Dragon Age: Inquisition
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360
Recommended by Jason Enright
The Dragon Age series, or as I like to call it: the Game of Thrones of video games, delivers political intrigue, tons of magical RPG action, and some of the best story and voice acting in the games business. The newest game, Dragon Age: Inquisition, seeks to take everything the series is known for and amp it up to 11. The story puts you in the role of the Inquisitor, a commander in charge of a military force that has been commissioned to bring peace to the land and stop a demonic invasion from the realm of spirits called the Fade. As the Inquisitor, players will have to broker political alliances, gather allies and resources to build their army, and lead dangerous missions to stop the invading horde. Inquisition includes a diverse cast of heroes, the potential for romantic relationships to enhance the deeply moving story, and a new cooperative multiplayer mode to enjoy with friends. It is BioWare’s most ambitious RPG to date.
Recommended for gamers who love a deep, intriguing story, lots of customization and upgradeable characters, bases, and gear, and people who love deception, intrigue, and politics mixed in with their dragon slaying. Dragon Age: Inquisition asks the question, “Every great war has its heroes. What kind will you be?”
Dragon Age: Inquisition is available as a standard edition for $59.99 or a deluxe edition for $69.99 that includes a digital download of the soundtrack, new and unique in-game mounts, and other special bonus digital content. Inquisition can be purchased at the Dragon Age website or wherever games are sold.
Lords of the Fallen
Developer: Deck13 Interactive
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Recommended by Sean Foster
If you go into Lords of the Fallen expecting Dark Souls, you're gonna have a bad time. While the games have similar graphical styles and gameplay, Lords of the Fallen is not nearly as brutal, but that doesn't mean it's not fun. Once I stopped comparing it to the Souls series, I had a better time. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the world Lords had to offer, more than I did fighting the boss battles and trying to get my multiplier up as high as possible for XP. I give the developers credit for trying to bring something new to the table and hope that Lords of the Fallen opens the door for more games in the future that embrace the difficulty and fun of the Souls series.
Super Smash Bros Wii U/3DS
Developer: Sora Ltd. and Bandai Namco
Games Platforms: Wii U, Nintendo 3DS
Recommended by Joshua Desjardins
One of the BEST new games of the year is here, and it’s available to play on both Nintendo 3DS and Wii U (available November 21st). Super Smash Bros. is the perfect game to battle against friends with some of your favorite Nintendo characters, from Mario and Luigi to Link and Princess Zelda. Play as Pikachu and Kirby, along with your own Mii character! Complete challenges to earn special moves and costumes for the characters you like to play with most. You can even use your own Nintendo amiibo figurine (also new this holiday season) and build unique stats for your favorite fighters. Whether you play solo against a computer or settle a bet between besties, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS is sure to be an epic battle between the entire family!
The Walking Dead: Season 2
Developer: Telltale Games
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation Vita, Ouya, iOS, Android
Recommended by Kristine Chester
I have a daughter.
Well, sort of.
You see, we're not related for one and two she's a video game character living through the zombie apocalypse.
But, that doesn't change the fact that Clementine is family. After protecting her and teaching her how to take care of herself in Season 1 of Telltale's The Walking Dead, I didn't think Telltale Games could continue to tug at my heartstrings, but they did. Oh, how they did. In Season 2, players take control of Clementine, an 11-year-old girl trying to survive the zombie apocalypse. There is no Rick, Michonne, or Daryl in her story; it's completely separate from the comics and the TV show. The thing about The Walking Dead world is, it's very different when you're a little kid where everything is bigger, stronger, and more experienced than you. Oh, and everything wants you dead.
At the core of Telltale's games are choices. As Clementine, you make dozens of impossible choices that determine who lives and who dies and shapes the course of the story and your gameplay. A character you might save in Episode 1 could completely change your experience compared to someone who lost that character right off the bat.
The Walking Dead: Seasons 1 and 2 are must-play games for any geek and are available on almost all platforms, so no need to drop hundreds of dollars on a console or a PC upgrade to play.
