Each holiday season offers a unique opportunity to slow down from the hustle-and-bustle, spend time with family and play plenty of video games.
Like an endless spout, a flow of new titles are released each year offering a variety of outstanding experiences. A select few lean into the holiday season with special in-game events that can offer a bit of added immersion for this time of year.
Here is a list of family-friendly games that are offering unique events and cosmetic items for the end-of-year celebrations. In a sigh of relief, none of these games need to be played on the new generation of consoles that remain very difficult to find.
1. Toy Day in ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’
Released last year at the height of quarantine, “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” for the Nintendo Switch became an immensely popular game, selling nearly as many copies than the franchises’ previous titles combined.
A quiet experience, the game allows players to build a home on island and a become a member of a village of cute animals. They can participate in activities like farming, fishing, searching for fossils and trading their crops and other resources.
During the event for this holiday season, players’ islands are blanketed in snow; a free holiday update includes themed events and enhancements.
Jingle the Reindeer, a limited-time character, will present players with tasks to complete on their holiday decorated islands.
Toy Day will be celebrated in-game on Dec. 25 and will include Christmas ornaments, gifts and costumes.
Gamers can spread the holiday cheer with their fellow villagers sharing wrapped gifts.
“We’d like to invite everyone to experience the holidays together with family and friends in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, along with your island residents bringing their unique seasonal cheer,” said Nick Chavez, Nintendo of America’s Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing in a press release shared earlier this season. “We’re eager for everyone to discover all the changes arriving to your islands during this holiday season.”
The event runs from Dec. 15 to Jan. 5.
More: Why ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ is the ideal video game escape right now
2. ’Among Us’ celebrates with holiday outfits
A widely popular multi-platform game available for free on smart phones, “Among Us” plays out like a murder mystery in space.
This cooperative, multiplayer game calls on players to serve as members of a space ship crew carrying out tasks like diverting power and painting the craft’s engines.
Seems easy right?
Here’s the catch: One member of the crew is selected at random by the game be an an alien impostor. That player’s goal is to sabotage the work of their crew-mates and meticulously murder them without being caught.
If crew members suspect who the imposter is, they can call a vote to have the suspected imposter ejected from the craft.
This month, game developer InnerSloth has added several holiday-themed hats that players can use to customize their avatar before each round.
With all playing within the same household or taking part in a match from afar, this game is bound to create a memorable experience.
The holiday hats will be available to players though December.
3. ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ comes to ‘Fall Guys’
“Fall Guys,” the game filled with whacky, last-man-standing contests, will celebrate the holiday season in collaboration with Disney, bringing content themed after the “The Nightmare Before Christmas” to the game world.
In this online competitive game, groups of up to 60 players control jellybean-like creatures and compete against each other in a chaotic series of challenges that including obstacle courses. These contents require players to navigate floating platforms and races where players must avoid obstacles while controlling their easily-toppled avatars.
Without local multiplayer options, the game offers households a change to take turns at the controller and watch the pandemonium run its course.
During this event, the game is offering exclusive costumes including the The Mayor of Halloween Town, Sally and Jack Skellington.
Players can also collect in-game points during this limited time event and unlock to unlock other rewards including a Santa Jack costume.
With enough points, gamers will be able to earn the title of Pumpkin King.
The holiday costumes will be available from Dec. 16 to Dec. 27.
More: ‘Fall Guys’ to join ‘Fortnite’ family under Epic Games. What that could mean for players
4. Pokémon UNITE offers in-game gifts
Another free-to-play game available on the mobile platform, Pokémon UNITE is a multiplayer online battle arena from the popular franchise available on mobile devices and the Nintendo Switch.
Before battle, players close one Pokémon each, equipped with its own strengths and weaknesses suited in cooperation with other players to defeat an opposing force.
During the course of a match, players defeat wild Pokémon or opposing Pokémon and collect the Aeos energy they drop.
Gamers then deposit the energy resource into one of their opponents’ goal zones to score points for their team as others defend the goal zones to limit their opponents’ opportunities to score.
As the battle progresses, the player-controlled Pokémon get stronger and learn a variety of new moves and evolve. The team with the most points at the end of the battle wins.
This holiday season, developer TiMi Studio is offering players themed log-in gifts such as reward boxes containing limited licenses and fashion items.
During the special event, Players can watch as their Pokémon are transformed into snowmen during battle and take part in a snowball fight in Shivre City, one of the game’s main locations.
They can can also obtain items for participating in the games’s challenges.
This is taking place from Dec. 15 to Jan. 16.
With a matchmaking system built into the game, Pokémon UNITE offers and opportunity for households to work together or compete and pass on a passion for the franchise to a new generation.
More: Pokémon UNITE is a good game, but it needs to fix the money issue to be great
5. ‘Fortnite’ hosts Winterfest
Winterfest is returning to the popular survival battle game “Fortnite.”
Developed by Epic Games and geared toward younger gamers, this free-to-play title popularized the last-man-standing Battle Royal game mode and built a reputation for hosting in-game events and concerts.
Players will have access to to the Winterfest Lodge where they can unwrap a new gift for the two week event.
The gifts will include two outfits, two pickaxes, two wraps, as well as a glider and other additions.
More: Fortnite to be ‘blacklisted’ from App Store until legal battle with Apple subsides, Epic Games CEO says
For a limited time, gamers will also meet two new characters, Krisabelle and Polar Peely, and complete challenges to obtain additional holiday-themed outfits.
Holiday-themed objectives offer players a chance to earn additional experience points.
Players who complete seven Winterfest quests will unlock a winter-themed glider. Those who compete ten quests will be rewarded with Frosty Back Bling.
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Winterfest will also give players access to a new set of weapons and tools fit for the season, including Chiller Grenades that knock back foes and encase their feet in slippery ice blocks, a Snowball Launcher and a Sneaky Snowman that allows players to disguise themselves as a snowman to sneak about thee battlefield.
Equipped with items and outfits fitting to the holiday, families can compete against one another on the battlefield using the game’s matchmaking service.
Winterfest will take place from Dec. 16 to Jan. 6.
Reach Mike Christen at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @MikeChristenCDH and on Instagram at @michaelmarco. Please consider supporting his work and that of other Daily Herald journalists by subscribing to the publication.