Cinelinx’s Gaming Gift Guide 2021

If you’re looking for the perfect gift for the gamer on your Holiday shopping list this year, the Cinelinx crew has you covered!

It’s that time of year again when the weather gets cold, and the Christmas decorating/shopping has begun. If you have movie lovers, gamers, or nerds in general, on your shopping list the Cinelinx team is here to help you find the perfect gift with our annual gift guides.

Don’t miss out on our previously released Movie Gift Guide, and be sure to check out our Geek Pick of the Week features for even more ideas. Now, let’s get to the games!

This year, we’re doing things a bit different with our Gaming Gift Guide. Below you’ll find our picks broken down by categories, so  you can choose the best game/gift suited to the tastes of whoever you’re shopping for.

[As before, many links included throughout the post are affiliate links.]


Action/Adventure

Guardians of the Galaxy (Matt): One of the biggest surprises of 2021 was undoubtedly the release and quality of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. In it, Square Enix takes us on an interstellar, 90’s powered thrill ride to save the galaxy and find our own inner peace. With captivating locations, an addictingly-fun combat system, and refreshing 12-15 hours story, this new take on our favorite space rebels is every bit of a must-play title for everyone’s gamer this holiday season.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales (Sean): Insomniac’s Spider-Man games are the definitive superhero experiences and despite it’s shorter story this game is absolutely fantastic follow up to Spider-Man with improvements made to every technical aspect of the original; fluid animation, combat, visuals and incredible storytelling that thrusts you into a cinematic experience that stands out among the best of modern single players.

Kena: Bridge of Spirits (Matt): Ever since this game was announced, I have championed it as one of my most anticipated games. When it was released, I was not disappointed. Kena: Bridge of Spirits, takes us on a journey to save the spirits of a mountain village from the corruption that is plaguing them. The story is a powerful one in how it teaches us about closure and the ability to move on. Plus, it’s got some really fun combat and rewards players for exploration. However, the two biggest draws to this game are the PIXAR-like art style and the $39.99 price tag. If your gamer has a PS5, I definitely recommend Kena: Bridge of Spirits.

Hitman 3 (Jordan): Though it launched at the beginning of the year, there’s never a bad time to get into the third Hitman game from IO Interactive. The game completes the story of Agent 47, even allowing players to carry over their progress from the previous two games. Combining refined stealth-action with even more creative kills, it’s a very fun title. Even better, now that it’s been out for a bit you can snag it much cheaper!

Multiplayer Gaming
Back 4 Blood
Deathloop
Outriders
It Takes Two

Immortals: Fenyx Rising (Becky): I know this game came out last year but it’s one of the coolest games I’ve ever seen, and despite being primarily known as a PS5 launch title, I’m pleased to say that it also plays quite well on PS4. Fans of Greek mythology (or fantasy games in general) will LOVE this game, as it goes deep on a bunch of mythological lore, probably the most I’ve seen of any game that doesn’t belong to the God of War series. The combat is fairly straightforward, though the special skills do take a little bit to figure out. I can’t recommend this game enough.

Far Cry 6 (SOLEB): Far Cry 6 is a wild and extremely expansive world that not only tells the story of Dani Rojas, but takes you on a journey like never before. From the main story to the side missions, to even the chicken fighting, this game will keep you entertained for some time. Though the game does have a few issues, Far Cry 6 is everything I have wanted from an open-world title. Ubisoft has continued to push the Far Cry series to new heights each year and this game just gets me more excited for what is to come from the series in the future.

RPG 

Lost Judgment (Matt): Whether your loved one is a fan of the Yakuza series or a fan of mystery thrillers, SEGA and Ryu Ga Gotoku have a brilliant game for them this holiday season. Capitalizing on all of the technology created for Yakuza: Like a Dragon and all of the good parts of the first Judgment game, Ryu Ga Gotoku delivered in upgrading every conceivable part of this game. The result is a very smooth combat system, a seemingly limitless world, the trademark Yakuza humor, and a mystery that will have you guessing all the way through. Lost Judgment is an excellent gift for the mystery gamer.

