Our first full year with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S was marred by big delays due to the pandemic. Many of our most anticipated games and sequels were pushed to next year, or beyond.

Yet the gaming industry is not one to rest easy. Xbox fans can enjoy Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5. Switch players saw the first new main-story Metroid game in nearly 20 years with Metroid Dread. And Monster Hunter fans had a great year between Monster Hunter Rise and Monster Hunter Stories 2.

We’ve also included some excellent new tabletop games when you want a break from the screen. As always, our holiday gift guide is organized by age range, to make it easier to find the perfect gifts for your gamers.

Younger Kids (Under 10)

Forza Horizon 5

Racing games are often at the top of the list of games that show off next generation hardware, but even if your gamer only has an Xbox One, Forza Horizon 5 should not be missed. The realistic driving has never felt better, the open world of Mexico never looked this good, and the Drivatar system continues to transform your friends’ driving into satisfying AI opponents.

Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
For fans of: Racing games, licensed cars


Miitopia is an action-RPG that features playable Mii avatars, which were far more popular during the Wii U and 3DS era (Miitopia is actually a remastered version of a 3DS game). Miitopia effectively combines RPG combat and progression with life sim traits and relationships.

Platforms: Switch
For fans of: Mii avatars, Life sims, cute RPGs

New Pokémon Snap

Over 20 years ago Pokémon Snap captivated Nintendo 64 owners with a simple game about taking pictures of Pokémon. This year finally gave us a proper sequel, and it’s everything fans and newcomers could want. Start your automated route, get your camera ready, and enjoy the theme park ride through a series of fun Pokémon-filled settings.

Platforms: Switch
For fans of: Pokémon, Photography, non-action games.

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl

Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are the latest in a long-list of remakes. The Gen 4 remakes, which originally launched in 2006 on Nintendo DS, are faithful to a fault, recreating the classic campaign of a Pokémon trainer setting out to be the very best. The huge graphical improvements with the Switch are a welcome change, as well as some modern quality of life improvements – like a dang autosave.

Platforms: Switch
For fans of: Classic Pokémon games, Catching ’em all

Slime Rancher

Slime Rancher has been around since 2017, but it released earlier this year on Switch, and that’s as good as any to recommend one of the best indie family games ever designed. Slime Rancher combines monster collecting (finding cute slimes!) with farm sims (breeding more cute slimes!) in an intriguing sci-fi world. It’s adorably kid-friendly with lots of unlockable content, side quests, and slimes.

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One
For fans of: Non-violent first-person adventure, farm sims, monster collecting

Hot Wheels Unleashed

A racing game based on the well-known toy car brand could have been a forgettable cash-in. Hot Wheels Unleashed is a refreshingly great racing game, featuring all the awesome cars (and customizations) and crazy courses you could want, inspired by other excellent arcade racers such as Mario Kart. Unleashed includes a campaign, track editor, and online and split-screen multiplayer.

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
For fans of: Arcade racing games, toy cars


Older Kids & Teens (10 – 16)


One of last year’s best indie games on PC and Switch is now available on PlayStation and Xbox. This incredibly immersive roguelike action game stars the Zagreus, the son of Hades, as he attempts to escape the underworld. Expect many deaths and failed attempts, but the fun characters, lovely art, and tight gameplay will keep you hooked.

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
For fans of: Challenging games, Roguelikes, Greek Mythology

Halo Infinite

The sixth main entry in the venerable Xbox franchise, Halo Infinite continues the story of Master Chief, and a direct continuation of the events of Halo 4 and 5. The campaign features a free-roaming ringworld full of enemy bases, while multiplayer features all the modes and weapons fans have grown to love.

Platforms: Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC
For fans of: Halo, first-person shooters, competitive multiplayer

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy

Thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the wacky Guardians of the Galaxy are one of the most popular and enjoyable super hero teams around. Unlike last year’s mediocre online co-op Marvel’s Avengers, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is a purely single-player action game, as wise-cracking Star-Lord directs his team of misfits through a series of intergalactic hijinks.

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
For fans of: Marvel heroes, MCU humor, single-player action games

Metroid Dread

Metroid Dread is the very long-awaited sequel to 2002’s Metroid Fusion, though it also works as another stand-alone adventure. Samus is once again stranded on an alien planet, and she’s definitely not alone. Dread isn’t just a title; there are powerful robotic enemies that can’t be fought outright, and must be carefully avoided as she reclaims her suit upgrades.

