In a year that was stuffed with big new release games, it can be hard to choose what to get for the gamer in your life. Here’s a selection of ten games that we reckon any player would love to find neatly wrapped up for them under the Chrissie tree this year.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
PS4 | Xbox One
Forget about polishing your boots, it’s time to get into a polished reboot, rebuilt from scratch on a new game engine. There’s an overarching plot delivering a “raw, gritty, provocative narrative” ranging from Europe to the Middle East that’s integrated across the various campaign, co-op and multiplayer modes. The latter combines the classic multiplayer experience with a shiny new collection of strategic co-op missions, including the 100-plus player action of ‘Ground War’. Meanwhile, series veteran Captain Price returns in a saga that promises to affect the global balance of power. There’s even a rogue Russian general who’s been inspired by the infamous Colonel Kurtz of Francis Ford Coppola’s classic war flick Apocalypse Now!
PS4 | Xbox One | Switch
The EA Sports folk promised unrivalled authenticity in the World Game this year, with more than 30 official leagues, 700+ teams, 17,000+ authentic players, and 90 licensed stadiums and arenas from around the globe. Did they deliver? You bet! Those up for the challenge get to play the UEFA Champions, Europa and Premier leagues, as well as the Bundesliga and the La Liga – and, of course, Australia’s very own A-League. There’s an overhaul to the presentation ranging from visuals and player handling through to the pace of the game, while the newly-added Volta mode brings the exciting world of street soccer into the beautiful game.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
PS4 | Xbox One
Star Wars fans get to undertake something different to many recent games in the franchise, with a trip into single player action/adventure territory. Step into the space boots of one of the few remaining Jedi, Padawan Cal Kestis, as an Order 66 purge continues. A perilous incident leads him to use his powers, this is witnessed and reported, and Cal soon finds that the Empire is hot on his tail. With trusty droid BD-1 in tow, he must dodge all pursuers – the most dogged of which is the Second Sister – and call upon sympathisers from throughout the galaxy, including those on the familiar Wookiee home world of Kashyyyk. Use the Force, Cal!
PS4 | Xbox One | Switch
It’s time to hit the courts again, with this year’s model of 2K’s smash basketball series. Upgrades abound, from big leaps in the visual department when it comes to animations, through to small but perfectly-formed control tweaks – and the banishment of pushing. Then there’s the detailed new MyCareer. More big news is that the WNBA is now included in-game, offering up a whole new league to get busy in. If you’re new to the series, you’re made to feel welcome – plus, if you’re a seasoned veteran, there’s plenty of challenge to rise up to. And it’s all packaged with the slick shininess of the best television broadcast.
If you’ve gotta catch ’em all, then here come more to collect! Yes, the wonderful, creature-bulging universe of Pokémon returns with a whole new world to explore. Enter Galar, a huge region that offers up a variety of environments ranging from cities to forests, as well as new Poké-creatures to add to your Poké-crew in hopes of becoming Poké-champion. The two separate games are quite similar, but offer different gyms in which to prove your mettle as well as version-specific Pokémon to battle and capture – oh, and not forgetting alternative Legendaries! So, are you up for becoming the ultimate champion of the Galar Pokémon League?
PS4 | Xbox One | PC
Looter-shooters come and looter-shooters go, but few have had the staying power of the Borderlands series – and how many promise gazillions of guns?! Borderlands 3 does, leaving an almost impossible decision – what’s your weapon of choice? Then there’s your Vault Hunter. Do you opt for Moze the Gunner, Amara the Siren, FL4K the Beastmaster, or Zane the Operative? Each boasts unique class attributes. Beyond exciting new co-op options, Borderlands 3 also delivers solo play that feels better than previous entries, coupled with smarter AI, a more diverse range of enemies plus guaranteed rewards and more challenge from firefights – and that’s no load of Claptrap!
Need for Speed Heat
PS4 | Xbox One
Kind of cool, a little bit daggy but always a whole bunch of fun, the Need for Speed series hasn’t just given us a collection of fab tuner racing thrills over the past 25 years, it’s also introduced us to a swag of top music. The tradition continues here, with your racer being a good, law-abiding citizen (ahem) during the day, and going full-on illicit once the sun sets, earning dollars by day and reputation by night. The sprawling Florida-like Palm City is your open world playground, with car customisations aplenty, collectibles all over the joint and more than the odd donut-muncher to avoid. Plus, of course, tunes!
Kingdom Hearts III
PS4 | Xbox One
Enter into an experience that truly is remarkable. A monumental collision of Final Fantasy and the worlds of Disney-Pixar, Kingdom Hearts III is as much a new story to get lost in as it is an action RPG. As the powerful keyblade-wielding Sora, join trusty companions Donald Duck and Goofy and set forth again, traipsing through various Disney domains trying to eradicate the scourge that is bad dude Xehanort’s Organization XIII, who are harnessing the good of the world to overtake it with darkness. Encounter classic Disney baddies such as Maleficent and Pete, as well as world specific ones, along with all manner of bosses of often dizzying scale. Thank goodness for all of those weapons that accrue!
Luigi’s Mansion 3
With the superstar of the family off prepping for the Tokyo Olympics, it’s up to his bro Luigi to keep Switch gamers happy, and this latest in a series that originally kicked off on the GameCube sees the green-clad guy really stepping up. It’s spooky central, as you take on King Boo’s latest nasty subterfuge in the Last Resort Hotel – yes, no mere mansion this time! He’s imprisoned Mario, Peach and a trio of toads in paintings, but Luigi managed to escape his ghostly clutches. Can our hero, with a little help from his Gooigi doppelganger – conquer his many fears, solve puzzles and save his posse? Only with your help!
Gears of War returns, leaner and meaner in title, but packing more than ever by way of content. The campaign mode sees the return of Kait Diaz, JD Fenix, his dad Marcus and Delmont Walker as they take on a new threat from the Locust-related Swarm. Those seeking gore have come to the right place, with players clutching two main weapons along with added sidearms – just don’t let that gun jam! The frenzied new ‘Escape’ mode offers puzzling challenges, while an arcade mode ups the hero shooter action, calling upon guile over firepower to notch that win. Our favourite thing, though? In the funky three-player mode, you can now control robo-buddy Jack!