As time rolls closer towards the big day, the annual panic of what to buy and what not to buy your loved ones knocks ever louder on that door of Christmas gift confusion.
Christmas shopping can be a daunting affair and 2015 has certainly been a busy one for us all. With so many people to buy for and so little time available, it can be hard to find that perfect present for your loved ones. But fear not, for the gamer in your life, that question is not so difficult to answer.
With our SOS guide to Christmas gaming, we are sure that your gifts will not disappoint this Christmas. We have compiled a definitive gaming guide to buying the best games and consoles, as well as loading you up with all the latest gaming facts that will make you sound like an expert this Christmas.
2015 has seen an evolution of gaming and gaming technology. With the continued development of the new generation of consoles, indie developers sharing the stage with the big guns and the introduction of virtual reality headsets into mainstream gaming, the way in which we play and interact with games has been transformed forever.
2016 is promising to deliver totally immersive gaming experiences we are yet to even fathom. With titles such as The Division, Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, Quantum Break, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Cyberpunk 2077, Tom Clancy’s: Wildlands and Dark Souls 3 (to name a few) – next year will be almost unrecognizable in terms of gaming scope. These games will be part of an all new breed of unrestrained excellence - and believe me you do not want to miss it! Now let's get started with our gaming guide.
Starting with the machines
The time is now, these consoles are a mandatory purchase this Christmas - most games are now developed solely for the Xbox One, PS4 and PC. The vast majority of new games will soon no longer cater to the older generation of machines. Plus, with Xbox backwards compatibility and PS4 emulation, you will still have access to all your classic old school games on your shiny new system.
Ok, so here is where the first shots get fired: when it comes to consoles, it will most likely come down to individual preference. But let’s pretend you have no preference or you do not know your loved one's preferences.
Both the Xbox One and PS4 have sold record numbers of units and honestly, each do an almost identical job. It would be crazy to say that one was better than the other. Sure each console has something unique going for it and sure both consoles have certain titles that are exclusive, but realistically 99% of games will be released on both platforms.
So the deciding factors to consider will be; price, exclusives, performance and friends. (Keeping it short)
Price-wise, it is cheaper than you think – both consoles have dropped their prices significantly since launch, both machines are available to purchase with top selling games included – this is called a ‘bundle’. Both the Xbox One and PS4 can be bought right now with a chart topping title of your choice in bundle format for just $300.
Which is better? Right now, Xbox One has the edge. It is coming up consistently cheaper overall with a better gaming line-up available with purchase.
In terms of exclusive gaming content – as I said earlier, 99% of games will release across both consoles. It is also worth noting that we are also seeing a significant drop in console exclusive games in 2016/17. Meaning that this should no longer be as strong of a determining factor as it has been in previous years. Playstation have some great exclusives, as do Xbox. Unless you are a Halo-nut or a Last of Us loyalist this should only play a minor role in influencing decisions.
Which is better? If I had to choose a console based on exclusives alone it would be Xbox One. Xbox just has more. It is that simple.
In a recent test conducted within the industry, most people were unable to accurately distinguish any real difference between the two machines. The gameplay from either console is stunning - it is sharp, fast and mind meltingly beautiful. Both consoles are able process games at 60 frames per second. In some of the more recent games released this year, PS4 did produce a sharper image during gameplay.
Which is better? Although minuscule, the PS4 has the visual edge over the Xbox. The PS4 is able to produce a slightly sharper image. The PS4 wins this round.
The biggest influencing factor behind price is friends. Gaming is no longer a single player activity; nowadays, most gamers are off fighting battles on other worlds with friends and family scattered all over the globe. Both consoles have superb communities and stellar multiplayer features. The world is a considerably smaller place thanks to Microsoft and Sony – gaming is now more about unity and community. Get the console that will allow you or your loved ones to connect with the people they love too.
Which is better? Both consoles have stellar networks. Xbox Live is undoubtedly safer as far as hacking goes but does come with a higher monthly charge. The Playstation Network is a full $10 cheaper and offers all the same features as Xbox Live. The Playstation Network also offers out more free games to its users. Playstation 4 clinches it here.
So, a tough call will still have to be made here when deliberating over which console to buy. Although, the beauty of the situation is that, whichever side of the fence you land on, I guarantee you will not regret your choice!
Which is better? Many pro-gamers prefer the Xbox One, me included – more exclusive games, more gamers on the networks with a safer online gaming focused network. The PS4 is cheaper when it comes to online services, offers out more free games, has a technical edge over the Xbox and will likely host VR sooner than Xbox.
The verdict – Xbox One for the pros amongst you, PS4 for everyone else.
The Christmas Title Race
This year’s customary Christmas conundrum has changed a little but not much, and the usual annual parental choices of Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed and FIFA still remain the firm favorites - but allow me to add some others to your shopping list.
To keep it simple this year, I will tell you the games that you need to own or buy your loved ones this Christmas.
Ok, so Fallout 4 is a must for every gamer this Christmas. This game is a shockwave of entertainment that rips through your world from the moment you switch it on, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 cannot be missed either.
If, like many parents or better halves, you find yourself in the very common (and frustrating) predicament of Call of Duty already having been purchased on launch night, I believe that Star Wars: Battlefront or Batman: Arkham Knight will be a very welcome addition to their gaming repertoire.
