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Games and Tech Gift Guide 2020

 

Christmas is fast approaching, and 2020 will be soon behind us. 2020 has been a challenge for most of the country—and it’s making the holiday season a little bit rockier to navigate as well.  If you want to get that Christmas shopping done, and are relying on online shopping to do so, you’re going to have to get those orders in soon. Games & Tech is here to help navigate technology gift buying a little easier with these suggestions for the best games-related gifts of 2020.

Hardware:

If you want to play games, you’ll have to have something to play them on. Be warned, these next gen consoles are going to be almost impossible to get a hold of.

Image courtesy Sony

PlayStation 5

Okay, I’m going to start with the heartbreaker. Everyone knows about the stock woes the newest systems are experiencing. My household was lucky enough to procure both of these next-gen consoles, and out of the two, the PlayStation 5 is definitely our choice. While the Xbox Series X looks like a powerhouse on paper, it hasn’t translated into engaging launch titles. Demon’s Souls alone was enough to sell me on the PlayStation 5, and is probably one of the best launch titles I can remember. But there are plenty of other reasons to try your luck at getting a PlayStation 5 this winter—including the impressive DualSense controller. It’s too bad the console is giant, and looks like an air purifier or a building in Dubai—but it’s a fast, fun machine.

Look for stock in the next few weeks, and good luck—this one will be hard to get ahold of.

Image courtesy Oculus

Oculus Quest 2

If you’re looking for an alternative to next-gen, or have been waiting to try out virtual reality, Oculus Quest 2 is a great system. As someone who normally uses VR on their Valve Index hooked into a powerful gaming PC, the Quest 2 is still a mighty little HMD. If you want to hook it up to your PC to experience those sweet SteamVR games, you can do that, too. But as a standalone headset, the Quest 2 shines. It’s one of the best mobile systems out there—that is, if you can get over the fact you’re required to link your Facebook and Oculus accounts.

Image courtesy Nintendo

Game and Watch

I’m a sucker for Nintendo stuff, and I needed to get my hands on a Game & Watch immediately, even though I thought it would just be a fun collector’s novelty. Well, it IS that, but it’s also a pretty good little handheld. I mean, it’s only a handheld that plays Super Mario Bros. and its Japanese sequel that we know as The Lost Level. It also has a Mario ball and cup game, and functions as a clock. But it plays those games so damn well. I was worried how well it would play Mario Bros. because the buttons are those rubbery, squishy types—but somehow, Nintendo managed to make these inputs feel good.  It has a bright screen, and is surprisingly loud for its size. I absolutely love the Super Mario Bros. Game and Watch.

Nintendo Switch

The Switch, Nintendo’s hybrid handheld console is a no-brainer. It has an excellent library of games, both AAA and indie, making it a system that’s all about games.  I love my Nintendo Switch, and there isn’t a week that has gone by that I haven’t put in a dozen or so hours into various games. If I had to choose one console to play games on, the Nintendo Switch would be it.

Image courtesy Nintendo

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit

This is another one that might be hard to get ahold of—but it’s so much fun. It’s also part hardware, part video game—so I thought it would be a good segue between the two. I was a little skeptical about what was essentially an RC Mario Kart, but my skepticism has been allayed. Driving these Karts is super fun, and you can even play local multiplayer with up to three other players—if they all have Nintendo Switches and their own Mario Kart Live : Home Circuit karts, which could be a big ask. Luckily, solo karting is also a ton of fun, and feels great, with the AR overlay transforming your surroundings impressively. Try to snag one here.

 

Video Games

Video games are always a great gift. If they have the latest consoles, they’re going to need games to play on them. What’s great about most video games is that they can be purchased digitally, which make them great last minute gifts. Here are some of our favorite, and most hot ticket video games for this 2020 holiday season.

Screenshot: Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

Call of Duty: Black Ops—Cold War

If you’re wondering what this year’s big multiplayer shooter is, you wouldn’t be wrong if you said Call of Duty—I mean, most years it’s a safe bet. Even if you’re not personally a fan of the Call of Duty franchise, you can’t deny its influence and impact. If you have a gamer in your life, and they want the latest Call of Duty—this is it. If you want your Call of Duty: Black Ops—Cold War to be future-proof, make sure to get the Cross-Gen bundle or higher, so it can take full advantage of the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X|S graphical capabilities.

