Gaming

The Best Video Games To Play Over The Holidays

From George R. R. Martin’s involvement in Elden Ring to traversing the world of Stray as a cat with a backpack.

The cat in Stray running away from some enemies with its robot companion
BlueTwelve Studios

2022 has been a big year for games, and with people having time off over the holidays, now is a great time to catch up with some of the year’s best titles.

Over the past 12 months, two of PlayStation’s biggest franchises – Horizon and God of War – saw highly-anticipated sequels, while Game Freak found the time to release three major Pokémon titles. Games like Deathloop and Spider-Man: Miles Morales made a triumphant return for PC and Xbox, while indie developers produced some of the industry’s most inventive games where you can traverse landscapes as a cat or a red panda. And for those up for a challenge, Elden Ring took players on a journey battling terrifyingly fantastical creatures while exploring a world conjured up by George R. R. Martin.

Whether you want to share some of this year’s best games with your relatives or bow out of the Christmas drama for a little while, below are some of the best games to play this Christmas.

Pokémon Scarlet & Violet

The Pokémon Company

As the newest release and the first fully open-world game in the Pokémon franchise, Scarlet and Violet are a must to play this Christmas. With 107 new Pokémon to discover and the Spanish-inspired region of Paldea to explore, it’s hard not to want to play these games.

Despite a lot of bugs and glitches at release, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet have one of the most solid storylines in the game series to date. There are currently events running in-game throughout the holidays and rumours of DLC expansions coming sometime in 2023.

Pokémon Scarlet & Violet are available to play on Nintendo Switch.

God of War: Ragnarök

SIE Santa Monica Studio

Having won six awards at The Game Awards on Dec. 8 only a month after its release, God of War: Ragnarök has got everyone talking. In the sequel to 2018’s God of War, you play the demigod Kratos as he traverses the Nordic landscape with his son Atreus. The franchise has two different eras, with the latest being based on Norse mythology. This game occurs during the apocalyptic Norse event of Ragnarök when notable gods like Thor, Odin, and Loki die.

God of War: Ragnarök is available to play on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.

Stray

BlueTwelve Studio

Taking place in a distant future populated by AI robots, Stray sees you traverse the environment as a cat with a backpack (yes, seriously) as you explore a desolate city where humans are extinct, and only their servant robots, known as Companions, remain.

Part platformer, part adventure, your mission as the titular stray cat is to solve puzzles and complete quests. But you can also do cat things like napping, incessantly meowing, and nuzzling up to the Companions.

Stray is available to play on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Windows.

Aka

Namra Games

Aka should be your port of call if you need to take a little breather from extended family over the holidays. You play as a little red panda invited to live on a peaceful archipelago of four islands inspired by different parts of the world, inhabited by even more adorable animals, including a giant capybara.

Aside from exploring the islands, you can spend time gardening, constructing buildings, and taking on narrative quests and mini-games.

Aka is available to play on Nintendo Switch.

Elden Ring

FromSoftware

Brought to life by acclaimed video game director Hidetaka Miyazaki, Elden Ring is the ideal choice if you want a challenge this Christmas. Released in February 2022, Elden Ring is the spiritual successor to games like Dark Souls and Bloodbourne. Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin provided his fantasy expertise for the world-building of Elden Ring, giving the game an open world full of magic, horror, dragons, and other fantastically terrifying creatures and demigods.

Elden Ring is available to play on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.

Deathloop

Arkane Studios/Bethesda

Initially released in September 2021, Deathloop has recently been made available on Xbox, making now the perfect time to revisit the game. In this first-person shooter (FPS), you take on the role of an assassin called Colt who is stuck in a continuous time loop where he must kill eight “visionaries” before midnight. Deathloop is excellent as a multiplayer, too, where a pal can play as Juliana, an agent tasked with protecting the integrity of the time loop by killing Colt.

Deathloop is available to play on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Insomniac Games

Spider-Man: Miles Morales first came onto the scene in November 2020 as the launch title of the PlayStation 5. The game has reappeared just at the right time, now being made available for PC players this autumn.

Inspired by the comic book character and the 2018 animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, you’ll be able to reacquaint yourself with Miles Morales before the second film of the franchise, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, releases in June 2023.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales is available to play on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC.

Horizon Forbidden West & Zero Dawn

Guerilla Games

If you haven’t already played the Horizon games, now’s your opportunity to do so. In this post-apocalyptic future, you play Aloy, an outcast in a world overrun by massive machines that resemble animals. Zero Dawn, the first game in the franchise, came out in 2017, followed by Forbidden West in February 2022.

DLC for Horizon Forbidden West was announced at The Game Awards this December, which will take place in a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles. There’s also a spin-off VR game in the works called Call of the Mountain, where you take on the role of a different character.

Horizon Forbidden West & Zero Dawn are available to play on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.

Pokémon: Legends Arceus

The Pokémon Company

Released in January 2022, Pokémon: Legends Arceus is a complete spin on the Pokémon genre. A prequel to 2006’s Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, the game takes place in ancient Sinnoh, known then as the Hisui region. Reportedly inspired by “Japan’s Tokugawa Shogunate and Sengoku period”, you play as someone from the current day sent back in time by a mysterious force known as Arceus, a Pokémon said to have created all life in the Pokémon universe.

The franchise’s first foray into open-world mechanics, you’re tasked with completing the region’s first Pokédex as you encounter creatures across the vast wildlands of Hisui.

Pokémon: Legends Arceus is available to play on Nintendo Switch.