The Christmas classic in my house is always Assassin's Creed and this year is no different - actually it’s compulsory! Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is a beautiful action packed exploration of history and adventure and will most certainly keep you or your loved ones occupied throughout the whole of the Christmas period – which is sometimes a good thing.
Wham Bam list Of Games To Buy - Keeping It simple
In a paragraph first. FIFA 16 beats Pro Evo Soccer 16 hands down, Assassin’s Creed is always a must, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and Fallout 4 needs to be on every gamers' shelf this Christmas but if only one is to be chosen then I believe Fallout 4 caters to a wider demographic and is your best bet. GTA 5 has had yet another brilliant year, with more content added almost each and every month - this is a no brainer. Batman Arkham Knight and Star Wars: Battlefront will allow for unlimited geeking out too and if you are a dancer, then Just Dance 2016 is your only port of call.
But let's delve deeper and do this a little more by genre and in more detail - after all, it's a big day!
The number one choice for both Xbox One and PS4 has to be Need for Speed. If you are looking for a more professional feel to your driving experience then F1 2015 is a great choice.
If you are looking for console specific driving games - depending on which console you are buying for - the best driving games this Christmas is Project Cars on the Playstation 4 and Forza Horizon 2 is the number one choice for Xbox. Done!
Shooters (FPS inc)
If like me you can't get enough of shooter games then luckily for you (and me) there are plenty of shoot-em-ups available right now for purchase. For in your face first person shooter action, I can highly recommend Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. If you already have that or your loved one is not a CoD fan then it has to be Star Wars: Battlefront. Failing that, allow me to point you in the direction of Fallout 4 or Halo 5 (Halo 5 only available on Xbox).
Plenty of choice here sports fans! If you're into soccer, then as I said before FIFA 16 is the number choice. If American Football is your sport then look no further than Madden 16. A basketball player maybe? Then NBA 2K16 just pips NBA Live this year. Into bBaseball? Then look no further than MLB 15: The Show - it's a home run. For the golfers out there, then Rory McIlroy PGA Tour is the one for you.
2015 is the year of horror! For horror fans, this year has been very generous; this year we have some terrifying, and I mean terrifying, titles to choose from. My top picks would be Until Dawn, Resident Evil Revelations 2 and SOMA. Anyone of these titles will thrill and terrorize any horror lover!
Now it wouldn’t be a complete horror run down without zombies would it? 2015 has a plethora of zombie horrors available. Resident Evil 2 Revelations is an obvious choice but my number one zombie top pick has to be Dying Light, without a shadow of a doubt. This is the best zombie horror game released to date. Buy it now!
For the role playing game lovers out there, 2015 again blessed us with a magical selection of titles. Which to put under your tree this year though? Well, here are the suggestions. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Bloodborne, Crypt of the NecroDancer and Fallout 4. My number one pick here is the Witcher 3, an essential buy for the RPG lover.
For those of you with a sense of adventure there are plenty of titles that I suggest you get lost in; my first suggestion has to be Batman: Arkham Knight. This is the ultimate Batman adventure and caters to gamers across the board. If superheroes really aren't your thing then how about Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain? I would also highly recommend Tomb Raider: Rise of the Tomb Raider - available on Xbox One only. For those on PS4, I recommend The Order: 1886. There is also a great Mad Max game for the movie lovers.
There has been only one real fighting game to speak of this year and even if there were a 100 games released, I would still suggest you buy this one. Mortal Kombat X is the latest fighter to come from the highly acclaimed series and is one romper stomper of a fighter. This is guaranteed to put a smile on any fighting fan's face this Christmas, but over 18 only remember – it can get a little violent. Of course if this game is a little too violent for some, I recommend WWE 2K16 or Tekken 7.
Now many games that launched this year and that I have already aforementioned have brilliant multiplayer aspect - but for the dedicated competitors out there, I have a few golden nuggets guaranteed to have you jumping for joy or crying behind the sofa as you take your gaming to the next level.
First on the list has to be Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 followed closely by Star Wars: Battlefront. If you are after more of an action adventure multiplayer experience I suggest Evolve or Bloodborne. As far as open world games go, H1Z1 would be a brilliant choice.
Pre-Order & Shine Brighter Than Rudolph’s Nose This Christmas
The best way to guarantee the last roast potato this Christmas will be to present a ‘receipt’ of a pre-order for any of the following upcoming smash hit titles; Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, Overwatch, Dark Souls 3, The Division or Final Fantasy XV.
This is an absolute must and trust me will get a reaction like no other; “How did you know?” Play it how you want but this gift will demonstrate that you have really applied a lot of thought and will be appreciated no end (brownie points x10).
For the gamer that has everything - why not surprise them with some awesomely appropriate attire?! These jumpers and hundreds others can be found at any good game store or easily sourced online. You can also find Gameboy pillows, Playstation bags and pencil cases. Smashing stocking fillers that won't break the bank.
You can even buy Gameboy fridge magnets that transform your refrigerator into an overgrown Gameboy!
So, are you ready?
This Christmas is certainly not going to be short of entertainment. Whether you are lost in a post-apocalyptic wasteland or drifting around the Nurburgring in a hyper car, one thing is for sure - you better buckle up and hold on tight because the time of the gamer is here. It’s our time. It’s game time!
Need more help this Christmas? Like the Fairy Godmother, I am but one click away. Check out our detailed features and reviews on our profile page here or get onto me on Twitter - I will endeavor to help you with any and all of your gaming queries this Christmas.