According to the Entertainment Software Association, 155 million people play video games and 51 percent of U.S. households own a dedicated game console. Video games have never been more popular, so chances are you'll be purchasing one (or more) for a family member this holiday.
But how do you buy something great without giving the surprise away? The Gazette's video game gift guide is here to help. With a little something for every type of player, the excellent titles listed here are sure to bring a smile to your loved ones' faces.
For hardcore gamers
- "Battlefield 1" (PC, PS4, Xbox One) -- The long- running Battlefield franchise jumps back in time and takes players on a journey through World War I. The solo campaign travels through France, Germany, Italy and even the Arabian peninsula with Lawrence of Arabia to take on foes. Multiplayer features six modes across nine huge maps. A beautiful game that's a ton of fun, this is a stunning first-person shooter.
- "Gears of War 4" (PC, Xbox One) -- Set on the planet of Sera, the "Gears of War" series follows the story of humanity's struggle against brutal and challenging foes. This latest edition to the franchise is set 25 years after the events of "Gears of War 3" and focuses on JD Fenix, son of series protagonist Marcus Fenix. Full of action and adventure, "Gears of War 4" has a variety of enjoyable co-op and multiplayer options. This is a great game to play solo or with friends.
- "Titanfall 2" (PC, PS4, Xbox One) -- Gamers take on the role of Jack Cooper, a pilot-in-training who's forced to take control of Titan BT-7274 (or BT for short) in the series' new and exciting single-player mode. The story develops a bond between man and machine that the original "Titanfall" lacked. With a solid single-player campaign, a robust multiplayer offering and free post launch maps, weapons and modes, there's always a lot to do in "Titanfall 2."
Other titles worth a hardcore gamer's time: "ReCore" (PC, Xbox One), "Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare" (PC, PS4, Xbox One), "Watch Dogs 2" (PC, PS4, Xbox One).
- Toy-to-life games -- This genre of games, where physical toys act as interactive game pieces, is popular with both kids and adults. The recently released "Skylanders: Imaginators" (PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One) allows for players to create their own characters. If you didn't jump into "Lego Dimensions" (PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One) when it was released last year, now would be a good time. The number of new packs available from a wide range of pop culture icons ("Ghostbusters," "Doctor Who," "The Simpsons") is impressive.
- Racing games -- "Forza Horizon 3" (PC, Xbox One) is an open-world racing game set in Australia. The action centers on the Horizon Festival, an automotive and music fest that has fans from all over the world take part in a celebration of racing competition and car culture. Think of Race Wars from the movie "Fast and the Furious," but in a much larger setting and without the nitrous oxide. This is the best racing game you can buy.
- Sports games -- Every sports season, a new wave of titles are released, but this year "FIFA 17" and "NBA 2K17" (PC, PS4, PS3, Xbox One, 360) stand out the most because of their storytelling components. In each title, players can take on the role of an up-and-coming athlete in engrossing and enjoyable narratives. These features add drama and emotion, leading to a more engaging gameplay experience.
Other titles casual gamers or families might enjoy: "NHL 17" (PS4, Xbox One), "Lego Marvel's Avengers" (PC, PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox One, 360), "Madden NFL 17" (PS3, PS4, Xbox One, 360).
More bang for your buck
- Compilations -- If you really want to impress your loved ones, buy them a compilation of great games. "Batman: Return to Arkham" (PS4, Xbox One), "Bioshock: The Collection" (PC, PS4, Xbox One) and "Destiny -- The Collection" (PS4, Xbox One) all have multiple games or expansions worth of content all in one package. The prices for these compilations are the same as a new game, but they're a great deal if someone has missed out on a series or wants to revisit something they've previously enjoyed.
- Discounted games -- Titles released this year, now available at a less expensive price, will also make your favorite gamer happy. "The Division" (PC, PS4, Xbox One), "Uncharted 4: A Thief's End" (PS4) and "Far Cry Primal" (PC, PS4, Xbox One) can be had for $30-$50 -- or maybe less if you find a good Black Friday deal.
- Everyone loves gift cards. All of the major consoles have gift cards available for purchase at several locations, with GameStop the most common. With these cards ($10 and up) gamers can buy all sorts of great downloadable titles. I highly recommend "Batman -- The Telltale Series" (Mac, PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox One, 360, iOS, Android), which is divided into five episodes that sell for $5 each.
Gazette media columnist Terry Terrones is a veteran video game journalist.
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This article was written by Terry Terrones from The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.