games / Columns

Gaming Holiday Gift Guide 2019 Part 1: Mortal Kombat 11, Madden 20, More

November 28, 2019 | Posted by Adam Larck
Mortal Kombat 11

The holidays are just around the corner, which means shopping is in full swing.

To help you with holiday choices, we’ve broken down some of the top games to check out for gamers this year. Today, we’ll be breaking down some genres for the gamer in your life that may just love everything Call of Duty or Madden, but giving some different choices to surprise them.

Our next part will focus on games specific to consoles, and even what to get someone that has all the games they currently want. Keep in mind this isn’t a comprehensive list, just some suggestions to think of as you finish up your shopping.

Without further ado, let’s get started.

For Fighting Fans:

Mortal Kombat 11 was another strong entry for the franchise this year. The story mode was well thought out and executed (similar to previous MK entries and even Injustice entries), the roster is full of fan favorites and ones to give a try, and the online community is still thriving. While Street Fighter has had to rebuild itself in recent years, NetherRealm Studios has done a fine job in making a great fighter supported with good DLC characters, including interesting choices like the Terminator.

Another return this year was Dead or Alive 6. While more of a tactical fighter, fans found plenty to love in this latest entry. While not on the Switch, there’s still plenty of XB1 and PS4 fighters hopping online, so your gamer should be able to get into matches quickly and check their gift out.

If you still need an option, look toward a late 2018 release in Soul Calibur VI. Namco Bandai showed that the soul still burns with solid combat and parry action, plenty of story modes to check out and the create a character system to create your favorite fighter.

For Sports Fans:

You can’t go wrong with the standard lineup of sports games for a gamer. Madden, FIFA and NHL 20 are all fun games to play and feature new enhancements and upgrades to make an upgrade worthwhile.

Getting away from that trio, Need for Speed: Heat turned out to be a nice arcade racer, with day and night mechanics that actually mattered. A big plus was the lack of microtransactions, meaning just your racing skills and practice is all you need to get everything completed in the game.

For an oddity, buying store credit for What the Golf? could be a great little gift idea for someone. It’s a sports parody, sure, but seeing completely random items be launched around toward a hole or goal will give them a holiday laugh.

Two games to be careful of are the 2K titles this year, both NBA 2K20 and WWE 2K20. While NBA has some good gameplay, the heavy-handed microtransaction mentality and slot mechanics may drive younger gamers away.

As far as WWE goes, even with patches there are still plenty of glitches to be wary of. WWE 2K19 still ends up being a better choice for wrestling fans this year.

For Shooter Fans:

Let’s get the standard out of the way: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is out, and it’s still good. The shooting is solid, modes are interesting and can keep you in that “one more round” mentality. If the gamer in your life is a fan of the series, this will be the one title he wants for sure.

The other big shooter this year has to be Borderlands 3. If you know someone that loved the first two, they’ll love this one. If they hated it, well…maybe look for something else for them. Gameplay remains largely unchanged from the last entry, so you’ll either love that the years haven’t changed it or you’ll lose interest quick and never regain it.

As for other shooters, Rage 2 is a fun single player adventure in a wide open world. There’s not much story, but if you know someone that loves exploring and finding everything this will keep them entertained for hours. For a gamer that enjoys Dark Souls, consider Remnant: From the Ashes. It’s another unforgiving style game, but employs shooting mechanics and even co-op gameplay.

As one other shooter to consider geared more toward kids, check out Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville. It’s a good introduction to shooters, features a lot of different classes and customizations to check out, plus the gameplay in the PVE field is quite fun.

For RPG Fans:

I’m going to stay away from traditional turn-based RPGs for the most part, but I will note that Indivisible and Final Fantasy VIII Remastered are great titles that will occupy plenty of hours of their time.

For action RPGs, you can’t go wrong with either The Outer Worlds or Greedfall. Both are solid titles in the genre that have a wealth to explore and take on. The biggest question is whether the person in your life likes sci-fi (The Outer Worlds) or more of a 17th century feel (Greedfall).

Finally, Kingdom Hearts 3 is a good choice for the gamer that’s also a Disney fan. You’ll see plenty of Disney worlds, meet dozens of characters and take plenty of time to find and unlock everything there is in the game.

For Action Fans:

Before getting to the big one to buy here, let me first mention Devil May Cry 5. After a few lackluster entries, the series got back to solid footing here. It’s over the top fun that gives some replay value in trying to get the best combos possible.

Now, let’s get to Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. This is a must have for any action fan, with it blending styles from Dark Souls and Uncharted. There’s massive areas to explore, plenty to find and a great story to unpack. Honestly, I’d consider this for fans even outside of this genre.

For Eclectic Fans:

Honestly, the best gift for those in the “other” category are gift cards to whatever e-shop they use. Untitled Goose Game, Sparklite, The Outer Wilds and more.

There are plenty of smaller titles out there waiting to be experienced that may not have primo storefront space in physical stores (if any space), but are definitely worth checking out. Let the gamer in your life explore the digital stores and see what treasures await them.

That’s all for multi-platform games. Come back soon for a look at specific console titles.

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Hollday Gift Guide, Adam Larck