WARNING: Giving this as a gift may result in not seeing your loved one for the next 10 hours as they binge play this game, unable to peel their eyes from the screen, and leave them rambling about having digital daughters afterwards. Our recommendation on tackling this issue is to join them for the experience.
Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Recommended by Erik Cheski
They fixed it! The rule of 4th edition is over!!! Not that I stopped playing 3.5 anyway, but Wizards of the Coast got it right with a great upgrade to the mechanics and a streamlined approach to character development and combat. Anyone with 3” pewter figurines needs to get this for being a good goblin or tiefling all year. With a streamlined combat system, your party members can focus on being a roleplayer more than a roll player, and it seems to address other functionality that I’ve been missing in recent sessions, as well. A great way to get new blood into the game, as well, as the character builds feel like something akin to WoW getting set up. I haven’t been this stoked at how a book talks to you since 2nd edition; it’s truly setting the world (that’s full of ways to kill you) at your feet.
Ghostbusters RPG Starter Kit
Publisher: The Nerdy Show
Recommended by Kristine Chester
One of my favorite new RPGs of the year is, in fact, an old one. A really old one. Originally published in 1986, the Ghostbusters RPG is a beautifully simple d6 (six-sided dice) based system that perfectly captures the feeling of the 1984 film. Players run their own Ghostbusters franchise, with all of the property damage, comedy, and unwanted attention from the EPA that garners.
In time for the 30th anniversary, the folks over at The Nerdy Show resurrected the Ghostbusters RPG. The Nerdy Show's GB RPG hub provides rule books and resources for the game for free, as well as their highly entertaining and appropriately named podcast, Ghostbusters: Resurrection proves to be a great tool for learning the rules and hearing how another GM runs his table.
But, there are two unique elements to the game that you really must have to complete your GB RPG experience. The ghost die is a d6 with the famous Ghostbusters logo in place of the 6 that causes hijinks to occur whenever a ghost is rolled as part of a dice pool roll. While any symboled or unique six sider could suffice, there is something special about seeing that ghost logo pop up at the worst possible times for your paranormal exterminators. The other are equipment cards that represent what gear a ghostbuster is carrying at any given moment. Nerdy Show's Starter Kit provides both a deck of 50 equipment cards, all the gear you could need for a team of 5 Ghostbusters and a ghost die for your table all for $10. With the option to upgrade to a Franchise Kit that includes cool, nerdy perks like a certificate for your franchise, and the option to purchase additional ghost dice, everything you need to make your division of ghostbusters really shine.
Nerdy's Show's courteous and efficient staff are online 24 hours a day to serve all your supernatural elimination RPG needs. They're ready to believe you!
Board & Card Games
Adventure Time Card Wars
Publisher: Cryptozoic Entertainment
Recommended by Erik Cheski
What time is it? Time for Jake’s favorite collectible card game, that’s what! Three different packs await fans of the show and gamers alike: Finn vs. Jake; BMO vs. Lady Rainicorn; and Princess Bubblegum vs. Lumpy Space Princess. Will you be the Cool Guy or the Dweeb? It’s like an internationally known game whose name can’t be used without copyright issues that shares a title with prestidigitation but through the sideways lens of Adventure Time. I can’t wait to pit my Husker Knights against the Pig! Seriously, this game is so totally math, and I can’t wait to get my hands on all three sets. Come play with me!!
Munchkin Adventure Time
Publisher: Steve Jackson Games
Recommended by Erik Cheski
Didn’t we just do this? NO, let’s go and fight things because why! It’s the fun, beat-em-up classic with a twist of Ooo. I can’t count how many hours I’ve spent kicking down doors and looting the lootfaces, and now I can do it in the Candy Kingdom?! Squee!! Wail on characters from the show using OTHER CHARACTERS FROM THE SHOW! Fight stuff' cause it shows up. It’s like your own private infinity train! Just know when to hop off and do the dishes. (Quick answer: NEVER, haha!) As always, you can add this pack to any and all other Munchkin sets you own, and it’s a fun way to get a novice to jump in! It’s a great way to cap an epic tabletop adventure or just a really good way to kill an afternoon full of monsters. I promise, I’ll play this with you, too!