Ho, ho, ho! It’s time to give (and get) the very best once again and we’ve got a full selection of the greatest games, toys, books and more for you to tear into on whatever day of giving you and yours celebrate around December time.
Giving gifts can be a little tricky sometimes. Sure you want to give something that’s awesome and your ‘target’ is going to love once the wrapping paper (you did wrap it right?) is torn off, but what to give is less than obvious at times. That’s true especially for gamers, as they’re a group that tends to go out and nab what they like (most of time) all by themselves. And unless they’re of the group that actually writes out a list of prospective giftables, well, buying for them ain’t what I’d call easy.
Not easy, doesn’t mean impossible though, especially if you’ve got a little help- and that’s where the BG Gift Guide comes in. Now, before we dig in here, I should point out that our own Entertainment Editor Ted has already published a DVD and Blu Ray guide detailing all the various gift sets and single edition films that you might want to consider gifting this Holiday. It’s a great list too, with stuff like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the newest Season of The Simpsons, and Grimm Seasons 1-3 (a personal favorite of mine) all listed on it. So make sure you check that out too!
As for our little list right here, scroll on down for the goods, and then dear friends, you better get to buying, ’cause you’ve only got a little over a week left!
Tech and Gadgetry
We’ve got a bit of an audio fetish here at BG, which you may or may not have noticed from our game reviews, and we always have a soft-spot for headsets, headphones, and speakers of all kinds. So collected here are the best of the best that we’ve looked at in 2014, enjoy.
- Rig Stereo Headset and Mixer – Our very first review of the year was also one of the better PC headsets that we’ve seen. Plantronics isn’t a name that you usually associate with the ‘gaming headset’ world, but maybe it should be because this thing rocks. (oh, and it pulls double duty with your mobile phone… simultaneously with your PC).
- Bluebuds X – A flat-out stunning set of wireless, bluetooth connective, headphones. The Bluebuds X from Jaybirds is a winner all around with tremendous sound quality and great fit that works with anything that has Bluetooth capability, so they’re great for your phone, but also your PSV, tablet, and even your PC (if it supports it).
- HyperX Cloud – The regular Hyper X headset has been available for a bit, and if you know that one, then you already know what to expect from the new (and way more winter-appropriate) Cloud white model. Great sound, tons of accessories, and a very comfortable fit all makes this over the ear headset one to be reckoned with.
Don’t let your game console, PC, or mobile device get lonely! While 2013’s list saw only PC gaming stuff in this subcategory on the list, this past year we actually took a look at some console and mobile stuff that’s well worth your time.
- Drakonia Black gaming mouse – Flash and sizzle isn’t what mouse and keyboard maker Sharkoon had in mind with the Drakonia Black, and you can se that in the performance. A fantastic all-around mouse, the Drakonia Black has a great feel and some weight options as well and should fit the bill nicely for anyone who works at their PC as much as they game.
- Steelseries Stratus – Who loves using a touchscreen for every game? No one? That’s what I thought. For those games that need a little console-style love, there’s the Steelseries Stratus, which is a second to none controller that’s compatible with iOS devices and the games that take advantage of iOS 8’s controller functionality. FYI- there’s also the new XL model that more directly mirrors the feel of modern console controllers.
- D-Link Wireless AC1900 – One of the most impressive routers on the shelves presently, the AC1900 is everything that the Nitehawk is and blows away almost everything out there. Although it isn’t the sexiest of gifts, whoever’s getting it will thank you after they see the performance this thing pumps out.
- N-Control Avenger – This one’s been around for a while, but the coolness that the N-Control Avenger brings to what’s otherwise your stock controller can’t be overstated. This controller ‘shell’ snaps onto the stock Xbox and PlayStation controller to make it into a more intuitive and easier to use pad. It might look like a beast, but it’s a beauty in disguise (sorry).
Also noteworthy in 2014, the Razer Leviathan is an awesome soundbar that doesn’t take up a lot of room and pumps out some excellent sound for the price.
As usual, there’s a bunch of other stuff that doesn’t quite fit into the above categories, but that nevertheless would make somebody very, very happy this Holiday Season. This stuff runs the price-gamut too, so whether you’re on a budget or going all out, you’ll find something to give listed below.
- Console Bundles – The Wii U, Xbox One, and PS4 all have some excellent bundle packs out and about right now, and two of the three of them are readily available at stores pretty much everywhere. I say two of the three because it looks like the Xbox One is in surprisingly tight supply, so keep that in mind when you’re out and about this week.
