holiday guide

Pixelkin 2019 Holiday Gift Guide for Gaming Families

Posted by | Feature, PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One | No Comments

With new consoles looming on the horizon, 2019 could’ve been a quieter year in gaming.

Thankfully it was anything but quiet, with hugely anticipated sequels like Kingdom Hearts 3, The Division 2, and Borderlands 3, excellent newcomers like The Outer Worlds and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and delightful indies such as Wargroove and Untitled Goose Game.

If you’re thinking of getting a new console this holiday season, we would wholly recommend the Nintendo Switch, or the Switch Lite. While PlayStation and Xbox consoles have never been cheaper, entirely new consoles are launching next year from both companies.

The Switch, however, is enjoying another banner year in 2019, seeing several big entries in beloved series such as Super Mario Maker and Pokémon, as well as a robust library of indie games and cross-platform titles. And the handheld-only Switch Lite, which launched earlier this year, may prove to be the most kid-friendly console of all time.

Below you’ll find links to our 2019 gaming gift recommendations, including tabletop games, organized by Younger Kids (under 10), Kids and Teens (10-16), and Mature Teens (17+). Note that many kid-friendly games, such as Super Mario Maker 2 and Pokémon Sword and Shield, are beloved by kids, teens, and adults alike.

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oathbreaker

Pixelkin 2019 Holiday Gift Guide: Board Games

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Despite (or perhaps because of) video gaming’s incredible popularity, board and card games continue to ride a golden wave of success. Like their digital counterparts, tabletop games come in all shapes, sizes, genres, and age groups.

Below you’ll find our list of some of the hottest new games of 2019 divided by Kids (~8-13) and Teens (14+). Note that “Kids” doesn’t mean Teens and Adults won’t love them too!

Kids

Invasion of the Cow Snatchers

invasion of the cow snatchers

Invasion of the Cow Snatchers is more a series of puzzles than a board game. Fences and disc-cows are assembled in a small grid, and players must carefully navigate their magnetic UFO to pick up cows and avoid getting stuck behind fences. The box includes 60 puzzles divided into five difficulty levels, making it a brain-teasing winner for kids and adults.

The Mind

The Mind is a simple card game with a hilariously devious premise. Players need to play their randomly dealt number cards (1-100) to the center of the table, in ascending order. Play the wrong card, and you lose a precious life. The catch is that no one can talk to each other, forcing lots of furtive looks and telling grunts. The Mind features 12 levels of increasing difficulty, as each player must calculate a larger hand size.

Funkoverse Strategy Games

Fans of the bobblehead-like Funko pop figures can throw down the gauntlet in this new series of tactical Funkoverse Strategy Games. At launch you can find DC, Harry Potter, and Rick and Morty packs in 2-character and 4-character sets, and each come with exclusive Funkopop figures.

Wayfinders

In Wayfinders, players place their workers on hangars to gain resources, then use them to move their plan among a randomly generated set of islands, building airstrips and gaining victory points. It’s an easy-to-teach gateway game to the wonderful worker placement genre.

 

Teens

The Blockbuster Party Game

The Blockbuster Party Game is the ultimate movie trivia game, featuring multiple party game trivia modes, including head-to-head categories, quotes, and even silently acting out movie scenes, and it’s all wrapped up in a nostalgic VHS tape package.

Clank Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated

We love the Clank games for combing dungeon crawling with deck building. Clank Legacy combines two more of our favorites: the overarching campaign RPG structure of a legacy game, and the hilariously fun machinations of the Penny Arcade D&D group, Acq Inq!

Disney Villainous: Wicked to the Core and Evil Comes Prepared 

If you followed our advice and got the excellent asymmetrical game Disney Villainous last year, you’re more than due to check out the two new expansions, each adding three new villains that feature their own unique and thematically appropriate paths to victory.

Game of Thrones: Oathbreaker

oathbreaker

Game of Thrones finally ended earlier this year, but you and your friends can carry on the backstabbing and subterfuge with Oathbreaker, which takes the hidden role system of many a party game and divides players into two teams of loyalists and conspirators, and a paranoid king who must determine which is which.

