Welcome to the Gaming Section of the 2017 Holiday Gift Guide! Below you'll find a variety of games, from pen and paper to boardgames to video games and maybe even an actual pinball machine.
Lots of great options out there this Holiday season! Let's dive in, shall we?
Cheap ($24.99 and under)
Just a friendly heads up: there's a surprising amount of Golden Girls-related stuff in the gaming section of this guide. I mean, there's no Dorothy, Blanche, Rose and Sophia MMORPG or anything, but if I'm going to be honest I would play the shit out of that if it was real. Can you imagine? Anyway, some of you assholes will think this Golden Girls Puzzle is a great gag gift, but it's a great gift period. Of course if you gift this 1000 piece puzzle you must include a note saying “thank you for being a friend” or you've failed at everything important in life.
There's no earthly way of knowing where each puzzle piece is going. I miss Gene Wilder and no matter how long I live I will adore this movie (and sing Pure Imagination off-key when nobody is around). This looks like a fun puzzle what with all the characters and bright colors and whatnot.
I love Fallout so much. You'll have to forgive the abundance of Fallout-related material in the Guide, but I just can't get enough of this universe, so when I see something as silly as Fallout Checkers I can't help but smile. Using Nuka-Cola and Nuka-Cola Quantum caps as pieces? Simple, but I love it!
I always sucked at this game. Operation was an early indicator that brain surgeon was not a career path I should pursue, but I did get a kick out of the nervous tension as players oh so carefully tried to pluck little plastic pieces out of this poor bastard's body and the jolt you'd get when the buzzer was triggered. This game is like a recurring jump scare. Doing a Fallout version is a nifty idea. If only I was as precise as Mr. Handy...
Construct your own Anatomy Park in this tile-laying board game! Compete for prime real estate in the body of a sickly homeless man named Ruben and outbuild your competition! I can't believe the Rick and Morty crew are getting so much mileage out of Anatomy Park, but I like it!
Rick and Morty get their own Munchkin expansion pack! It comes with 168 cards, 6 role cards and even a Meeseeks Box die! Oooooo-weeee, this is gonna be fun and probably cause a few more fights... I can't tell you how heated my friendly Munchkin games have gotten. The only game that's more set up to cause rifts in friendships is Risk.
This is an old school tabletop RPG where you and your gang plan execute heists, solve occult mysteries and clash with other gangs. I haven't played this myself, but word from tabletop fiend friends is this is an awesomely fun game that is simpler and more straightforward than most.
This is a late addition to the Guide. I had no idea a pencil and paper RPG book centered in the Wet Hot American Summer world existed until I had already begun writing this section. Fate had David Wain retweeted into my feed, pimping this book, and it was such a fun idea I couldn't help but toss it in here with the rest of this crazy stuff. Play as your favorite Camp Firewood councilor or even make your own camper! Temporarily out of stock, but it looks like they'll refill soon so if you want this (and you damn well should) you can reserve your copy in the next batch right now.
Monopoly has made a cottage industry out of releasing branded versions of their game. Good for them for figuring out a new angle to print some (real) money, but if I listed all the cool IP versions of their game it could take up a whole guide in and of itself, so I've chosen a few of my favorite examples, starting with this Stranger Things board. The only disappointing thing about this one is you can't choose Barb's rotting corpse as a game token.
I haven't played this yet, but judging by the enthusiasm in Ashley's voice and the fire behind her eyes when I asked for game suggestions from my Know fam I figured it was a no-brainer to include this time-sucker of a game in the guide.
$14.99 for PC, Xbox, Switch and PS4
Since everybody's going crazy for Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp I figured I might as well include it here as more of a suggestion for you instead of a gift. Kinda hard to gift something that's free to play, right? But you can get Animal Crossing in your pocket for iPhone and Android and even add some of the Know Team to your friends list: 2752 9816 136 (Mica) and 5394 9551 933 (Kdin).
Mondo's first foray into the tabletop game arena and they knocked it out of the park, at least design-wise. I haven't gotten to play this one yet, thanks in large part to having to focus on putting this guide out (you're welcome for my generous sacrifice), but I have many friends who have and they love it. Taking Carpenter's The Thing and making it a paranoid are-you-a-Thing-or-not board game is pretty genius and I can't wait to actually crack this one open!
Well, that's some gorgeous cover art. This Planet of the Apes-themed tabletop game is put out by IDW and designed by Arkham Horror's Richard Iaunius you and your friends play different personality aspects of Charlton Heston's Colonel Taylor as you navigate a world filled with damn dirty apes!
Dig this throwback style Planet of the Apes Monopoly board. The pieces are even illustrated versions of your favorite characters created by Dave Perillo. It's a madhouse! A MADHOUSE!
