I was talking with my friend's spouse last night about what she was getting him for Christmas. She'd considered buying a video game, but she wasn't sure which one he'd like and assumed if he really wanted a certain game, he'd probably already bought it for himself. I've heard this complaint from husbands and wives of adult gamers: how do you choose the right game for Christmas?
My solution is not to choose a game at all. I recommend giving a video game headset as a Christmast gift instead. Most gamers get by with earbuds or the headset that comes with the console, making mid- to high-end gaming headsets the gaming equivalent of nice socks: a gift you don't know you want or think you need, but cherish once you give it a try. I've tried plenty of headsets over the years at various gaming events and competitions, and point friends and family toward these three options:
Astro A40TR with Mixamp:
Astro is like the Apple of video game headsets. Their products have beautiful design, work with minimal hassle, and cost a little bit extra. I began using A40s when I shared a one-room apartment with my wife in New York City. I figured I wouldn't need them once we moved into our house in Texas, but have discovered I prefer wearing the comfy headset while playing games over using the living room speakers. The A40s surround sound feels open and powerful, and the Mixamp allows you to adjust the volume between the game and your friends online. The TR headset is Astro's special line designed for competitive play.
Turtle Beach 420X
Turtle Beach established its identity by partnering with big name video game brands, but I actually prefer its headsets for the non-gaming functions of a console. The 420Xs are both wireless and cheaper than Astros A40s. The audio quality won't please hardcore audiophiles, but for the average person binge-watching Netflix, they're more than sufficient. And the wireless capability makes it easy to pop the headset on and off without dragging wires across the living room — especially helpful if you have a pet.
Turtle Beach Ear Force Recon 50X
The stereo headset doesn't have the bells and whistles of the previous two choices, but it's a more affordable upgrade for the casual multiplayer gamer. If you really want to win over the heart of your video game-loving niece or nephew, this is your best option.