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12 can’t-miss holiday video game gifts

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are fast approaching, and that means tons of great deals on video games and systems. But which should you buy first? Start with these.

NES Classic Edition

The pint-sized NES Classic Edition lets you play all of your old-school favorites.

It’s been awhile since Nintendo could claim to have the hottest holiday tech toy, but make no mistake: gamers are going nuts for the NES Classic Edition. Sold out within hours of going on sale, this adorable, pint-sized replica of Nintendo’s beloved home console plugs right into your TV to deliver 30 awesome NES games. It even includes a spot-on version of the NES controller, and while the cords are all too short, the gaming goodness packed in this glorious stocking stuffer will last many, many months. It’ll be tough to find, but it’s worth the effort.

“Dishonored 2”

Stealth and deception is the name of the game in ‘Dishonored 2.’ Or you can just go nuts. It’s your call.

($60 | PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Let the elf keep an eye on the kids while you enjoy a little stealth on the shelf this year. The sequel to 2012’s Game of the Year, “Dishonored 2” ups the ante with two unique playable characters thrust into a stunning steampunk world brimming with danger and choice. Do you sneak through windows and pounce on unknowing bad guys, or wreak havoc with potent mystical powers? Either way, you can’t go wrong.


‘Overwatch’ is one of the best multiplayer shooters in years.

($60 | PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Blizzard Entertainment has made a fortune off this beautifully polished and brilliantly balanced online shooter, but if you or someone you love isn’t among the 20 million who have already bought “Overwatch,” don’t hesitate to join the crew. On the fast track to becoming The Next Big Thing in competitive gaming, “Overwatch” is also a ton of fun with a group of friends. Just don’t main Bastion. Seriously.

“Pokémon Sun/Moon”

‘Pokémon’ is 20 years old and still addictive.

($50 | 3DS)
Finally stopped playing “Pokémon Go?” Good. Now put down your smartphone and pick up a 3DS: you’re ready for a real “Pokémon” game. Commemorating 20 years of “Pokémon, Sun/Moon” takes place in a new tropical setting yielding plenty of new pokémon and features. Long time fans will dig refinements like an upgraded Pokédex and the ability to refresh your pokémon after battle. Addictive and colorful, it’s another time-sucking treat from the masters of the craft.

“Skylanders: Imaginators”

‘Skylanders: Imaginators’ lets you create your own characters.

($75 | PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U)
While fellow toys-to-life franchise “Disney Infinity” closed shop this year, “Skylanders” keeps right on ticking. The latest offers a cool twist that kids young and old alike will love: the ability to create their own “Skylander,” customize it, and even order a 3D printed version. It’s still a bit devious with how it locks out content, though, so be prepared to cough up more dough on extra toys as we roll into the new year. (Starter Pack: $75 for PS4, Xbox One | $65 for Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U)

Civilization VI

You’ll never be able to make just one more move in ‘Civilization VI.’

($60 | PC)
“Just one more turn,” they say, but they really mean, “just 36 more turns and okay maybe 10 more after that.” The most addictive strategy game ever returns in its sixth incarnation, and it’s one of the best yet. Richly complex yet still surprisingly accessible, it retains its core gameplay but introduces cool new features like unstacked cities and a Civics tech tree. The result breathes life into the 25-year-old formula, still the perfect gift for the PC gamer in your life.

“Battlefield 1”

‘Battlefield 1’ combines incredible multiplayer with a harrowing single-player campaign.

($60 | PS4, Xbox One, PC)
While “Call of Duty” forges into the future, EA’s “Battlefield” series smartly took a step back into history by tackling World War I. It was a great choice; this is one of the best “Battlefield” games in ages, bringing the franchise’s brilliantly chaotic multiplayer to a gripping old-school arena. It also rectifies a longstanding critique of Battlefield by including a genuinely moving single-player campaign. Enlist today.

“Forza Horizon 3”

Want to drive a Lamborghini on the beach? ‘Forza Horizon 3’ is the game for you.

($39 | Xbox One, PC)
There are a great many reasons to own an Xbox One, but this season, there is one really, really great one: “Forza Horizon 3.” Explore a wide-open virtual Australia from behind the wheel of vehicles both exotic and mundane. Whether you’re smashing through the outback or needling through tight streets, you’ll marvel at the drop-dead gorgeous graphics and perfect handling.

“NBA 2K17”

‘NBA 2K17’ is as close as you can get to being an NBA champion without having to do all of that exercise.

($60 | PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC)
The 2016-2017 NBA season is just getting started, but the developers of “NBA 2K” have been perfecting their league-leading basketball sim for well over 15 years now. Their work has paid off with the best looking, best playing, and flat-out best sports game on the market. An improved Career mode, a deeper MyGM, and countless nips and tucks to the already excellent gameplay leads to another championship year for the basketball dynasty.

“Titanfall 2”

‘Titanfall 2’ is for everyone who’s tired of the standard online shooter formula. And it’s got a great campaign.

($60 | PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Squeezed between “Battlefield 1” and “Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare,” this sequel was put in a tough spot on the release calendar. But “Titanfall 2” is the sort of game any shooter fan shouldn’t miss. It once again delivers fantastic giant mech multiplayer, but this year’s model includes one of the most inventive, exciting solo campaigns of 2016, too.

“Uncharted 4”

‘Uncharted 4’ is the last in the franchise, and one heck of a send-off.

($60 | PS4)
Though it came out at the beginning of 2016, Nathan Drake’s final adventure (for now) remains a must-have for PS4 owners. Hang on ledges, make precarious leaps, and blast bad guys as you hunt down a legendary pirate treasure. While its gameplay is great, its cinematic delivery is off the charts. This is perhaps the best-looking video game of the year.

“Watch Dogs 2”

‘Watch Dogs 2’ lets you hack the world for good.

($60 | PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Hackers manipulating real-world events by breaking into supposedly secure online systems? As if that could really happen! Alas, we have video games like the excellent open-world romp “Watch Dogs 2” to help us experience such far-fetched fantasies. Set in San Francisco, this sequel improves on the original with a great script, tons of activities, and a wealth of gadgetry that let you stick it to The Man by hacking through an interconnected city.

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Ben Silverman is on Twitter at ben_silverman.