By the time you die a fourth time in Vampire Survivors, chances are it will already have its hooks in you. The Casetlevania-like graphics, excellent soundtrack, and casino-like rewards you receive from killing scores of monsters feeds a satisfying flow to the game’s reverse-bullet hell. The free add-ons and four-player co-op, meanwhile, keep you coming back for more.
Video Game of the Year
Jordan Minor’s recent book represents a fresh take on video game history and the concept of “GOTY” lists. The author highlights a single video game that defined each year between 1977 through 2022, often focusing on the most culturally significant game as opposed to the “best” of the year. Minor’s essays are accompanied by guest write-ups from top-class game critics and journalists, too, along with excellent art throughout.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
2023 may have been a huge year for video games, but there’s no arguing that one of the biggest (and best) to come out this year was Tears of the Kingdom. The Nintendo Switch title blends the open world of Hyrule with a unique crafting mechanic that provides an infinite number of ways to solve puzzles, fight monsters, and get from A to B.
Lego Pac-Man Arcade
It’s okay to be awestruck by the lovingly detailed nostalgia beaming from this Pac-Man Lego set. The colorful, 2,651-piece building kit is a faithful recreation of a timeless arcade cabinet, complete with a light-up coin slot and a mechanical crank that moves Pac-Man and his ghostly pursuers around around the maze.
Steam Deck OLED
Valve’s newly launching Steam Deck OLED is sure to be a hot commodity this holiday season. While the original Deck with a standard LCD screen is still a great handheld gaming PC, the new model sports a slightly larger, higher-quality OLED panel with a higher refresh rate and increased battery life, improving the overall look and experience of games.
Logitech G Pro X Superlight 2
Logitech’s G Pro X Superlight 2 may have a super long name, but it’s super short on heft, weighing in at just 60 grams. The newer mouse is designed for esports-level gaming performance, but its svelte looks and USB-C charging mean it can do the full-time job thing by day and land those perfect no-scopes in Counter-Strike 2 by night.
FunKey S retro gaming console
The FunKey is possibly the coolest, most darling handheld ever made. It’s a keychain-sized console reminiscent of the Game Boy Advance SP that plays emulated retro games. Its built-in screen measures a mere 1.54 inches, so it may be more of a tinkerer’s novelty than something to play Super Mario World to completion on, but if you could, why wouldn’t you?
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse: The Art of the Movie
The Spider-Verse movies are exceptional comic book stories, but the thing that puts the Miles Morales-led films’ head and shoulders above most other superhero flicks is the unique artwork and visual style. Marvel’s official art book for the most recent installment makes a great gift for any webhead fans you know, or really anyone who appreciates a good hardcover.
Although console makers sell controllers in a fun range of colors, gifting a custom gamepad goes above and beyond to create something truly unique. Microsoft offers its Xbox Design Lab for customizing its standard and Elite controllers, while third-party boutique shops like Battle Beaver and AimControllers offer a dizzying array of cosmetic and esports-focused hardware mods for both PlayStation and Xbox pads.
Baldur’s Gate 3 (PC, PS5, Mac)
Baldur’s Gate 3 is one of the best CRPGs of all time, whether you’re a hardcore pencil-and-paper RPG veteran or a complete newcomer. The turn-based combat is exceptional, but the character interaction and roleplaying is its true hallmark. The branching paths of the story offer hundreds of hours of playtime, with exceptional voice acting that makes the characters both memorable and endearing.
Hori Dual Charge Station for Xbox Series X / S
While some criticize that the standard Xbox Wireless Controller ships with basic AA batteries, one advantage is that you can easily replace them with good old-fashioned rechargeable cells. Hori’s dual charging cradle comes with two long-lasting rechargeable batteries and four replacement battery covers, so you simply drop a controller or two down to immediately begin charging.
Apple TV 4K (third-gen)
If you subscribe to Apple Arcade, an Apple TV 4K can effectively double as both a mini gaming console and one of the best streaming devices you can buy. With it, you can connect a Bluetooth controller like the PlayStation 5’s DualSense, thus allowing games that were initially developed for PC / consoles to be played on the big screen for which they were designed.
Sonos Beam (second-gen)
The second-gen Sonos Beam is a terrific sound bar with big sound for its small footprint. It uses eARC for minimal latency, so playing games doesn’t have that annoying audio delay that can plague entry-level home theater setups. Plus, it integrates with the rest of Sonos’ Wi-Fi-connected ecosystem if you choose to expand your music listening to multiple rooms.
Skelly Talking Plush
“Hey-a there, boy-o!” It’s a plush version of Skelly, the lovable scamp and bone-a-fide buddy / test dummy from Supergiant Games’ Hades. The trash-talking plush features poseable arms and legs, and he sounds off with various one-liners when you rough him up or squeeze him. Just keep in mind that plush Skelly won’t magically re-form when cut into pieces like his in-game version.
