The best consoles, games and accessories for students
Welcome to the next gaming generation. The Xbox One S All-Digital Edition is not only the cheapest Xbox on the market but also the only one built for the streaming industry, ditching the disc drive entirely. Xbox features exclusive franchises like Halo, Gears of War, Sea of Thieves and Cuphead, plus it's supporting a digital-first ecosystem with Game Pass Ultimate, a monthly subscription that combines Xbox Live Gold and Game Pass.
That's not to mention the most important feature for anyone in a dorm room, shared apartment or Marie Kondo household: The Xbox One S All-Digital Edition ensures you'll never have to buy a game disc again, leaving plenty of extra space on your shelves for textbooks. Or toys. We don't judge (but Kondo might).
There's nothing like a little dismemberment to disperse the test-taking blues. Mortal Kombat 11 is the perfect way to settle a disagreement among friends, decide who has to take out the trash or release some of that collegiate stress. NetherRealm Studios has upped the ante once again in this year's installment, devising fantastically disgusting Fatalities all rendered at up to 4K and 60fps.
It's not all new though. Mortal Kombat 11 stars legendary series characters like Sub Zero, Scorpion, Raiden and Jade as well as the traditional, arcade-style Klassic Tower mode. New additions like Kollector, Geras and Cetrion round out the roster, at least for now. More characters will join the fight as the months roll on, with at least six confirmed post-launch additions. You know what that really means: Prepare for a slew of fresh fatalities.
The Nintendo Switch is a remarkable little machine for students who are splitting their time between class and a cramped dorm room. For one, it doesn't require a TV or external monitor to play. That means you can curl up in bed or lie on your campus lawn and sink 100 hours into something like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Heck, you can even grind some levels in Pokemon: Let's Go, Eevee, or the upcoming Dragon Quest XI while you're sitting in class and waiting for your professor to arrive. Of course, if you do have a big screen, you can also dock the console and play it that way. It's a versatile system that adapts to your lifestyle.
You might not know Jack, but he certainly knows how to throw a party. The Jackbox Party Pack 4 comes with five games built for multiple players -- Fibbage, Monster Seeking Monster, Survive the Internet, Bracketeering and Civic Doodle. All of them are playable with smartphones, meaning there's no need to buy a bunch of gamepads only to have your friends spill sticky drinks and burrito detritus all over them.
Jackbox has built its reputation delivering witty, replayable group games, and the Party Pack 4 continues this tradition. For your back-to-school rager, Bracketeering can host up to 16 players, and for a more intimate, midyear romp, there's Fibbage for two to eight players. If you're really laying it on thick with your new crush, Monster Seeking Monster is a dating game about pairing off spooky, supernatural creatures -- you know, like most college students.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the best video game mash-up ever created. Name any Nintendo character or franchise, and it's probably represented in this colorful and wonderfully-bombastic brawler. Mario, Bowser and the rest of the gang from the Mushroom Kingdom? Of course. Link, Zelda and Ganondorf? Yep. How about the original Castlevania heroes? They're here as well. Metroid, Pokémon, Animal Crossing, Fire Emblem, Donkey Kong -- the list goes on and on. Nintendo is still expanding the roster, too, with regular DLC packs that include Joker from Persona 5 and, soon, the hero from Dragon Quest XI. And, if everyone you know is busy with homework, you can always delve into the surprisingly robust World of Light story mode. For $60, the game is phenomenal value.
As much as you're going to spend the next year studying, you're also going to need the occasional break. And if you have an Xbox One or a Windows 10 PC, chances are you're going to want to play video games with friends online during your downtime. With an Xbox Game Pass Ultimatesubscription, you can not only do that but also get access to more than 100 games to play on PC and Xbox, including Forza Horizon 4, Minecraft, Mortal Kombat X, Wolfenstein II and more. Additionally, the subscription comes with early access to titles from Xbox Game Studios, such as the highly anticipated Gears 5.
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate starts at $10 per month each for the PC and Xbox One memberships, or you can get a package that lets you play games on both for $15 per month. That's not a bad deal if you want to play games like Gears 5 before they even launch, which is one of the main benefits of the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.