Best Gaming Gifts for the Holiday Season 2023 [Guide]
It’s that wonderful time of year once more. As Black Friday and the holiday approaching, Canadians from coast to coast hurry to find that perfect gift to give. From new consoles, to games, accessories, and peripherals, knowing what’s out there can be overwhelming at times.
iPhone in Canada has put together an extensive list of this year’s best devices, software, and other novel pieces of tech to consider. Let’s jump on in and discover many varying options for Black Friday and the holidays.
‘Carbon Black’ Xbox Series S
This year, Microsoft released the new ‘Carbon Black’ Xbox Series S. Maintaining the all-digital design, the new model offers a colourway that matches the Xbox Series X. It supports the same 1440p resolution at a maximum of 120fps and HDR as the ‘Robot White’ model. The Series S also supports Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision. Leveraging the Xbox Velocity architecture, this model also offers Smart Delivery, Quick Resume, and more across new-gen consoles and many backwards-compatible titles.
The biggest improvement made is the 1TB SSD storage. This is a substantial upgrade from the 512GB the base model includes. Players also gain access to the Carbon Black Xbox Wireless Controller, matching the console’s design. Paired with Xbox Game Pass, the Xbox Series S is often looked at as an approachable entry point into the Xbox ecosystem.
WD_BLACK C50 Expansion Card for Xbox
Whether playing on the Xbox Series X or Series S, storage of course is always a concern as games are only getting bigger. WD_Black has partnered with Microsoft to develop a storage option that works with Xbox Velocity Architecture. Starting with 512GB, the C50 Expansion Card delivers the same performance as the internal SSD storage.
Once slotted into the back of the console, all games installed on the card are able to support Quick Resume and Smart Delivery features. This officially licensed option removes the need to move games from an external hard drive or uninstall games to make room on the internal SSD.
Xbox Game Pass
Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass subscription service continues to expand its catalogue each month. Subscribers not only gain access to online services, cloud saves, and more but can jump into over 100 titles. This includes all first-party Xbox Games Studios games, Bethesda Softworks titles, and more.
Xbox Game Pass offers access to high-profile titles such as Halo Infinite, Starfield, Minecraft, Forza Horizon 5, Sea of Thieves and many other games. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate offers all the aforementioned perks alongside cloud gaming benefits across console, PC, mobile, and tablets for a premium monthly cost.
Sony’s PlayStation 5 is a great option this holiday season. The console supports 4K resolutions at up to 120fps with HDR. PlayStation 5 is available in both the standard edition with a disc drive and a Digital Edition, which lacks support for discs. PlayStation 5 also includes the DualSense controller, adding haptic feedback and adaptive trigger support.
This season, Sony is launching the new ‘Slim’ models for the PlayStation 5. Releasing in both the standard and Digital Edition, the PlayStation 5 Slim reduces each model by 18 and 24 percent, respectively. Additionally, the new models offer 1TB of SSD storage, up from the previous 825GB. While debuting in the U.S., the standard PS5 Slim will be available for $649 CAD while the Digital Edition will be available for $519 in Canada.
This year saw the release of PlayStation VR2, the successor to Sony’s inventive VR headset. PlayStation VR2 iterates and improves nearly every aspect, delivering 2000 x 2040 HDR display resolutions, eye tracking and 3D audio support. In addition to the headset, PlayStation VR2 also introduces the new Sense controllers, which feature adaptive triggers and haptics, similar to the DualSense controller.
PlayStation VR2 provides access to a growing catalogue of games, including the marquee first-party title Horizon Call of the Mountain. Additional games include the Resident Evil Village VR mode, Gran Turismo 7, Tetris Effect, and Firewall Ultra.
Sony’s PlayStation Portal is a dedicated “remote player” handheld device. Featuring an 8-inch LCD display, the PlayStation Portal is capable of playing games from a PlayStation 5 console the device. It offers 1080p resolution at up to 60fps. It also offers the same haptic and adaptive trigger technology as the DualSense.
Note that the device only works on Wi-Fi. It is a streaming-only device. Players should be aware that they cannot install games on the device. However, any non-VR title installed on their PlayStation 5 can be streamed. This makes for a great companion device for playing titles like Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, Final Fantasy XVI, or Resident Evil 4.
Available for $269.99 on Best Buy Canada (Available November 15th, 2023)
Asus ROG Ally
For a dedicated Windows-based gaming handheld, the Asus ROG Ally is one to consider. Powered by AMD’s Ryzen Z1 Extreme on Zen4 architecture and Windows 11, players get an authentic gaming PC experience in their hands. The ROG Ally also features AMD Radeon RDNA 3 GPU and 16GB LPDDR5 6400 RAM.