- Nintendo 3DS – Yes, yes – I know that there’s a console revision coming up next year (that’s out already in Japan), but the 3DS is still the dedicated handheld console to beat as the PS Vita continues to fade away. And that’s a fact that makes it very much still a viable gift pick. There are some decent bundles out there too, and the 2DS (which has no 3D capability) is dirt cheap at only around a hundred bucks USD.
- Backup Hard Drive – one of the most overlooked things in gamers arsenals is an important one. In an age that’s getting increasingly digital, you need a place to store all of it after all, and those drives on the Xbox One and PS4 tend to fill up quick. Drives with 1 – 2 TB’s can be had for as little as a bit over $100 USD too, which isn’t bad at all for a pretty nice gift.
- Nintendo eShop, Xbox Live, PSN, Steam gift cards – A pretty sharp add-on for an external Hard Drive, these are always welcome gifts. Even if there’s nothing that that particular gamer on your list wants at the moment, there’ll be something coming up at some point, and how nice would it be to have a few bucks in the old e-wallet when it does? Available in a bunch of denominations too, these are great gifts to fit anyone’s budget.
- iPhone 6 Plus – It’s big, it’s slightly unwieldily, and it’s relatively easy to find, but the iPhone 6 Plus is also one of the best mobiles I’ve had the pleasure of using in sine I’ve been using smartphones. If you know someone who’s in the market for a phablet (and is an Apple fan) then they’ll love this.
- iPad Air 2 – Haven’t upgraded your iPad in a while or know someone who’s still rocking an iPad 2? Trust me, they’ll be knocked over by this bad boy. Lighter than any other iPad ever made with better processing power and a kick-butt screen, this is way to go if you’re in the market for a premium gift.
- Lifejacket Speaker – One of the cooler bluetooth speakers out there right now, the Lifejacket can pretty much take whatever you can throw at it. This thing can take a fall, and a good dousing of H2O as well, which is something that you don’t see to often. If you know someone who’s got a ‘to go’ lifestyle, this’ll fit the bill nicely.
Toys, books, and tons more…
We love toys and comics almost as much as we love games here at BG, so you know there’s going to be more than a few little goodies listed here from those realms. Besides, what’s the Holidays without some toys to rip into?
Toys and Collectables
- Action Figures from DST and NECA – There are lots of great options out there right now as to collector grade action figures and stuff that’ll look great on your desktop or in your collections, but some of the best stuff comes out of Diamond Select and NECA. The two companies consistently produce highly detailed, well-made toys from some of the greatest properties ever. Seriously, whether you’re into Marvel, DC, Predator, Aliens, Terminator (vs Robocop!) or any one of a dozen other licenses, you’ll like what they have to offer.
- LEGO The Hobbit: Ultimate Kit – This offering from LEGO lumps together all the new sets (4 in total) that the company has on shelves from the new Hobbit film, The Battle of the Five Armies. The Lonely Mountain set is pretty awesome all by itself, add in the other three and, even though it’s a bit pricy, you’ve got a gift that’ll be remembered for a good long time.
- Star Wars mini LEGO sets – Want LEGO, but not quite so expensive? These are the way to go. Based on the popular Star Wars line from the company, these mini sets offer scaled-down versions of some of the series’ best loved vehicles paired with an included mini-figure. Great for stockings!
- LEGO Star Wars Sandcrawler – The marquee set for Star Wars fans this year, LEGO’s take on the Sandcrawler from the first Star Wars film is something to behold. It comes complete with a bunch of mini-figures, giant scale, plenty of opening play spaces, and a hefty price tag. But you probably already knew that.
- Amiibo/Skylanders/Marvel Disney Infinity figures – Some of the Amiibo look like they’re going to get some limited runs, so grab those while you can, but any of these figures are cool stocking stuffers. I doubt I have to sell on Skylanders, but even if you don’t care for the Disney Infinity 2 game all that much, the Marvel figurines are just this side of awesome with their cool animated looks. Seriously, they look awesome on a desk.
- The Walking Dead building sets – All but impossible to find when they launched a few weeks back, McFarlane’s The Walking Dead building sets should be pretty widely available in Toys R Us stores right about now. These sets are far from kid-friendly, but deliver on what the toy company promises in whatever they make, detail and excellent paint applications. If you’re disappointed by what LEGO and Megabloks offered adult collectors, look here.
- Sprukits – Want a model kit that you can play with as an action figure (sort of) after you’re done building? Sprukits are incredibly detailed figures that are mostly really well articulated as well, and they’re full-fledged snap-together model kits too. Double the gift fun.
- Star Wars Black Series action figures – If you prefer your figures already assembled and cool as hell, then you’ll want to grab a few of these Star Wars Black Series toys for yourself… or someone else. As a gift… They’re awesome.