I told you there was more Golden Girls on the way and this Monopoly board isn't the last one, either. You can play as Cheesecake, Stan's Toupee, Rose's Teddy Bear, Sophia's Purse or Blanche's Hand Mirror. Yes, Golden Girls are enjoying a new renaissance!
Theoretically you're supposed to solve the mystery of who ate the cheesecake, but I prefer to imagine that either Rose, Blanche, Sophia or Dorothy is a straight up murderer. If I ever played this game I'd totally play it that way. You know these elderly ladies have some dark shit in their past. Rose especially. She's too innocent. There are many, many skeletons in that closet. I'm on to you, Betty White!!!
Someone stole the plans to Rick's portal gun. Who was it?!? You can play as Mr. Poopybutthole, by the way, which makes this an automatic blind buy. For everybody. I don't care if you've never seen an episode of Rick and Morty, you don't have a choice. His name is Mr. Poopybutthole.
I know you'd think the obvious answer to Zelda Clue is Ganondorf did it, but those sneaky bastiches figured out a way around that obstacle. Your goal here is to figure out where Ganon's lair is, who has the power to defeat him and what item they need to do so.
The light and dark face off in this imported Zelda chess set featuring Zelda, Link, Impa, Epona, Darunia and Navi light side pieces and Ganondorf, Twinrova, Iron Knuckle, Phantom Knight, Armos and Deku Scrub dark side pieces.
This game has been out for aaaaagggggeeeesss, but I'm an evil guy and want to make sure as many friendships are fractured as humanly possible. This is Risk, but not as you know it. What I love about this game is that it seemed to be tabletop's step forward to stay relevant in the video game age. You play 15 games and the outcomes of your battles actually change the rules, game board and cards in play, so no two games are exactly the same. It's a brilliantly designed game. And you will hate your friends when you play, guaranteed.
The same mastermind behind Risk Legacy and done Legacy'd up Pandemic, too! They've just come out with Season 2 (no continuing story from Season 1, so if you don't want to dish out $55.69 for Season 1 you don't have to). The first season is waiting for my friends and I to finish out our 15 games of Risk Legacy, but I've heard nothing but great things about this one.
This is the rare tabletop game designed to be completed in an hour or so. It's a card-driven game where you build up your tribe and use it murder the shit out of other tribes! That's not how it's worded in the actual handbook, but it's just a little Vespe flair for you.
This doesn't need to be on here. There's nobody reading this guide that isn't aware that this is one of the hottest games of the holiday season, but the gaming section would feel incomplete without Mario Odyssey. I'm way too uncoordinated to pull off an epic hat toss/jump on hat/jump to the next platform action, but that's just because I'm old and my reflexes are shit. Despite that handicap this is an incredibly addictive, nostalgic and beautifully designed game.
The title that made me buy a Switch. Nintendo's doing very well by their most famous IP. Both Zelda and Mario got fantastic games, all but guaranteeing the Switch's success as a console. The open world pick your own path layout to this game makes it even that much more addicting. It's everything you want out of a Zelda game while paving a new way to play in this sandbox. So much fun.
Splat the shit out of stuff around Inkopolis with the new ability to dual wield new Splat Dualies. You got your usual Turf War PvP and a horde mode. So much multi-colored splatter everywhere!
If your desire to shoot at things on your Switch leans more towards the R-rated then there's the newly released Doom port to the friendly Nintendo console! Break out the BFGs and blow up some demons real good!
When Skyrim was first released I was traveling a whole lot and I can't tell you how painful it was to give up my dungeon-plundering journey through Tamriel. The fact that I can pick up the Switch and continue my adventure is a dream come true and will provide me with my 3rd playthrough of this damn game. God help me if/when they release the Fallouts this way.
If you want to buy Skyrim for the (counts fingers) 29th time there's this option as well, specifically made for the Playstation VR system. Being fully enveloped in a Bethesda open world sounds both incredible and exhausting at the same time. Speaking of...
$59.99 (digital download, physical copies out of stock at the moment)
PRE-ORDER, December 12th. It's a very, very good thing I don't have a Vive setup (let alone a system that could power it) because if I did I'd never leave my house again when Fallout 4 VR comes out. It's kind of my dream to walk around the post-apocalyptic landscape of the Fallout world and this thing makes that a reality. Have it, fancy Vive people!
