Top 10 Christmas gift ideas for the gamer in your life
Christmas is now just around the corner, and it’s the time of year where you might be wracking your brains on what to get your nearest and dearest. Choosing presents can be especially difficult for gamers, who, the older they get, tend to buy all their kit for themselves.
Do you go for a new TV that's primed for gaming? Is it time to make the new-gen console upgrade? Let's not forget about mobile gaming as well. Maybe you are eyeing up a new phone or tablet.
We've picked ten of the best gaming gifts that we've seen over the past year to help provide some inspiration this Christmas.
Best Games for Christmas
It’s been a busy year for gaming, especially as it’s been the first full year the Xbox One and PS4 have been on sale. Not everything that went on sale has been perfect, but there have been some real stand out games that need to be in every gamers’ stocking this year.
Best Racer: Forza Horizon 2
Arcade racers don’t get much better than this. Forza Horizon 2 has gorgeous graphics, great on- and off-road handling and cars powered by the engine behind serious racer Forza Motorsport 5.
Best Open-World: Assassin’s Creed Unity
Baring in mind the glitches are nearly all fixed, Assassin’s Creed Unity is the pinnacle of the series in so many ways: it’s stunning recreation of Revolution Paris, revamped combat and navigation controls and what feels like hundreds of hours of content to explore.
Best FPS: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Rather than reinventing the COD series, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare revitalises it. It offers the strongest single-player COD storyline yet, combined with a best in breed multiplayer, making it big, bold and brash – and a must for this Christmas.
Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil is easily the best action RPG on new-gen consoles, even if there isn’t much competition. It’s slick, absolutely stunning and not to mention ridiculously addictive to play. Single-player is strong, but its co-op is unrivalled.
Best Sports Game: FIFA 15
Despite a very strong performance from PES 2015, FIFA 15 is still man of the match this year. Expect slick graphics and performance, backed up by the series’ strong career mode and Ultimate Team experience means all footie loving gamers will adore it.
Best Wii U Game: Bayonetta 2
Bayonetta 2 is a glorious throwback to the days where Japanese developers ruled the gaming world. It sets the mark for epic brawlers and is so ultra-violent and innuendo filled, it seems strange Bayonetta 2 is a Wii U exclusive – and a fantastic one at that.
Best Handheld Game: Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a game you can get lost in, and sometimes doesn’t everyone want that during the Christmas period? New Leaf is jam-packed full of loveable characters and charm, and because there’s always something to look forward to or work towards, there’s always a reason to come back.
SEE ALSO: Best Games of 2014
Best TV for Christmas: Sony KDL-55W829
We know a TV is a huge investment during the Christmas period, but 2014 has gifted us with plenty of stunning TV sets to chose from. The Sony KDL-55W829 is one that stands out from the rest. It offers outstanding core picture quality for its rather modest £999 price tag, but it also boasts one of the lowest input lags of all the TVs we’ve reviewed this year. With our results coming out at just under 20ms, don’t blame your TV for your shoddy gaming skills.
If that that's out of the price bracket of some gamers this year. So, the Panasonic TX-42AS600 is definitely getting you bang for your buck with contrast-rich pictures and just 30ms input lag.
SEE ALSO: Best TVs
Best Game Consoles for Christmas: PS4 or Xbox One?
There’s two obvious choices for a gaming this year console-wise (if they haven’t already bought them) and that’s the PS4 and Xbox One. They are really offering two rather separate experiences, albeit with the same core gaming titles to their names.
For the pure gamer: PS4
The PS4 is definitely the console for those looking for a pure gaming experience. It’s still got your core entertainment apps, but there are tonnes of gamer specific features that are exclusive to PS4. For example, you’ve got Share Play, PlayStation Plus and next year you’ll get the PlayStation Now cloud game streaming service too.
For the full entertainment package: Xbox One
The Xbox One on the other hand is much more of the overall entertainment package. You get DLNA, external hard drive and Plex support, all of the entertainment apps and you can integrate your TV into your Xbox One experience with OneGuide. You get a lot of gaming features too, but they’re all tied up with an entertainment-focused bow.
SEE ALSO: Xbox One vs PS4
Best Gaming Tablet: Nvidia Shield Tablet
Not only is the Nvidia Shield Tablet a powerful 8-inch Android tablet, but Nvidia has stuffed it full of gaming features that make it the best choice for mobile gamers. There’s the Shield Hub, for Tegra-enhanced games that give you a console-like experience on an 8-inch screen; the ability to turn the Shield Tablet into your TV for the big screen gaming experience, which is especially great if you fork out the additional (and rather sizeable) £49.99 for the Shield Controller.