Jaws Board Game

Who would’ve guessed a board game based on the seminal 1975 film would be so darn good? The Jaws Board Game is two games in one, with the first act featuring the human players scrambling to find the shark before it eats too many swimmers. The second act takes place entirely on the boat, as the shark destroys it (and the humans) while the humans try to guess where it will surface and attack. For a game where one player plays a man-eating shark on a team of their own, it’s surprisingly well-balanced and wonderfully tense.

Wingspan

One of the best reviewed board games of the year is about bird-watching, and collecting birds for your personal wildlife preserve. Wingspan features over 150 bird species, gorgeous artwork, colorful egg tokens, large player mats, and an awesome bird-feeder dice tower.

pokemon

Pixelkin 2019 Holiday Gift Guide: Nintendo Switch

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For family-friendly gaming it doesn’t get any better than the Nintendo Switch.

Nintendo’s unique home-handheld hybrid found continued success in 2019, bolstered by excellent exclusive titles like Super Mario Maker 2, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and Pokémon Sword and Shield.

Indie games once again found a welcome home on the Switch, with some indies choosing to launch exclusively on Nintendo’s console and skipping the others entirely.

This year also saw the release of the Nintendo Switch Lite, a cheaper, slightly smaller, handheld-only version. The Switch Lite would make the perfect gift for a kid or teen who prefer mobile gaming.

See below for all our Switch game recommendations from 2019.

 

Younger Kids

Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King

Two classic platformers from the 90s, Aladdin and The Lion King, have been updated and packaged together as Disney Classic Games. As these games predate many of the modern conveniences we’ve enjoyed in the years and decades since their launch, players can now enjoy a rewind feature and easily activated cheat codes, which should come in handy for the notoriously difficult The Lion King.

Also available on: PC (Steam), PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Disney Tsum Tsum Festival

Fans of multiplayer Mario Party-like mini-games will delight at the neon-drenched, music-blaring arcade games of Disney Tsum Tsum Festival, starring everyone’s favorite chubby little toys.

Also available on: N/A

Doraemon: Story of Seasons

Story of Seasons, which used to be called Harvest Moon, is the original farming-RPG series that inspired the likes of Stardew Valley. Doraemon: Story of Seasons combines the beloved farming gameplay with the classic Japanese anime series Doraemon, featuring all the primary characters, including the titular time-traveling cat and his gadgets.

Also available on: PC (Steam)

Dragon Quest Builders 2

Dragon Quest Builders 2 continues the brilliant mashup of the colorful, kid-friendly Dragon Quest RPG series with Minecraft-like building and crafting. The sequel features a new retro fast travel system, the ability to fly and swim to reach new areas, and online cooperative multiplayer.

Also available on: PlayStation 4, PC (Steam – Dec. 10)

Luigi’s Mansion 3

Who ya gonna call when your friends and family run afoul of ghosts in a haunted hotel? Luigi grabs his trusty Poltergust vacuum, including a new feature to create a slimy copy called Gooigi. Luigi’s Mansion 3 also features cooperative and competitive multiplayer.

Also available on: N/A

Pokémon Sword and Shield

The Pokémon series needs no introduction, but Sword and Shield are particularly noteworthy for ushering in a new era of the main series breaking free of its handheld-only bonds. Sword and Shield take place in the UK-inspired Galar Region, and include many fun new features from last year’s Pokémon Let’s Go remakes.

Also available on: N/A

Super Mario Maker 2

The Super Mario Maker series features all the enemies, blocks, and tools to build your own 2D Mario levels, resulting in an astonishing amount of creativity and replayabilty. The Switch sequel adds even more tools and themes, a full campaign mode, and co-op and competitive multiplayer.

Also available on: N/A

Team Sonic Racing

Mario and friends aren’t the only ones who like to settle their differences on the race track. Team Sonic Racing features 15 racers spread over three distinct classes, and 21 different tracks, including favorites from previous Sonic racing games. Up to four players can race together locally, or up to 12 players online.

