The Player 2 2020 Gift Guide
Tis the season to be hitting those (online) shops and spending on your loved ones. So as is the tradition here at Player 2, the team has gotten together to celebrate the spirit of giving by putting together the greatest gift guide you are likely to see. With something for every budget, we are 100% certain* that satisfaction will be found with these wonderful gifts for your family, friends or even yourself
*Player 2 makes no promises of satisfaction
Under $50 – Sid Meier’s Memoir!
It won’t come as a surprise to those who know me well, but I love me some gaming history books. Seeing creators of some of the more important games of one’s youth come out with in-depth reads exploring their careers and the games they’ve worked on is incredibly important to help document the history of gaming.
So seeing Sid Meier release his book Sid Meier’s Memoir! (https://sidmeiersmemoir.com) earlier this year certainly piqued my interest. With tales about his career in helping start Microprose, to going on and creating gems like Civilization.
Along with that, he offers up plenty of insights about the art of game creation – from his 10 rules of game design, to insights on the history of the industry and more.
For anyone’s who has happened to experience the hours melt away in a game of Civilization, or Pirates, or any of his other works over the years… I’m sure you’ll find it an enthralling read. Maybe an educational one as well.
Over $50 – 8Bitdo’s Arcade Stick
There are plenty of times when instead of diving into some sprawling epic game, you want something a little simpler, a little purer even. For me, that’s when I find myself turning to arcade style classics. The thing is? Most of them don’t play so well on a modern controller.
Which is where 8Bitdo’s Arcade Stick (https://www.8bitdo.com/arcade-stick/) comes into play. This controller is designed to be used with either your Switch, or a PC (via XInput). One of things I’m most excited with is the connectivity options – you can hook it up via wired USB-C, but also to systems via Bluetooth, or even a lower latency 2.4Ghz connection thanks to the received included in the box.
If you’re someone who really, and I mean really wants to get tinkering, it’s got a whole stack of options too. Not just in terms of replacing the stick and buttons with fancier parts. If you want to get crafty, they even have an application available which lets you set custom macros and mappings, so if you’re a bit frustrated with a particular fight in some game…
…well, you can give yourself a small advantage.
A good Arcade Stick can certainly cost the earth, but if you’re after something which is a little more approachable, then this bad beast will set you back about $150 – certainly not a total wallet buster.
Sky’s the limit – Full VR Cockpit Enclosure
I have to admit: thinking of something for this one was actually a bit of a challenge. I could stick with something for my burgeoning love of classic gaming, but there’s not much out there which is *new*, per se of interest.
But having enjoyed a lot of Star Wars Squadrons of late, there’s only *one* thing I can think of which would turn the immersion factor all the way up to 11.
Having it integrated with a full on Motion Simulator, for when VR isn’t enough.
Imagine actually feeling the force of turning as you twist and turn evading enemy fire, and yes, you can see where I’m going. That physical sense of immersion would be gobsmacking.
Which is really what it’s about for me – being able to enjoy an experience like this with as much immersion as I can handle!
Under $50 – AeroPress
While the main AeroPress Coffee Maker typically sells for just over fifty bucks, at the time of writing that there hyperlink has it going for just a wee bit south of our budget cap. Gaming has long had stupid associations with staying up until three in the morning while subsisting on a diet of shitty candy and even shittier soda. I’m not sure if this is because gaming is seen as gross, or because such junk is perceived as being needed to stay up so late all the bloody time. Hopefully the latter.
Whatever the reason, if you absolutely must forego sleep, then you may as well drink something that is both better tasting and better for you than Mountain Dew. Coffee it is, then, and the AeroPress is frankly a wonder machine. It’s easy to use, makes a smoother brew than a plunger, and (importantly, if you’re going to pass out on the sofa at 3:45 in the morning) is quick and easy to clean.
