Ah, the holidays are here. Days are shorter, the weather is colder, and you’re about to spend a lot of money on your loved ones without the slightest idea of what they want. Well, if you have a gamer/nerd on your list, maybe I can help. The following items on this list are safe bets for anyone who has even the slightest interest in video games, nerd culture, or tech. You can click on any image to be taken to it’s Amazon.com listing. Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments!
The Nintendo Switch
Consoles are always a ton of fun to get on Christmas day. Growing up, my brother and I would spend the majority of our free time playing the new console before heading off to visit family. This holiday season, there is really only one console that everyone needs and that’s the Nintendo Switch. Nintendo have been hit or miss with consoles over the past few generations, but with the Switch, they hit it out of the park. Games started coming out slowly at first, but as of December 2017, the Switch has some of the best games of the year with a ton more scheduled for next year. My PS4 got a lot of use this year, but the Nintendo Switch was real winner in game time. If the person on your list doesn’t already own it, this is a must have.
Assassin’s Creed: Origins
The Assassin’s Creed games have seen some rough waters over the past couple years. Black Flag was loved by fans but Unity and Syndicate were a bit lukewarm in it’s reception. When Ubisoft decided to go with the 2 year plan of releasing games, people weren’t sure what would come out the other end of the dev cycle. I’m happy to report that the 2 year cycle was just what the assassin ordered and Origins is a fantastic game. Set in ancient Egypt, you play as Bayek, an Egyptian man embroiled in a quest for revenge over the death of his son. Throughout the game, you’ll see that things aren’t quite as they seem and there are a lot of shadowy figures pulling strings and influencing the lives of every day Egyptians. The combat in the game has been completely revamped from previous entries and the RPG mechanics added are a welcome change. If you have enjoyed Assassin’s Creed games in the past, definitely check this one out. There is a lot of fun to be had exploring ancient Egypt and Bayek’s story will both captivate and entertain throughout dozens of hours of gameplay.
Zelda: Breath of the Wild
No game this year demanded my attention quite like Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This was a game a lot of people were looking forward to, but no one could imagine just how amazing it would be. You’re going to see a lot of people put this game at the top of their Game of the Year lists and with good reason – the game is a masterpiece. Gone are the days of just exploring one dungeon after another and in it’s place is a huge open world just begging to be explored. The sheer amount of things you can do and places you can explore will ensure any gamer is never left wanting. As a standalone title, you don’t have to play any other games in the series, so if this is your first romp into the Zelda world, you’ll feel right at home.
The Switch absolutely killed it this year with must have games that everyone wanted. Zelda began it all this year with the release of the console, but Mario Odyssey helped end the year on a high note. The pure joy of playing Mario Odyssey comes in the form of seeing years of growth to a franchise culminate in one of the most perfect examples of pure gaming fun. This is something that can be enjoyed by all ages with a sort of easy mode added in that gives regenerating health and arrows pointing to objects. But don’t kid yourself – there is some super tough gameplay hidden within this kid friendly shell (if you seek it out.) If you own or plan on picking up a Switch this year, this is a must own game.
Steep: Winter Games Edition
If you didn’t check out Steep from Ubisoft, you might not realize just how good of an open world snowboarding game it is. With Steep: Winter Games Edition, you get the original Steep as well as the newly launched expansion that takes players to the winter games. Through the Road to the Olympics mode, you can actually partake in events just like you’re at the winter games. With events like slalom and skicross, the base game is enhanced to make an already fun and exciting snowboard game that much more all inclusive. If you’re a fan of snowboard games and/or an Olympic junkie, you’ll find a lot to like here!
Ah, Destiny. No game elicits quite a response in fans like the hit shooter from Bungie. The first game was awesome but had a lot that casual players like myself bounced off from. With Destiny 2, you can tell the developers really listened to their fan base and built a game that would excite and keep a lot of fans from different levels of skill happy to come back and keep playing. I played the game for an ungodly amount of time this year on both the PS4 and the PC. If you own a gaming PC, absolutely buy the game there. The PC version is gorgeous and the mouse and keyboard controls are second to none. If you only own a console though, you’ll be getting an equally amazing game just with a slightly lower framerate that all but the most attentive gamers won’t even notice. Destiny 2 was probably my most played game this year and I can’t recommend it enough to anyone who enjoys online shooters.
Wearable tech has really been taking off lately. Whether you are a gym nut or just like tech, there are plenty of wearable devices out there for any budgets or activity level. For myself though, the Samsung Gear S3 Classic is the one I like the best. It’s nice enough to wear to the office with business attire but also has everything you need to track your heart rate and steps while at the gym. With multiple straps, you can mix and match until your heart’s content. If the $399 MSRP is just too much for you to stomach, FitBit makes some nice smaller devices for around $100-$150 that will still have the gym tracking information, but not as much in the neat tech department as some of the higher end models.
I own a ton of video game consoles and they can all stream things just fine. But, I also have a small child who I don’t want to have free reign to my gaming consoles. That’s where the Roku 4 comes in. By hooking this bad boy up to my living room TV, I can get all of the channels/apps I want without needing to lug my consoles upstairs. Most TVs nowadays have built in streaming apps though, so if you bought a TV in the last few years, you won’t need this. If, like me, your living room TV still has some life in it and isn’t as smart as the other TVs on the playground, then give it a Roku 4 to help it’s self esteem. It’ll thank you.
Yes, yes, I know – all smartphones have access to the Kindle app. And yes, I know your smartphone will travel with you a whole hell of a lot easier than a Kindle would. But there is just something about having a device that is only for reading. On a typical weeknight, if I lay in bed with the hopes of reading a book on my phone, I’ll last 5 minutes before I’m back on social media or looking at threads on Reddit thanks to notifications. With the Kindle Paperwhite, I’m forced to read and only read and sometimes, we need that push. If you’re an avid reader who understands that distraction or someone who just wants to read a little more often than you do – the Kindle Paperwhite is the perfect item.
Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2
Growing up, I was more into DC comics rather than Marvel. It wasn’t until I was in my 20s that the allure of Marvel really hit me. A big part of this pull was the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel just does their movies right with the perfect amount of action mixed with humor. Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 is a great example of this mix hitting the right notes. The gang from the first movie is back on a mission to save the galaxy with some family drama for Star Lord thrown into the mix. Michael Rooker’s character Yondu is one of the best things in this movie and his performance is not to be missed. This makes a great Saturday Family movie night.
Spiderman: Homecoming was a long time in the making. With this movie, Spiderman officially joins the Marvel Cinematic Universe after years of offshoots through the Sony brand. The movie thankfully isn’t an origin story but rather slightly after. Peter Parker already has his powers and is doing things in a very amateurish way. Tony Stark (Ironman) catches on and tracks him down and offers some help through a movie tie in with the Avengers: Civil War plotline. The new Spiderman is a welcome addition to the Marvel movies and is easily my favorite of the recent batch. I’m really looking forward to where they take Spiderman next.
Harry Potter: Complete 8 Film Collection
Not much can be said about the Harry Potter movies that hasn’t been said already. They are amazing and should be seen by all fans who have read the book (and even some who haven’t.) With this collection, you get all of the Blu-ray movies for a pretty decent price off of Amazon. If you have a fan in the family who watches these movies on repeat like my wife does, then this will be the perfect gift to stuff in a stocking.
I feel like the Cars franchise gets a bum rap from some parents. Sure, the second movie was atrocious, but the first was really well received in our household. When my son learned of Cars 3 coming out, it was a moral imperative that we get it ASAP. While it may not be quite as good as the first one, it’s still up there as one of the best family friendly movies I’ve seen this year.