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2018 holiday video game buying guide

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Chances are you have at least one child, or adult, video game aficionado in your family. How do you buy them something great without giving the surprise away? Let The Gazette’s gaming gift guide point you in the right direction. With a little something for every type of gamer, the excellent titles listed here are sure to bring a smile to your loved ones’ faces.

For Hardcore gamers. If the person you’re shopping for eats, sleeps and breathes video games, these are the titles to buy.

“Red Dead Redemption 2” (PS4, Xbox One) — The most anticipated video game of the year, from Rockstar Games, is everything fans were hoping. You play as Arthur Morgan, an outlaw in 1899 when the Wild West is becoming more civilized but a cowboy still can get in trouble. Whether you choose to be an antihero or scoundrel is your decision.

“Call of Duty: Black Ops 4” (PC, PS4, Xbox One) — Activision gambled. It ditched this long-running series single-player campaign in favor of providing a deeper Zombies Mode experience and adding a Battle Royale mode. That gamble paid off, as “Black Ops 4” set a new launch-day record as the biggest day one digital release in company history. Hundreds of hours of online fun await.

“Marvel’s Spider-Man” (PS4) — It’s been eight years since a game was dedicated to everyone’s favorite wall crawler, but the wait was worth it. Made by Insomniac (“Spyro,” “Ratchet & Clank,” “Sunset Overdrive”), this new take on Spider-Man is a thrill with a variety of missions to take on and skills to master.

“Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey” (PC, PS4, Xbox One) — Welcome to ancient Greece. In this open world title, gamers can play as one of two characters, both Spartans, traveling about beautiful, rocky terrain while battling beasts, Athenians and pirates. A thrilling story reveals a play for power, but how you discover it is up to you. This massive game is like a giant Choose Your Own Adventure tale set in a fascinating ancient world.

Other titles worth a hardcore gamer’s time: “Shadow of the Tomb Raider” (PS4, Xbox One), “Hitman 2” (PC, PS4, Xbox One), “Battlefield V” (PS4, Xbox One, PC), “State of Decay 2” (PC, Xbox One), "Fallout 76" (PC, PS4, Xbox One)

Family Friendly Fun. Forget the latest Pixar flick, stay home and have some interactive family time.

“Starlink: Battle for Atlas” (PS4, Switch, Xbox One) — Explore stunning planets, fly through hazardous asteroids and experience exciting adventures. With touches of “Mass Effect” and “No Man’s Sky,” plenty of exploratory fun can be had in this title. And if you want to dive deep, a number of cool toys-to-life options enhance the experience.

“Forza Horizon 4” (PC, Xbox One) — This is not only the best racing game you can buy, but also one of the best games of the year. In this title, players drive all over jolly old England in a wide range of beautiful vehicles. Everything from Ferraris and McLarens to the Warthog from “Halo” is at your disposal, and they’re all a blast to drive in a stunning open world.

Sports Games — A new wave of titles is released every sports season, but this year’s highlights are “FIFA 19” (PC, PS3, PS4, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox 360) and “NHL 19” (PS4, Xbox One). I highly recommend “NHL 19,” as gamers can take the action to the open skies and play on outdoor ice rinks.

Other titles for casual gamers or families: “Sea of Thieves” (PC, Xbox One), “Super Mario Party” (Switch), “Just Dance 2019” (Wii, Wii U, Switch, PS4, Xbox 360 Xbox One), “Mario Tennis Aces” (Switch), "Spyro Reignited Trilogy" (PS4, Xbox One)

More bang for your buck. A number of alternatives for those on a budget.

Discounted games — Some titles released earlier this year are sure to make your favorite gamer happy. “Sea of Thieves” (PC, Xbox One), “Far Cry 5” (PC, PS4, Xbox One) and “Shadow of the Colossus” (PS4) can be had for $30 to $50 — or maybe less if you find a good Black Friday deal.

Everyone loves gift cards — All major consoles have gift cards available, especially GameStop. With these cards ($10 and up), gamers can buy all sorts of great downloadable titles or add-on content.

Xbox Game Pass — For $10 a month, the Xbox Game Pass offers subscribers more than 100 titles, including any exclusive to Xbox (“Forza Horizon 4,” “Sea of Thieves,” “State of Decay 2”) the day they come out. That’s a great deal.

Gazette Media Columnist Terry Terrones is a veteran video-game journalist. He has written for GamePro, PC World, GameZone and Official Xbox Magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @terryterrones.

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