As the world slowly recovers from the global pandemic, the gaming industry continues to boom. Big delays from the last two years finally launched this year, giving us hugely anticipated games and sequels such as Elden Ring, Horizon Forbidden West, God of War Ragnarok, and not one but two big Pokémon games.

It’s never been a better time to be a gamer, and being a gift-giver for a gamer can be easy thanks to our holiday gift guide.

Note that free-to-play and service games are increasingly popular among younger gamers, making V-Bucks (Fortnite), Robux (Roblox) and Minecoins (Minecraft) highly desired gift cards, and great stocking stuffers!

As always, make sure to double check ESRB ratings and platforms, and consider our age categories a general guide for most gamers.

Younger Kids (Under 10)

 

Pokémon Legends: Arceus

Skipping Arceus for the more famous Pokémon Scarlet and Violet would be a big mistake. Pokémon Legends: Arceus is a fantastic Pokémon game with a wild Sinnoh region full of large zones of open-world exploration. Lots of clever new Pokémon systems, such as weak and strong attacks, and capturing Pokémon without having to battle, will keep fans and veterans entertained in this unique prequel story.

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

 

Kirby and the Forgotten Land

One of Nintendo’s most veteran heroes has had his ups and downs over the years, but Kirby and the Forgotten Land is easily one of the best Kirby games ever made. Classic ability-copying gameplay with creative level design are a treat, and the fun local co-op is excellent for children and younger siblings.

Platforms: Switch
For fans of: Cute adventure, 3D platforming,

 

LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

Most Lego games are among the top tier of family-friend local co-op games, and if you’re at all a Star Wars fan, The Skywalker Saga is a no-brainer. By updating the older Lego Star Wars games, injecting new content, and throwing every bit of Star Wars fan service and Lego gameplay you could ask for, this is the definitive Lego adventure game.

Platforms: PC, PlayStation, PC, Xbox
For fans of: Lego co-op adventures, everything Star Wars

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge

One of my personal favorite games of the year could also be this year’s Streets of Rage 4; Shredder’s Revenge is a smartly modernized sequel to a classic beat ’em up series. The bright colors, bopping soundtrack, and crisp side-scrolling gameplay pulls all the right nostalgia strings, while introducing new audiences to the simplistic joy of the genre.

Platforms: PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox
For fans of: Co-op beat ’em up, heroes in a half-shell, Streets of Rage

 

Splatoon 3

Do your kids enjoy competitive multiplayer gaming, but aren’t ready to shoot each other in the face with digital guns? Nintendo’s Splatoon series is a fantastic alternative, with highly competitive, cooperative, and solo modes. Teams face off in paintball matches armed with a variety of paint-spewing weapons, tools, and abilities, and oodles of unlockable content.

Platforms: Switch
For fans of: Competitive multiplayer, paintball, squids,

 

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle was a surprisingly brilliant genre mash-up of Mario and turn-based tactical strategy. The sequel, Sparks of Hope, keeps everything good while improving the rest, such as non-linear level designs, more playable characters, and swappable abilities courtesy of the titular sparks.

Platforms: Switch
For fans of: Turn-based combat, tactics and strategy, the Mushroom Kingdom

 

Sonic Frontiers

Sonic’s 3D adventures often falter before the finish line, but Sonic Frontiers is a rapid dash in the right direction thanks to its (mostly) open world design inspired by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, as well as some nice enemy variety, and a solid story.

Platforms: PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox
For fans of: Going fast, 3D Sonic adventures

 

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet

The ninth generation of Pokémon games is bigger than ever, as Pokémon Scarlet and Violet usher in the first truly open world Pokémon games, along with multiple non-linear story paths, over 100 new Pokémon, and true local co-op. Also, unlike most Pokémon games, you get access to the title ‘mon almost right off the bat as your cool transforming mount. Ridin’ in style!