Also available on: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Untitled Goose Game

The goose is loose in Untitled Goose Game, where you play as a real jerk of a goose. It’s a light-hearted puzzle-adventure where you steal shoes, hide in boxes, scare children, and generally be a hilarious nuisance.

Also available on: PC (Epic Games Store)

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair

The first Yooka-Laylee was crafted as a spiritual successor to the wave of 3D platformers of the late 90s/early 2000s, but was met with mixed results. The sequel, Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair,  takes a far different approach, utilizing successful 2D level designs. It’s both a solid throwback to classic game design, and a refreshing modern update.

Also available on: PC (Steam), PlayStation 4, Xbox One

 

Older Kids & Teens

Astral Chain

After stumbling with the Star Fox on the Wii U, PlatinumGames has begun churning out frenetic action hits with 2017’s Nier: Automata and now Astral Chain, where futuristic cops use mystical chains to summon powerful creatures called Legion to repel an alien invasion.

Also available on: N/A

Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition

If you were patient enough to hold off on getting one of the best RPGs of last year, you’ll be rewarded with an even better version of Dragon Quest 11 on the Nintendo Switch. Dragon Quest 11 S includes an optional 16-bit graphic mode and original Japanese voice acting, as well as expanded story elements.

Also available on: PlayStation 4, PC (Steam)

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

After a long stint on handhelds the Fire Emblem series returns to the home console with Three Houses. The tactical strategy series features three distinct paths as you choose your house and train your students for the wars to come.

Also available on: N/A

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order

The Marvel Ultimate Alliance series pits everyone’s favorite Marvel heroes in top-down beat-em-up, co-operative battles. Build a team of four from over 35 heroes and combine their abilities to unleash powerful synergy attacks. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 supports both local and online cooperative multiplayer.

Also available on: N/A

Slay the Spire

What Slay the Spire lacks in graphics and animation it makes up for in depth of gameplay. The roguelike card game is well-balanced and tactically demanding as you ascend through dungeon rooms and challenges, playing cards, making choices, and building your deck. Three distinct classes offer multiple playstyles and a huge list of cards to find and unlock.

Also available on: PC (Steam), PlayStation 4

SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech

Indie studio Image & Form Games have been making colorful, well-written SteamWorld games for years, in several different genres. SteamWorld Quest is a tactical turn-based card game set within a fun fantasy world. The heroes are earnest and funny, and the meaty combat demands careful deck management and smart card timing.

Also available on: N/A

Wargroove

Wargroove asks one simple question: Do you like Advance Wars? The beloved handheld tactical strategy series has been given an excellent spiritual successor, transforming the pseudo-modern Advance Wars into a fantasy series with a lengthy story campaign as well as skirmish, puzzle, and map editing modes.

Also available on: PC (Steam), PlayStation 4, Xbox One

 

Mature Teens

Divinity: Original Sin 2 – Definitive Edition

Divinity: Original Sin 2 is one of the best tactical RPGs ever made, and now you can play it on the Switch. Join forces with cannibal elves, pirate dwarves, and royal lizards, or make your own heroes (and anti-heroes) across a humongous campaign that supports up to four player co-op.

Also available on: PC (Steam), PlayStation 4, Xbox One

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Complete Edition

Developers are bending over backwards to get their games on the fast-selling Switch, even gigantic RPGs like 2015’s The Witcher 3. The Switch version necessitates a downgrade in graphics, but being able to continue your adventures with Geralt on the go might give you a chance of actually completing this massive RPG.

Also available on: PC (Steam), PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Pixelkin 2019 Holiday Gift Guide: PC

Posted by | Feature, PC | No Comments

The PC is still home to the biggest assortment of games, especially indie games, though with the abundance of cross-platform releases and the Switch becoming a major home for indie gaming, the line between PC and console gaming is growing increasingly blurred.