Over $50 – AudioQuest Dragonfly
Assuming that the gift recipient games on a PC at all, I cannot recommend one of the AudioQuest Dragonfly DACs enough. If a person is serious about their desktop gaming, you can be sure that they will be on top of the whole graphics card situation (and a meaningful upgrade in that category really falls under ‘sky’s the limit’ and comes with a whole host of additional compilations relating to tower size and power supply on the side). Heck, they may have even splashed out on some nice speakers. What they’ve likely not considered, however, is moving up from on-board audio.
Think of the Dragonfly (and other) DACs as being to a pair of speakers or headphones what a graphics card is to one’s monitor. Simply plug it into a USB slot, give your PC a moment to install and recognise the drivers, and you now have something much more satisfying to plug your speakers into. There are a few Dragonfly options here, and you can spend up to around five hundred dollary-doos if you want, but even the cheapest of the lot (which, realy, is what I’m recommending here) will likely bestow the recipient with an upgrade that they didn’t even know they needed. The only caveat is that this is very much an audio-out solution, and you may want to look at a more gaming-focused alternative if you’re buying for someone big on multiplayer or streaming.
Sky’s the Limit – Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar
To hell with it – I may as well run with this whole audio thing. If you’re out there looking to buy me a present spend an ungodly amount of money, then I’d have to suggest looking into Sennheiser’s first foray into the world of soundbars. I mean, you could also buy a dedicated receiver and some speakers (and this is where you can spend truly frightening amounts of money), but then you’d have to consider the living space and maybe help set everything up, and that’d just going to be a pain. Also, I’d have to do a megaton more research.
Seemingly everywhere that has tested this beast (note: it is big) has come away saying that it is head and shoulders the soundbar to get if you can spare the cash, to the point where it very well could be mistaken for a full surround setup. Is it so big that it might block the lower part of the recipient’s television? Possibly, but if you’ve just spent north of three thousand Aussie bucks (and seeing as I’m not even sure it’s available locally, you may also be paying shipping on this beast) to make their games sound amazing, they can spare a few dollars of their own for some second-hand books with which to make it stand a bit taller.
Under $50 – The Child Plush
The Mandalorian is one of the shows of the year, and one that is beloved by many a gaming fan. The Child took on a life beyond the show, so why not carry The Child with you everywhere you go?! A perfect one for kids, or bigger kids and just anyone really!
Over $50 – Phillips Hue Setup
Want that little bit of extra atmosphere in your living room or study space? Perhaps some nice soft lights to ease that strain on your eyes? Consider the range of Phillips Hue Lights! From the single or double light bars, light-strips or single bulbs, the Phillips Hue range is fantastic and will give you the scope to customise any space in a way that fits your personality and style… and it can all be tweaked at any time via a handy Hue Mobile app. Just don’t go forgetting to buy the all-important Hue Bridge so you can link it to your home network.
Sky’s The Limit – Bluepoint Games
If Sony won’t do the job and buy up Bluepoint then maybe it’s up to you to get it done. Bluepoint is the number 1 porting/remaster/remake studio in the business, and have only grown in status in recent years and months with the remakes or Shadow of the Colossus and Demon’s Souls respectively. Have you been begging for that remake of Soul Reaver? How about Legend of Dragoon? Resistance anybody? Bluepoint is the studio to get it done, and what if you could own them yourself!? THE POTENTIAL IS ENDLESS!
Under $50 – Xbox Game Pass
Want to look like that awesome aunt/uncle/parental unit but don’t want to spend a lot of money. Get your niece/nephew/next-door-neighbour a Game Pass Ultimate subscription. The good news is that with the new deal Xbox has announced, if you are buying it for someone who does not currently have a subscription, then you can get a three-month subscription for the awesome price of $1. Not only does the gift recipient get access to a whole bunch of games on Xbox and PC, but you save yourself a couple of bucks by taking advantage of the deal, and if it turns out your intended recipient prefers Playstation, you can easily buy them a three-month subscription to PS Plus and still have change left from $50.