Plus, if you’ve got a compatible Nvidia GPU, you can stream PC titles to play on your Shield Tablet. There’s also fully integrated Twitch streaming functionality, which you can add commentary to with the front-facing camera on the tablet.
Price: From £239/$299
SEE ALSO: Best Tablet
Best Gaming Mobile Phone: iPhone 6 Plus
If you’re looking for a big-screen phone running iOS with the hardware grunt to play top-notch mobile games, the iPhone 6 Plus is your best bet. It might take you a while to get used to the size, but the battery life and powerful internal hardware is practically unmatched. You won’t want to play mobile games on any other phone.
Of course, you might not want an iOS handset. For the Android fans, we’d suggest the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 with its impressive 5.7-inch 1400 x 2560p QHD display and lengthy battery life.
Price: From £619/$749
SEE ALSO: iPhone 6 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Best Gaming Headset: Sennheiser PC 363D
Although the Sennheiser PC 363D might lack some design aesthetics, you’ll be hard pushed to find a better PC gaming headset. It packs superb audio performance, and despite the slight ugliness, the build quality screams Sennheiser. We also found that this headset is one of the more comfortable, with no painful ear clamping effects after long wear sessions. Plus, you’ve also got a top microphone for in-game chat, which will make you look and feel like a Top Gun fighter pilot. The PC 363D also boast a 7.1 Surround Sound USB sound card as part of the package for the full immersion experience.
SEE ALSO: Best Gaming Headsets
Best Gaming Laptop: MSI GT70 2PC Dominator
The MSI GT70 2PC Dominator might be a monster of a gaming laptop (as they all are), but it packs the Nvidia GeForce GTX 870M GPU with some of the highest clock speeds we’ve seen from a mobile graphics core. Along with a 17-inch 1920 x 1080p full HD display, you’ll find the other internal hardware is just as impressive.
It’s got all the hallmarks of a gaming system – a high-end keyboard, optimised audio gear, plenty of lights and even an eye-catching, illuminated logo. But of course, that means it’s huge and heavy and far from portable. However, you’ll struggle to find these specs packaged within a gaming laptop that’s not ridiculously priced.
SEE ALSO: Best Laptops 2014
Best Gaming Monitor: Samsung S24D590PL monitor
The Samsung S24D590L is one of the best gaming monitors we’ve seen this year, thanks to its low input lag. Even in its standard set-up this Samsung monitor (which also comes in a 27-inch variety for £270) measures an input lag of just 17.2ms.
Switching to Game Mode, you won’t get reduced lag, but you will find boosted contrast and a more natural looking game environment – graphics permitted of course.
This Samsung monitor is also a great all-rounder monitor. It has two HDMI ports, excellent picture quality, great colour reproduction and thanks to the PLS panel, it has first-rate viewing angles.
You might not be entirely sold on the design though, but it’s a great monitor nonetheless.
Price: £180 (can be bought for between £130-£150)/$155
SEE ALSO: Best Monitors 2014
Best Set-Top Box for Gaming: Amazon Fire TV
The Amazon Fire TV is a fantastic streaming set-top box, with powerful internal hardware and a raft of entertainment features. If you’ve got an Amazon Prime Instant Video membership, you’ll find all your content front and centre on the UI with enhanced voice search support. There’s also third-party app support if you’re more of a fan of services like Netflix or Plex.
If you’re looking for a set-top box that doubles up as an Android gaming console, you can’t beat the Amazon Fire TV. You can purchase an additional Fire TV Controller for £34.99 and suddenly you’ve opened up a whole world of Android gaming on the big screen.
Big name titles like The Walking Dead and GTA: San Andreas are all available on the Fire TV for affordable prices, which makes it a perfect gift for the more ambitious casual gamer.
Price: £79.99/$99 (Amazon Fire TV Controller £34.99/$39.99)
SEE ALSO: Amazon Fire TV vs Apple TV
Best Soundbar for Gaming: Samsung HW-H750
When we originally reviewed this earlier this year and were a put off by the £600 price tag. Now you can pick up this amazing soundbar for £449 making this the perfect Christmas bargain.
The Samsung HW-H750 offers impressive sound quality, especially when it comes to top end clarity and solid bass performance. It is complimented by an array of features, such as Bluetooth, NFC, HDMI ports and incredible audio format support.
Price: RRP £600 actually £449