Holiday gift guide for beginner gamers

Ideal holiday gift ideas for friends just getting started in the world of gaming.

Getting a friend into gaming is brilliant. Not only do you have someone to partner with in your Overwatch lobby or the latest co-op release, you’ve also got a newbie to stomp during Super Smash Bros. sessions. Win-win! But after one too many digital beatdowns, it’s about time you treated them right. Below, we've rounded up the best gifts for beginner gamers. Snag these and you’ll set them up to love the hobby even when they’re losing round after round to your glorious skills. One day, they might even surpass you.

Highlight entry games for their platform

Holiday gift guide for beginner gamers - the games
 

The first thing any newcomer to gaming needs is the titles that show just how brilliant our favorite hobby is. Don’t worry about picking the latest releases here – you’ve got an entire back catalog crammed with stellar titles to choose from. We’re focussing on games that aren’t just great, they’re also easy to get to grips with. Here are our picks for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, and Xbox games for our beginner gamers holiday gift guide.

Nintendo Switch

As you’d expect, Nintendo’s first-party titles are a brilliant bunch for both new and seasoned gamers, proving welcoming to all skill levels. Here are our picks to get your giftee started.

  • Super Mario Odyssey – World-hopping platforming with Mario generates joy that few other games can compete with.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – The best game on Switch is also pretty welcoming to fresh faces. It's a massive action-adventure in an inventive open world. For when they've bested that, the sequel Tears of the Kingdom builds and refines the original’s foundations.
  • Disney's Illusion Island –  An ideal entry point into the platforming and metroidvania genres for younger gamers. Combat-free co-operative exploration with Mickey and pals where you can hug each other to heal.
  • Super Mario Bros. Wonder – Co-operative 2D platforming packed with creative ideas. If they’re young or new to the format, playing as Yoshi or Nabbit will make them immune from enemy damage.
  • Stardew Valley – They can establish a farm and find the love of their leisurely life solo or start the pastoral venture in co-op with your seasoned guidance.
  • Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle – Enjoy light tactical combat without time pressure as Mario teams up with the Minion-esque Rabbids. If they love it, the sequel, Sparks of Hope, is a great followup for the future.

PlayStation

PlayStation exclusives like Spider-Man can prove tricky for newbies when it comes to combat. But remind your gift recipient that it’s totally fine to bump down the challenge to Story difficulty modes so they can get in on that web-slinging goodness.

  • Marvel’s Spider-Man – Let them feel like a superhero as they soar above Manhattan streets. Want something smaller? Miles Morales is a smaller spinoff to enjoy before the main games.
  • Untitled Goose Game – Unleash their inner mischief as a naughty goose in a small village. You can even join in thanks to the co-op mode!
  • Overcooked: All You Can Eat – Two-button controls make this co-op kitchen rush a stellar (if often shouty) teamwork test for gaming beginners.
  • Dredge – Unsettling otherworldly atmosphere packed in a satisfying fishing sim. If your giftee is a fan of horror, this is a chance to enjoy the genre in a game without jump scares and challenging inputs.
  • Stray – A chance to purrfect their platforming as they guide an adorable cat through a neon world of friendly robots. Includes a dedicated meow button!

Xbox

Before you buy any of the titles below, we’d highly recommend considering a Game Pass subscription for the new Xbox player in your life (see below for more details). But if you’re certain you want to grab a game or two, here are some great picks.

  • Forza Horizon 5 – Arcadey racing controls slapped on an absolutely stunning recreation Mexico. As fun and free as racers come. Prefer English scenery to Mexican vistas? Consider picking up the previous entry, Forza Horizon 4, instead.
  • Halo Infinite – Master Chief’s latest outing opens up the world to let them explore at their own pace, and you can even join them in coop! Halo games are very welcoming as shooters go, making this a solid starting point. Plus, you’ll prepare them for joining you in multiplayer.
  • Sea of Thieves – Set sail and hunt treasures together in online co-op with Rare’s popular path into the pirate life.
  • Life is Strange: True Colors – Emotionally charged narratives play out in a small Colorado town. Great for those who enjoy life drama with a twist of the supernatural.
  • It Takes Two – Team up in this inventive co-op platformer that’ll take them on a tour of gaming genres. Some tasks will challenge newcomers, so make sure you're on hand to help out when they need it!
  • Unpacking – Organize items into pixel-art rooms over the course of someone's life. The ideal mindfulness game.
  • Starfield – An expansive sci-fi RPG that'll let them live out their futuristic fantasies. Lower the difficulty, guide them through character creation, then let them loose on the galaxy.

A quality headset

Holiday gift guide for beginner gamers
 
© HyperX

One essential thing that everyone in the gaming space needs is a decent headset. It’s the best way to appreciate a game’s sound design – especially if it supports 3D audio. But on top of that, a good headset will let your recipient chat comfortably with friends online, and keep their house quiet when gaming late at night. 