Over $50 – Google Nest Hub
Look it may not seem like the grandest thing in the world, but this small tablet will change your morning routine for the better.. Need to hear a bad joke, be serenaded by a quasi-robotic voice or have your schedule read out to you in the morning, then this is the piece of tech you need. Whether you have it in your living room or bedroom or wherever you want to put it, one of these will mean your Pirate Metal Spotify playlist or your Disney+ subscription will only be a short “hey Google” away.
No Limit – CD Projekt Red
I have been racking my brain trying to think of what I would gift someone if I had an unlimited amount of funds, and not coming up with many ideas. Then I thought to myself “what would be the most outrageous gaming related thing I could do?” Then the idea struck. With no spending limit, I can be the Martin Shkreli of the gaming world, except without being a douchebag by jacking up the price of medicines to obscene levels. No, instead I will be a douchebag by purchasing the entirety of CD Projekt Red. As of now, it is far too late to stop the upcoming release of Cyberpunk 2077, however, the development of the next instalment of The Witcher franchise has not even been confirmed to be in development, leaving it ripe for the taking. Imagine it, a whole team of developers spending years creating a masterpiece for you and you alone, because who says you can’t buy yourself a gift.
Under $50 – A House in Italy
“I think you have this in the wrong section?” I hear you utter incredulously. Fortunately not my baffled friend, for even during COVID times villages in Italy are offering up houses for as little as $1 (https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/one-euro-homes-cinquefrondi-covid-19/index.html). There are of course strings attached – most have related requirements for renovations within a certain timeframe – but hey, if the person you’re buying for doesn’t have roots and wants to spend a few years over in Europe, why not buy them their very own home.
Over $50 – Gamersac
While these might just seem like expensive bean bags at first glance, Lovesac’s are legit. Far and away the most comfortable thing I have ever sat in, period. Gamersacs are also only just the beginning – if you’re willing to up the investment, you can get one big enough to literally sleep on.
Sky’s the limit – Death Stranding Sam Porter Bridges ½ Scale Statue
If you know someone who has a hankerin’ for carrying babies and cargo across a desolate America, a statue of the One To Unite The Country is the way to go. standing at 106cm tall, Sam Porter Bridges would make a fine centrepiece of any collection. As an added bonus for the penny pinchers out there, shipping is free for those that spend over $100.
Under $50 – Gaming Soundtrack on Vinyl
Here’s a shock, Hewso picking a vinyl as a gift idea. Well my modern digital friends let me tell you two things a) Vinyl is the best, this is indisputable and B) Black Screen Records in the UK have a range of amazing video game soundtracks on this superior format. What is even better is they almost all come in sexy collector’s releases so clear and coloured vinyl is the order of the day, black is out baby. I have picked up a few over the years and the quality is fantastic, all printed on 180gm vinyl and the sleeves all feature stunning art. I mean just look at this Red Dead 2 release… glorious
Over $50 – Anova Precision Cooker
Sous Vide. I am sure you have heard the word before. It essentially means cooking protein in a sealed airtight bag in a bath of water. In real terms, it cooks stuff good. The Anova Precision Cooker has been the name in home Sous Vide Cooking for quite a while now and let me tell you, once you get your head around the process there is no going back. Super easy to use and it comes with a handy app that includes guides and recipes, with an Anova you will be making melt-in-your-mouth, perfectly cooked steak, chicken and pork in no time flat. I want to be buried with mine so I can continue making my perfect chicken wings in the afterlife.
Sky’s the Limit – A Fully kitted out Kamado Joe
Look, it is no secret, I like to cook. Specifically, I like to cook meat. The ultimate in meat cookers in my eyes is the Kamado. It is essentially a very large, very heavy ceramic egg that you can use to cook everything from a low and slow 24-hour brisket to a super-fast sear on your steaks. The temp is managed by two vents on the top and bottom of the egg and through a range of rather expensive additions, it can do spit roasts, pizzas, roast chooks or even deliciously smokey pasta bakes. It takes a little bit of time to learn how to use, but the end result is worth it. Plus, cooking low and slow is the perfect excuse to sit outside, listen to your new Vinyl record, play some switch while the Kamado works its magic.