This story is part of Holiday Gift Guide 2021, our list of ideas, by topic, by recipient and by price, to help you discover the perfect gift.
Heads up, holiday shoppers: The Xbox Series S is currently in stock at Walmart. In a way, that’s not news: Unlike the newer Nintendo Switch OLED and the more powerful Xbox Series X and PS5, the Series S has always been comparatively easy to obtain since its November 2020 release.
But we’re highlighting it here because — even as folks continue to pay huge premiums for the chance to snag a PS5 — we’ve found the Xbox Series S to be a great little gaming box when paired with an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription. Yes, plenty of gamers shake their heads at this $300 console because it doesn’t deliver “true 4K” gaming. That’s true, as is the fact that it packs a relatively paltry 512GB of storage (a proprietary expansion card costs a whopping $220). It doesn’t play disc-based games or movies, and if you’re awaiting upcoming PlayStation exclusives like Horizon Forbidden West or God of War: Ragnarok, you won’t find them here.
But as someone who’s owned a Series S for the past 11 months, I think the benefits far outweigh those caveats. Of course, the Series S offers all those other big cross-platform games of the season — the latest entries in the Battlefield, Madden, Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto series, to name a few. And thanks to Game Pass, I have access to dozens of other great games at no extra charge, including the Xbox-exclusive Halo Infinite when it hits on December 8. Not too shabby.
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Published earlier, updated to reflect new availability.