It's that time of the year again, when everyone gathers around a warm fireplace to drink eggnog, exchange gifts, and… play video games? Evidently, if you're reading this!
Every game on this list has been chosen because it exhibits holiday cheer. Some do so via quirky costumes and special missions, others overhaul their levels to look seasonally suitable, and a few select titles on this list are built from the ground up to celebrate the holidays. So whether you like driving gingerbread trains, fighting wintertime crime, or learning how to say Santa Claus in different languages, we've got games for you.
If you're a gamer who likes to deck the halls with zombie brains, Dead Rising 4 has you covered. Featuring franchise-favorite character Frank West, DR4 plops you down in Christmastime Colorado, where you can play through a full campaign revolving around hacking through zombies and reveling in the holiday spirit. Unlike previous entries in the series, there's no doomsday timer or co-op in the campaign, but Capcom compensates for these omissions by including one of the most awesome holiday-themed menu music suites of all-time.
'Tis the season to be speedy! Sonic Forces: Speed Battle has brought the snowy surprises of the holiday season to its multiplayer racing gameplay. Every racetrack in the game is coated in a layer of fluffy powder for a limited time, so get in before the snow melts. Also, some players have gotten their hands on an elf-costumed Classic Sonic, so keep your eyes peeled for Santa-assisting hedgehogs as you dash through the game's wintery environments.
Batman: Arkham Origins is a Christmas Eve caper for the caped crusader, centered onhis struggle to fend off a league of deadly assassins sent to kill him on the night before Christmas. In the game, you traverse the snowy streets of Gotham (with advanced weather-snow effects present on the PC version, if you have a strong Nvidia graphics card), fight in holiday-themed encounters, and even drop thugs onto prickly, pointy Christmas trees. It's very festive! If you want a taste of Origins' electrifying holiday energy, check out its insane remix of "Carol of the Bells."
Credit: Warner Bros. Interactive
If you're looking for a wholesome experience for young, imaginative gamers, or if you simply like to build train sets and track layouts, Tracks is an inexpensive and fantastic choice. It features tons of content and has a bunch of special items and settings for the holiday season, including Christmas trees, igloos, village houses, snowy weather, gingerbread trains and much more. For train enthusiasts who want to spend countless hours building their very own winter wonderland with its own wooden railroad system, Tracks: The Train Set Game is the holiday treat to beat.
Credit: Excalibur Games
Clustertruck is a nails-hard, adrenaline-pumping, first-person speed platformer, so only those who like their holiday games difficult need apply here. For those who still want in, Clustertruck features a neat winter wonderland DLC world (that's included for free with the base game), enabling you to run, jump and slide across trucks traveling through fantastical Arctic levels. Plus, there are Christmas and other season-themed levels made by fans in the Steam workshop, if you want even more holly, jolly Clustertruck madness.
Credit: tinyBuild LLC
If you [know a young child who] could use a fun, educational holiday game, Google's very own Santa Tracker is a great browser-based option. Just open up Google Chrome and head to Santa Tracker's web page, where you'll find a whole suite of interactive activities. The games on offer let you design your own custom elf, learn how to say Santa Claus in a ton of different languages, code a snowflake, prep presents at the North Pole — and those are just a few examples of what's available. There's a lot of educational enjoyment to be had with Santa Tracker, so give it a whirl.
If you want to play as a flying, androgynous purple-and-peach jester who soars through airborne, Christmas-colored hoops to the tune of Jingle Bells, Nights Into Dreams' Christmas Nights into Dreams component is the bizarre, beautiful blast from Sega's past to check out. It's 2.5D flying fun for all ages, so if you've got family you want to share the colorful, zany Nights action with, this Xbox 360 remaster makes for a great holiday addition to your Xbox One game library via backward compatibility.