22 Games Your Kids Will Want This Holiday Season

Posted by | November 25, 2014 | News, Tips for Parents | One Comment

Shopping for the holidays is always stressful, and when you don’t know much about what you’re shopping for, it can be even worse. We know walking into a video game or toy store and staring at the rows upon rows of games available can cause even the most calm parent some anxiety. Which games would your kids like? Which games are you OK with letting them play? To give you some tools before you brave the video game section, we’ve compiled a list of the 22 most popular new games coming out between the months of September and December. Your kids should be thrilled to receive any of the games on this list.

We’ve broken down our list by what we feel are the best ages for the given games, but every kid is different, and no one knows your child like you do, so please consider these guidelines rather than hard-and-fast rules. We’ve included the ESRB rating  and content descriptors for each game as well. Content descriptors are always listed on the back of the game box, and they’re important to look at as they give you a better idea of what’s in any given game than the rating alone. Another thing to look out for is making sure you’re buying a game for the right platform. Game sections in stores are usually arranged by platform, and the platform the game is for will always be displayed prominently on the front of the box.

Games For All Ages

Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved


ESRB Rating: E10+
Content Descriptor(s): Lyrics
Release Date: October 21
Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox 360 (requires Kinect)
Designed to make the player feel like the conductor of an orchestra, Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved is a motion-based rhythm game that uses Kinect. Players punch toward the screen and swing their arms in time to the music, which features songs from the classic Disney film, as well as popular songs from a variety of eras. While the game itself contains no objectionable content, lyrics to some of the songs make references to violence and drug and alcohol use. For more information on Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved read our review.

Disney Infinity: Marvel Superheroes

ESRB Rating: E10+
Content Descriptor(s): Cartoon Violence
Release Date: September 23
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U
The latest installment in the Disney Infinity franchise, Marvel Superheroes focuses on characters from the Marvel comic universe, including Iron Man, Spider-Man, Hulk, Captain America and more. The game links up with playsets that include collectible character figurines that must sit on a base in order to be played in the game. The starter pack of the game includes the base and three characters along with the game software. Additional characters are sold separately. The game features cartoon violence of the sort that might be seen in superhero cartoons. For more information on Disney Infinity Marvel Superheroes, read our review.

LittleBigPlanet 3


ESRB Rating: E
Content Descriptor(s): Comic Mischief, Mild Cartoon Violence, Tobacco Reference
Release Date: November 11
Platforms: PS4
Like the previous LittleBigPlanet games, LittleBigPlanet 3 is a combination platform game and game creator. Players take the role of cute characters known as Sackboys (or girls) and traverse fantastical environments. The latest installment features new playable characters and abilities, as well as robust customization and level-design tools for players to make creations of their own. The game features cartoon violence, comic mischief, and a brief tobacco reference. Creations by other players may contain more objectionable content.

Pokemon Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby


ESRB Rating: E
Content Descriptor(s): Comic Mischief, Mild Cartoon Violence
Release Date: November 21
Platforms: 3DS, 2DS
Pokemon Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby are the latest pair of games in the long-running and super popular Pokemon franchise. The games are role-playing games, in which the player is tasked with capturing creatures called Pokemon and battling them against other Pokemon. Each game features a large variety of Pokemon to discover and capture, and one of the main tenents of the game is to collect all of the Pokemon available. The games, which are sold separately, feature cartoon-style violence and comic mischief.

Skylanders Trap Team


ESRB Rating: E10+
Content Descriptor(s): Cartoon Violence
Release Date: October 5
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, 3DS, 2DS
As in previous Skylanders games, players control a variety of creatures in an action-adventure, fantasy setting. Skylanders Trap Team requires the use of a physical portal, traps, and character figurines in addition to the game in order to play. In Trap Team, the player is tasked with capturing escaped villains and using them for good. The game features cartoon-style violence. The starter pack for the game comes with the portal, two characters, and two traps, but additional characters and traps are all sold separately. For more information on Skylanders Trap Team, read our review.

Sonic Boom Rise of the Lyric


ESRB Rating: E10+
Content Descriptor(s): Cartoon Violence
Release Date: November 18
Platforms: Wii U
In Sonic Boom Rise of Lyric, Sonic the Hedgehog and his friends must battle an evil villain who is intent on turning the organic world into a twisted place where only robots can survive. The third-person action-adventure game features high-speed traversal through fantastical environments and cartoon-style violence as the characters battle evil robots.

Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U


ESRB Rating: E10+
Content Descriptor(s): Comic Mischief, Cartoon Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes
Release Date: November 21/October 3
Platforms: Wii U/3DS
Super Smash Bros. is a long-running Nintendo franchise that’s seeing its first outing on the new platforms. It’s a fighting game featuring characters from various Nintendo properties including, Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Animal Crossing, Pokemon and more. Even though it’s a fighting game, the violence is mostly cartoony and on-par with what you might expect to see in a Mario game. For more details on Super Smash Bros. read our review.

Games for Tweens, Teens, and Adults

Civilization: Beyond Earth


ESRB Rating: E10+
Content Descriptor(s): Alcohol Reference, Fantasy Violence, Language
Release Date: October 24
Platforms: PC
Civilization: Beyond Earth is a new game in the Civilization series, which are turn-based strategy games that task the player with building a civilization from its most primitive form into an advanced nation. Beyond Earth takes the franchise into the future where humanity is searching for a new place to continue its struggle for survival. Using futuristic technology and military units, players must establish a new home for the human race. The game features fantasy violence, some mild language, and alcohol references. For more information on Civilization: Beyond Earth, read our review.

Hyrule Warriors


ESRB Rating: T
Content Descriptor(s): Fantasy Violence, Suggestive Themes
Release Date: September 26
Platforms: Wii U
Hyrule Warriors is an action game set in the same universe as the long-running Legend of Zelda franchise. In this game, an evil sorceress is trying to take over the land, and the player must battle armies of enemies in order to save the kingdom. Unlike other games in the franchise, which focus heavily on adventure and puzzle elements, Hyrule Warriors is all about combat. Using special abilities and mastering combinations to deal devastating attacks are the most important parts of the gameplay. The game contains fantasy violence and suggestive themes. For more information on Hyrule Warriors, read our review.

Project Spark


ESRB Rating: E10+
Content Descriptor(s): Fantasy Violence
Release Date: October 7
Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox 360, Devices Running Windows 8
Project Spark is both a game and a game-creation tool. The story part of the game features a fantasy campaign that tasks players with using customizable Champions to defeat a mysterious plague that’s destroying the land. The other part of the game is a robust set of creative tools that enable players to create a wide variety of games in a number of different genres. The campaign part of the game features fantasy violence, but creations made by other players may include more objectionable content. For more information on Project Spark, read our review.

Games for Mature Tweens, Teens, and Adults

The Crew


ESRB Rating: T
Content Descriptor(s): Language, Mild Blood, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence
Release Date: December 2
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC, Xbox 360
The Crew is a car-racing game set in an open-world version of the United States.  The player is tasked with rising within the ranks of a gang based in the illegal street-racing scene. The races involve getting from the start to the finish line in any way the player chooses. Throughout the game, players might have to run from police and perform a number of illegal maneuvers in order to win a race. The game features online multiplayer where up to eight players can compete in a variety of modes. The game includes language, violence, some blood, and some suggestive themes.

Destiny


ESRB Rating: T
Content Descriptor(s): Animated Blood, Violence
Release Date: September 9
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4
Destiny is a first-person action-adventure set in the far future where aliens have destroyed all but one city on Earth. The player is tasked with fighting for humanity’s survival within our solar system, including settings on the moon and other planets. The game features both competitive and cooperative multiplayer and contains violence and mild blood. For more details on the game, read our review.

The Sims 4


ESRB Rating: T
Content Descriptor(s): Crude Humor, Sexual Themes, Violence
Release Date: September 2
Platforms: PC
The Sims 4 is the latest installment in vastly popular Sims franchise. These games are open-ended sandbox games where players create virtual people called Sims and help them live out the minutiae of everyday life, including everything from going to work; to relationships; to eating, sleeping, and going to the bathroom. The games also feature modes where players can build houses, parks, and other structures using a robust set of tools. The game can contain crude humor, sexual themes, and violence, but only if the player chooses to pursue those activities with their Sims. For more details on The Sims 4, read our review.

Games for Mature Teens and Adults

Alien Isolation


ESRB Rating: M
Content Descriptor(s): Blood, Strong Language, Violence
Release Date: October 7
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Alien Isolation is a first-person survival horror game based on the popular Alien movie franchise. In this game, players take the role of Amanda, daughter of Ellen Ripley, the main protagonist from the films. The elder Ripley has disappeared and Amanda goes in search of her on a remote space station that has been infested by one of the species of alien that plagues humanity throughout the series. Amanda must use a variety of weapons as well as stealth techniques to avoid the alien and find her mother. The game features graphic violence, blood, and language throughout. For more information on Alien Isolation, read our review.