The biggest change in PC gaming this year is the addition of the Epic Games Store, courtesy of Fortnite developer Epic Games. Epic has been offering exclusive deals to many publishers, much to the chagrin of PC gamers who have grown used to Steam as their primary PC gaming library. Like Steam, the Epic Games Store is free to download and use, though it does lack most features we’ve come to expect from digital stores.

See below for all our PC game recommendations for 2019.

 

Younger Kids

Doraemon: Story of Seasons

Story of Seasons, which used to be called Harvest Moon, is the original farming-RPG series that inspired the likes of Stardew Valley. Doraemon: Story of Seasons combines the beloved farming gameplay with the classic Japanese anime series Doraemon, featuring all the primary characters, including the titular time-traveling cat and his gadgets.

PC store: Steam
Also available on: Switch

Team Sonic Racing

Mario and friends aren’t the only ones who like to settle their differences on the race track. Team Sonic Racing features 15 racers spread over three distinct classes, and 21 different tracks, including favorites from previous Sonic racing games. Up to four players can race together locally, or up to 12 players online.

PC store: Steam
Also available on: PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One

Untitled Goose Game

The goose is loose in Untitled Goose Game, where you play as a real jerk of a goose. It’s a light-hearted puzzle-adventure where you steal shoes, hide in boxes, scare children, and generally be a hilarious nuisance.

PC store: Epic Games Store
Also available on: Switch

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair

The first Yooka-Laylee was crafted as a spiritual successor to the wave of 3D platformers of the late 90s/early 2000s, but was met with mixed results. The sequel, Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair,  takes a far different approach, utilizing successful 2D level designs. It’s both a solid throwback to classic game design, and a refreshing modern update.

PC store: Steam
Also available on: PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One

 

Older Kids & Teens

Age of Wonders: Planetfall

Planetfall is more than a sci-fi version of turn-based strategy series Age of Wonders, which combines Civilization’s empire management with XCOM-like tactical combat. Planetfall completely changes city-building and expansion through the use of sectors, and expands combat to make room for armored dinosaurs and laser guns.

PC store: Steam
Also available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Apex Legends

EA and Respawn surprised everyone when they dropped the Fortnite-like Battle Royal shooter, Apex Legends. What was initially seen as a Fortnite-killer has since cooled off, but the makers of Titanfall have crafted an excellent team-based online shooter in a (slightly) more serious sci-fi universe.

PC Store: Origin
Also available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Evolution Board Game

North Star Digital produced one of the most gorgeous board game adaptations we’ve ever seen in Evolution. Players use cards to create new species, increase their population and body size, and add powerful new traits to repel, or become, predators. The video game features a 24-level campaign and local and online multiplayer with ranked matchmaking.

PC store: Steam

Also available on: iOS, Android

Outer Wilds

It’s the end of the world, Groundhog Day style in indie adventure Outer Wilds. As an astronaut on a new planet, you have exactly 22 minutes until the sun explodes. It’ll take a multitude of iterations to explore the mystery behind the time loop, diving further and further into the story and wider universe with each catastrophic death.

PC store: Epic Games Store
Also available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Planet Zoo

From the developers of Planet Coaster and Jurassic World Evolution comes Planet Zoo, which combines theme park management and robust creation tools with advanced creature AI. Every animal in your zoo, from elephants to chimpanzees and tapirs have very specific habitat needs and requirements, and only happy animals will make for a successful zoo.

PC store: Steam
Also available on: N/A

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

And legions of fans cried out, “finally, a good Star Wars game!” Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order takes place in the fertile story-telling era between the prequels and the original trilogy, and stars Cal Kestis, a young Jedi who must survive being hunted down by The Empire.

PC Store: Origin
Also available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Wargroove

Wargroove asks one simple question: Do you like Advance Wars? The beloved handheld tactical strategy series has been given an excellent spiritual successor, transforming the pseudo-modern Advance Wars into a fantasy series with a lengthy story campaign as well as skirmish, puzzle, and map editing modes.

