Here’s a look at a few of the best and brightest gift ideas for gamers.
What is it? A pair of premium wireless headphones
Gift group: PS4 and PC gamers looking for the best line of communication during multiplayer action
Santa’s scoop: Audio solution innovator for the last seven decades, Sennheiser enters the wireless gaming peripheral market with an enveloping pair of over-the-ear headphones.
Weighing in at less than a pound, the headset and attached boom microphone offer both 2.4 GHz radio (using the included dongle) and Bluetooth 5.0 wireless connectivity with roughly a 30-foot range.
Separate onboard volume wheels for chat and game audio allows for the perfect balance of low latency aural productivity, and the flexible attached microphone boom arm can also be lifted to easily mute the chat function.
Another welcomed feature is the 16 to 20 hours worth of battery life on a single charge (depending on using the Bluetooth connection or the dongle) that allows players to focus on the pure joy of gaming and not deal with tech hang-ups.
The onboard technology also includes a seven-minute quick charge to get an additional two hours of sound from the headset.
Equally impressive with this black beauty is the coziness of the design. The pillow-like, Memory Foam ear pads offer comfort for longer gaming sessions, and the padded top of the head brace equally supports combining for an external sound-dampening, passive noise cancellation experience.
For the PS4, a player uses the included dongle to plug right into the entertainment, and with the press of a button on the headsets connects instantly.
The dynamic neodymium magnet-enhanced speakers deliver a deep warm bass, solid mid tones and equally soaring highs especially when deep in explosive combat games or when listening to a game’s orchestral score.
Sennheiser’s Gaming Suite for the Windows operating system adds to the options with 7.1 surround sound, game audio presets, an equalizer and further microphone adjustments.
Suffice it to report, having the GSP 670 in one’s peripheral arsenal facilitates quick and efficient communication with squad mates and competitors and makes for one heck of a music-listening experience.
Additionally, with the onboard Bluetooth, players can connect to an external audio source such as a smartphone to make calls or listen to music while away form the action.
As far as games worth appreciating with the GSP 670, here’s a pair to consider as added stocking stuffers.
Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 (Ubisoft, rated M, $59.99) — A catastrophic pandemic started by an environmental terrorist sets the stage for a player to control a veteran agent from the Strategic Homeland Division tasked with restoring order back to Washington, D.C., and its surrounding neighborhoods in this open world, third-person, multiplayer shooter.
Developers offer a 1:1 scale version of the nation’s capital as up to four players use the White House as a headquarters and cooperatively go out on missions to retake strongholds and stop enemy factions such as the Hyenas and Black Tusks from consuming the city.
The massive, nearly limitless adventure, expanded with a steady stream of campaign updates, allows gamers to virtually roam through a devastated D.C. and admire landmarks such as the National Mall, Lincoln Memorial and Smithsonian Air and Space Museum nearly destroyed by catastrophic weather conditions.
Access to weapon customization and skill upgrades for the Agents such as using drones and seeker mines against enemies keeps the action fresh.
Equally enjoyable are the variety and abundance of main and side mission including retrieving the Declaration of Independence in the National Archives to rescuing Eleanor Sawyer, daughter of a settlement leader, at the Grand Washington Hotel.
The game also offers player-versus-player action through a Domination and Skirmish mode
Suffice it to report, not only will “The Division2” suck weeks of time from a player’s life, but having a responsive headset to communicate with squad mates will be crucial for success.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (Activision, rated M, $59.99) — The gold standard franchise in first-person shooters returns to allow players to revel in tactical, multiplayer firefights using massive weapons customization and in nearly two dozen maps set around the world.
Gamers can dive into more than a dozen online modes supporting those maps including kill-all, free-for-alls; capture the headquarters; a ground war with vehicles; and death matches that take solo warriors as well as up to 32-player teams into battle.
Maps can be as compact as feeling like playing in a back yard (Speedball) or as expansive as roaming through an old war-torn village backed by snowy mountains outside of Venskaya, Kastovia (Arkliv Peak).
Unfortunately, players do not get a zombie mode (reserved for the “Call of Duty: Black OPS” games) but rather a cooperative Special Ops mode where up to four players go on extended missions encompassing many locations from the history of the franchise and highlighted by exclusive Survival mode to the PS4 version of the game.
Warriors preferring not to go online will also be thrilled by a roughly 12-hour, 14-mission story campaign.
Specifically, a player assumes the role of numerous team members from the CIA and British Special Forces in stopping attacks from the terrorist group Al-Qatla while visiting such detailed locations of Verdansk, London and the fictional country of Urzikstan.
Just one mission finds a warrior in the midst of a too-realistic, explosive terrorist attack in the Piccadilly Circus area where not shooting and rescuing civilians is as critical as stopping the bad guys.
