2014 Holiday Gaming Must-Haves - Gaming Thoughts

Over the last few months I have been wanting to put together a holiday have-to-have guide for gamers that would cover various items and games that we have covered (or, maybe we had been interested in). This is more of a list of things that I, as a gamer, would want to see in every gamer's hands or on their desks. It is less of a "Best of 2014" article and more of a "you should certainly pick this up this holiday season" article. While some of the things here may come up in a top ten list or something of the like, there is no rhyme or reason to this article other than my personal thoughts on some of this years best, or underrated, games, peripherals, or consoles. Without further ado, here are my list of things that gamers all over should look into picking up. I will apologize up front for the sheer number of links that I will be assaulting your eyeballs with, but if you know what is good for you, you will visit (and try) each and every one of them.

I will start off with a few PC gaming-related pieces as I happen to be a bit of a fan of PC gaming. While I was lucky enough to review a large number of different peripherals and systems, the ones that stuck out the most are the SteelSeries Siberia Elite Anniversary Edition (see: http://www.chalgyr.com/2014/07/steelseries-siberia-elite-hardware.html). While it is the priciest of the various headsets, the Anniversary Edition Siberia Elite is worth every penny and more. With passive noise canceling (due to marshmallow-like ear cups), some of the best neodymium speaker magnets money can buy, and a connector for nearly any type of connection under the sun, these Siberia Elites are without a doubt, perfect. Head on over to SteelSeries website for more information: http://steelseries.com/us/products/audio/steelseries-siberia-elite-anniversary-edition

As the Siberia Elite's are certainly a hefty chunk that pays for itself in the first five minutes of ownership, for the more budget-minded PC gamer I cannot help but urge you to pick up the Kingston HyperX Cloud headset (see: http://www.chalgyr.com/2014/10/kingston-hyperx-cloud-gaming-headset.html). At nearly a third of the cost of the Siberia Elite, the Cloud is nearly as nice regardless of the fact that it is not USB-based, the passive noise canceling capabilities of the HyperX Cloud even to this day, blow my mind. I use the HyperX Cloud primarily for my Vita and Kindle as the audio that is reproduced is clean, full of rich bass, and above all, the physical build quality is top-notch; I can rest easy with the Cloud headset, knowing that such a wonderful headset has the staying power and build quality to match any multi-hundred dollar headset. Head on over to Kingston's HyperX Cloud site to pick one up for yourself: http://www.kingston.com/us/hyperx/cloud

One of the most surprising devices I was able to review this year was the Excalibur backlit mechanical gaming keyboard by Tesoro (see: http://www.chalgyr.com/2014/11/tesoro-excalibur-g7nl-led-backlit.html). The unassuming design of this little workhorse in no way belittles the pleasing clickity-clack of the keys as you press them. While it may annoy your roommate, co-worker, or neighbor within a 15-foot radius of your desk, the Excalibur is pure joy in typing form and the icing on the cake? It is a sub-$100 mechanical keyboard, something that is still hard to find, regardless of the mechanical keyboard's sudden reemergence in the gaming community. Paired with intuitive and easy-to-use macro software, the Excalibur is a diamond in the rough and something that any gaming (or computer user in general) should pick up. Head on over to Tesoro's newly revamped website to see more: http://tesorotec.com/excalibur/

The final PC-related peripheral that I would like to give some props to is not one that is easily achieved given the price. Coming in at a hair under $600 USD, the Samsung U28UD590 Ultra High Definition Monitor (read: 4K) is an absolute must-have and you can read my review of it at: http://www.chalgyr.com/2014/11/samsung-u28ud590d-4k-ultra-high.html In a time where other manufacturer's are still making $700+ USD 4K monitors, one of the leading panel manufacturers in the world lends its immense weight behind an affordable 4K monitor that is, without a doubt, one of the most attractive monitors on the planet. Gorgeous lines, amazing color reproduction, and absolutely no ghosting in fast-paced gameplay, the UD590 is a stunning display that will have your friends and neighbors dripping with envy. Head on over to Samsung's site to read up more: http://www.samsung.com/levant/consumer/computers-peripherals/monitors/led-monitor/LU28D590DS/ZN

I could honestly go on for days about some of the titles that I would recommend for the PC, given there are just so many good ones I will try to be brief, otherwise this will turn into a 10,000 word article and it would bore you all out of your minds. My top pick would certainly be Dark Souls 2 (see: http://www.chalgyr.com/2014/07/dark-souls-ii-pc-review.html ) which is a game that gently coaxed me back into the brutal action-RPG genre that its predecessors started (then it thoroughly pounded me into submission) all the while retaining the dark and brooding atmosphere, challenging gameplay, interesting story and excellent dungeon spelunking of games dating back to the original Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy titles. Here is a bit of a spoiler: Dark Souls 2 is, without a doubt, my 2014 Game of the Year nominee; seriously, it is that good. Buy it. Buy it right now.

