the best selling console for the last 23 months running and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. There are two variations on the Switch console to choose from. The pros/cons are below.
This is the original Switch. The system has been available and going strong since 2017. It retails for $299.99 and the big bundle this year comes with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (which is amazing). This version of the Switch can be put in its charging dock and used on the family television, while also taken out of the dock and played in handheld mode. If you think your family will take advantage of both modes of play, then this is the Switch to get.
This is also the right Switch to get if you think multiple people will want to play. Nintendo games are great for multiplayer gaming (Mario Kart, Mario Party, Smash, etc) and the original Switch is the right way to go to support that.
The Switch Lite is a great little device. It eschews the dock and the ability to play the game on the television in favor of being more compact, and cheaper (by $100!) This is a great option for kids who have no interest in playing games on the TV, or for a secondary Switch if you already have one and you want a second so two people can play different games.
Sony has three different options available right now. Two of them are different models of the PS4, the third being the brand new PS5.
It seems like the whole gaming world is excited about the next generation of consoles, but now is a GREAT time to pick up a PS4 if you don’t have one already. Sony is going to continue to release games for PS4 for years (including games like Horizon Zero Dawn: Forbidden West). The library of amazing games is massive (and getting less costly as time goes on).
The PS5 is an amazing piece of hardware. It is fast. It can pump out some insane visuals. The Dual Sense controller is very, very cool. The problem is going to be availability. They are exceedingly hard to get your hands on this holiday. Sony simply could not make enough to accommodate the demand considering the manufacturing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Xbox One S
The Xbox One is a great console that has been around for a very long time. But, it is still a great time to pick one up. The Xbox One S should be readily available and very inexpensive throughout the holidays. It will be a great home console for kids who was excited to play Minecraft with their friends.
Xbox Series S
The Series S is designed to be the least expensive console in the new generation. It comes in at $299.99 and is more powerful than the Xbox One S, but less powerful than the Xbox Series X. This is a very small console that is a great entry point into console gaming for families who don’t have, or aren’t in the market for a 4K television.
Xbox Series X
The Series X is purported to be the most powerful console on the block right now. There aren’t a lot of games that push it to its limits yet, but is a very impressive piece of technology. This, like the Series S and the PS5 will also be pretty tough to find this year.
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!
- Video Games for kids on Xbox One
- Video Games for kids on PS4
- Video Games for kids on Nintendo Switch
- Board Games for kids
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