Some people spend their holiday vacation from work on quality time with their family or long, healthy walks in the country. Not us. The break gave our writers the chance to catch up on some of the games, movies, and TV they'd been desperate to binge - but what really stood out as highlights? Read on to find a few gems you might have missed too. This is just the latest in a series of big questions we'll be interrogating our writers with, so share your answers and suggestions for topics with us on Twitter.
Turns out I have space in my life for more games like Stardew Valley, who knew? After pre-ordering Slime Rancher on PS4 for its release waaaay back in August after a ton of people told me I'd love it (and it also came with the best PS4 theme ever), it was only over Christmas that I actually got time to sit down and get to grips with exactly what it means to be a Plort farmer on the Far, Far Range. And when I say Plorts, I really mean poop, because this is a farming sim that tasks you with making a living out of picking up the various excrement that gets fired out of the Slimes you collect on your travels, bring back to your farm, shove into pens, and feed until they poop. It starts off easy enough, with your pink slimes eating anything and everything in sight, and the Rock Slimes favouring vegetables, but once you start getting into the realms of Quantum Slimes and Fire Slimes, things get a lot more complicated. And that's without even getting into how you can crossbreed them for maximum Plort output for making money on the Plort Market (the Stock Market for poop). It's a very big, rather wonderful, and utterly adorable rabbit hole that I'm not sure I'll ever get out of. Sam Loveridge
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
I wouldn’t say Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch was the best thing I played over Christmas, although it is pretty good. It was however the biggest hole I fell into trying to work out the different pathways through Netflix’s interactive story. If you missed it, the general gist is that it’s Black Mirror’s usual dark, sci-fi-tinged story (this time about an 1980s game developer descending into madness to make an impossible game about choices), but with a choose-your-own-adventure twist. At key points you can make decisions that could be anything from basic options like what music to listen to, or more impactful things like destroying your computer. There were five main endings in all, and I went a little conspiracy.jpg trying to get through all the branches and uncover all the possible outcomes. This is the extent of my holiday madness, happy new year! Leon Hurley
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
I went into Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse a skeptic, and I came out a disciple. I wasn't expecting that much from an animated movie about the webby one - if you're 35 like me you've seen a lot of spiders come and go - but I kept leaning over to whisper "How is it this good?" every five minutes. I couldn't help myself. First up, it was funny. Genuinely, wide smile, full-laughing funny, and in that self-aware way that you need to make all the super powers and shiny suits feel relatable. On top of that, it looks amazing - you could screenshot any second of the movie and hang it on the world - and the soundtrack has been playing on my headphones ever since. This movie even managed to make me like Post Malone, and I am legitimately old. Honestly, if you've been ignoring this because of Marvel fatigue or an aversion to animated stuff, forget all that and give it a chance. Rachel Weber
Pokemon Let's Go
My Nintendo Switch has been in full swing over the last couple of weeks, mainly due to the fact that I've been away from home, but I've also had a lot of friends coming around for a little session. Pokemon Let's Go has been my favorite game to play over the holidays, all because I caught my first shiny in the game. On purpose that is, as I actually went out to hunt this little fella down, rewarded with my shiny... a Nidoran. But before you laugh, you need to know that Nidoking is one of my favorite Pokemon and blue is my favorite color, so now I have a shiny Nidoking that looks like a huge blue Godzilla! Oh, and me and a good friend took down and caught a Zapdos together using two Joy-Cons - amazing! Brandon Saltalamacchia
The Shape of Water
I know it came out last year, but I finally got around to watching The Shape of Water over Christmas and, in hindsight, it might not have been the best choice of viewing material for a nice, innocuous winter evening movie with the in-laws. Without going into too much detail, I was not expecting the thing you might think could happen to actually... well, happen, but if anyone can make an Oscar Best Picture winner where a woman has sex with a fishman, it's Guillermo Del Toro. The Shape of Water is easily the director's best work since Pan's Labyrinth, a movie which it arguably surpasses with inimitable set design, thematic potency, and remarkable performances led by Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones, the latter of whom continues to prove that mo-cap could never match the granular filmic allure of tried and true prosthetics. The Shape of Water's adult fairytale blends reality and fantasy in ways no other film has dared to try before, and I'm glad I finally got 'round to realizing why Del Toro had been trying to make this movie for almost a decade. Alex Avard
I have this thing where I get excited about a new card or board game, buy a copy, read the rules, then never play it. Thankfully my best pal Jared humored me when I visited him at home over the break and we tried out KeyForge, a clever new card game from the creator of Magic: The Gathering that takes those fundamentals and subverts them from both top and bottom. KeyForge isn't about destroying your opponent with mighty monsters and spells - it's about being the first to forge three key (obvs). You do so by commanding your summoned creatures to 'reap' materials, playing instantaneous action cards and upgrades, or even by slaying your own forces - as long as you've played the right cards. It's all built on a system of procedurally generated decks sold complete and not to be altered, short-cutting the notion of ideal builds informed by internet number-crunching. I don't know if KeyForge will be able to sustain itself for long while thumbing its nose at the idea of a traditional metagame, but for now I'm hooked. Connor Sheridan
Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate
I started 2019 as I mean to go on: playing lots of Monster Hunter. I got me and a friend a copy of Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate for Christmas, so naturally we spent most of Christmas day smacking each other with great swords as the monsters we were supposed to be hunting looked on in confusion. It's also how I spent most of my holiday: I've put 68 hours into it already, and I'm not slowing down. Between GU's weapon styles, massive monster roster, and nostalgic environments, I am firmly on the hook. I'm still playing Monster Hunter World on the side to prepare for its Iceborne expansion - and no, I don't have a problem, thank you very much - but I haven't been this into a game since I finally played Hollow Knight last fall. What is it about Monster Hunter that's so un-put-down-able? Is it the satisfying combat, compelling crafting, epic bosses, or stellar music? I'm gonna go with 'yes.' Austin Wood
Harry Potter movies. All of them.
Parenthood and an incurable addition to Ultimate Team have set me back at least half a decade in keeping up with entertainment trends, so my festive movie ambition was to watch the entirety of the Harry Potter octalogy in one week. After all, they're totally Christmas movies, right? (Don’t at me.) I’d seen the opening three before, and recognized four from the first Lego Potter game, but beyond that was uncharted territory… and my ultimate Yuletide highlight has to be the climax of Half-Blood Prince. Somehow I’d gone nine years – thirteen if you include the books – without knowing THAT THING happened to THAT CHARACTER, and in my tiny mind it was up there with Ned Stark, Omar Little, and the Jamaican bobsled team for shock value. To the point that I’ve remained too awestruck to watch the final two flicks – but 6 out of 8 surely ain’t bad. Next on the must-see list is Bandersnatch, so look forward to my volcanic post-Xmas takes on that one in February (2023). Ben Wilson
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
I share Rachel's boundless enthusiasm for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, but she's got that covered, so I'm going to once again wax poetic about how great Black Ops 4 has been treating me. Granted, I didn't get to play much of anything due to vacationing with the fam - but as soon as I got home, I booted up that Blops multiplayer straight away. The added (and free to earn) content in the Operation Absolute Zero patch took me by surprise when a new Operator was added: Zero, the ice queen hacker with nifty abilities that wreak havoc on your typically trustworthy minimap. The grind, restart, repeat loop of going for Prestige ranks has me hooked, and I love trying out new weapons and perk loadouts to keep things continuously fresh. If Call of Duty pulled off a Black Ops 4-grade success every year, I don't know how I'd make time to play anything else. Lucas Sullivan
Which movies or games ate up the most of your end of 2018 break? Let us know on Twitter.