Read our Call of Duty: Black Ops—Cold War review here.

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time

The original Crash Bandicoot trilogy has been known for its difficulty level—and for good reason. If you thought a contemporary release would  make it any easier, you were wrong. Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is about as difficult as you’d expect—but also fun, colorful, and as good as ever. Taking after the Crash N’ Sane Trilogy, developer Toys For Bob wrote a love letter to the Crash franchise with It’s About Time, and not only is it a tight platformer, it’s one of our favorite games of the year.

Read our review here.

Screenshot: Demon’s Souls

Demon’s Souls

What a glow up. Demon’s Souls was a tragedy not so long ago—Atlus had shut down its multiplayer servers, and any adventurer making their way to Boletaria for the first time was forced to play without this integral component—until Bluepoint Game’s recent remake, that is. And wow, what a great job. Demon’s Souls for PlayStation 5 not only holds up against its original counterpart, there are dozens of improvements to quality of life—and that’s not even mentioning the insanely gorgeous graphics and amazing new soundtrack inspired by the original. I’ll be playing Demon’s Souls for years to come.

Image courtesy Cyberpunk2077.net

Cyberpunk 2077

Okay, Cyberpunk 2077 isn’t even out yet, but it’s a safe bet to put on this guide. Even if it flops, this game has been anticipated for almost a decade—an if you have a gamer in your life, they will know what it is.

 

 

Tabletop

There are some great tabletop games this year as well. Free League Publishing has been dropping some great games this year, and Dungeons and Dragons has been more popular than ever. Check out some of our picks from some great tabletop role-playing game gifts.

Photo: Marielle Bokor. Alien The Roleplaying Game: Destroyer of Worlds. Free League Publishing

Alien: The Roleplaying Game

Did you ever want to play a good Alien inspired game? Sure, there’s the amazing Alien: Isolation video game, but I can’t think of another game that really delivers on the Alien or Aliens feeling—until now. Alien: The Roleplaying Game delivers on that promise of space horror.  Whether you’re playing as a group of space truckers with an uninvited guest, or you’re a squad of badass marines on a bug hunt, Alien: The Roleplaying Game captures the feeling of the movies, and allows you and your group to create (often) horrifying stories in space. Death comes swiftly and brutally, so remember: at your table, everyone can hear you scream.

Right now, the core rulebook is a great place to start—but if you want a more complete package with truncated rules, the Starter Set can get you going. If you want to play as a squad of ultimate badasses, the Destroyer of Worlds module puts you in the shoes of a group of Marines.

Check out our reviews here:

Alien: The Roleplaying Game

Destroyer of Worlds

MÖRK BORG

If you’re a fan of fantasy tabletop role-playing games, and you want something a little different than Dungeons and Dragons, MÖRK BORG might be your game. The book is gorgeous, too—it’s like a Swedish black metal album from cover to cover. The game itself is a brutal, and often strange, adventure in a bleak, dying world.

There is also a supplement recently released that is a collection of user-made components, called Feretory. It has a couple of adventures, and a lot of rules that help flesh out your adventures in MÖRK BORG’s dark world.

Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

I have a confession: I’ve never played Dungeons and Dragons, but even so, I couldn’t ignore one of tabletop role-playing game’s biggest releases this year: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. This supplement expands subclasses, adds new spells and items, and gives you lots of new rules and other options to take to your Dungeons and Dragons sessions.  Options are never bad, and Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is full of them.

 

Other

Bitmap Books

Okay, these aren’t exactly games—but they’re all about video games. Bitmap Books has an incredible selection of beautiful books all about the games you grew up loving. Not only do Bitmap books contain great pictures and loads of interesting information, they’re important  for historical preservation. They also make great coffee table books and conversation pieces. If you have a lover of video games, especially retro games, Bitmap Books has a wide selection of books—so there’s a topic for everyone.

Most recently released is The Games That Weren’t—based on the website of the same name, The Games That Weren’t explores video games that never made it to store shelves, and is an incredibly fascinating read about these games lost to time.

 

We hope we’ve helped you find great gifts for gamers or things to add to your wishlist yourself. Happy holidays!

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