Atelier Ryza 2 (Becky): Do you, or someone you know, like JRPG’s with a laid back atmosphere that let you explore a magical world, craft cool items and fight all kinds of monsters? Then I highly recommend checking out Atelier Ryza 2, the most recent entry in the long-running Atelier series. The best part? You absolutely do not need to play the first Atelier Ryza game to understand this one, the game drops more than enough plot details to fill in anything the first game may have told you. The world is beautifully rendered and it’s easy to lose yourself in it for hours at a time.

Scarlet Nexus (Becky): Scarlet Nexus had been on my radar pretty much since it was announced, and now that I’ve gotten to play through it a bit, I have to recommend getting it as a gift for anyone you know who likes to game. Even if you’ve never played a JRPG before, I still recommend checking Scarlet Nexus out because you get to fight with psychokinesis (moving objects with your mind) and the game makes it really easy to use. This is a really fun game to play.

Mass Effect Legendary Edition (Jordan): If you have someone who loves deep story and engaging characters, you gotta go with EA’s remastered collection of the original Mass Effect trilogy. These were among my favorite games, and having recently finished a replay thanks to the Legendary Edition, I can tell you with a certainty that they hold up incredibly well.

While the graphics feel slightly dated, the remastering done with these (especially the first one), is insane and will fit in with most any other title around. I loved revisiting these and if you have a gamer on your list who haven’t played these before, it’ll make for a great gift.

Death’s Door (Matt): If you or your significant other loves old-school The Legend of Zelda games then I highly recommend Death’s Door. Originally released solely on PC this summer, Death’s Door puts you in the talons of a Crow that works for a soul-reaping organization. When a soul you’re tasked with collecting gets stolen, the Crow must fly off to a realm where powerful beings evade Death’s clutches.

The game features a very simple combat system, similar to that of old-school Legend of Zelda games. Plus, it has an incredible soundtrack that will stay with you long after the game is over. Death’s Door was one of my favorite games of 2021 and a must-play for any Zelda-fans at home. Death’s Door is out on PC now and will release on Switch and PS5 on November 23, 2021.

Casual Gaming/Family Friendly

Overcooked (Jess): Haven’t yet found the perfect video game to introduce to less-avid gamers in your family or friendship circle? I have found it for you. Overcooked is a chaotic couch co-op cooking game for one to four players and it is great fun. It is ideal for friends or family who you might be trying to introduce to gaming. I am the wife of a very enthusiastic gamer but I cannot say the same for myself.

That said, I have to recommend Overcooked because I cannot stop laughing every time we play it! Perfect for a quiet night in or a games night, Overcooked makes a great gift for those looking for something fun to play with company over the holidays.

Animal Crossing Paid Expansion (Katy): I went from not logging into Animal Crossing for at least six months to obsessively playing since the DLC dropped in early November. …

Disney Magical World 2: Enchanted Edition (Jordan): This game launched back on the 3DS originally, but is getting a new shot at life with a Switch version. If you have a youngster on your shopping list, this is a pretty great choice. It brings together all the beloved Disney characters and allows you to interact with them in fun ways.

The Sims 4 (Emily): The Sims 4 is a constantly evolving life simulation game. New updates and expansions are released regularly, meaning that you may be set for the next few gift giving occasions if they like the game! You can buy the base game relatively cheap on its own, or create a bundle with varying prices which can include the base game, expansion packs, game packs or stuff packs, depending on how far your recipient is in their Sims 4 journey.

SackBoy: A Big Adventure (Soleb): These past few years have been tough on us all, but playing a game like this will for sure melt all that stress away. This time around, Sackboy: A Big Adventure takes you down a different path than other games. The game is set up to play more like a platformer (Games like Super Mario) and is amazing to play with all your family. Play this game with my wife and kids was so much fun and very easy for my kids to just pick up and play!

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl (Jordan): It’s Pokemon! Of course we have to put a Pokemon game on our Christmas list, and the new remakes from the fourth-gen titles are perfect for anyone, of any age, to get started on their journey. These are the games that actually reignited my love for the franchise and are highly addictive RPG-esque journeys worth revisiting.