Platforms: Switch
For fans of: Metroidvania, sci-fi horror

Monster Hunter Rise

The latest in the long-running series is also the first built specifically for the Nintendo Switch. While you can expect a downgrade in visuals from 2018’s phenomenal Monster Hunter World, expect the return of all 14 weapon styles, and tons of monsters. The new wirebug expands traversal and combat in all the right ways, including the fun ability to temporarily ride and control monsters.

Platforms: Switch, PC
For fans of: Monster Hunter, challenging action games, co-op

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin

Love collecting and battling monsters but looking for something a bit more complex than Pokémon? The Monster Hunter Stories series is the perfect spin-off, utilizing the awesome behemoths of the Mon Hun series with turn-based, tactical battles that still capture the tension of those epic boss battles.

Platforms: Switch, PC
For fans of: Monster Hunter series, Pokémon, turn-based combat

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

If you’ve got a lucky gamer with a PlayStation 5 (or perhaps getting one this holiday) and looking for a game to show off then new hardware, may we humbly suggest this excellent sequel to 2016’s PlayStation 4 reboot. Our intergalactic heroes accidentally create dimensional rifts to alternate worlds and timelines, and must embark on an interdimensional journey to repair them.

Platforms: PlayStation 5
For fans of: Third-person action-platforming

Older Teens & Adults (17+)


Arkane Studios has made some of the best immersive shooters of the last decade, and Deathloop may be their best yet. Set on an island stuck in a Groundhog Day-esque time loop, your only way out is to kill all your targets. It’s a gleeful sandbox of stealth-murder mayhem, combined with sharp writing and excellent gameplay.

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 5
For fans of: Stealth-action games, Dishonored, Edge of Tomorrow

It Takes Two

Although rated T for Teen, It Takes Two’ brilliant co-op adventure about rekindling lost love is best enjoyed by older couples. Like Hazelight’s previous games, the game is built from the ground up for two players working together, with each player character having distinct abilities. They’ll need to work together to overcome the challenges of being shrunk by their well-meaning but concerned daughter.

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
For fans of: Co-op, A Way Out

Life is Strange: True Colors

The Life is Strange series is beloved for how it tackles serious emotional issues that face many young people. True Colors, the third stand-alone game in the series, stars a young woman and her powers of seeing and altering the emotions of others, displayed as vivid colors. True Colors asks some important questions about reading minds and changing hearts, and is another slam-dunk for this narrative-rich series.

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Stadia, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
For fans of: Narrative-rich stories, Choice-driven adventure games

Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous

Pathfinder is essentially Dungeons & Dragons, and Wrath of the Righteous is an epic RPG as your custom character joins (and leads) a crusade against a horrific demonic invasion. You’ll befriend allies, complete quests, crawl through dungeons, and engage in party-based tactical combat, which can be freely swapped between real-time and turn-based, satisfying every RPG fan.

Platforms: PC
For fans of: Dungeons & Dragons, Tactical RPGs, Baldur’s Gate series


Disney’s Gargoyles: Awakening

You don’t need to a be a fan of the classic 90s animated series Gargoyles to enjoy this tactical battle game (though you certainly should be). Awakening includes four scenarios and six characters, each with their own personalized deck of cards and miniature, as players take turns moving, gliding, and battling across Manhattan to deter the forces of Xanatos and Demona.

Age: 10+

Fast and Furious: Highway Heist

The action-packed Fast and Furious film series translates to a surprisingly compelling cooperative board game. Choose a familiar character and a car, and roll dice to perform actions and stunts in one of three different scenarios. The action is as wild and exciting as the movies, including exploding cards, helicopter missiles, and rooftop fistfights.

Age: 12+

Stardew Valley: The Board Game

Stardew Valley is one of our all-time favorite family games. The board game stuffs just about everything from the dense farm sim, including exploring the mines, planting crops, fishing, and making friends. The look and feel is spot-on, but be prepared for a lengthier experience of around 2+ hours that’s more suitable for older kids and teens.

Age: 13+


Bidding and auction games are tricky to introduce to younger players. Sweetlandia solves it by giving each player a small hand of six asymmetrical (but balanced) auction cards. Each round, players choose a card to bid for the right to pick a new location card to add to their candy-themed city, scoring points for collecting sets and bonus objectives. The sweet theme and easy bidding make this a winner for gaming families.

Age: 8+

This article was written by

Eric has been writing for over eight years with bylines in Dicebreaker, Pixelkin, Polygon, PC Gamer and Tabletop Gaming magazine, covering movies, TV shows, video games, tabletop games and tech. He reviews and live streams D&D adventures every week on YouTube. He also makes a mean tuna quesadilla.