This story is part ofour year-round collection of the best gift ideas.
Game consoles, gaming hardware, and new games and accessories are an easy win for the holidays. However, finding exactly what you want can be more difficult. If heSony’s is easier to buy than at any point in its two-year shelf life, but you still have to do some searching. the Y are generally easy to buy now, as is the . If you’re looking for the best gaming gift, any of these consoles is a sure hit.
Going a little furtherIt’s still the VR headset to beat, even though Meta/Facebook recently raised the price. Newer VR headsets like the (for PS5) won’t arrive until next year, and Meta’s next new VR headset will be a much more expensive pro-grade device, rather than a casual gaming system.
is seeing a renaissance in 2022, with the Nintendo Switch alongside Analogue Pocket and Panic Playdate, two mini-consoles with a retro feel that will give you classic GameBoy vibes. At the other end of the spectrum, Valve’s Steam Deck (also hard to find) is a full-featured mini gaming PC.
For a general favorite, the $499 PlayStation 5 is for gamers who want high-profile exclusive Sony games like God of War or Horizon: Forbidden West. The $499 Xbox Series X is great for gamers who want a full ecosystem of Xbox Game Pass games that work across Xbox, PC, and even tablets and phones (via cloud gaming).
The best budget option for a gaming console is the Xbox Series S, which does almost everything the larger Series X does, but for $299. Another budget idea: For $49, you can pick up a Microsoft Xbox controller, at a variety of colors; makes a great gift because it works on Xbox, gaming PCs, iPads and iPhones, even Apple TV.
The Xbox Series X is a powerful 4K gaming machine that works best with a similarly advanced 4K TV. The platform offers exclusives like Halo and Forza, as well as games from Microsoft-owned Bethesda, including the Fallout and Elder Scrolls games, and the upcoming Starfield.
Xbox’s biggest advantage is the excellent Xbox Game Pass subscription service, which includes many of the best new games for $15 a month, and also includes PC and cloud gaming.
Read our Xbox Series X review.
The smaller, cheaper Series S version of the new Xbox plays all the same games, but outputs them at 1440 resolution, which falls somewhere between traditional HD and 4K. More importantly, it’s great for downloading and playing Xbox Game Pass’s huge catalog of games, or for free online games like Fortnite.
Read our Xbox Series S review.
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The Xbox controller has become the unofficial industry standard. It connects via Bluetooth, so it not only works on Xbox consoles, but also on your PC or Mac, iPhone, Android phone or iPad, and even Apple TV.
Since nearly every PC game – and many iOS games – are already assigned to work with this controller, it’s as close to pick-up and play as you can get in a gaming accessory.
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For the budget price of $50, this is still one of the most comfortable gaming headsets under $100 you’ll ever put on your ears. Among the updates from the previous version, Cloud Stinger 2 now has an extended frequency response on both ends, an updated headband with swivel ear cups, a more flexible boom for the microphone, and an improved on-ear volume dial.
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This fourth iteration of Nintendo’s Switch hybrid handheld adds a bigger and better integrated screen (now an OLED screen), plus a redesigned kickstand and TV stand. For anyone looking to jump over to Switch or add a second unit for home multiplayer, this is the default model to consider.
But if you’re looking for the next Zelda game, it won’t arrive until May 2023.
Read the OLED Nintendo Switch review.
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Taking the openness, flexibility, and scale of PC gaming and putting it into portable form has long been a holy grail for a devoted subset of WASD gamers. Steam Deck is closer than anything I’ve seen to achieving that formula.
Steam Deck is made by Valve, the company behind the successful online gaming store/platform Steam, but you should know what you’re doing before you commit to the device. It’s an AMD-powered laptop that runs Linux (with an overlay called Steam OS) and plays many, but not all, of the PC games on the Steam online store.
If you’re up for some tweaking and experimentation with settings, and you’re comfortable with general PC gaming troubleshooting (compared to the plug-and-play ease of living room consoles), Steam Deck it’s a fantastic gaming device.
For anyone with a ton of old Game Boy games, the Analogue Pocket is a Game Boy revival dream come true. The Pocket plays Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance cartridges, and other retro handheld games like the Sega Game Gear with adapters sold separately. A vivid color display and USB-C rechargeable battery mean games play and look great. A separately sold dock can also play games on a TV screen.
Read our Analogue Pocket review.
The Panic Playdate is small, yellow, has a black and white screen with no backlight, and plays its own unique indie games, 24 of which are included with the purchase price. Games are controlled with buttons, a D-pad, and a rotary handle which is used in multiple games to good effect. The Playdate has a lovely weird feeling to it, very experimental, and we have no idea what future games are coming. But it’s bound to be a collector’s item for fans of handheld and indie gaming.
Read our Panic Playdate review.
The Quest 2 is the easiest VR headset to use, even though the starting price has jumped from $299 to $399. It’s fully self-contained, needs no cables or external tracking cameras, and plays a pretty diverse set of games, from shooting to puzzle games and theme park rides.
And it’s not just for gaming; It can be used for physical training, going to the virtual theater and even virtual reality meetings. Parents be warned, though: the user must be logged into Facebook, so be careful if you’re giving it to a child.
Read our Oculus Quest 2 review.
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