Books for Gamers
Minecraft: Blockopedia
The Art of Ghost of Tsushima
The Art of Halo Infinite
The Game Console 2.0: A Photographic History

Psychonauts 2 (Matt): The Psychonauts series may not be as well-known in most households, as it should be. That said, the first two games in the series are *chef’s kiss*. After over a decade-long wait, Psychonauts 2 finally released this year and was absolute perfection. It featured a mind-bending story, hilarious dialogue, really rewarding exploration, and amazing gameplay. Plus, Jack Black and Elijah Wood have parts in it that are simply wonderful. Psychonauts 2 is one of the few Xbox Game Studios games left to have a multi-platform release and it’s the perfect gift for your platformer-loving gamer this Holiday season.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (Matt): One of the top contenders for Game of the Year is the PlayStation Exclusive platformer, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. It’s deserving of this title for its incredible, interdimensional story that expands the lore of one of PlayStation’s most beloved franchises.

In it, Ratchet and Clank get sucked into an alternate dimension after Dr. Nefarious steals and subsequently breaks a dimensional weapon. Thus, taking our dynamic duo to a dimension where Emperor Nefarious has conquered the galaxy. This is where we meet the wonderful lombax Rivet, who along with Ratchet and Clank take us on a whirlwind adventure to save and restore the dimensions. If your household is fortunate enough to have a PlayStation 5, this is a must-play game and a perfect gift for any gamer.

Sports/Strategy/Sim

Jurassic World Evolution 2 (Jordan): Who hasn’t dreamed of creating their very own Jurassic Park? It’s a fantasy we got to live out with Jurassic World Evolution a few years ago, but the sequel has even more for fans to enjoy. Streamlining the process a bit more, and adding in a host of customizable features to allow more creative freedom than ever before, the holidays is a perfect time to jump into the fun.

Riders Republic (Jordan): Riders Republic is just a ridiculous amount of fun. I’ve had a blast since I first started playing it, and there are no signs of slowing down. Even when not competing in the many online races/competitions, there’s something so enjoyable about just exploring the slopes in the gear of your choice. Whether you want the extreme sports/multiplayer action or simply want a chill experience, Riders Republic works great for both.

Crusader Kings III (Emily): The third instalment in the Crusader Kings game franchise is a rewarding, historical strategy game which sees the player play as the leader of a chosen piece of land or country. The goal is to rule over as much land as you can, and how you go about this is entirely up to the player. By fabricating claims, marrying heirs to powerful households or calling for war whenever possible, there’s no shortage of ways to build your kingdom.

With both single-player and online gameplay, and the ability to alter game settings to change difficulty, succession laws and much more, the way you play is entirely up to you, and is the perfect game for both strategy lovers and those looking to start out in strategy games.

Madden NFL 22 (SOLEB): I have been very surprised by this year’s Madden, though I am not a big Ultimate Team player, I have had fun playing many of the events provided online by EA Sports. The graphical presentation and controls are much better this year and if you’re like me and have a next-gen system, you will for sure see the difference in gameplay when you play your first game.

Evil Genius 2 (Katy): Evil Genius 2 is the long awaited sequel to the original game of the same name that came out in 2004. I have always been a sucker for business management sims and the series takes the genre and turns it upside down. So grab a cup of coffee or hot cocoa and buckle up with a little world domination.

To The Rescue! (Katy): To The Rescue! Is and incredibly adorable dog shelter simulator that was released earlier this month. In TTR!, you will go from finding a sweet stray to building up your shelter into a community cornerstone. I followed the game’s development since I first stumbled upon it on Kickstarter and had the chance to speak with developers at E3 this summer.

 

Tech/Accessories 

SteelSeries’ Arctis Prime Headset (Jordan): SteelSeries always brings the goods when it comes to their gaming headphones, and their older model Arctis headset is still my primary go-to for gaming at home. For only $99, their newer model (which works for all your current consoles as well as PCs) is a steal and sure to outlast almost any other gaming headset you can find.

ModMic Products (Jordan) – Personally speaking, I don’t use mics a whole lot during gaming, mostly because I don’t play many multiplayer titles (spoiler alert: I’m terrible). That said, I really love the idea behind the line-up Antlion Audio brings to the table with ModMic. Offering both Wireless and USB models, these are JUST mics that are able to work with your current gaming headset. So if you have a pair of headphones you love that doesn’t feature an attached mic, these will work with them, while still offering the convenience of a built-in setup.

