Pixelkin 2018 Holiday Gift Guide: PlayStation 4

Posted by | November 19, 2018 | Feature, PlayStation 4, Video | No Comments

For the core gaming crowd the PlayStation 4 reigns supreme among home consoles. The Switch is great for portability (and the be only place to play Nintendo games), but if you want to dive into the massive worlds of the year’s biggest games, you need a machine with a bit more oomph.

For maximum oomph, you’ll need a PS4 Pro and a 4K-capable TV. The newest PS4 Pro bundle includes Red Dead Redemption 2, one of the biggest games of the year, for $399.

For a good bundle that’s easier on the wallet, you can grab a regular PlayStation 4 along with a copy of Marvel’s Spider-Man for the extremely attractive price of $199 as part of Sony’s Black Friday Week sale, which runs Nov. 16 – 22.

PlayStation 4 once again enjoyed exclusive access to some of this year’s biggest games, like Spider-Man and God of War. See below for all our software recommendations for the year.

 

Younger Kids

LEGO DC Super-Villains

The LEGO games are often the best cooperative family games around, though the quality can vary from game to game. The superhero genre fits together with the LEGO style beautifully, especially when TT Games can craft an original story around it. LEGO DC Super-Villains is unique in starring your own super-powered, customizable figure as they join forces alongside a cast of comic favorites.

Also available on: PC, Switch, Xbox One

Overcooked 2

Even if you’re not a fan of Iron Chef or Great British Bake Off, you can find a lot to love in this delightfully charming cooperative cooking game. Each level in Overcooked 2 features a kitchen filled with zany hazards and traps as you and up to three others race to chop veggies, bake ingredients, and toss each other dishes across rivers and through portals. Easily one of the best co-op games of the year.

Also available on: PC, Switch, Xbox One

Sonic Mania Plus

How well do those classic 16-bit Sonic the Hedgehog games hold up today? Incredibly well, if Sonic Mania is any indicator. Released last year, Sonic Mania is a love letter to old-school 2D Sonic games that should delight fans young and old. The new Plus version includes the Encore DLC, adding two new playable characters, four player multiplayer, and a new Encore mode that remixes levels in challenging new ways.

Also available on: Switch, Xbox One

Spyro Reignited Trilogy

Fully 3D action games were still in their infancy during the PlayStation 1 era, but one little purple dragon made a name for himself, because, who doesn’t want to play a flying, fire-breathing dragon? Today Spyro is best known for his starring role in the Skylanders franchise but the Spyro Reignited Trilogy (developed by the Skylanders team) is a worthy trip back to Spyro’s roots, bundling all three 3D platformers in a glorious HD overhaul.

Also available on: Xbox One

 

Older Kids & Teens

Burnout Paradise Remastered

One of the best racing games of the previous generation of consoles finally got an HD remaster earlier this year. Burnout Paradise features an open-world city filled with cars, races, jumps, takedowns, and secrets. Starting up a race is as simple as revving your engine at an intersection. The remaster also includes the excellent Big Surf Island DLC which adds an entirely new area.

Also available on: PC, Xbox One

Dead Cells

For years indie games have filled the niche of 2D action-platformers in a variety of formats and styles. With a cool neon art style, tight controls, and clever level design, Dead Cells may be the peak of the genre (read our review).

Also available on: PC, Switch, Xbox One

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age

The Dragon Quest series has never been quite as popular outside of Japan, but that should hopefully change with this excellent entry. Dragon Quest 11 features a cast of likable characters alongside an epic 60+ hour story and the always enjoyable character and monster art of Akira Toriyama (Read our review).

Also available on: PC

Jurassic World Evolution

Even if you’re not a big fan of the recent Jurassic World films, Evolution is a fantastic theme park sim from the makers of the also excellent Planet Coaster (and a wonderful successor to 2003’s Operation Genesis). Splice genomes to breed dinosaurs, build proper enclosures, and keep them happy for your guests. The dinosaur AI is deep enough to be consistently entertaining and when things go wrong it’s running and screaming in all the right ways (read our review).

Also available on: PC, Xbox One

Marvel’s Spider-Man

Another strong contender for Game of the Year, Insomniac Games crafted a finely-tuned open-world Spider-Man game featuring an older, more experienced webslinger, who still grapples with his personal life, career, love life, and pesky new villainous uprisings. It features an excellent original story and all the web-swinging joy you could want in a Spider-Man game.

Mega Man 11

One of the most prolific platformers in gaming, Mega Man enjoyed a triumphant return to prominence this year with the well-received Mega Man 11. The action is colorful and fast as the Blue Bomber once again battles a series of themed robot masters, acquiring their powers along the way. Different difficulty modes ensure a wider range of players can enjoy the classically-inspired gameplay.

And if you’re nostalgic about the old Mega Man games, the Mega Man Legacy 1 + 2 Collection serves all your needs.

