2016 Gift Guide: Video Game Hardware & Accessories
With the release of “new and improved” versions of both Sony’s and Microsoft’s consoles either here or arriving shortly, it’s fairly safe to say that we’re smack dab in the middle of this current generation of video-game systems.
That means two things, of course: first off, both systems have had enough time to release refined systems updates and amass reputable libraries, both physical releases and digital downloads, making them both appealing options for holiday gift purchases. And second, that means buyers will have plentiful opportunities during the busy shopping season to land impressive deals, both on consoles and accessories.
Below, this guide will offer a gift list worth checking out for the video-game lovers in your life, from cost-effective bargains to cool novelties and critical accessories. Also, you can head over to Ben’s Bargains Software Gift Guide to check out the games that’d pair nicely with any of the below systems.
For Those With 4K HD Wanting a Versatile Media Player, Gift This.
Xbox One S 2TB + Gears of War Bundle
Pros: 4K For Media, Slim Design, Large Hard-Drive | MSRP: $449
Adapting to new high-resolution technology and improving on the size of its design, Microsoft have released their slimmed-down, marginally beefed-up Xbox One S just in time for the holiday season. Featuring 4K resolution for Blu-ray and streaming playback, an integrated power supply, and HDR rendering for compatible games, this new Xbox might take a step forward instead of a leap ahead, but it packs a lot of value into its 40% smaller chassis.
A few different bundles are available alongside the standard consoles, including the pictured 2TB Gears of War 4 set — available in both factory white and splattered black-and-red — and a dark-green 1TB Battlefield console.
For Those Wanting Beautiful Graphics and VR Access, Gift This.
Arriving in November, Sony’s second iteration of the PlayStation 4 delivers a more technologically robust, premium gaming experience than its Microsoft counterpart. The Pro comes equipped with ultra-HD boosting for the depth, color, and framerate of games — keep an eye out for the “PS4 Pro Enhanced” stickers — through a significantly improved GPU over the standard PS4, which will yield strong improvements on 4K/HDR-compatible TVs and, presumably, some marginal upscaling improvements on standard HD sets.
Oddly, 4K Blu-ray support hasn’t been included, but the concentration on its graphical prowess cushions that blow … as well as how its performance is geared toward optimal PlayStation VR functionality.
For Those Who’d Dig Into a Trove of Included Games, Gift This.
Unimpressed by 4K or slimmer consoles, and want a system bundled with games for a lower price? The release of the Xbox One S makes this a great year for that, as the standard Xbox One consoles — which now come in varieties with up to 1TB of data storage — will become increasingly competitive in pricing leading up to the holiday season, especially the bundles.
You’ve got lots of options to choose from, including a scare but still accessible five-game, 1TB console bundle that includes the pair of rebooted Tomb Raider installments, the critically acclaimed Ori and the Blind Forest, the remastered Gears of War, and Rare Replay‘s collection of retro games … for around $350, and lower.
For Those Just Starting Their PlayStation Adventures, Gift This.
With the introduction of their fancy new Pro system, Sony have also updated the design specs on their standard PlayStation 4 unit, shrinking its size and rounding off its corners. Often cited as the go-to console so far this generation, both for its selection of games and for the PlayStation Store’s consistent run of sales on digital downloads, it’s a safe bet for pretty much anyone who wants to embark on the current-gen gaming experience.
Few games are as reliably satisfying as those in the Uncharted series of tomb-raiding expeditions, either, making the 500GB bundle with Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End an easy recommendation. This bundles comes either with a standard console, or a custom design featuring the lead character from the game.
For a Portable System With Access to a Huge Library, Gift This.
Nintendo’s long-running portable system has gradually amassed an enormous roster of games: just shy of 2000 worldwide, and most of ’em are available to North American players. There may be a “switch” around the corner from the Japanese company in the form of their hybrid portable-console system , but it’s going to be long time before adopters have access to that kind of variety, from brain-teasers like Brain Age and Professor Layton to countless action games set within the Zelda and Mario universes. One of the nicer 2DS bundles, which can be found on Amazon, packages Mario Kart 7 with a vivid electric blue system.
For the Person Who Wants a Truly Distinctive Controller, Gift This.
There are a lot of really slick color and pattern styles out there for Xbox One controllers: the Shadow color-to-black gradient designs; the Forces camo patterns; the Halo- and Gears of War-themed textures. Some people, however, would prefer exact colors for their hardware, whether it’s a certain shade of blue or their favorite team’s colors alternating across the device. For about $20 extra, Microsoft can take care of that at their Design Lab, where several shades of color for the thumbsticks, bumpers and triggers, and D-pad can be selected. They’ll throw a laser engraving on the controller for an extra $10, too. Keep in mind these also work with Windows 10 machines.
For That Player Running Low On Hard-Drive Space, Gift These.
As consoles get more advanced, the games they run take up even more digital space with their installations, updates, and downloadable content. Base models of this generation’s consoles, capped at 500GB, can’t store very many games, which throws a conundrum at owners: should they upgrade their systems to newer ones with bigger hard-drives, or upgrade their storage solutions? Thankfully, it’s a fairly easy problem to solve on both consoles, as the Xbox One supports external USB hard-drives and the PS4’s internal hard-drive can be swapped out. Seagate has affordable, compatible options for both, with each of their 2GB varieties priced at around $85.
For Online Players and Freebie/Deal Hunters, Gift These.
While the primary reason for purchasing subscriptions to either PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live used to boil down to having access to online gaming, both companies have taken strides over the past year to make their paid memberships really worth the monthly, quarterly, or yearly investments.
Weekly exclusive deals on a variety of digital games can be nice, of course, but how they’ve upped their value games can be found in the monthly free game offerings (regularly covered here at The Checkout), which range from quirky indies and day-one releases to the occasional high-profile title. And in the case for Xbox, their 360 offerings are routinely backwards compatible on the newer console, too, bringing Xbox One owners up to four available freebies per month.
For A Touch of Nostalgia That Everyone’s Gonna Love, Gift This.
Sure, it’s possible to play the games loaded on Nintendo’s NES Classic through online digital purchases (and other methods), but that’s not what this system’s about. Instead, the $60 price tag buys an experience, one replicated in a familiar gray-and-red package that comes loaded with 30 legendary games of varying degrees.
The NES Classic distills both contemporary and retro tech into this miniaturized set: it offers three visual filters — precise pixel graphics, as well as a subtle 4×3 stretch and CRT scan lines — while also allowing for “suspend points” that operate similarly to saves, and it contains the classic rectangular controllers while running an (included) HDMI cable to modern TVs.