PC Store: Steam
Also available on: PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One

 

Mature Teens

Borderlands 3

Borderlands 2 is often considered one of the best games of the previous generation. Borderlands 3 may not live up to that lofty goal, but it’s still a fantastic entry in the popular co-op looter-shooter series, and one of the few big budget games to still offer split-screen couch co-op.

PC Store: Epic Games Store
Also available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Control

Developer Remedy (Alan Wake) came out swinging with this gorgeous third-person action game. Control stars Jesse Faden, an agent for a secretive government organization that studies strange phenomenon, and finds her world, and reality itself, torn apart. Thankfully she’s got a supernatural firearm and some special abilities of her own.

PC Store: Epic Games Store
Also available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

The Division 2

The first Division had a rocky start but Ubisoft spent months and years patching and upgrading the shared world multiplayer post-apocalyptic looter-shooter. The sequel shifts from New York City to Washington D.C., featuring Ubisoft’s trademark attention to geographical detail, and satisfyingly refined weapons and classes.

PC Store: Epic Games Store
Also available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

The Outer Worlds

Leave it to Obsidian Entertainment (Pillars of Eternity) to craft a better Fallout game than Bethesda.The Outer Worlds  infuses all of Fallout’s satirical dismantling of mega-corporations within a pulpy sci-fi first-person RPG, as the choices you make ultimately determine the fate of the Halcyon star system.

PC Store: Epic Games Store
Also available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Red Dead Redemption 2

The open-world western sequel is a once-in-a-generation kind of game: impossibly huge, utterly engrossing, and fun as hell, with an intense, lengthy story campaign and an online universe to live out your western fantasies with friends. The first game never came to PC, but Red Dead Redemption 2 has arrived just a year after its initial launch, on Rockstar’s new digital store.

PC store: Rockstar Games Launcher
Also available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Fans of the Dark Souls series need no further incentive for Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, the newest game from FromSoftware. Sekiro is closer to a traditional action-stealth game than the more RPG-like Souls series, and takes place in a vastly under-explored time period in 16th century Japan.

PC Store: Steam
Also available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Gears 5

Pixelkin 2019 Holiday Gift Guide: Xbox One

Posted by | Feature, Xbox One | No Comments

Microsoft knows they’ve stumbled when it comes to exclusive games this generation, which is why they’ve spent the last two years buying up excellent game studios.

The future looks bright, though with the next generation of consoles announced, we’re witnessing the swansong for our current consoles. We’d recommend waiting until the launch of the next generation of consoles in Holiday 2020, but if you really want to jump in, you can take advantage of deep discounts during the Xbox Black Friday sale event on both the Xbox One S and the more powerful Xbox One X. The Black Friday sale lasts through December 2.

Microsoft’s only notable exclusive game from this year is Gears 5, but it’s a darn good one. See below for all our Xbox One game recommendations for 2019.

 

Younger Kids

Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King

Two classic platformers from the 90s, Aladdin and The Lion King, have been updated and packaged together as Disney Classic Games. As these games predate many of the modern conveniences we’ve enjoyed in the years and decades since their launch, players can now enjoy a rewind feature and easily activated cheat codes, which should come in handy for the notoriously difficult The Lion King.

Also available on: PC (Steam), PlayStation 4, Switch

Team Sonic Racing

Mario and friends aren’t the only ones who like to settle their differences on the race track. Team Sonic Racing features 15 racers spread over three distinct classes, and 21 different tracks, including favorites from previous Sonic racing games. Up to four players can race together locally, or up to 12 players online.

Also available on: PC, PlayStation 4, Switch

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair

The first Yooka-Laylee was crafted as a spiritual successor to the wave of 3D platformers of the late 90s/early 2000s, but was met with mixed results. The sequel, Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair,  takes a far different approach, utilizing successful 2D level designs. It’s both a solid throwback to classic game design, and a refreshing modern update.

Also available on: PC (Steam), PlayStation 4, Switch

 

Older Kids & Teens

Age of Wonders: Planetfall

Planetfall is more than a sci-fi version of turn-based strategy series Age of Wonders, which combines Civilization’s empire management with XCOM-like tactical combat. Planetfall completely changes city-building and expansion through the use of sectors, and expands combat to make room for armored dinosaurs and laser guns.