Platforms: Switch
For fans of: Pokémon, Catching ’em all, open world exploration

Older Kids & Teens (10-16)

 

Horizon Forbidden West

The sequel to 2017’s phenomenal Horizon Zero Dawn returns to the post-post-apocalyptic world of tribal humans and robot dinosaurs. One of modern gaming’s best heroes, Aloy, reunites with friends old and new to take on new threats to her dangerous yet fascinating world.

Platforms: PlayStation
For fans of: Open world action-adventure, robot dinosaurs, post-apocalyptic stories

 

Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands

From the irreverent minds behind the Borderlands series (and spinning off of Borderlands 2 DLC), comes a less mature but still humorously zany first-person shooter. As with Borderlands, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is built for co-op looting mayhem, embracing a fantasy theme by replacing grenades with spells and adding new melee weapons, along with a classic D&D-like story.

Platforms: PC, PlayStation, Xbox
For fans of: Borderlands, co-op looter shooters, Ashly Burch

 

Temtem

After years spent in early access, the Pokémon-like Temtem finally launched as 1.0 this year. There’s a lot to love about this love-letter to the classic monster battling series, including a more mature story and world, and more intricate battle dynamics thanks to the expanded 2v2 combat.

Platforms: PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox
For fans of: Creature battlers and collectors

 

Two Point Campus

Two Point Campus is the follow-up to 2019’s Two Point Hospital, and is every bit as cheeky and humorous as the first game. Instead of a hospital, you’re managing a series of schools for young adults, including building classrooms, hosting events, and choosing extra-curriculars, all while keeping your students and faculty safe, happy, and satisfied.

Platforms: PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox
For fans of: Simulations, Two Point Hospital, cheeky humor

 

Triangle Strategy

Fans of tactical RPGs (or SRPGs) such as Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy Tactics will want to check out Square Enix’s retro-inspired RPG, Triangle Strategy. Triangle Strategy features grid-based battlefields, branching stories, and glorious pixel art.

Platforms: PC, Switch
For fans of: Tactics RPGs, Fire Emblem, pixelated RPGs

 

Xenoblade Chronicles 3

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 has been hailed as the best game in the series, and has recently been nominated for Game of the Year at this year’s The Game Awards. The JRPG series features real-time combat and open world exploration, with this third game in the numbered trilogy expanding the party roster so all six main party members can participate, along with the new mecha-transforming system called Ouroboros.

Platforms: Switch
For fans of: JRPGs, real-time MMO-like combat, Pacific Rim

 

Return to Monkey Island

How do you make a semi-rebooted sequel to a classic adventure series? Bringing back the original designers certainly helps! Return to Monkey Island is a glorious return to the golden age of point and click adventure games of the 90s, continuing the story of bumbling yet beloved hero Guybrush Threepwood.

Platforms: PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox
For fans of: Adventure games, LucasArts, pirates

Older Teens & Adults (17+)

 

Elden Ring

The Dark Souls series has become so popular they ushered in their own subgenre of action game: Souls-like, referring to hardcore challenges, precise third-person combat, and creepy worlds. From the Dark Souls developers comes Elden Ring, the next evolution in the genre they invented, a Souls-like action game within an open fantasy world designed by George R. R. Martin of Game of Thrones fame.

Platforms: PC, PlayStation, Xbox
For fans of: Dark Souls, FromSoftware, grimdark

 

Bayonetta 3

Who would’ve guessed one of the best M-rated games of the year would release exclusively on Nintendo Switch? Gun-toting, hair-whipping Umbran Witch Bayonetta is thrust into the World of Chaos to ally with demons and battle renegade angels, using her extravagant display of melee and gun attacks, alon with new ally (and witch-in-training) Viola.

Platforms: Switch
For fans of: Over-the-top action games

 

God of War Ragnarok

To call sequel God of War Ragnarok “more of the same” would be largely a compliment, considering 2018’s God of War is widely viewed as one of the best games of the PlayStation 4. Ragnarok concludes the epic Norse-themed duology, as Kratos, former God of War, and his son Atreus, survive another litany of gods and monsters.

Platforms: PlayStation
For fans of: Norse mythology, buff dads


This article was written by

Eric has been writing for over five 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.