With the holiday season upon us, it is time to take a step back and look at the broad selection of games to gift, get and sink time into over the winter break. There have been hundreds of releases this year, not including the various bits of downloadable content (DLC) that have expanded popular titles. These games are the ones you would be doing yourself a disservice by not playing, and hopefully will make their way onto your wish list for the holidays. In order, the games are:
#5: Path of Exile
We start with a free-to-play dungeon crawling MMO: Path of Exile. It is constantly being updated by developers, who frequently take in feedback from players. If you’re familiar with the Diablo franchise from Blizzard, you’ll be very interested in this game. While there are several classes, each character uses the same large grid to allocate points which defines how you play your character. For example, a character may start as a Templar, but can easily specialize in necromancy or becoming a pyromancer, two things you wouldn’t expect a noble Templar to be. The amount of customization in this game is overwhelming, and it is very easy to create exactly what you want from the game. There are different leagues players can participate in, which are essentially races to the maximum level against other players with specific limitations on the game. Both participating and winning yield unique rewards for the players, and enhances the game experience as a whole. At its base, the game is the same each time you play it. However, the dungeons are randomized in every instance, and the magnitude of diversity between every character created in the game allows for indefinite replay value.
#4: Pokemon X/Y
The newest addition to the Pokemon series arrived in October on the Nintendo 3DS and was accompanied by a review from The Statesman. 69 new Pokemon were added, the Fairy type was introduced, and all our poke-pals were spruced up in stunning 3D. This game features the most engaging and quality end-game content than any other Pokemon installment, as well as many quality of life changes for new players and old veterans alike. Additionally, coming out this December is the software allowing players to finally trade up their pokemon from previous generations. Don’t forget this game is portable, so you can bring your Pokemon with you if you’re traveling this holiday season! With the release of the 3DS XL, a copy of Pokemon X or Y and an original 3DS is one of the cheaper gaming gift ideas for poke-fans of any age.
#3: Guild Wars 2
If you have a large amount of free time coming your way this winter break, you might want to invest in a copy of Guild Wars 2. This MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) constantly goes on sale for less than the price of a new console game and new downloadable content comes out every two weeks for free. Rather than having to buy new expansions separately, one purchase of Guild Wars 2 grants you access to the game in its entirety, including all future DLC. This MMO features skill based mechanics by which the player must literally dodge enemy attacks rather than having the game roll numbers to check for a dodge while the player attacks idly. The developers, ArenaNet, are frequently taking feedback from the player base, providing significant changes each patch that makes every aspect of the game worth playing. There are also many player vs player (PvP) aspects of the game, including massive server battles where players compete against one another for significant bonuses that are awarded to the winning server. There are over one hundred servers competing each day!
#2: Dark Souls
Dark Souls was released back in 2011, and was graced with an excellent expansion in October 2012. This game is not one for the casual gamer; if you’re looking to really challenge yourself, this is the game to play. The amount of skill required to push forward throughout Dark Souls’ seamless world is staggering. Starting with a very brief tutorial, Dark Souls throws the player headlong into what will always feel like one sided fights that you were meant to lose. Unfortunately, you’re meant to win every fight, and because each one is so unique and difficult, each individual victory is satisfying. Be warned, this game is unforgiving. Controllers will be thrown and rage will be expressed, but every fight is different, sublime, and terrifying all at once. Played from a third person perspective, you will be responsible for blocking, dodging, parrying, and surviving everything the game has to offer, which ranges from ghosts to dragons. Do not be shy, slowly but surely, you will make your way to the final battle against the Abyss, and you will not forget it.
#1: BioShock Infinte
BioShock has been making gamers swoon since its first release. However, our decent into Rapture is just one side of the coin; BioShock Infinite scored near perfection across every major game review site, and is very deserving of its commendations. Released back in March of 2013, and followed up with story related DLC only one week into November, BioShock Infinite is easily the game you cannot miss this year. We play as Booker DeWitt who hunts for a girl, Elizabeth, in hopes of wiping away his debt. The storyline has ridiculous depth, intricacies, symbolisms and metaphors, all which add up to the box-office quality scripting. This first person shooter brings new and refined elements to this style of games, including fast paced aerial combat and a stockpile of customizable and upgradeable weaponry. While the average gamer may be attracted to this title because it is a shooter, they will stay for several play- throughs to get a handle on the masterpiece storyline. These are all games this writer has played first hand for significant amounts of time, so it is easy to say you can’t go wrong with playing or purchasing any of these titles. Pick one to play and one to gift and you will enjoy a nice winter break gaming with the family or significant other. Happy holidays!