Video Game Recommendations for the Holidays

Jacob Dorsey

Two out of five college students play video games. If you do not play video games, you almost certainly know someone who does, and they would love to get a new game as their holiday gift.  Video games are expensive – newly released games can be $60, and that’s a lot of money.  However, around the holidays one can find good sales.  If you are looking to treat yourself, the end of the semester sounds like the perfect time.  Here are recommendations for a few titles released over the past few months from someone who spends most of their free times with a controller in his hands.

Destiny 2: Shadowkeep is the latest expansion for Destiny 2, which was originally released in 2017 on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Destiny 2 and its expansions were created by Bungie, the team behind the Halo franchise. Destiny 2 is a first-person shooter with many role-playing game elements. It is an online-only game, so a stable internet connection is required.

With Shadowkeep came New Light, a sort of relaunch of Destiny 2 that made it free-to-play. For the low cost of zero dollars you can download Destiny 2 on your system of choice today. I would recommend doing so before buying an expansion and convince some friends to do it as well. I find that the game is better with friends.

As for Shadowkeep itself? It does not offer as much readily available content as yesteryear’s Forsaken, but supposedly that lack of content will slowly fill in over the next year. In other words: it doesn’t add much, but it is still a lot of fun and New Light updated the game to make it easier for new players to slide directly into Shadowkeep content.

While I do recommend Destiny 2 and its Shadowkeep expansion, it was not released on disc (in other words, nothing to gift wrap), so perhaps it doesn’t make for the best holiday gift. Instead, buy a gift card for whatever system they use.

The Outer Worlds is a first-person action game with stronger role-playing game mechanics than Destiny 2. The Outer Worlds is somewhat of a spiritual successor to the Fallout series and shares a lot of the same core elements: a fusion of first-person action and role-playing mechanics, emphasis on dialogue, and choices that influence the overall storyline. The game was made by the creators of Fallout who now work at Obsidian Entertainment, so the parallels aren’t coincidence.

In my opinion, The Outer Worlds is far better than any recent Fallout release. It offers strong, fun writing with an engaging amount of role-playing options but with none of the bugs, crashes, and errors that come standard in Fallout games.

The Outer Worlds is available on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, but is also a part of Xbox Game Pass – a monthly subscription service that includes a large library of games that you can download and play, which is only available on Xbox One and Windows 10 computers. It is like renting; you don’t keep the games, but there is no limit on how many games you can play at once. Xbox Game Pass would be a great way to play The Outer Worlds and other games, such as Gears 5, without spending $60 since the service is only $10 per month. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate – which includes an Xbox Live Gold subscription – is $15 per month. Instead of buying The Outer Worlds outright, buying a few months of Xbox Games Pass might be a cheaper alternative.

Death Stranding is a PlayStation 4 exclusive created by legendary game developer Hideo Kojima, the creator of the Metal Gear franchise. The game features a handful of well-known actors – Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead), Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal), Margaret Qualley (The Leftovers), and Lindsay Wagner (The Bionic Woman).

Death Stranding takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where an unknown phenomenon complicates death and burdens the living. Rain accelerates time for everything it touches, and terrifying shadows of the dead attempt to force connections with the living – resulting in explosions comparable to nuclear weapons. The protagonist Sam (played by Norman Reedus) is on a mission to connect the United States of America back together, which he does by… delivering packages. Death Stranding is essentially post-apocalyptic UPS deliveryman simulator.

I really enjoy the challenge of it – traversing a harsh world meanwhile maintaining balance (because you are sometimes asked to carry a ridiculous number of items) and avoiding the dead. Fortunately, Sam isn’t alone in his travels thanks to BB: a baby that is strapped to his chest which allows him to see the dead and avoid them.

Death Stranding is complicated and often weird, but to some people that is reason enough to check out the game. The game starts out like a walking simulator, but as you get further into the game, you obtain weapons, vehicles, tools and face new challenges that all make the game much more exciting. Death Stranding is a one-of-a-kind experience and I would recommend it to anyone interested in playing something completely new and different.