Remember how it felt as a kid when you opened your brand new games console? I remember being 9 years old and excitedly tearing into a brand new PS2 on Christmas morning and instantly being able to enjoy Ratchet and Clank. Ah nostalgia.
Kids these days don’t have the luxury of plug in and play, as updates, patches, installs and errors grind the excitement to a halt, especially on Christmas Day when millions of people are trying to access the series simultaneously. It’s a great idea to open the box, plug the system in and do a few steps of setup before you’re forced to deal with it when all you can think about is drinking baileys and eating everything but the Bounties in a box of Celebrations.
So, what are the 5 most important things any console gifter should do before the big day? Here’s our suggestions.
1. Update the console firmware
Without updates, consoles only have the most basic features – some may even not allow you to connect to the internet without doing an update. Don’t spend Christmas with a useless brick of plastic, make sure the console is up to date and working smoothly before you wrap it up to take some of the stress out of the day!
It also means you don’t have to pretend you know what you’re doing in front of your family as you struggle through the menus for the first time…
2. Install & update some games
Games are getting bigger all the time, and the last thing you want to do on Christmas morning is wait 2 hours for your favourite games to install, especially if you don’t have great internet speeds.
Pop in any discs, install the games and run any updates so that your lucky recipient can start playing straight away, that way the fun isn’t at the mercy of the servers.
There’s very rarely any installing to do on the Switch, but why not install some free to play games like Rocket League and Fortnite for some on-the-go fun? Of course, these free to play games are also available on the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X too, so get a few of those loaded up just to be safe.
3. Set up accounts and subscriptions
If you’re a parent buying for a child, you’ll likely have to set these things up yourself anyway, so why not do it ahead of time?
Set up a user profile, create an account and sign up to the console’s online subscription so you have one less thing to do Christmas morning. Make sure if you’re buying a Playstation or Xbox to claim the most recent PS+ or Games with Gold games to bulk out the library!
Don’t forget if you’re setting up a Playstation 5 to claim the whole PS+ collection, as there are 21 incredible games from the Playstation 4 available there. Watch out though as many of these are more mature games, but there are some child friendly ones available too.
4. Check out the parental controls
If you’re buying a console for a child, you don’t want to let your kids loose with your payment information and you might also want to be able to limit and monitor their activity time. Don’t forget when you used to play Game Boy under the covers after bedtime, kids are resourceful.
Nintendo Switch Parental Controls
The Nintendo Switch has a handy Parental Control setting that lets you control and monitor the system’s playtime, and lets you set a pin to restrict children from playing content that is inappropriate for their age or communicating online with strangers.
The companion app gives you a breakdown of the playtime for each game, so you can get a true idea of how much time they are playing games, so its well worth downloading.
Playstation 5 Parental Controls
The PS5’s parental control settings give you a lot of the same functionality ad the Nintendo Switch, but it also allows you to set spending limits. This is a great setting to use if you want to give your child the autonomy to buy their own V-Bucks or in-game currency, but this way you can decide ahead of time what they are allowed to spend.
Xbox Series X/S Parental Controls
The Xbox Series X/S also has settings to help you get a little more control over your Childs gameplay. Like the Playstation and Switch, you can set this up in the settings and monitor and control everything through a mobile app, so you don’t need to be using the system in order to do your parental duties.
5. Check you have all the accessories you need
With a large portion of England in Tier 4 lockdown over Christmas this year, one way to enjoy Christmas at home is to play some multiplayer games together.
The Xbox Series X and Playstation 5 only come with one controller in the box, however the Nintendo Switch technically comes with 2, as the Joy Con can work independently and give you a quick local-multiplayer option out of the box. To have the best Nintendo Switch experience, we highly recommend picking up a Nintendo Switch Pro Controller . Though it may be pricey, it is still one of the highest quality controllers available and features an insane 40 hour battery life.
If you’re gifting an Xbox Series X/S this year, you might not need to buy any spare controllers as all your Xbox One controllers will work with the newest console with no compromises. Simply pair your old controllers up and start playing some split-screen co-op straight away. Stock up on batteries though, as the Xbox controller lineup doesn’t support wired charging unless you buy the Play n Charge kit separately.
The Playstation 5 doesn’t support Dualshock 4 controllers in PS5 games, however if you’re going to be enjoying some PS4 games you should be able to connect your old controllers up just fine. Otherwise, picking up a second Dualsense controller isn’t a bad idea, as this controller has all the latest features and works just fine across PS4 and PS5 games.
There are a variety of charging docks, battery packs, comfort grips etc available for all the consoles, so if you want to make sure your expensive tech lasts in the hands of children, it might be worth investing in a little protection (though maybe you should have thought of that long before they were born…).