Elden Ring Standard Edition Vinyl
If you’re a fan of both FromSoftware and records, the Elden Ring Standard Edition Vinyl from Bandai Namco is a treat to own. The moody instrumental soundtrack collects 17 tracks on two marbled, smoke-gray LPs for over one hour of music from The Lands Between, complete with some lovely artwork of the game’s iconic Erdtree on the inner gatefold.
Loki: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
MCU movie fatigue may be a very real thing for many of us, but Loki remains a high point for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The six-episode Disney Plus series, which stars Tom Hiddleston as the titular antihero, is quite different from the usual superhero formula thanks to its unique set design and characters — not to mention its fun time paradoxes.
Love Letter is the perfect ice breaker for a group of up to six people. The deduction-based card game is a great on-ramp to more involved and unique “designer” tabletop games, though it’s so much fun on its own that I wouldn’t be particularly shocked if you ended up playing this inexpensive, travel-friendly game all night.
Jsaux HDMI 2.1 Bi-Directional Splitter 2 x 1
Got a TV that’s limited to a single HDMI 2.1 port, thus hampering your ability to get the most out of current consoles? A two-by-one splitter like this option from Jsaux allows both a PlayStation 5 and an Xbox Series X to share the same port, so both consoles can reach 4K resolution / 120Hz on supported sets.
A date night spent indoors isn’t complete without a little friendly competition, and Hounded is a fantastic way to test your cunning against one another. One player plays as The Fox, trying to outsmart and outrun the other player’s Master of Hounds. It’s a simple strategy game that takes less than one hour, lending itself well to lots of rematches.
Ronin: A Visions Novel
Star Wars fans who thoroughly enjoyed the animated Star Wars Visions series on Disney Plus are likely to dig Ronin: A Visions Novel. Emma Mieko Candon’s original book is inspired by “The Duel,” a Visions short that blends Star Wars with feudal Japan as it recounts the tale of a wandering Sith who struggles to escape his past.
Nerf LMTD Halo Needler
The Nerf LMTD Halo Needler is part foam dart blaster, part trophy piece. It’s a faithful recreation of the iconic Needler from the Halo franchise, complete with light-up needles. It looks great on a shelf, but, being Nerf, you can also use its motorized drum to rattle off up to 10 darts when it’s time to have some fun. It’s best used at any Grunt birthday parties (wink-wink).
Evangelion Casetify accessories
Casetify’s Neon Genesis Evangelion line of phone cases, AirPod cases, and other accessories are sure to be a hit with fans of the classic mecha anime. Many of the designs prominently feature the iconic characters and EVA units of the show and rebuild movies, including some of that classic NERV and SEELE typography.
The PlayStation Portal is a bit of an odd handheld, but Sony’s single-purpose gadget offers a turnkey solution to streaming games off your PS5 via Remote Play. You can play your games on its eight-inch screen without taking up the family TV, or simply take your games with you to bed — trusting you have good Wi-Fi, that is.
TCL QM8 Mini LED 4K TV (65-inch)
Many of the best TVs for gaming right now are super-pricey OLEDs, but the TCL QM8 is a 4K panel that offers a lot at a much lower price tag. The Mini LED TV offers fantastic brightness, great black levels, and natively supports a 120Hz refresh rate via a pair of two HDMI 2.1 ports, which is just enough for connecting both a PS5 and Xbox Series X.
Xbox Game Pass subscription
Gifting someone a few months of Xbox Game Pass grants them access to hundreds of quality titles for Xbox Series X / S consoles — including Starfield, the latest Forza Motorsport, and some of the biggest games of the year. There are also surprise hits like Lies of P and indie works of art like Cocoon, making it quite the curated collection of games.
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (2023)
Few gaming laptops are as svelte and enjoyable to use for actual laptop duties as the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14. The excellent 14-incher can handle high-fidelity games on its 165Hz QHD screen, but unlike other gaming laptops, it’s actually designed to leave your desk and do the everyday computing thing — without leaving you feeling like you’re toting around a boat anchor everywhere you go.
Mega Showcase Microsoft Xbox 360 Collector Building Set
The Xbox 360 was a hallmark console that ushered in a new era of HD graphics and online play. Now, you can enshrine your fondness for the 18-year-old console with this building set by Mega. The 1,342-piece model recreates the uniquely shaped console itself, its wireless gamepad, and even the physical case for Halo 3.
Meta Quest 3
Meta’s Quest 3 makes big strides in the comfort and performance departments, with much-improved displays and snappier performance than the Quest 2. It’s the best standalone VR headset you can buy for someone right now, and it’s capable of playing fitness games like Supernatural as well as AAA VR experiences like Resident Evil 4 and the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Nexus.