Also available on: PC (Steam), PlayStation 4

Apex Legends

EA and Respawn surprised everyone when they dropped the Fortnite-like Battle Royal shooter, Apex Legends. What was initially seen as a Fortnite-killer has since cooled off, but the makers of Titanfall have crafted an excellent team-based online shooter in a (slightly) more serious sci-fi universe.

Also available on: PC (Origin), PlayStation 4

Civilization 6

Civilization 6 released back in 2016 on PC. It was an excellent entry in the long-running strategy series, and it’s made its way to major consoles this year. The base game has plenty of material to lose dozens if not hundreds of hours, but if that’s not enough you can also buy the Expansion bundle, which includes 2018’s Rise and Fall, and Gathering Storm, which released earlier this year, for additional civilizations as well as features such as Dark Ages and climate change.

Also available on: PC (Steam), PlayStation 4, Switch

Kingdom Hearts 3

Kingdom Hearts 3 was one of the longest-awaited sequels in gaming history, finally returning to the adventures of Sora, Donald, and Goofy in this unique and memorable mashup of Japanese RPG and Disney and Pixar films. Wield magical keyblades and repel the Heartless through the worlds of Toy Story, Frozen, and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Also available on: PlayStation 4

Outer Wilds

It’s the end of the world, Groundhog Day style in indie adventure Outer Wilds. As an astronaut on a new planet, you have exactly 22 minutes until the sun explodes. It’ll take a multitude of iterations to explore the mystery behind the time loop, diving further and further into the story and wider universe with each catastrophic death.

Also available on: PC (Epic Games Store), PlayStation 4

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

And legions of fans cried out, “finally, a good Star Wars game!” Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order takes place in the fertile story-telling era between the prequels and the original trilogy, and stars Cal Kestis, a young Jedi who must survive being hunted down by The Empire.

Also available on: PC (Origin), PlayStation 4

Wargroove

Wargroove asks one simple question: Do you like Advance Wars? The beloved handheld tactical strategy series has been given an excellent spiritual successor, transforming the pseudo-modern Advance Wars into a fantasy series with a lengthy story campaign as well as skirmish, puzzle, and map editing modes.

Also available on: PC (Steam), PlayStation 4, Switch

 

Mature Teens

Borderlands 3

Borderlands 2 is often considered one of the best games of the previous generation. Borderlands 3 may not live up to that lofty goal, but it’s still a fantastic entry in the popular co-op looter-shooter series, and one of the few big budget games to still offer split-screen couch co-op.

Also available on: PC (Epic Games Store), PlayStation 4

Control

Developer Remedy (Alan Wake) came out swinging with this gorgeous third-person action game. Control stars Jesse Faden, an agent for a secretive government organization that studies strange phenomenon, and finds her world, and reality itself, torn apart. Thankfully she’s got a supernatural firearm and some special abilities of her own.

Also available on: PC (Epic Games Store), PlayStation 4

Gears 5

While the Gears of War series has always been about a brutal war between the COG soldiers and the monstrous Locusts, Gears 5 focuses more heavily on the story, shifting the primary focus onto Kait Diaz, who was first introduced in Gears of War 4. Gears 5 serves up the same great multiplayer action as its predecessors, including up to three player split-screen and online co-op.

Also available on: PC (Windows Store)

The Division 2

The first Division had a rocky start but Ubisoft spent months and years patching and upgrading the shared world multiplayer post-apocalyptic looter-shooter. The sequel shifts from New York City to Washington D.C., featuring Ubisoft’s trademark attention to geographical detail, and satisfyingly refined weapons and classes.

Also available on: PC (Epic Games Store), PlayStation 4

The Outer Worlds

Leave it to Obsidian Entertainment (Pillars of Eternity) to craft a better Fallout game than Bethesda.The Outer Worlds  infuses all of Fallout’s satirical dismantling of mega-corporations within a pulpy sci-fi first-person RPG, as the choices you make ultimately determine the fate of the Halcyon star system.

