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All the most popular video games coming up—and what to get as gifts

Now that games are digital, you can stuff LOTs of 'em in a stocking

Credit: Rockstar

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It's gift buying season, and I'm willing to bet you have a friend, loved one, or coworker who loves video games. Fortunately, since the '80s, video games have become one of the most lucrative and ubiquitous entertainment industries in the world, so there's a lot of new games coming out all the time (plus some great TVs to play them on).

If you don't have time to keep track of every new game coming out this holiday season, I don't blame you. But if you are trying to make sure you're buying the game your giftee really wants, it's a good idea to at least know which ones are the most popular.

Soulcalibur VI

soul calibur 6 header
Credit: Bandai Namco
  • Release date: October 19th
  • Compatibility: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC
  • Cost: $60
  • ESRB: Teen

Soulcalibur VI is a fighting game—the sixth entry in a series that dates back to 1995! This game is highly technical and full of stylized characters and narrative gravitas. If you're buying for someone who loves fighting games like Street Fighter, Tekken, BlazBlue, or Mortal Kombat, you can bet they'd enjoy this one, even if they wouldn't buy it for themselves.

While the characters fight with swords and whips, Soulcalibur VI is not particularly violent. Its characters are fairly sexualized, however, so you should pay attention to the "Teen" rating if you're buying for younger gamers.

Get Soulcalibur VI — PlayStation 4 Standard Edition from Amazon for $59.99

Just Dance 2019

just dance 2019
Credit: Ubisoft
  • Release date: October 23rd
  • Compatibility: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
  • Cost: $40
  • ESRB: Everyone

The Just Dance games have been getting gamers up off the couch and into some sweet dance moves for the last few years. The game is basically just a bunch of the hottest pop songs from the last few years cobbled together to unique, music video-esque dance routines.

This one's a great gift for any gamers who love music, dancing, or just want to have a more party-centric experience. You can also jump into online dance parties and bust moves with total strangers, which is about as close to simulating my actual social life as I want to get.

Get Just Dance 2019 — Nintendo Switch Standard Edition from Amazon for $39.99

Red Dead Redemption 2

red dead redemption 2 header
Credit: Rockstar
  • Release date: October 26th
  • Compatibility: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC
  • Cost: $60
  • ESRB: Mature

Red Dead Redemption 2 might be the most hyped game of 2018. I really can't overstate how insanely popular this game is amongst video game lovers. The first entry is a cult classic, and Rockstar knows it—so Red Dead Redemption 2 has been a long time coming, and has very big boots to fill.

This one has a lot going on. You play as a main character in the Wild West, and follow him on a complex, film-worthy narrative through beautifully designed environments and set to some of the best soundtrack and sound design work in the industry. This is a big-budget, AAA title that every gamer I know is excited about.

Just take note of the "Mature" rating. You can expect cursing, possible nudity, tobacco use, and a whole lot of whiskey shooting here.

Get Red Dead Redemption 2 — Xbox One Standard Edition from Amazon for $59.96

Fallout 76

Credit: Bethesda
  • Release date: November 14th
  • Compatibility: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC
  • Cost: $60
  • ESRB: Mature

Perhaps the next most hyped upcoming game of 2018 after RDR2, Fallout 76 takes Bethesda's much-loved Fallout series—about surviving in a post-apocalyptic wasteland dressed in 50s sensibilities and set in meticulously crafted real-world locations—and makes it fully multiplayer.

Needless to say, taking a beloved single-player game and letting people play it with their friends is not an easy task, but executed properly it could be a serious smash hit, and you can bet the gamers on your holiday shopping list are probably excited about this one. Just remember: this post-apocalypse is rated "M" for a reason.

Get Fallout 76 — PC Standard Edition from Amazon for $59.99

Battlefield V

battlefield V header
Credit: EA
  • Release date: November 20th
  • Compatibility: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC
  • Cost: $60
  • ESRB: Mature

The fifth in EA's long line of historically informed military style shooters, Battlefield V brings the series back to its roots via an involved portrayal of World War II conflict. However, narrative aside, the series owes is lasting popularity to its huge-scale multiplayer battles, allowing up to 64 players to play together at the same time.

While some gaming outlets have reported that the single-player campaign is disappointing this time around, I've no doubt that tons of gamers are going to want the latest Battlefield for its updated graphics and gameplay capabilities. Just keep in mind that this one is renowned for its realistic portrayals of armaments, morbidity, and war.

Get Battlefield V — Xbox One Standard Edition from Amazon for $59.99

Just Cause 4

just cause 4 header
Credit: Amazon
  • Release date: December 4th
  • Compatibility: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC
  • Cost: $60
  • ESRB: Mature

The fourth Just Cause may just be cause for some excitement. Set in an exploration-friendly open environment, this game puts heavy emphasis on player improvisation and a wide range of vehicles like cars, helicopters, and planes. It's basically a big virtual playground, where messing with physics is as much the point as checking off a to-do list.

Once again, this is an "M" rated game, so make sure whoever you're buying for is old enough to know the moral ramifications of steering a defenseless helicopter into a cluster of unsuspecting palm trees.

Get Just Cause 4 — PlayStation 4 Standard Edition from Amazon for $59.99

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

super smash bros ultimate header
Credit: Amazon / Nintendo
  • Release date: December 7th
  • Compatibility: Nintendo Switch
  • Cost: $60
  • ESRB: Everyone

While it's only available for Nintendo Switch, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is arguably the most hyped-up Switch game to come out yet. It's a souped-up and revamped version of the most previous Super Smash Bros. game, wherein Nintendo's beloved characters and mascots duke it out in cartoony competition.

If you're buying a gift for a friend who has a Nintendo Switch, there's a very high degree of probability this game's on their radar. And because it's rated "E," you can buy it for your kids and then play it all day once they're back in school after winter break.

Get Super Smash Bros. Ultimate from Amazon for $59.99