What is it? A heavy-duty video game controller for Xbox One entertainment systems
Price: Starting at $159.95
Gift group: Gamers looking for precise and customizable controls during their virtual adventures
Santa’s scoop: Scuf’s latest savior for gamers looking for a customizable and less weighty alternative to Xbox One’s Elite controller arrives in a stylish workhorse design offering wired and wireless action through Bluetooth connectivity.
Players will immediately appreciate the lithium-ion battery that offers roughly 30 hours of gameplay on a single charge; the textured, rubberized grips; sturdy bumpers and side triggers; and four paddles underneath that can be easily adjusted or remapped to 14 controller functions via an electromagnetic key,
Scuf also incorporates a modest amount of swappable options on the controller much like it PS4 compatible Vantage.
Specifically, a detachable magnetic faceplate allows quick access to change out the thumb sticks (an extra, different-sized set are included), and the paddles are always removable.
Further cosmetic design choices can occur at the point of purchase.
For example, the button array, bumpers, directional pad, triggers and thumb sticks and thumb stick rings come in multiple colors, including slick metallic finishes.
Faceplate options have increased with eight types of camo varieties that will makes owners feel like they are using a tactical device for a military operation or four eye-catching celestial designs (such as the electrified purple and red Star Storm) that will artistically fit nicely with sci-fi games.
Faceplate prices will add roughly $12.50 to $20 to the end price while color options for other parts of the controller will add up to $4.95 per price.
The base package includes a 10-foot, braided, heavy-duty cable to continue playing while charging.
Gift givers can also toss in the Prestige Player Pack ($19.95) that comes with a case, a tube of gamer’s grip and two short, concave thumb sticks.
Sure the price is steep, but considering a controller is the life’s blood of a serious gamer, the Scuf Prestige should make for quite the surprise Christmas morning.
As far as games worth appreciating, here’s one to consider well worthy of the Prestige.
Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order (Electronic Arts, rated M, $59.99) — By far one of the best “Star Wars” games unleashed in the past 15 years, this tour de Force adventure, takes place five years after “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.”
It has a solo player control former Padawan Cal Kestis (a voiced- and motion-captured Cameron Monaghan of “Gotham” fame), after nearly all of his Jedi brethren were wiped out after the Emperor unleashed Order 66.
Now on the run after being accidentally discovered, he is hunted by Imperial Inquisitors and all of the forces the Empire can muster, including shielded heavy-assault troopers and electrostaff purge troopers while visiting planets such as the outer rim’s Bogano, the Wookiee home world of Kashyyyk, salvage world of Bracca and the mountainous Zeffo.
Cal gets help from companion droid BD-1 who he can use with zip lines, to turn on electrical panels and administer health canisters when required.
Wielding a lightsaber and all the Force powers of a Jedi such as slowing down time and pushing enemies back from a distance, Cal embarks on a nearly futile journey to rebuild the Jedi Order.
Cinematic moments aligned with the “Star Wars” canon abound. Perhaps one of the finest is the Jedi controlling an AT-AT Walker on Kashyyyk to wipe out an Imperial garrison and running into unabashed freedom fighter Saw Gerrera (returning Forest Whitaker to the role).
Veteran players will find the roughly 25-hour campaign a challenge throughout (especially in the Grand Master difficulty setting) as it mixes the finest game mechanics of the third-person Dark Souls with the parkour and exploration seen in the Uncharted franchise.
What is it? A retro video game console
Gift group: Players who remember the days when “Altered Beast” ruled the gaming world
Santa’s scoop: The glory years of Sega’s dominance in the video game industry gets fondly remembered by developers M2 in this compact version of one of the most popular 16-bit entertainment consoles of all time.
Roughly half the size of the original, the device actually mimics its elder and even has a removable expansion slot, volume control and working slot for cartridges, all that will never be used.
Instead, the system comes with 42 preloaded games encompassing much of the history of the Genesis.
That translates into playing the original side-scrolling platforming classics such as “Sonic the Hedgehog,” “Castlevania: Bloodlines,” “Mickey Mouse’s Castle of Illusion” and “Earthworm Jim”; the coolest action games such as “Altered Beast,” “Ecco the Dolphin” and “Golden Axe”; the run-and-gun shooter Contra Hard Corps; and fighters such as “Virtua Fighter 2” and “Street Fighter 2.”
One disappointment is the serious lack of sports games. I was a big fan of Tommy Lasorda Baseball and Joe Montana Football. They are both conspicuously missing.
The action is still visually soaked in nostalgia with plenty of pixel edges on the 720p display, but the tech upgrades seals the ease of use and entertainment deal.
They include a main menu to select games by their original box art (including Japanese art), playing titles in widescreen or standard view, multiple saves options for each game (even stopping a game to save and go back to the main menu), wallpaper options to cover the black bars and original music from legendary gaming composer Yuzo Koshiro actually using the same YM2612 sound chip from the original Sega Genesis.
The package comes with two replica three-button USB Genesis controllers with directional pads (attached to 6 foot cables), one USB to Micro-B power cable, one power adapter and an HDMI cable.