Connect platforms such as Steam, Xbox Game Pass, the Epic Launcher, and more to play PC and console games on the device’s 7-inch 1080p display at 120Hz. Built-in is a 512 NVMe PCIe 4 M.2 SSD, giving ample space to install the latest games. However, players can upgrade and install an M.2 SSD or insert a MicroSD card for more storage. The device offers three modes, ‘Turbo’, ‘Performance’, and ‘Silent’ with up to four hours of battery life, depending on the mode.
Lenovo Legion Go
The Legion Go is another great handheld option this holiday season. Featuring an 8.8-inch QHD PureSight Gaming display, this device offers a full Windows 11 experience. It allows players to install and play games across Steam, Xbox Game Pass, the Epic Launcher, and more on the go.
Lenovo’s Legion Go features an AMD Ryzen Z1 Series processor and AMD Radeon GPU. It also offers up to 16 GB LPDDR5X RAM and up to 1TB storage support. Much like the Nintendo Switch, Legion Go features detachable TrueStrike controllers, featuring hall effect joysticks for precision. Players will also find a 49.2WHr battery, supporting the authentic gaming experience while on the go.
Borderlands Collection: Pandora’s Box
Borderlands Collection: Pandora’s Box is a compilation of the acclaimed franchise. This collection includes Borderlands, Borderlands 2, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, Tales from the Borderlands, Borderlands 3, and New Tales from the Borderlands, and all released add-on content.
2K’s Borderlands Collection: Pandora’s Box is an all-in-one package for those who may not have experienced the full story on Pandora so far. For players who already own a copy of select Borderlands titles, they can access a $30 upgrade to receive the remainder of the content.
Forza Motorsport sped onto Xbox Series X/S consoles. As a slight reboot of the car-sim franchise, developers Turn 10 sought to create a highly immersive driving experience. However, it maintains a clear level of accessibility thanks to customization options.
With over 500 vehicles to choose from, drive through some of the most iconic tracks. The game offers realistic physics paired with a full spectrum of weather, including rain and fog. With a day and night cycle, experience some breathtaking vistas as players barrel towards the finish line.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
The highly-anticipated follow-up to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild adored Nintendo Switch fans this year. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom sees Link once again tasked with saving Hyrule. Though, there are now two new areas to explore as well –– high above via the Sky Islands, and the mysterious underground Depths.
To assist players, Link has a new array of abilities including Ultrahand, Fuse, Ascend, Recall, and Autobuild. Each has a unique purpose and all help flesh out Tears of the Kingdom’s open-world sandbox. Nintendo has once again captured the magic of ‘if you can think of it, it can be done’.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
Peter Parker and Miles Morales are back and New York City is bigger than ever. Insomniac Games’ awaited return to the Marvel franchise sees the introduction of iconic villains Venom and Kraven. With new powers, Peter and Miles go on an emotional journey of self-discovery and acceptance.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 offers so much to do throughout the city. Between taking on criminals on the streets and fighting larger-than-life foes, Peter and Miles sport the new web wings, making traversal even more frenetic and exhilarating. Plus, Peter has access to the new symbiote suit, unlocking new combat abilities to use throughout the game. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 has gone on to become the best-selling game in PlayStation history.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage
Ubisoft has brought its historied Assassin’s Creed franchise back to its roots. Assassin’s Creed Mirage offers players a more focused, and bite-sized experience, reminiscent of games such as Assassin’s Creed 2. The game centres on Basim Ibn Ishaq, first introduced in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. The game takes place in Baghdad during the Islamic Golden Age.
Returning to its roots, Assassin’s Creed Mirage provides a 30-40 hour experience, where stealth is prioritized. Take out your targets by figuring out clues, and using an arsenal of weapons and tools. Of course, no Assassin’s Creed game is complete without the Hidden Blade, which players can use at their discretion.
LEGO Super Mario Piranha Plant
LEGO and Nintendo have a growing relationship. This year, we see the release of the buildable Super Mario Piranha Plant display model. Build one of the more iconic enemies from the Mario series, with 540 pieces in total. The set also includes
Measuring 9 x 4.5 x 6.5 inches, it’s small enough to be displayed on a shelf, a desk, or a table. The LEGO Super Mario Piranha Plant is a great decorative piece to put together and display this holiday season.
LEGO Super Mario Peach’s Castle Expansion
If that LEGO builder in your life is hoping for a set that is a bit bigger, the LEGO Super Mario Peach’s Castle Expansion is a phenomenal choice. Featuring 1,216 pieces, this set offers an array of characters to build. This set includes Bowser, Ludwig, Toadette, a Goomba and a Bob-omb. Plus, for Mario fans, there are many easter eggs to build and discover.
Note that as an expansion set, it does require a LEGO Super Mario starter course in order to offer the full feature set. The LEGO x Super Mario sets include interactive components and challenges to complete.
Surface Laptop Studio 2
Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Studio 2 is a great on-the-go powerhouse for anyone in content creation. When not playing games, players may be in need of a productivity unit. This two-in-one device is optimized for various workflows, including video editing and Photoshop. It features a 14.4-inch PixelSense Flow display, with a 2,400 x 1,600 HDR resolution. Starting options include the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4050, offering 6GB GDDR6 vRAM, 2130 MHz boost clock speed and 512GB of storage.