Turtle Beach Recon 500 Wired Gaming Headset (Matt): No matter if I’m watching something on my laptop, listening to music, or playing my PS5 or Switch, I’m always wearing my Turtle Beach Recon 500s. With their powerful 60mm Eclipse Dual Drivers and AccuTune Wood Composite Ear Cups and memory foam ear cushions, every listening experience is an absolute treat. Plus, they may in fact be the most dependable gaming headset I’ve ever reviewed. It doesn’t have flashy lights, but it doesn’t need to with amazing sound quality to produces. I highly recommend the Turtle Beach Recon 500 Wired Gaming Headset.

Turtle Beach Recon Gaming Controller (Matt): In 2021, Turtle Beach branched out into the controller market with the debut of the Recon Gaming Controller. Made exclusively for Xbox, the controller has a comfortable grip and innovative technology to enhance any gaming headset with trademark Turtle Beach features like Superhuman Hearing and Bass/Treble Boost. It’s one of the better 3rd-party controllers out there and one that I exclusively use for PC games. If you have a loved one looking for a new controller for their Xbox or PC, the Turtle Beach Recon Gaming Controller makes for an excellent gift.

Star Wars Grogu Controller Holder (Jordan) – I’m a sucker for these character sculpted controller holders. While they may not be as practical for every day usage, they always look great and are perfect for display purposes. With my Star Wars gaming collection, this Grogu one sits perfectly on the shelf holding my special Star Wars-themed PS4 controller. There are several different characters to choose from (Deadpool, Master Chief, Darth Vader, etc), so no matter who you’re shopping for, these are excellent gift options.

ROCCAT Kone Pro Air (Matt): If you have a PC gamer at home looking to upgrade their mouse situation, I recommend the ROCCAT Kone Pro Air wireless gaming mouse. After testing it, I’ve found that along with its sleek, ergonomic design the Kone Pro Air has a really long battery life (I’ve maybe only charged it 3 times in the months I’ve used it) and a dependable response time. Plus, if a wired gaming mouse is more of your style, its wired counterpart the Kone Pro is also just as smooth and dependable. There are tons and tons of Gaming Mice out in the market today, but I have really loved my time with the ROCCAT Kone Pro & Air. Depending on the typical mouse use, your gamer may as well.

ROCCAT Pyro Gaming Keyboard (Matt): Continuing with the PC theme, ROCCAT also released a couple of new gaming keyboards in 2021. However, the one I’d recommend purchasing for your loved one is the Pyro. This mechanical keyboard features a subtle but effective lighting system and smooth/dependable keys that aren’t nearly as loud as its Vulcan predecessors. From my time with the Pyro, it appears as if ROCCAT spent a lot of time and effort to learn from the Vulcan and upgrade accordingly. The result is an uber-smooth, visually appealing, dependable gaming keyboard in the Pyro.

ROCCAT Torch Microphone (Matt): I’ve always been a big microphone buff. That’s weird to say, but I’ve always found the technology to be absolutely fascinating, stemming all the back to my career in radio. Nowadays, microphones need to capture and produce clear, crisp sound and be versatile. That’s exactly what ROCCAT developed in the Torch. It’s a studio-grade USB microphone capable of acting as a ribbon mic (perfect for podcasting/streaming), omnidirectional mic, and it even has a function to capture whisper-quiet sound. So, if you’re loved one is looking for a new microphone for their podcast, streaming, or recording session, this holiday season the ROCCAT Torch is worth a look.

Marsback Zephyr Pro Gaming Mouse (Matt): One piece of PC hardware that I didn’t see coming in 2021 was Marsback’s Zephyr Pro Gaming Mouse. While the design may be a bit small, the mouse itself is an absolute experience from the moment you open the box. You see, the Zephyr Pro has a built-in fan to cool your palm as you play. This is such a cool, unique feature. Furthermore, the Zephyr Pro has a brilliant lighting system. I walked away from the Zephyr Pro and so could your gamer this Holiday season.


It seems there are a whole lot of great gifts to choose from for the gamers on your shopping list. We hope this helps you find what you need!

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Editor-in-Chief: Writer and cartoonist who went to college for post-production, he now applies his love of drawing, movie analysis, filmmaking, video games, and martial arts into writing.