Comics, Books, and Graphic Novels
Another one of our favorite categories here at BG, art books and comics have a cherished place on the shelves of many other gamers as well. Plus they’re kind of the gift that keeps on giving as art books in particular can be plucked form the shelf and flipped through over and over again. And they look dynamite on a coffee table- don’t forget that.
- The Art of Watch_Dogs – Titan Books makes some great illustrated volumes and The Art of Watch_Dogs is no exception. Loaded with concept art and artwork from the Ubisoft game of the same name, this is one for die-hard fans and those who enjoy a cool look at a hacker-filled, cyber future world.
- The Art of Wolfenstein – I have a soft-spot for Dark Horse Comics’ line of art books, but then again, so should you since they’re freaking awesome. This is one of the best ones they’ve done as of late too with huge splashes of art and a terrific look at what the developers were going for with the newest Wolfenstein title.
- The X-Files: Season 10, Volumes 1 through 3 – We’ve reviewed Vols 1 and 2 here on BG, 3 has just released, and all of them make excellent gifts for anyone who’s into the show that redefined sci-fi and horror on TV. It’s a direct continuation from the show too, so if you’re up on your lore these are some graphic novels that’ll hit the spot and fill the void left by the program’s absence.
- Halo: Escalation graphic novel – A terrific continuation of the game universe that’s become a juggernaut on the Xbox line of consoles. Halo: Escalation is the first entry in the graphic novel collected edition line of books that’s spun out of the ongoing series from Dark Horse and it’s not too likely to let down fans of the game franchise.
- The Witcher Vol.1 – The perfect tonic for those lamenting the recent (further) delay of the third Witcher game from CD Projekt Red, this first graphic novel collection from Dark Horse Comics has everything that makes the game series so memorable. There’s action a plenty, mystical mayhem and monsters galore, and even a little romance, well worth a read (and re-read).
- Marvel Comics: 75 Years of Cover Art – Ever want a comprehensive look back at the history of Marvel Comics’ splashiest imagery? No, you probably didn’t, but that’s only because you never thought of it before. This book is a must own for fans of the House of Ideas and should please nearly any student of the history of the art form.
- Batman: A Visual History – Dk hits another one out of the park with this amazing look at the history of one of the greatest comics characters of all time- Batman. This is the complete history of the character, all his adventures, all the associated characters, and told with all the glorious art that you can take accompanying it. As you might imagine, it’s a necessity for fans.
- Dishonored: The Dunwall Archives – One of the best new IP’s to see release in the last few years, Dishonored gets a gloriously bound art edition from Dark Horse Comics that does the game justice. Impatiently waiting for the sequel announcement? This’ll help.
Games, games, and more games
As usual, we can’t get away with publishing a gift guide and leave out the biggest and (some might say) best thing about BG. And by that, we mean video games. This year was another bumper crop of games for the Wii U, Xbox One, and PS4, as all three consoles really hit some strides and built up some quality libraries.
You can’t go wrong with any of these, though some may be better tailored to specific tastes. When in doubt, check out our reviews by clicking the links. Oh, and where there’s a game that’s available on multiple platforms, we’ve listed it under the console that we reviewed it on and noted it as such.
- Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions (PC) Review *multi
- Dragon Age: Inquisition (PC) Review *multi
- The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (PC) Review
- Planetary Annihilation (PC) Review
- The Wolf Among Us: Episode 5 (PC) Review *multi
- Titanfall (PC) Review *multi
- Far Cry 4 (Xbox One) Review *multi
- Forza Horizon 2 (Xbox One) Review
- Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Xbox One) Review *multi
- Sunset Overdrive (Xbox One) Review
- Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (Xbox One) Review *multi
- Skylanders Trap Team (Xbox One) Review *multi
- The Evil Within (Xbox One) Review *multi
- Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition (Xbox One) Review *multi
- Destiny (Xbox One) Review *multi
- Wolfenstein: The New Order (Xbox One) Review *multi
- Ultra Street Fighter IV (Xbox 360) Review *multi
- Watch_Dogs (Xbox One) Review *multi
- Persona 4 Arena: Ultimax (PS3) Review *multi
- Little BIG Planet 3
- inFamous: Second Son
- The Last Of Us: Remastered (PS4) Review
- Hyrule Warriors (Wii U) Review
- Shovel Knight (Wii U) Review
- Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze (Wii U) Review
- Mario Kart 8 (Wii U) Review
- Super Smash Bros
- Captain Toad Treasure Tracker
- Bayonetta 2