Video Game Christmas Gift Guide 2018 – what to ask for and what to give

Better than a pair of socks

A new video game console is not exactly an impulse purchase, but that only makes it an even better gift for someone that wasn’t expecting it. Video game consoles are released in waves referred to as ‘generations’, which generally give them a lifespan of about five or six years. But even though the concept has recently been complicated by upgraded consoles, released halfway through the generation, it’s still expected that new PlayStation and Xbox formats will be launched in the next year or two.

But that makes now the ideal time to pick up whichever console you didn’t get at the start of the generation, to experience its exclusive games at a time when prices are starting to fall. Or you could consider the Switch – which is actually Nintendo’s second console this generation – or an upgrade console for either the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One.

PlayStation 4
Sony’s current console is by far the most successful of the generation, both in the UK and worldwide. It has an excellent range of exclusive games, that you can’t get on any other console, and is more powerful than the Xbox One S (but not the Xbox One X).

The PlayStation 4 Pro runs all the same games but is a little more powerful, allowing for smoother and more detailed graphics. It can also support higher resolutions of up to 4K, although you’ll need a 4K TV to see the difference on that.

As ever, there are lots of hardware bundles around at Christmas, that include the consoles and one or more games, and these can often be better value for money than getting them separately. The most common official bundles at the moment come with Red Dead Redemption II, Call Of Duty: Black Ops IIII, FIFA 19, Fortnite, or Marvel’s Spider-Man.

Prices can vary greatly from store to store so make sure you shop around first and be aware that consoles can come with different sizes of hard drive – used for storing downloaded games – and this will also have an effect on price. 500GB is the minimum at the moment, but 1TB is more desirable.

PlayStation 4 ~£240
PlayStation 4 Pro ~£350

PlayStation Classic
There is a third option in terms of Sony consoles and that’s the retro PlayStation Classic. This is a recreation of the original PlayStation 1 console with a selection of 20 games, including everything from Final Fantasy VII and Metal Gear Solid to Resident Evil and Tekken 3. There are a few classics missing though, and the whole package isn’t quite as well put together as last year’s Classic Mini SNES, but it’s still a very tempting stocking filler for retro fans. It’ll be released on December 3 for £89.99.

PlayStation VR
This is not a new console, because it needs a PlayStation 4 to run, but Sony’s virtual reality headset is a perfect Christmas gift for those that can afford it. Especially as it’s now commonly being sold with the camera needed to use it, and a game, for around £180 (and likely even less in the sales). At the same time its stable of exclusive games has become very impressive, with titles like
Astro Bot, Moss, Firewall Zero Hour, and Tetris Effect being amongst the best released this year on any format.

The most powerful console and one of the best games of the year

Xbox One

Microsoft’s console has been lagging behind the PlayStation 4 for years, but with the introduction of the cheaper Xbox One S and the more powerful Xbox One X there’s been a noticeable increase in interest, especially following initiatives like backwards compatibility (which allows you to play old Xbox 360 games on your new console) and Game Pass (essentially Netflix for games).

The Xbox One X is Microsoft’s equivalent to the PlayStation 4 Pro, with similar benefits, except it’s even more powerful. Which makes it currently the most powerful console ever made.

In terms of bundles there’s some good value ones for the Xbox One S that start at £250 and include a one-month Game Pass subscription and a game, either Fortnite, Forza Horizon 4, or Minecraft. There are also special £450 Xbox One X bundles that comes with Battlefield V, Fallout 76 (not recommended), or Forza Horizon 4. That’s expensive but the consoles themselves are special editions in unique colours.

Xbox One S ~£210
Xbox One X ~£420

Nintendo is leaving the best till last this year

Nintendo Switch
The Switch was an instant hit when it was released last year, but it’s had a relatively quiet year so far as Nintendo struggle to catch up with its unexpected success. Things are expected to even out after Christmas though and the release of key title Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Like all Nintendo consoles the Switch is very different from its rivals, with one of its main appeals being the fact that it is both a portable and home console. You can play it on your TV as normal, using detachable controllers, but you can also take it out of its dock and play exactly the same games on the go.

The official hardware bundles for the Switch are themed around the two big games for Christmas: Pokémon: Let’s Go and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. These come with copies of the game and specially-branded consoles, although they’re quickly running out of stock. The Pokémon one is £339.99 and the Smash Bros. one is £319.99. Other bundles with the standard version of the console are also available though, usually for £300 with one or two games.

Nintendo Switch ~£250

Nintendo 3DS
The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 might be a few years away from retirement, but Nintendo’s dedicated portable is almost literally on life support. Very few new games are being released for it now and it’s only really being kept going because it’s much cheaper than the Switch and so easier to give as presents to kids. The actual 3DS console, with the ability to see 3D without glasses, has all but been phased out now, with the New 2DS XL being the main variant that Nintendo are pushing now – at around £130 each.


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