It wouldn’t be Christmas without the PS4 or the Xbox One. The trick is making sure that the games you pull out of the bag are the crackers and not turkeys.

This isn’t a list of best video games of 2015. That’s a fight to the death we’ll leave in the hands of hardcore fans of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain and the hyped up followers of Fallout 4 (we’d add Bloodborne, but the diehard, or rather die-too-easy-for-our-liking players there are too masochistic for it to be a fair battle…)

And all this while ducking the sword of those swearing allegiance to Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Or Yoshi’s Woolly World.

With the rustle of Christmas wrapping paper drawing ever nearer, the hunt is on to find the perfect game to gift your nearest and dearest with. It’s not as straightforward as it used to be to bag a winner, seeing as so many games this year have been add-ons to existing titles (as anyone who sat around waiting for new episodes of Life is Strange will tell you), or new instalments of continuous franchises. Plus there’s the fact that the games of 2015 have been marked by their sheer scope and size, meaning it’s unlikely you’ve had the time to finish many of them yourself.

So this list is designed as a guide to getting the best game for the right person. Or if you want some of the finest games spanning the spectrum of genres, give yourself a treat, knowing that with these games on your shelf, your living room will be the place they’ll all want to play in 2016.

Wii wish you a happy X-box-mas, a Ha-PS4 New Year and PC on earth. Right. That’s the crap Christmas gag done with. Now let the fun begin…

  • 1
    COMEDY: Tales from the Borderlands
    Telltale
    Christmas wouldn’t be the same without a few ho ho hos, but you don’t turn on the console for the jokes. Now you do. The Borderland tales see a crew of misfits set off on a hunt for riches and blow up lots of things along the way. You get two version of the same event from our leading protagonists and work out the story by reading between the (very funny) lines. The gameplay in this episodic series works much the same way as The Wolf Among Us and Walking Dead (it’s by the same developers), only the gut-churning misery has been replaced by genuine belly laughs. And it makes you truly care about dorks, a trick the game pulls off as effortlessly as it manages to mix action with comedy.
  • 2
    KIDS: Splatoon
    Nintendo
    ‘Tis the season to bond with little ‘uns, but unless they’re your kids asking, there’s nothing in the rule book that says you have to play Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer. Luckily, there’s a whole host of games targeted at kids that you’ll love playing as much, if not more: Lego Dimensions, Disney Infinity 3.0 and Super Mario Maker are all excellent, but for everyone join in for some serious fun action, nothing beats Splatoon. You team up, you pump out ink bullets and blot out your opponents. What could be more fun? (For a list of best kiddie games of 2015, see the slideshow below).
  • 3
    ADVENTURE: Rise Of The Tomb Raider
    Crystal Dynamics
    Like all classic crimbo flicks like Indiana Jones and James Bond, the story of Lara Croft remains essentially the same – overcome crazy obstacles to get your hands on the prize – but it’s the twists, new enemies and dazzling new ways to kick butt that keep them fresh and entertaining. Easily one of the most visually appealing games of the year, this is an explorer’s dream, with endless areas to discover and return to as and when necessary. With plenty of side-missions and mini quests, you can dip in and out, or stay locked in with Ms Croft and her troubles until the bells stop ringing.
  • 4
    DRAMA: Her Story
    Sam Barlow
    Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and Sherlock are on telly this Christmas, but then again, you can star in your very own True Detective-style special. A narrative game that involves sifting through a series of police interviews and coming up with a series of probable and wild theories to help you solve the crime. With a sharply crafted script, top dollar acting and a pre-requisite that the player isn’t a moron, this is more an interactive movie than a video game. But that only adds to the edge-of-the-seat suspense and need to see it through till the end. And a very satisfying one it is too.
  • 5
    ACTION: Mortal Kombat X
    NetherRealm Studio
    You can’t play anything that requires too much attention during the Christmas chaos, which is why you need a combat game in the sack. With the release of Tekken 7 pushed back yet again, the battle glory remains with Mortal Combat X, hands down the best instalment in the series. The ability to manipulate characters allows the gameplay to be personalised, with an online platform always there to remind you you’re nowhere near good enough yet. We particularly like the stamina bar, which stops the mindless tapper to clobber you while you’re powering up special attacks. It is spine-shatteringly brutal, so no playing while grandma’s in the room or passing the controller to your five-year-old nephew.
  • 6
    SCI-FI: Star Wars Battlefront
    EA
    Unless you’ve been hiding under an Tatooine rock, you’ll know this Christmas is all about Star Wars. Luckily, the game tie-in isn’t an obvious cash-in. Fans of the movie (isn’t everyone these days?) will be blown away by the loving detail that’s gone into recreating characters, gadgets and scenes from the original trilogy, while gamers can battle through it all with huge numbers of other players around the online in very cool spaceships firing an array of awesome weapons. There are moments when it feels like more style over content, but if there’s a more ‘now’ game this Christmas, it isn’t here yet. Plus you get to make the ‘I have sensed your presents’ joke.
  • 7
    HORROR: Soma
    Thomas Grip
    Christmas brings everyone together, and when a big group stays up late in front of the fire, someone will suggest a scary movie. Give that person a genuinely terrifying game. There are plenty to choose from this year: Until Dawn, Resident Evil: Revelations 2, and of course, Bloodborne. If you get your horror fix from psychological aberrations than blood and gore, Soma is the one to keep you up at night. Lost at sea, a robot that thinks it’s human, and learns with real emotions comes real terror.
  • 8
    WAR: Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain
    Kojma/Konami
    It’s the time of year when priests and drunks discuss peace on earth, and The Great Escape is bound to be on, so it feels befitting to get the big guns out. Impress granddad with your WW1 knowledge with Verdun, and your insight into the WWII with Blitzkrieg 3. You can support our boys with Company of Heroes 2: The British Forces, and of course, no modern warfare is complete without a round of ammo from CoD, with Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 taking you to a dystopian warzone, with optional zombies. But let’s face it, it would be discourteous not to give the badge of honour to Metal Gear Solid V. If you don’t know why, you need to go out and buy it right now.
  • 9
    PHONE APP: Prune
    Joel McDonald
    No one really sneaks off for a fag anymore, so we need our phones and tablets to keep us jolly during the times we have to slip away. Listing contenders will need its own list – the maddeningly addictive Plant vs Zombies and the puzzle game The Room Three deserve honorary mentions – but when it comes to having a zen moment, nothing takes you away from it all while keeping you rooted more than Prune. A tree grows, you swipe to prune it to avoid getting burned. That’s pretty much it. But you’ll feel a sense of peace you won’t get from, say, PewPew.
  • 10
    FAMILY: Guitar Hero Live
    FreeStyle Games
    Guitar Hero Live is pretty much the textbook example of how you nail a reboot. It takes a solid premise, and then turns it on its head. When you start nailing those riffs and you look out at a real festival of people in front of you the feeling of exhilaration is genuine and truly addictive.
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