Also available on: PC, Switch, Xbox One

Monster Hunter World

The Monster Hunter series finally gets the love it deserves thanks to Monster Hunter World. The portable gaming series has been rebuilt for home consoles and the behemoths have never looked better. Add in more streamlined concepts and abilities for a new crowd and full online co-op and you have the recipe for Capcom’s best Monster Hunter game yet. A must-buy for action game fans.

Also available on: PC, Xbox One

Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom

While lacking the official involvement of beloved children’s anime film company Studio Ghibli, Ni No Kuni 2 still captures that bright animation and whimsical style while infusing RTS and town building elements into a fine JRPG.

Also available on: PC

Persona: Endless Nights Collection

Even if you don’t know your Ryuji from your Yusuke, the Persona Dancing series combines fast-paced, arcade rhythm gameplay with the excellent soundtrack and beloved characters of the Persona series. The unique six button rhythm game is challenging but rewarding. The Endless Night Collection (out December 4) includes three games: Persona 4: Dancing All Night, and new to the US, Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight.

Also available one: PS Vita

SoulCalibur VI

Move over superheroes and ninjas, it’s time for the true weapons-based warriors to shine. SoulCalibur 6 is another stellar fighting game to add to the championship belt. As a reboot it also makes for an excellent jumping on point for series newcomers. It includes bonus character Geralt from the Witcher series, as well as the ability to design your own fighter.

Also available on: PC, Xbox One

Starlink: Battle for Atlas

The once exciting (albeit expensive) toys-to-life genre has all but died, save for Ubsoft’s very late but surprisingly competent sci-fi entry. Starlink uses toys to customize your spaceships, but they’re probably the least exciting aspect, as the game itself lets you zip around planets completing quests, dogfighting enemies, and engaging with fun characters.

Also available on: Switch, Xbox One

Valkyria Chronicles 4

Valkyria Chronicles presents an intriguing combination of RPG, tactical-combat, and third-person action set in an alternate Earth during World War 2. Take turns directing troops on the battlefield, line up shots in your crosshairs, then enjoy their banter in between battles. Although it’s the fourth game in the series, Valkyria Chronicles 4 is a stand-alone story featuring its own cast of young soldiers.

Also available on: PC, Switch, Xbox One

 

Mature Teens

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey builds upon last year’s Assassin Creed Origins and leans even further into the RPG genre, including dialogue choices, romance-able NPCs, and multiple endings. For a series first you can also choose to play as either a male or female sibling, both fully voiced, fully realized characters within the hand-crafted world of Ancient Greece.

Also available on: PC, Xbox One

Banner Saga Trilogy

The Banner Saga trilogy reached its conclusion this year with the release of Banner Saga 3. The series is known for both its intricate turn-based tactical combat and its bleak, emotional story-telling that forces you to make tough decisions while facing the end of the world in this Norse-inspired strategy game. All three games are excellent, and included in the bundle.

Also available on: PC, Switch, Xbox One

Dark Souls Remastered

The original Dark Souls practically invented a new subgenre of action game with obtuse, challenging, but very rewarding gameplay. Develop your preferred weaponry and playstyle as your journey through a darkly gothic world. The original has been given a graphical face-lift and includes the Artorias of the Abyss DLC.

Also available on: PC, Switch, Xbox One

Divinity: Original Sin 2

One of the best PC RPGs last year is one of the best console RPGs this year. Divinity: Original Sin 2 has everything you want in an RPG: great characters, a huge world with tons of choices, an intriguing story, and a deep, meaningful combat system that plays like Chess with Fireballs. Even better: it supports up to four player multiplayer co-op (online and local) and a full editor to create your own campaigns.

Also available on: PC, Xbox One

God of War

The over-the-top action series from the PS2 and PS3 era reinvented itself in more ways than one. Kratos has lost his chain blades but gained a runed axe, a thick beard, and a young son whom he must shepherd through the unforgiving world of Midgard, drawing from classic Norse mythology. With phenomenal voice acting and writing, compelling combat, and a meaty world to explore, God of War is easily one of the best games of the year.

Red Dead Redemption II

It doesn’t get much bigger than a Rockstar Games release. Red Dead Redemption 2 is a prequel that takes place 10 years before the original, but this long-awaited sequel is light-years ahead of any other open world game, and its world-building depth and ridiculously detailed production is guaranteed to astonish. The story easily lasts over 50 hours, and the multiplayer mode Red Dead Online is coming later this year.

Also available on: Xbox One

Eric Watson

About Eric Watson

Eric is a freelance writer who enjoys talking about video games, movies, books and Dallas-based sports teams. Every week he watches a random film from his collection of several hundred DVDs and live tweets about it @RogueWatson. He also makes a mean tuna quesadilla. He lives near Fort Worth, Texas with his wife and daughter, two dogs, two cats, two fish tanks, some hermit crabs and a bookshelf full of Transformers.