In addition to Dark Souls 2, I strongly recommend picking up Distant Worlds: Universe (see: http://www.chalgyr.com/2014/07/distant-worlds-universe-pc-review.html), as it hits all of the right buttons for space-faring 4X strategy goodness. For the more fantasy-oriented strategy fan one can only recommend Amplitude Studio's Endless Legend (see: http://www.chalgyr.com/2014/10/endless-legend-pc-review.html) or King's Bounty: Dark Side (see: http://www.chalgyr.com/2014/07/kings-bounty-dark-side-pc-preview.html). Those of you who are more interested in fast-paced game play should look no further than titles like The Red Solstice (see: http://www.chalgyr.com/2014/07/the-red-solstice-pc-preview.html) and X: Rebirth 2.0 (see: http://www.chalgyr.com/2014/09/x-rebirth-pc-review.html). For those gamers out there that want to record their montages and goofy gameplay videos, the ever popular godfather of game recording, Fraps, is the absolute way to go (see: http://www.chalgyr.com/2014/11/fraps-pc-review.html). Sure, there are free options out there but nothing beats out a longstanding history of excellent software, a solid reputation, and a huge user base that is  There are plenty of other titles that I could recommend, but these were the ones that I feel should get even more attention; they are all solid titles that may not have been given the time of day or those that were swept under the rug by other, larger releases.

As I said, I could spend forever on just the PC which would turn this article into a list of great PC titles and hardware, which is not the focus. The following items will be a grouping of all of the consoles, from the PlayStation Vita to the Nintendo 3DS to the latest generation of consoles.

While we have tons of content, both games and peripherals alike, it is difficult to pick out the "Must Haves" for this holiday season, but when I spend a bit of time reflecting back, the biggest peripherals that come to mind are the 2X Charging Station for the Xbox One (see: http://www.chalgyr.com/2014/11/energizer-2x-charging-system-for-xbox.html) as it will literally pay for itself within a few days of ownership. Never again will I have to worry about pilfering batteries out of my daughter's toys to be able to fuel my gaming habits. On top of the Charging Station there is the, as yet reviewed, Karga Xbox One Headset by PDP which wipes the floor with the majority of the headsets currently available for the Xbox One; especially at a price that is much lower than competitors (see: http://www.pdp.com/Afterglow-Karga-Headset/dp/B00O9FMOGA#.VH3oYcnAlLM ) as well as the Kral PlayStation 4 headset (also by PDP), which you can see at the following link, Chris thoroughly enjoyed: http://www.chalgyr.com/2014/11/afterglow-kral-ps4-wireless-headset.html.

For those of you out there with an Xbox One and are pretty big into shooters like Destiny, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, or Halo: The Master Chief selection, I strongly recommend you save up some pennies and pick up the stunningly fantastic Modded XBox One Controller by Evil Controllers (see: http://www.chalgyr.com/2014/11/xbox-one-modded-controller-steel-by.html). Some gamers may complain that it is cheating, but really it is more about how YOU enjoy the experience, not how they think you are cheating (try going 22 - 2 in any Call of Duty match and see how many people will scream you are a cheater ...).

Hardware is fun and all, but let's face it; we do not sit down at our shiny Xbox Ones just to hold a really nice controller. We sit down at our Xbox Ones (or preferred consoles) to play games. Here are a list of the titles that really should be a part of every gamer's library. Now, I will try to include all consoles, but some, like the Nintendo Wii U, have only a few that I feel absolutely must be had though likely you feel the same way (such as Smash Bros., Bayonetta 2, and Mario Kart 8); given the spread of games is not as wide, I will likely omit the Wii U, not because it does not have the library to back it up, but because most of the titles released are ones that you will already pick up.

