Holiday Gift Guide: Video Games & Electronics

Holiday Gift Guide: Video Games & Electronics (Photo: Electronic Arts, Blizzard, Activision, Nintendo, Ubisoft, Zagg, Skullcandy)

(KUTV) With only a handful of holiday shopping days left, here's a look at some gift ideas from the realm of video games and electronics.

I was late to the party when it comes to "Overwatch," a highly addictive multiplayer online first-person shooter. I've never been particularly skilled when it comes to first-person shooters, especially when playing online against an army of individuals who have far more time to invest in the game than I could possibly find or justify. "Overwatch," however, levels the field by not offering weapon and armor upgrades. You will earn a variety of cosmetic rewards that still offer incentive, but if you are going to be a champion, you're going to have to earn it by developing your skills as various characters from different classes and actually playing as a group.

Beyond the game itself, Blizzard Entertainment has a variety of character-themed items that go well beyond the traditional t-shirts. There are Sombra Pillows, Mei Yeti Slippers, Cute But Deadly Blind Vinyls, a variety of hoodies and long-sleeve shirts, statues, toys, backpacks, jerseys and ramen bowls.

If you are looking for a game that offers both an online-multiplayer experience as well a single-player campaign, then "Star Wars: Battlefront II" and "Call of Duty: WWII" should be on your radar.

"Star Wars: Battlefront II" offers a dramatic improvement over the previous entry in the series as it offers a far more fulfilling Star Wars experience. I'm particularly partial to the epic space battles, but the single-player campaign features a solid story, great voice acting and impressive graphics. Those looking for more background into the game's storyline should check out "Battlefront II: Inferno Squad," a tie-in novel from Christie Golden.

There was a bit of a controversy regarding the game's credit system, particularly when it came to the option of being able to advance by simply outspending the competition (with real cash no less). That option never went live and EA have revamped the credit system making it easier for players, casual or dedicated, to get upgrades and additional hero options. You still have to work to play Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader, but being drawn into a game that keeps you returning for more gameplay is the sort of game that I'm interested in, Now, if I could just sort out my first-person-skills, maybe I'd be a force to be reckoned with.

"Call of Duty: WWII" is an equally enthralling game as it puts the player right in the middle of some of the biggest battles that took place in Europe starting with D-Day. I would love to see earlier aspects of the war covered, but that's partly because I enjoy what is already there. They've even included a stand-alone Nazi Zombies game that is wildly entertaining in its own right.

Elsewhere there is "Assassin's Creed: Origins." I have to admit that I've never really understood the appeal of the Assassin's Creed franchise. With "Origins," the tenth title in the series, I found myself actually invested in the story and Egyptian setting. There are still linear aspects to the game, but you are given an opportunity to roam a bit more than I remember from previous experiences with the franchise. "Origins" might not be the best game of 2017, but it is certainly in the conversation.

Over the years, I've loved many of the LEGO games. To a certain degree the LEGO games all have a similar feel, but one thing I really enjoyed about "LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2" was the fact that the narrative was new, rather than based on a specific film. Not knowing where the plot may lead you offers additional challenges and more reason to play the story to its end. Yes, LEGO games are easy enough that young gamers can play them, but that doesn't mean adults won't enjoy them. In fact, "LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2" is the perfect game for adults to play with their kids. Experiences are always better when they are shared.

For those who have a Nintendo Switch, "Super Mario Odyssey" is an absolute essential title. While the plot feels familiar, Mario must save Princess Peach from Bowser, the gameplay recalls the joys of "Super Mario 64" with the occasional nod to the original side-scrolling aspects of the original game. "Odyssey" is part nostalgia and part innovation, which makes it appealing for those who have been Mario fans since his "Donkey Kong" appearance and those who are mostly interested in the new and now.

Remember when the idea of having a phone without a headphone jack felt like a bad idea? Funny how we have to be forced into a world of convenience where wires area thing of the past. Skullcandy recently introduced the "Hesh 3 Wireless," the latest version of one of the brand's bestselling products. The "Hesh 3" offers a battery life of 22 hours (just 10 minutes of charging will give you 4 hours of battery life).

The "Crusher Wireless" is essentially the ramped up version of the "Hesh 3" as it offers nearly twice the battery life, includes a built-in amplifier, a microphone and memory foam cushions that offer more comfort than you'd expect from headphones loaded with features.

Music was never intended to isolate its listeners. Music, live or otherwise, was intended to be experienced with others. Skullcandy's "Barricade XL Speaker" is surprisingly powerful considering its compact size. I have to admit that when it showed up I thought I was looking at the "Barricade BT Speaker," the smaller model (it comes in "Mini" too). The XL is even fully waterproof and buoyant so you can literally throw it in a lake, swimming pool or take it with you when you plan a picnic at the top of a snow-covered mountain. Color me impressed.

Once upon a time in a world not too distant from the one we currently inhabit the idea of carrying a computer in your pocket was something ripped from the pages of a sci-fi novel. But here we are, walking around with phones that are more powerful than computers that used to take up numerous rooms. Still, they've yet to make a phone with a battery that doesn't need to be charged and they certainly haven't developed a tablet that can take the routine beating of simply being carried around. Our devices are fantastic, when they work.

I've yet to upgrade to an iPhone X, so I'm not able to enjoy the goodness of simply placing my phone on a Mophie Wireless Charging Base, but I've made good use of my Mophie Powerstation USB-CXXL, a little black box that offers dual USB charging ports so I can power my iPhone, iPad or even my laptop should the need arise. I've tried numerous different backup batteries over the years and this is easily the most impressive, particularly when you consider its size.

They've also yet to develop a screen that doesn't shatter or scratch, so protecting your $1,000 investment is still a priority. When it comes to a screen protector I want it to be as unobtrusive as possible. ZAGG's InvisibleShields are just that.

As a writer who is constantly on the go I've found amazing ways to destroy a variety of wireless keyboards. The issue hasn't been the keyboards; it has been the case. I've had the ZAGG Rugged Messenger for a couple of months now and I've yet to break it. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about the magnet system that the keyboard uses, but can now see how it is a major improvement over other designs. I can see this case outlasting my iPad and that's not something I ever thought I would say.

Additional Gift Guides

Holiday Gift Guide: Movies on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital HD
Holiday Gift Guide: Despicable Me
Holiday Gift Guide: Classic novels, television and cinematic adaptations
Holiday Gift Guide: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Holiday Gift Guide: DC Comics
Holiday Gift Guide: Disney & Pixar
Holiday Gift Guide: Star Wars
Holiday Gift Guide: Television on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital HD

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