Also available on: PC (Epic Games Store), PlayStation 4

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Fans of the Dark Souls series need no further incentive for Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, the newest game from FromSoftware. Sekiro is closer to a traditional action-stealth game than the more RPG-like Souls series, and takes place in a vastly under-explored time period in 16th century Japan.

Also available on: PC (Steam), PlayStation 4

apex legends

Pixelkin 2019 Holiday Gift Guide: PlayStation 4

Posted by | Feature, PlayStation 4 | No Comments

The PlayStation 4 has been king of the console mountain throughout the current generation. Sony’s exclusives were mostly downplayed this year, however, as many developers get ready for the PlayStation 5, which was officially revealed earlier this year.

The biggest PlayStation exclusives both featured bleak post-apocalyptic worlds, with the the zombie apocalypse Days Gone, and the unique package-delivering, ghost-dodging Death Stranding.

With the PlayStation 5 launching in Holiday 2020, we wouldn’t necessarily recommend jumping into the PlayStation 4 this year. However, you can find some killer deals this late into the PS4’s life cycle. We’re particularly attracted to Sony’s Only on PlayStation 4 Bundle, which features a 1TB PS4 and three of the best PlayStation 4 games of the current and previous generation: The Last of Us Remastered, God of War, and Horizon Zero Dawn. Sony’s Black Friday sale event begins Nov. 24 and runs through Dec. 2.

See below for all our PlayStation 4 game recommendations for 2019.

 

Younger Kids

Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King

Two classic platformers from the 90s, Aladdin and The Lion King, have been updated and packaged together as Disney Classic Games. As these games predate many of the modern conveniences we’ve enjoyed in the years and decades since their launch, players can now enjoy a rewind feature and easily activated cheat codes, which should come in handy for the notoriously difficult The Lion King.

Also available on: PC (Steam), Switch, Xbox One

Dragon Quest Builders 2

Dragon Quest Builders 2 continues the brilliant mashup of the colorful, kid-friendly Dragon Quest RPG series with Minecraft-like building and crafting. The sequel features a new retro fast travel system, the ability to fly and swim to reach new areas, and online cooperative multiplayer.

Also available on: Switch, PC (Steam – Dec. 10)

Team Sonic Racing

Mario and friends aren’t the only ones who like to settle their differences on the race track. Team Sonic Racing features 15 racers spread over three distinct classes, and 21 different tracks, including favorites from previous Sonic racing games. Up to four players can race together locally, or up to 12 players online.

Also available on: PC, Switch, Xbox One

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair

The first Yooka-Laylee was crafted as a spiritual successor to the wave of 3D platformers of the late 90s/early 2000s, but was met with mixed results. The sequel, Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair,  takes a far different approach, utilizing successful 2D level designs. It’s both a solid throwback to classic game design, and a refreshing modern update.

Also available on: PC (Steam), Switch, Xbox One

 

Older Kids & Teens

Age of Wonders: Planetfall

Planetfall is more than a sci-fi version of turn-based strategy series Age of Wonders, which combines Civilization’s empire management with XCOM-like tactical combat. Planetfall completely changes city-building and expansion through the use of sectors, and expands combat to make room for armored dinosaurs and laser guns.

Also available on: PC (Steam), Xbox One

Apex Legends

EA and Respawn surprised everyone when they dropped the Fortnite-like Battle Royal shooter, Apex Legends. What was initially seen as a Fortnite-killer has since cooled off, but the makers of Titanfall have crafted an excellent team-based online shooter in a (slightly) more serious sci-fi universe.

Also available on: PC (Origin), Xbox One

Civilization 6

Civilization 6 released back in 2016 on PC. It was an excellent entry in the long-running strategy series, and it’s made its way to major consoles this year. The base game has plenty of material to lose dozens if not hundreds of hours, but if that’s not enough you can also buy the Expansion bundle, which includes 2018’s Rise and Fall, and Gathering Storm, which released earlier this year, for additional civilizations as well as features such as Dark Ages and climate change.

