Not sure what to buy for the vitamin D-deficient, monosyllabic, repetitive stress-suffering, online friends but no real life friends-having, working on a screen all day and coming home to relax on a screen all night, no eye contact-making, glaucoma-ignoring, sweatpants-wearing, non team sports-playing, struggles to differentiate between reality and the online world special someone in your life?
It’s not too late to show that you understand with one of these top games from 2019 below.
Maybe just get them vouchers.
1. Best AAA game
Death Stranding (PS4 only for now)
You’re a post-apocalyptic postman with a side gig as an inter-colony wifi technician. A bit like real postmen, you are delivering cargo to decimated colonies following the arrival of destructive creatures from a realm between life and death.
Unlike An Post, you are encouraged to delivery your packages efficiently and with care. Impeding your work are a cabal of porters who are trying to steal your cargo so they can deliver it themselves (UPS in this analogy).
Part movie/part video game, Death Stranding stars photo realistic versions of Norman Reetus, Mads Mikkelsen and for some reason Guiellermo Del Toro, in an open world, stealth exploration story-line that is combative, sometimes insane and quite exhausting.
Buy this for: Someone with lots of time to spare.
2. Best indie game
Sayonara Wild Hearts (Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Apple Arcade)
Short in length, but high in emotion, Sayonara Wild Hearts follows the story of a woman who tries to heal a recent heartbreak by restoring balance to the world. She does this by collecting hearts while sword fighting, having dance offs, riding motor bikes and deer, she sometimes rides a deer.
Each part of the world has its own theme music that aligns with the mood of the main character and which by extension impacts the mood of the player. The game’s input controls are minimalist, just one button and an analogue stick, but there is a third essential input that the game takes – the player’s rhythm.
To succeed you must tune into the patterns in the game’s soundtrack and not the patterns that you see on the screen. Do this right and you’ll align your hand and ear to the point that you don’t memorise the gameplay, instead you feel your way through.
Buy this for: Someone who considers music videos an artform.
3. Best free-to-play game
Apex Legends (PlayStation 4, XBox One, PC)
Somewhere in this game’s studio there are Post-Its on a wall from a brainstorming session where they asked everyone in the building to name what they enjoyed about free-to-play games.
Suggestions included battle royale, first person shooter, mercenaries, squads, complex maps, safe zones, loot scavenging, inventory accumulation, armor, grinding, in-came currencies, micro-transactions, content updates, flying, team communications, respawns, obscure yet pompous title and much more. Someone said, ‘good meeting team, let’s do it’, and so they did, beautifully.
While not creating anything original, Apex Legends raised the bar of every component of free to play games and made an engaging and highly playable version of Fortnight for adults.
Buy this for: Someone who also spent zero euros on your present.
PS: Fortnight is also free to play. If you’re buying a boxed version in-store what you’re really buying is in-game currency. Still a nice present, but that money might be better spent in the real world. On vouchers. Clothes vouchers are probably best, they have enough of those games. .
PPS: If Santa is bringing a console or game this Christmas, make sure he loads it up before the big day or else you could be faced with over an hour of downloads on Christmas morning. If he’s bringing controllers they might need to be charged up too. Happy Gamesmas!
Top pic via Grunge