 Assassin’s Creed Unity


ESRB Rating: M
Content Descriptor(s): Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol
Release Date: November 11
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC
Assassin’s Creed Unity is the latest in the long-running Assassin’s Creed franchise. Set during the French revolution, the game casts players take the role of Arno Dorian, who joins the Brotherhood of Assassins after the death of his father. Besides single player, the game offers cooperative play for up to four players. Like previous entries in the series, Assassin’s Creed Unity features graphic violence, blood, language, sexual content, and the use of alcohol. For more information on Assassin’s Creed Unity, read our review.

Bayonetta 2


ESRB Rating: M
Content Descriptor(s): Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes
Release Date: October 24
Platforms: Wii U
Bayonetta 2 is an action game where players take the role of the witch-like title character as she battles all sorts of demonic and angelic creatures. The game is known for its highly sexualized content, which includes camera angles that focus on Bayonetta in sexual ways, as well as her clothes disappearing when she performs certain attacks. For more information on Bayonetta 2, read our review.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare


ESRB Rating: M
Content Descriptor(s): Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Strong Language
Release Date: November 4
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC, Xbox 360, PS3
The latest installment in the hugely popular Call of Duty franchise, Advanced Warfare is a first-person shooter set in the near future when a terrorist attack devastates the infrastructure of many of the world’s nations. The player assumes the role of an ex-Marine who joins a private military operation in an attempt to bring peace to the war-torn globe. Besides the single-player story, the game features online competitive multiplayer, and the online community of Call of Duty players has a reputation for being vitriolic. The game features graphic violence, blood, strong language, and drug references. For more information on Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, read our review.

Dragon Age Inquisition


ESRB Rating: Rating Pending, but we anticipate this game will be rated M.
Content Descriptor(s): Since the rating is pending, we don’t know for sure, but probable content descriptors will include Violence, Blood and Gore, Language and Sexual Content
Release Date: November 18
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Dragon Age Inquisition is the third game in the Dragon Age series. It’s a role-playing game set in a fantasy world where different races and factions are at war with each other while dragons and other fantastical creatures roam the land. The game enables the player to choose to play as different races and make countless moral choices throughout the course of the game, all of which alter the story and the way it ends. Although the rating for this particular game is still pending, we fully anticipate the game to be rated M and to include violence, blood, language, and sexual themes.

Far Cry 4


ESRB Rating: M
Content Descriptor(s): Blood, Intense Violence, Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Drugs
Release Date: November 18
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Far Cry 4 is an open-world first-person shooter set in a part of the Himalayas where a civil war is raging. The player must fight numerous enemies, including other humans and animals, as he or she tries to bring down the self-appointed king who is causing all of the mayhem. Besides the single-player mode, the game features cooperative play through the story and online competitive play. The game features intense violence, blood, sexual themes, nudity, strong language and drug use.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection


ESRB Rating: M
Content Descriptor(s): Blood and Gore, Language, Violence
Release Date: November 11
Platforms: Xbox One
Halo: The Master Chief Collection is a compilation of many of the games in the Halo franchise. It includes the anniversary edition of Halo: Combat Evolved,  a newly remastered version of Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo 4 along with additional content like new online multiplayer capabilities and the digital series, Halo: Nightfall. The game includes a user interface that encompasses all of the content, meaning players can easily switch between games on the fly. The Halo games include violence, blood, and language. For more information on Halo: The Master Chief Collection, read our review.

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor


ESRB Rating: M
Content Descriptor(s): Blood and Gore, Intense Violence
Release Date: September 30
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor is a third-person action adventure game set in the universe of The Lord of the Rings between the events of The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring. Players take the role of Talion, a ranger from Gondor whose job it is to guard the black gate of Mordor. Players can upgrade Talions abilities as they progress and can explore Middle-Earth freely. The game contains lots of blood and gore and fantasy violence. For more information on Shadow of Mordor, read our review.

Sunset Overdrive


ESRB Rating: M
Content Descriptor(s): Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Violence
Release Date: October 28
Platforms: Xbox One
Sunset Overdrive is a third-person action adventure game set in a post-apocalyptic world where cities have been overrun by mutants. Player characters are fully customizable and can make use of a variety of unique weapons to dispatch the mutant enemies. The game is meant to be humorous, but it contains blood and gore, violence, language, sexual themes and drug references. For more information on Sunset Overdrive, read our review.

Nicole Tanner

About Nicole Tanner

Nicole has been playing games her entire life. Now that she's a mom, she's passionate about promoting games as a healthy pastime to other parents around the globe. She has been an editor at IGN, where she launched and hosted the Girlfight podcast. In her spare time (which is not very much, honestly) she enjoys gaming, reading, and writing fiction. Most of the time she’s a mom to a crazy, intelligent, and exhausting little girl.