Plus, it can support gaming on a surprisingly high level when compared to other Surface products. Leveraging NVIDIA’s DLSS 3.5 upscaling technology and Intel’s Evo platform, the Surface Laptop Studio 2 is able to run games like Assassin’s Creed Mirage, Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty, and Dead Space Remake with ease. The device also comes with a battery life of around 9 hours of use, which should get the user through a typical day.
Available for $2,699.99 on Microsoft’s website.
As far as gaming chairs are concerned, a relatively new company on the scene is Blacklyte. They offer the Athena gaming chair, which is made using CottonFlax fabric, providing a soft and comfortable sitting experience. Not only providing a stylish design, the Athena chair is built with ergonomics in mind. It utilizes a high-density cold-core foam.
Additionally, users will find the Athena chair supports luxury blade wheels, and extended lumbar support for extended periods of use. An included head pillow is a nice touch as is its 165-degree reclining feature for kicking back and playing a game. The Blacklyte Athena chairs are available in ‘Black’, ‘White’ and ‘Pink’ at $699.
Roccat Vulcan 2 Max
Roccat’s Vulcan 2 Max keyboard is a fantastic option for those looking to upgrade their PC gaming space. The keyboard features Titan II optical mechanical switches for its keys. Users can swap between ‘Linear’ and ‘Tactile’ modes depending on preferences for speed, sound, and force. The Vulcan 2 Max supports third-party keycaps so users can customize their keyboard. Additionally, users can find Easy-Shift support to unlock a second function layer.
It’s built for ergonomics with risers on the back. The keyboard also offers customizable HD AIMO RGB lighting that beams across its keys and the translucent detachable palm rest. Compatible with the Roccat Swarm app on PC, users can create their own light settings and effects.
SteelSeries Alias and Alias Pro
For streamers, content creators, or those podcasting, having a high-quality microphone is essential. The SteelSeries Alias series provides a professional-sounding experience to users when creating content. Both devices include a novel shock mount, preventing vibrations and noise from accidental taps.
The base Alias microphone is a USB-C condenser mic with a capsule of up to 3x larger than competitive devices. It offers an all-in-one Sonar for Streaming software experience, perfect for audio mixing, drag-and-drop app routing, and AI noise cancellation. Built-in RGB lighting is also featured.
The Alias Pro is a bit more involved. It offers an XLR connection and is designed for gaming, broadcasting and podcasting. It also features a wide vocal range and a larger capsule size. Though, it’s all routed through the XLR stream mixer, which offers customizable controls including mute functions, and RGB lighting.
Available starting at $239.99 on SteelSeries’ website
Logitech Zone Wireless 2
Whether the user is recording content or taking a work call, the Logitech Zone Wireless 2 headset can provide support. The headset features AI noise suppression and four noise-cancelling mics are available alongside a hybrid ANC. This results in a more clear and immersive listening experience.
Logitech has designed the Zone Wireless 2 to be certified for Microsoft Teams and Zoom. It also is compatible with Google Meet, Google Voice, iPhone, and iPad. The headset is also made with certified post-consumer recycled plastic and offers replaceable parts, ensuring sustainable methods were taken in the manufacturing of the Zone Wireless 2.
Available for $249.99 on Logitech’s website
Turtle Beach Stealth Pro
For a gaming-focused audio solution, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more quality experience than what the Turtle Beach Stealth Pro headset offers. With a high-quality and durable build, these over-the-ear headphones sport 50mm Nanoclear drivers. Turtle Beach’s audio solution also features ANC and S.M.A.R.T noise-cancelling boom with a concealable microphone.
The Stealth Pro supports an elegant design with onboard controls for volume, voice chat mixing levels, and Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity. Included in the box is a USB-C-supported battery charger. Included are two swappable battery packs, which offer 12 hours of use. When charging, the base can provide three hours of use in only 15 minutes. The Turtle Beach Stealth Pro is compatible with Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, Mac, and PC.
SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X
Another headset to consider this holiday season is the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X. It offers custom-designed Nova Acoustic System features, providing high-end audio when playing games. It’s been designed with high-fidelity drivers and a first-in gaming Pro-grade Parametric EQ. Plus, players will find 360-degree spatial audio support and compatibility with Microsoft Spatial Sound/ Tempest 3D audio, depending on the platform.
With dual audio stream support, users can mix two audio connections at the same time. This enables users to listen to the sounds from the game while also connected to a Discord voice chat on mobile, leveraging a 2.4GHz lag-free Bluetooth experience. Plus, play up to 38 hours of games on a single charge. 15 minutes of charging provides roughly six hours of use. SteelSeries’ Arctis Nova 7X is compatible with Xbox, PC, Mac, PlayStation, or Switch, thanks to its USB-C wireless dongle.