HyperX has a wide range of headsets and earbuds available that’ll see your gift target covered no matter what system they game on or the budget you’re aiming for. Have they picked up a Switch? Consider the Cloud Earbuds II for top-notch audio while on the go.

For PS5 owners, the Cloud Stinger 2 Core is a fantastic entry-level headset which will serve up high-quality audio easily adjusted with on-cup controls. It also comes with noise-cancelling microphone for onine gaming. When in-person conversations are needed, the swivel-to-mute mic will ensure they aren't transmitted to everyone on the web. Xbox owners will want to get the CloudX Stinger 2 Core instead.

A PS Plus or Game Pass subscription

Holiday gift guide for beginner gamers game pass subscription
 
© Microsoft

In the modern age of gaming, subscription services are just as good if not better than buying games outright. If your giftee is getting started on Xbox, there’s little you can give them greater than the gift of Game Pass. Microsoft’s subscription service is a ridiculous deal right now, allowing access to more than a hundred titles. Those include Microsoft releases like Halo Infinite and Starfield as well as a huge back catalog of first and third party titles. It’s an absurdly good deal that’s currently unrivaled in gaming. 

PlayStation also has it's own subscription service, though the varying tiers can make this a confusing buy. Grabbing just a basic 12-Month PS Plus Essential subscription will let them play online for a year. Though it's worth noting that free-to-play titles like Fortnite don't require a subscription to enjoy online.

Better, however, is a subscription to PS Plus Extra, which opens up a massive library of games new and old for them to try. Bear in mind though that you'll have to help them sign up from the PlayStation Store. You'll need to spend some time scanning the library to pick out great starting points (or look for our suggestions above).

The Nintendo Switch’s online service is a less appealing, though far cheaper option. The base subscription grants access to online play and a selection of SNES games. Fork out for the pricier Switch Online + Expansion Pack you'll also bundle in some N64 and Sega Mega Drive titles. In addition, the Expansion Pack includes DLC like the ongoing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass and Animal Crossing: New Horizons Happy Home Paradise expansion.

Must-have accessories

holiday gift guide for beginner gamers controllers accessories
 
© Nintendo

Finally, that little something extra. Every console will work out of the box, but you can improve your gift target’s game life significantly by grabbing a few extras like these.

Controllers and charging stations

Where the PlayStation and Xbox are concerned, a new controller should be your first port of all. It’ll save any hassle when batteries on one run low, and opens up the option of local co-op. For Xbox and PC players, A HyperX Clutch Gladiate will give them extra features like dual rumble motors, dual trigger locks, and programmable back buttons. All of which will be helpful as they grow more accustomed to our fave hobby. Also consider a ChargePlay Duo docking station for PS5 or Xbox to make sure any player two is always ready to join in the fun as well

chargeplay quad 2 holiday gift guide for beginner gamers
 
© HyperX

For the Nintendo Switch, accessories become all the more important. A Switch Pro Controller is a huge step up from the standard Joy-Cons when gaming alone. Getting one as a gift will make games like Breath of the Wild or Mario Odyssey all the more enjoyable. For multiplayer group sessions, a ChargePlay Quad 2 controller docking station is a fantastic addition. It can store and power up to four Joy-Con controllers at the same time. LED indicators show when the controllers are charged and ready for use, meaning no-one has to miss out on the action.

A travel case is also a must. There are a huge number of styles available, so pick a design you know your target will love. Finally, Ring Fit Adventure is a superb fitness game for the Nintendo Switch which packs its own controller accessory. Just make sure the person you're buying for wouldn't be insulted by you grabbing them a fitness game!

Storage space

For a Nintendo Switch owner, buying extra storage space is as simple as shopping for a new microSDXC card. The Switch’s internal memory isn’t huge, so we’d highly recommend an extra one as a gift.

For PlayStation and Xbox, however, things get trickier. The PS5 only supports specific M.2 storage that has to be manually installed, making it a massive pain for newcomers. The Xbox Series X and S are more straightforward, offering official Seagate expansion cards that slot into the machine. The trouble is, they’re really, really expensive. 

If your beginner gamer is rocking an Xbox One or PS4, though, you’re in luck. Grabbing them a 1TB external SSD will ensure they’ve got plenty of game room for the years ahead, and that they can load from it quickly. External hard drives are a far more affordable option, though the loading speeds will suffer as a result.


If you’re after more holiday gift guides for gamers, take a look at our full PS5 present and Xbox Series X gift roundups for more ideas! Visit our gift guide hub for more suggestions including music and food-themed gaming gifts.

Associate Editor

Henry Stenhouse serves an eternal punishment as the Associate Editor of AllGamers. He spent his younger life studying the laws of physics, even going so far as to complete a PhD in the subject before video games stole his soul. Confess your love of Super Smash Bros. via email at henry@moonrock.biz, or catch him on Twitter.

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