The best games to play at Christmas

There’s something about Christmas which gets everyone nostalgic. That’s usually the same feeling we want from video games this time of year: a sense of comfort and good memories to make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

And let’s face it, gaming with a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie or two is far more entertaining than watching the Queen’s speech (sorry, Your Majesty). In case you’re not sure what to play during this holiday season, I asked some of my blogger-friends to tell us all about the titles they find themselves picking up at Christmas. Whether you’re looking for something that reminds you of your childhood, a game to take you away from it all or a good story to get wrapped up in, we’ve got something here for you.

Lorraine from Geeky Galaxy

Stellaris, video game, space, stars, planetStellaris is the game for me during the holiday season for a few reasons. I get far more time to play since I take as much time as possible off work. That means I can get in a full game without blinking an eye and a full game in Stellaris is not a short thing. BUT, I can also create a galactic empire modelled on Father Christmas and his elves. A corporate empire, with a leader with a white beard and a subservient second species as elves? See, you can make any Christmassy if you try hard enough!”

Charles from Comfortably Adventurous

Civilization VI, video game“The holiday season traditionally involves a long drive to see my family and the limitations of my laptop to satisfy my gaming needs. With no great predication for discovering new niche titles, the mainstay of my gaming habits in recent years has been an old favourite, Civilization VI. It’s an easy game to get lost in, that allure of ‘one more turn’ just pulling at you until you realise everyone else has left the room and your are a millennia into the history of your culture. Few games have held my attention as strongly as this classic.”

DanamesX from Tales from the Backlog

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, video game“The holidays have always been a great time to catch up on gaming. I have two weeks off from work, so this is the perfect time for me to finish up any long RPGs that I’ve started throughout the year. Last year, I wrapped up The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, and this year I am working on finishing the third game in the saga. This is the perfect time to get it done since the game makes you explore and talk to everyone in every area that you visit. It is not required to get through the game, but if you want to complete it, you can’t leave any area unchecked. So for me, there is always a good chance that I am playing a long RPG to finish it up before more games enter the backlog.”

MagiWasTaken from Indicator

“The best game to play during the holidays? Well, obviously, it’s got to be Headbangers in Holiday Hell. It’s an action-roguelike that my laptop can run and since runs can be somewhat short (due to my lack of skills), I can get as festive as I want as often as I want and quit at any time if I need to spend some quality time with my family. After all, I don’t get to visit my family all too often, especially nowadays, so I don’t play too many games these days. Happy Holidays! Sincerely, Magi!”

Nathan from Gaming Omnivore

Animal Crossing: New Horizons, video game“When I think of video games I associate with a particular time of year, one of the very first that spring to mind is Animal Crossing. One of my favorite parts of Animal Crossing games has been the changing of seasons along with the different scenery and activities to go with it, especially once the autumn season begins and makes way into Halloween and before you know it, we’re already approaching Toy Day and New Year’s Eve in the winter. Some of my most vivid holiday memories have been spent strolling through my village (or island) and taking in the seasonal sites with the neighbors. I still remember the New Year’s Eves that were spent with the GameCube hooked up to the living room tv as we’d visit the other village denizens and gather in the town square to count down to the new year at midnight. Of course, you could make it whatever season you’d like by simply adjusting the clock on your console, but time travel was never really my thing (I’m not a Doctor).”

Ellen from Ace Asunder

World of Warcraft, video game, Christmas, tree, star, snow“I haven’t been able to say this for five years, but oh my gawd, I will definitely be playing World of Warcraft this holiday season. During my eight pre-20015 years in WoW, it was a Christmas day tradition to drag my characters to either Ironforge or Orgrimmar (I shamelessly play both sides) and collect gifts left under the Winter Veil tree by Greatfather Winter (yep! Blizzard’s version of Christmas). These gifts were limited time toys for your characters that could be used to interact with other players for extra fun. I’m so excited to resume my addiction tradition this year!”

Gaming Diaries

Monopoly, Fallout, board game“For games that are perfect for the holiday period I always come back to games you can play together. Quite often this combines with ones that reflect a more traditional board game or even a quiz show. For example, the various Monopoly or Risk style games, but also games like Knowledge is Power or Scene It. These give you so many fun moments as families and are great for the reluctant gamers in the family to get involved with easily and the tidy up at the end is far quicker. Anything that means coming together and having fun is perfect for this period and with a little extra time available to play and the opportunity for a lot of laughs these can be perfect.”