Also available on: PC (Steam), Switch, Xbox One

Dreams

While still technically in Early Access, Dreams is less a traditional game and more game editing software. The creators of Little Big Planet have focused on user-created content and robust tools for creating art, music, and gameplay systems, perfect for the budding game designer.

Also available on: N/A

Kingdom Hearts 3

Kingdom Hearts 3 was one of the longest-awaited sequels in gaming history, finally returning to the adventures of Sora, Donald, and Goofy in this unique and memorable mashup of Japanese RPG and Disney and Pixar films. Wield magical keyblades and repel the Heartless through the worlds of Toy Story, Frozen, and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Also available on: Xbox One

Outer Wilds

It’s the end of the world, Groundhog Day style in indie adventure Outer Wilds. As an astronaut on a new planet, you have exactly 22 minutes until the sun explodes. It’ll take a multitude of iterations to explore the mystery behind the time loop, diving further and further into the story and wider universe with each catastrophic death.

Also available on: PC (Epic Games Store), Xbox One

Slay the Spire

What Slay the Spire lacks in graphics and animation it makes up for in depth of gameplay. The roguelike card game is well-balanced and tactically demanding as you ascend through dungeon rooms and challenges, playing cards, making choices, and building your deck. Three distinct classes offer multiple playstyles and a huge list of cards to find and unlock.

Also available on: PC (Steam), Switch

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

And legions of fans cried out, “finally, a good Star Wars game!” Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order takes place in the fertile story-telling era between the prequels and the original trilogy, and stars Cal Kestis, a young Jedi who must survive being hunted down by The Empire.

Also available on: PC (Origin), Xbox One

Wargroove

Wargroove asks one simple question: Do you like Advance Wars? The beloved handheld tactical strategy series has been given an excellent spiritual successor, transforming the pseudo-modern Advance Wars into a fantasy series with a lengthy story campaign as well as skirmish, puzzle, and map editing modes.

Also available on: PC (Steam), Switch, Xbox One

 

Mature Teens

Borderlands 3

Borderlands 2 is often considered one of the best games of the previous generation. Borderlands 3 may not live up to that lofty goal, but it’s still a fantastic entry in the popular co-op looter-shooter series, and one of the few big budget games to still offer split-screen couch co-op.

Also available on: PC (Epic Games Store), Xbox One

Control

Developer Remedy (Alan Wake) came out swinging with this gorgeous third-person action game. Control stars Jesse Faden, an agent for a secretive government organization that studies strange phenomenon, and finds her world, and reality itself, torn apart. Thankfully she’s got a supernatural firearm and some special abilities of her own.

Also available on: PC (Epic Games Store), Xbox One

Death Stranding

Hideo Kojima became a household name among gamers from his Metal Gear Solid series. His first game free of studio control, Death Stranding, is incredibly unique, as Sam Bridges (played by Norman Reedus) must navigate across a dangerous apocalyptic world of killer ghosts to deliver materials and packages and help rebuild society.

Also available on: N/A

The Division 2

The first Division had a rocky start but Ubisoft spent months and years patching and upgrading the shared world multiplayer post-apocalyptic looter-shooter. The sequel shifts from New York City to Washington D.C., featuring Ubisoft’s trademark attention to geographical detail, and satisfyingly refined weapons and classes.

Also available on: PC (Epic Games Store), Xbox One

The Outer Worlds

Leave it to Obsidian Entertainment (Pillars of Eternity) to craft a better Fallout game than Bethesda.The Outer Worlds  infuses all of Fallout’s satirical dismantling of mega-corporations within a pulpy sci-fi first-person RPG, as the choices you make ultimately determine the fate of the Halcyon star system.

Also available on: PC (Epic Games Store), Xbox One

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Fans of the Dark Souls series need no further incentive for Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, the newest game from FromSoftware. Sekiro is closer to a traditional action-stealth game than the more RPG-like Souls series, and takes place in a vastly under-explored time period in 16th century Japan.

Also available on: PC (Steam), Xbox One