PRE-ORDER, December 12th. Xbox's biggest coup in recent memory was snagging the console rights to PubG. I'm such a shit-awful PC gamer that I spent my two games playing this still trying to figure out the damn keyboard and was just happy to not get insta-killed upon landing on the island. I'm a much better console gamer, so I'm eager to play this one with my Xbox friends list. If you haven't played this yet it's essentially Battle Royale. You parachute down onto an island with nothing but the clothes on your back and you loot weapons, armor, ammo and upgrades and kill fools along the way, trying to be the last person or team member left alive. Hugely popular game on PC that should be the kind of thing every single Xbox owner will want to own.
I'm pretty much all in on Destiny at this point. I've made real deal solid friends through this game and Bungie has perfected the shooter experience. Destiny 2 is an absolutely beautiful game that has some issues when it comes to leveling and just isn't big enough, frankly, but with the first DLC hitting soon and promised content for the next year plus that should be fixed soon. There's still a ton of value for the money, a true Triple A title and for you PC players, I'm told the game looks unbelievable on that platform.
PRE-ORDER, December 5th. You can buy the regular edition for $36.00, but if you wait, like, a week you can get the Complete Edition of one of the year's most lauded games. What's in the complete edition, you ask? Glad you asked! You get all the stuff from the Digital Deluxe version that came out on original release (ie tons of weapons and gear bundled in) plus The Frozen Wilds DLC expansion. Be patient and get Complete Edition, why dontcha?
There comes a point when playing this that you think you're arriving at the end of the game. It's fine. Fun. A bit repetitive, but enjoyable. Then something happens very much out of left field and it's so ridiculous that I couldn't help but stand up and applaud in my living room. And then the game really starts. Some really smart stuff in here, plus it's cathartic working out some Anti-Nazi anger in this year of our Lord 2017.
Now that you can actually play this game without glitching through the map or having it error out every other round it's a good time to take a trip to Crystal Lake. For any '80s horror fans this game is like crack. For all the bugs at launch this team really nailed the feeling of being in a slasher and it's a whole lot of fun performing an environmental kill as Jason. The birdbath kill is especially righteous.
One of the benefits of the new Assassin's Creed is that it's one of the key titles that has issued a 4k patch, so if you have the Xbox One X you get that extra HDR oomph. The game itself is pretty solid. I quite liked Syndicate, but this game changes up the usual gameplay and gives it a little bit of freshness. It's like they melded a traditional Assassin's Creed game with Red Dead Redemption. The Egyptian setting is fun and the open world angle offers a whole lotta bang for you gaming buck.
I'll be honest. I got really burned out by the Call of Duty games. The reviews on this one aren't stellar, but the World War II setting is enough to get me to give it a playthrough at some stage (probably when the price halves in a few months). That was the Call of Duty I fell in love with and while the story got better (for a few years) in the Modern Warfare era, I always missed the hook of putting me in the middle of Saving Private Ryan. So, I'll return to the franchise... eventually.
The first Middle-Earth game was surprisingly good. I know I went into it thinking it was going to be a forgettable LOTR cash-in, but they actually managed to tell an interesting LOTR-adjacent story all while making it crazy fun to murder a shit-ton of orcs. The new game keeps that trend going. The time I've spent with it is minimal, but it was quality. Can't wait to finish it out.
I know, I know... loot boxes bad, EA greedy. I get it. But this is a fantastic looking game and the campaign is actually really damn good. A bit too short, but damn good. The new character it introduces, Iden Versio, is really great and it bums me out they fumbled the loot box/multiplayer thing so hard. Still, it's worth playing, even if you just decide to Redbox it for the campaign.
Here's another one I haven't gotten to yet. The problem was I liked the first game okay, but got bored halfway through and never finished it, which means I wasn't all that psyched to pick up the sequel despite the badass trailer. Looking at reviews it seems I made a mistake. This one's supposed to be great.
This is another strong Ashley Jenkins recommend. JPRGs aren't my cup of tea, but holy moly do people love Persona 5. This turn-based game plugs you into the role of a transfer student who gets a supernatural power and spends the game sneaking into the Metaverse to “steal ill intent from the hearts of adults.” Fans adore the soundtrack and long, detailed story. Maybe someday I'll get over my aversion to JRPGs and give this one a shot.
$47.88 on PS4
Ever Oasis is a puzzle and trap style RPG made by some of the team that rebuilt multiple Legend of Zelda games for the 3DS. The Know team highly recommends this, which I haven't personally played since I misplaced my 3DS about 2 years ago and never found it. If you find it, send it back would you?
Aside from the awesomely juvenile double entendre title, this game is pretty legit. Much like the first one it actually feels like you're participating in a good South Park episode. The battle system is much better than the first, I have to say, and you gotta give them props for making squeezing out perfect turds an important game mechanic.
Okay, so this Pokeball edition of the Nintendo 2DS XL has been going in and out of stock a ton. It's been out of stock at least twice since I added it to my master Gift Guide list. It's currently in stock so if you want it, grab it! f you don't know the 2DS is just like the 3DS with one less D. I'm very knowledgable about video game hardware.