Athena from AmbiGaming

Journey, video game, mountain, stranger, dessert, sky, star, sand, clouds“December, and particularly Christmas, is a hard time of year for me, so I often find myself reaching for familiar games, like those in the Dragon Age or Mass Effect series, although I have a yearly tradition of playing Metal Gear Solid 2 on New Year’s Eve, as well. However, this year I might change it up and pull out Journey, a quiet, contemplative game that offers surprisingly close relationships with other (real) people on their own separate, but ultimately familiar, journeys, before gaining the understanding needed to become a light for someone else as they begin their own trek across the sands.”

William from WCRobinson

Pokémon, Platinum, video game, winter, snow“My pick is Pokémon Platinum. To start with, Diamond / Pearl / Platinum are my favourite games in the series for a multitude of reasons, and very special to me personally. So, why am I picking Platinum here? Well, to explain: Platinum was the third game, arriving in 2009 and bringing several changes to the formula. One of which is a newly wintery tone, with a snowfall and brisk chill covering the region, as shown with the addition of a scarf to each player outfit! This iteration of Pokémon has such a comforting feel, with soothingly melodic music (just listen to Route 209!), a beautiful 2D sprite-based art style, and endearing characters; add that snowy aesthetic and numerous other additions, such as animated Pokémon sprites, new story content, and map changes, and you get a warm blanket of a game that you can sink into. I associate Platinum with a sense of relaxation that matches this time of year so well, and I hope you can enjoy it too!”

Luke from Hundstrasse

Assassin's Creed IV, Black Flag, video game, sea, water, ship, island, pirates“There’s something about that lost week between Christmas and New Year, when I’m full of mince pies and Terry’s Chocolate Orange that makes me crave an open-world game. I can’t say that there is one specifically that I associate with the festive period, but over the years I’ve tackled many open-world adventures during the holiday season: Black Flag, Sunset Overdrive, and Dying Light all spring to mind from recent years, but there have been many more. I think it’s just that once-a-year combo of not having to get up early in the morning and not having anything else that really needs doing to beckon in hours of ‘just-one-more-sidequest’ and ‘Ooohhhh… I only need X $/£/points to unlock that fancy costume’.”

Kim from Later Levels

The Elder Scrolls Online, video game, tankard, inn, drink, woman, barman“I usually find myself returning to The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) at Christmas. The main reason is because I first discovered it at this time of year so it seems fitting, but it’s also because it’s so simple to get into. You can do a couple of quests before putting down the controller, step away to open presents and have dinner with the family, then dive straight back into it without having to try too hard to remember where you left off. It’s also easy to unwrap your next Quality Street while working your way through a conversation tree.”

What will you be playing this Christmas? And what will you be keeping an eye out for in the Steam winter sale? Let us know in the comments below, if you can put down your controller and mince pie to spare a moment.

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17 thoughts on “The best games to play at Christmas

  1. Pingback: The best games to play at Christmas — Later Levels – All About Writing and more

  2. I’m with Ellen on World of Warcraft 🙂 It’s been my tradition for… oh gosh, probably over a decade now 😀 Even though you don’t have to open the presents *on* Christmas day (you get about a week I think) I always do it on one character anyway. It’s just part of the fun!

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    • Hopefully I’ll be able to get some WoW time in over Christmas too. I’m still really early on in the game, but all that time off will help me to progress!

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    • Now that you’ve said that, I’m actually surprised nobody suggested Mario Kart for the list. Nothing like a bit of family-friendly competition at Christmas!

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  3. What a great idea for a post! 🙂 Some great recommendations here. I always associate Journey with Christmas because I played it on Christmas Eve after my wife had gone to sleep and it was the most profoundly moving experience I’ve had with a game. Coupled with the warm cosy glow of the Christmas lights in my living room, I felt… Something. It’s hard to even put into words 🙂

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    • It’s funny how the games you first played at Christmas are ones you find yourself returning to at this time of year. Should we expect a stream at some point? 😉

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  4. Pingback: Around the Network | MoeGamer

  5. Does playing a Christmas themed version of the Nuketown map in Cold War count? Jokes aside, the last couple of years I’ve been happy to play anything with my son – Minecraft and Fortnite had a lot of attention in previous years so will be interested to see what will be next. 🙂

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    • Ah, I remember the Minecraft and Fortnite stages… now it’s the early teenage years and Overwatch. Have a lovely Christmas! 🙂

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