Holiday Gift Guide – Videogames Part 2

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If we’re being brutally honest, 2016 has been a pretty awful year. Flip through the news cycle over even the last month and it’s likely you’ll come a story that’ll depress the hell out of you.

One area that’s stayed almost defiantly positive is the games industry. While 2016 has had more than its share of bad news, it’ll be remembered by gamers as one of the most fertile years of recent memory.

This year has been so good for games, we’ve had to split out gaming gift guide into two sections to really do it justice (check out Part 1). If you’re still stuck for gift ideas for the gamer in your life, read on.

Dark Souls III
Price: From R799
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC

How hardcore is the gamer in your life? If they’re the sort of person who turns up their nose at games with instant respawns, easy button-mashing controls and no penalties for dying, you might consider giving them Dark Souls III.

The third instalment in From Software’s legendarily hard series boasts all of the strengths of its predecessors; challenging combat, achingly beautiful (if rather bleak) scenery and a difficulty level that’s set on ‘rock-hard’ from the moment you boot it up. This is a mean beast of a game that’ll kick their arse from now until next Christmas.

Overwatch
Price: From R749
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC

One of the unqualified hits of this year, Overwatch is a superb asymmetrical shooter filled with colourful characters, whacky weapons and drum-tight mechanics. It was strong enough to completely eclipse its competition on release and currently boasts around 10 million players globally.

There’s a catch – you’ll need a net connection to play it since this is a fully online team-based shooter. While you can trace this game’s DNA to a ton of other shooters and MOBAs, Blizzard’s track-record of releasing the most perfect version of a game in any genre remains unblemished.

Enter the Gungeon
Price: From R159
Platform: PC, PS4

Proving that sheer quality in gaming doesn’t need to cost the earth, Enter the Gungeon is a visceral and addictive rogue-like that rewards the longer one keeps playing it. The base game will cost you under R200 on Steam, with a digital collector’s edition available too.

They’re totally worth it, you understand; this game may be as hard as they come, but the visuals, satisfying gameplay and completely outlandish weapons make it stand out. Want further proof? One of our reviewers, Clinton Matos, is fast gaining a reputation in these parts as one of the most exacting and brutal critics we have. He’s still playing it – you can read his review below.

World Of Warcraft: Legion
Price: From R670
Platform: PC

The problem that World Of Warcraft has had is that players who didn’t jump on board with Blizzard’s MMO right at the start can feel a bit overwhelmed. Not only is there a ton of lore to absorb, there’s a mountain of grinding to get through before you’re able to tackle some of the game’s expansions.

This year’s expansion, Legion, changed this. Noobs could kick off their adventures on Azeroth with a character that was already maxed out to the nines. Furthermore, they could choose a brand new class with the Demon Hunter. Purists may cry foul, but new players could take a tourist route through Azeroth, learning about its deep and rich history before they tackled one of the best – and most action packed – expansions Blizzard has released in ages.

XCOM 2
Price: From R599
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC

Sometimes games aren’t meant to be enjoyed. They’re meant to be feared and tackled with white-knuckle tension due to the fact that literally one wrong move can result in a defeat that make take hours – even days – to absorb.

Funny thing about XCOM 2 is that it’s actually a whole load harder than its predecessor – which, incidentally, was hardly a pushover. XCOM 2 puts players and the titular organisation firmly on the back foot from the get-go and things only become harder from there. Does this make victory all the more sweeter? You’ll have to ask the converted.

Forza Horizon 3
Price: From R699
Platforms: Xbox One

If you haven’t seen The Grand Tour yet on Amazon Prime, or if you love cars and just can’t stand Jeremy Clarkson et al, then don’t fret, Microsoft and Playground Games have you covered with Forza Horizon 3. Players and petrol heads alike will know that Microsoft’s flagship racing franchise has become a byword for quality over the last two generations and Forza Horizon 3 carries this flag brilliantly.

The cars are swoon-worthy, the soundtrack is sublime and the racing simulator experience is second to none. Furthermore, Forza Horizon 3 is also aimed at anyone who found the Forza games too restrictive. Sure, you can race on a track, but if you want to head off road, that’s cool too. Think of this game as Forza’s cooler younger brother.

Hitman The Complete First Season
Price: From R619
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC

When news emerged last year that IO Interactive was going to release a new Hitman game after the tepidly received Absolution and that it would do so in serialised downloads, fans expressed concern. As it turns out, their worries were unfounded as Hitman is easily the best outing Agent 47 has had in ages.

Slick, beautiful to look at, gorgeously designed and – in places – laugh-out-loud hilarious, Hitman is the only stealth game released all year that could hold a candle to Dishonored 2. Now, the boxed copy of this game is only out next year. But you can still gift the gamer in your life with a season pass – that way they won’t lose out on at least some of the content that will be lost and gone once the retail version comes out.

Final Fantasy XV
Price: From R885
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4

Don’t let the number on the box put you off; Final Fantasy is a series in which it doesn’t matter if you’ve played any of the other games as each iteration features new plots, characters and lore. As the opening text of the game proclaims this is ‘A Final Fantasy for fans and newcomers alike’.

Describing the plot and the set up would take more space than we have here, but know this; if epic battles, close-knit friends, massive monsters and anime sound like your bag, you’ll be right at home here. Just be prepared that you – or whomever you buy this game for – will disappear shortly after it’s booted up. At 30 hours clocked, our reviewer found he was about half way.

Inside
Price: From R799
Platforms: Xbox One

One of the strangest games released all year, Inside is also one of the creepiest – and one of the best. Players take on the role of a small boy who is on the run from soldiers who want to kill him and machines that want to grind him up. As premises go, this sounds pretty simple but the devil here is in the details.

As players wander through the world of Inside they’ll notice something has gone horribly wrong. Adults are being mind-controlled, animals are pretty much feral and a gloomy pallor hangs over the entire world. Equal part atmosphere and puzzler platformers, this is a must-have for Xbox One owners.

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