For the Xbox One I strongly recommend picking up Forza Motorsports 5 (see: http://www.chalgyr.com/2014/07/forza-motorsport-5-racing-game-of-year.html) as it will literally blow your mind. Some of the most impressive tracks and car models you will find in a video game live in Forza Motorsports 5 and should be enjoyed by all. A less popular title, Lords of the Fallen (which we reviewed for the PC but it also released for the Xbox One: http://www.chalgyr.com/2014/11/lords-of-fallen-pc-review.html) is actually a break-away guilty pleasure being an excellent title with challenging combat, gorgeous graphics, and an interesting world. Not quite as good as Dark Souls 2, but still a worthy title by CI Games. Another title that did not get nearly enough love is Styx: Master of Shadows (see: http://www.chalgyr.com/2014/10/styx-master-of-shadows-xbox-one-review.html) as it casts you in the roll of a grotesque anti-hero where the puzzles are "alive" and as a thieving little goblin, it is up to you to sneak through challenging puzzles and turning the shadows into your allies. A truly wonderful game that everyone should try out before year's end.

With the console wars raging on, the PlayStation 4 has had a number of excellent releases, though not all of them exclusives. First and foremost the absolute must-have for the PS4 would definitely be Samurai Warriors 4, a title that Pierre-Yves reviewed not long ago that, to this day, is our highest-ranked PlayStation 4 title (see: http://www.chalgyr.com/2014/10/samurai-warriors-4-ps4-review.html). In addition to Samurai Warriors 4, you should definitely head out to your local video game retailer to pick up Middle Earth: Shadow of Morder (see: http://www.chalgyr.com/2014/10/middle-earth-shadow-of-mordor-ps4-review.html) as well as Rogue Legacy (see: http://www.chalgyr.com/2014/08/rogue-legacy-ps4-review.html). Now, that is not to say other titles like The Last of Us - Remastered and inFamous: Second Son should not be played, as they certainly should be, but Samurai Warriors 4 and Rogue Legacy certainly need to go through and get a bit more play time given how good they were.

The Nintendo 3DS has long been the go-to console for gaming on the go and but this year the only real must-have title that I personally came across was Bravely Default (see: http://www.chalgyr.com/2014/03/bravely-default-nintendo-3ds-review.html). Sure there are others, like Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, the newly remastered Pokemon games, and Fantasy Life, but Bravely Default (which is getting a follow-up in 2015) proved to JRPG super-giant, Square Enix, that those of us in the West are not only willing to pay real money for quality JRPGs, but that we actually REALLY like them. Hopefully this signals a change in Square Enix's less wonderful business practices and sees more high-quality JRPGs come to the West. One can hope, right?

Ah, the PlayStation Vita. My EiC, Nick had been hounding me for about a billion years that I needed to pick up a Vita. I searched and dug and hunted and pecked and searched some more but could not find one. The local Best Buy had been sold out for months, they were going for near on $400 on Amazon (do not get me started on Ebay prices...) and nobody in my area was looking to offload their Vita. Eventually I got my hands on one and, well, I can say that my life has improved tenfold. I strongly recommend that you go out, right now, and buy a Vita. If you have one already, good, if not, get on the bandwagon. Titles like Tales of Hearts R (see: http://www.chalgyr.com/2014/11/tales-of-hearts-r-ps-vita-review.html), Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair (see: http://www.chalgyr.com/2014/09/danganronpa-2-goodbye-despair-vita.html) and Disgaea 4: Promise Revisited (see: http://www.chalgyr.com/2014/08/disgaea-4-promise-revisited-vita-review.html) all justify the cost. Now, the Vita has been an undermarketed marvel that Sony has always treated like the rebellious step-child that nobody understood, yet when you take the time to get to know the Vita the entire library is stunning. A gorgeous display shows off all of the goodness that is the power of that tiny little handheld device. Seriously, do yourself a favor and buy it.

Naturally there are dozens, if not hundreds of titles I did not include here, but truthfully I do not have the time nor the space to list them all. These are just a few of the top picks and titles that I feel really needed exposure given how good they were. Some of you will have other thoughts, some may agree, and I encourage your feedback; what particular titles are you looking to pick up this holiday season? What must-haves would you like to share with with us?

Article by Robert
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