I didn't even have to look at the rules, game type or pieces to know I'd give this one a shot, but I'm an incredibly easy lay when it comes to anything Fallout. I just love the look and feel of this universe so much I'm an auto-sell on just about any tie in. Cursory investigation show this as a random explore tile type game that reminds me a bit of Catan in design and it seems to incorporate the SPECIAL stat and it says it makes nods to storylines in both Fallout 3 and 4. Sold. Sold. Sold.
This is the latest (4th) Edition of Twilight Emporium, an incredibly popular and long-running board game that has the player choose one of 17 galactic civilizations and do their damndest to conquer the whole galaxy. It's like Game of Thrones in space! Dig it!
The second edition of the very popular Mansion of Madness, a cooperative Lovecraftian experience as you and up to 4 friends try to survive the titular Mansion of Madness. This edition makes the game fully cooperative by being App-enabled (iOS, Android, Mac and PC) which lets your smart phone or PC take on the role of the Keeper so it allows all human players to band together and get through this.
For The Super Rich Only ($250.00 and up)
The highest selling console of the year and holiday season! I'm just glad they're actually in stock now. Nintendo making a console you can carry around with you was a stroke of genius and they followed it up buy truly capitalizing on their IP and putting out 2 great games tied into their most popular characters, making this a must own console. I can say it's pretty amazing to pass the time on a flight by plundering Skyrim dungeons. And it's in stock! The gray one, anyway, but it's in stock and will be here well before X-mas!
Microsoft was tired of Playstation always having the most impressive chipset, so they threw their dick on the table with the Xbox One X, which on paper leaves Playstation in the dust. It comes with a 4K UHD Blu-Ray player installed and a bunch of titles that are prioritizing 4K gameplay, which this system can hand with ease. I've been incredibly happy with the one I ordered and it inspired me to bite the bullet and finally upgrade to a 4K TV and I haven't looked back since. If you just want a 4K player in your regular gaming console you can go with the Xbox One S, but you're giving up the higher performance 4K gaming that way. Trust me, if you have the ability to take advantage of that extra resolution you're going to want it.
Playstation's not dead in the water by any means. They have some incredible exclusive titles and The Last of Us sequel is hitting next year (or so they tell us) and is more than capable of handling 4K gaming. The downside is no 4K Blu-Ray player and some technical shortcomings compared to the new One X, but it's hard to argue that Playstation isn't doing more to take advantage of what they have, especially since they support their own VR system, an area Xbox is technically capable of, but isn't committed to. Let's face it, though, at this point most die hard gamers have their favorite console/friends list and are sticking with it until death, but I know I'm making an effort to be more console ambidextrous. If I can, surely you can, too!
Now this is just for the Vive VR system itself, not the PC you need to actually run it, so this is a pricy investment. But you do get some value with it. For one, the Vive comes with Fallout 4 VR, which I'm automatically super jealous of anybody who gets to walk around Nuka-Cola fueled wasteland. I think VR gaming might be a step too far for me, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't interested in really trying it out for real (not just the handful of short demos and “experiences” I've done with it).
Haven't you always wanted your own pinball machine? I mean, I'm sure they're a pain in the ass to keep up and running, but you'd have your own pinball machine! And if you were going to get one, why not this Ghostbusters machine? It even got an original Ghostbuster to record new dialogue. Ernie Hudson talks you through your own Ghostbusters training and initiation. All for the low low price of...
I know it's a little weird to throw in a few TVs into the damn gaming section, but considering it was the Xbox One X that made me take the plunge into a new 4K life and I've loved it so far it seemed like the right place.
I decided to spotlight 2 sets, one OLED and one not. Both are crazy highly reviewed, the OLED being considerably more expensive, but both are good examples of where you can with your 4K upgrade.
The LG OLEDC7P is Cnet's highest rated 2017 TV. To way oversimplify it OLED is essentially Plasma for this new generation. It's super bright where it's supposed to be and ink-black where it's supposed to be. Visually there's no comparison between OLED and regular 4K. One's a sharper image, the other turns your TV into a window into another realm of existence. But the OLED is waaaaaaaaay more expensive.
$2696.99 for the 65"
This is the highest rated “bang for your buck” 4K TV I've seen, the 2017 model TCL. All the reviews say this is the closest to OLED quality you can get with a non-OLED TV in this price range. The real benefit I see is the size. You can get a ginormous 75” 4K TV for $600 less than the 65” OLED and it's just a tad lower in visual quality. If I didn't commit to a totally different TV this would be the one I'd be tempted to get.