The PlayStation 4 has been a massive success since its original launch in 2013, and this is due in no small part to its incredible selection of games. From exclusives developed by Sony and its partners to third-party releases, the best PS4 games cross a gamut of genres from first-person shooters to action, role-playing, sports, racing, strategy, and even puzzle games. If you’re just now picking up a PlayStation 4 for the first time, it can be daunting to choose where to start, but we’re here to help. We’ve compiled a list of the best PS4 games and divided them by genre, so you’ll be able to find the perfect games to suit your preference.
The Surge 2
The PS4-exclusive Bloodborne is one of the best games on the entire system, and developer Deck13 took major inspiration from it when the studio created the original The Surge back in 2017. The game introduced a limb-targeting mechanic and a science-fiction dystopian setting but retained the speed and aggression of Bloodborne to great effect, despite environments blending together after a while.
With The Surge 2, Deck13 has clearly listened to fan feedback, as the story has been moved into a large, open city with tons of secrets to uncover and enemies to battle. There are far more bosses in the sequel than in the original, and they force you to use every trick at your disposal in order to succeed. What hasn’t changed is the limb-targeting system, and slicing off a head or arm is as satisfying as ever.
PlayStation players couldn’t play Remedy Entertainment’s last major game, Quantum Break, but they have been given something much better in Control. The third-person shooter builds on Quantum Break’s mix of traditional gunfights and superhuman powers, but it trims most of the fat and is set in a much more interesting environment — the titular Federal Bureau of Control.
As new director Jesse Faden, it’s your job to uncover the mystery surrounding your brother’s disappearance and defeat the strange “Hiss” enemies you come across. This is easier said than done, but with the right abilities and knowledge of the shape-shifting Service Weapon, you’ll be able to save the world from certain doom.
Read our full Control review
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
The Dark Souls formula got a healthy dose of speed and horror when Bloodborne released back in 2015, and From Software has managed to make things even more extreme in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Set in Sengoku-era Japan rather than a wholly original world, the game is nonetheless filled with magic and monsters ready to kill you at a moment’s notice. No enemy is too weak to deserve your attention, and many are formidable in one-on-one fights.
The real meat of Sekiro, however, are the boss fights. They play out like choreographed dances, requiring you to learn a boss’ every move before you’re ready to go in for the kill. With a “Posture” system becoming more important in most fights than a standard health bar, you need to stay aggressive, but getting greedy will result in a swift death.
Devil May Cry 5
Devil May Cry 5 is a sequel to a game released over a decade ago, but you wouldn’t know that from playing it. The flashy combat is brought to life with the power of the impressive RE Engine – also used for Resident Evil 2 – and with three protagonists using very different combat styles, you never do the same thing twice in Devil May Cry 5.
Nero and Dante both make their return alongside the mysterious “V,” who makes use of demons to do his fighting for him. Regardless of who you’re controlling, Devil May Cry 5 is an over-the-top adrenaline rush, with plenty of humor and ridiculous weapons that should please longtime fans.
Bloodborne is not for the faint at heart. This action-RPG adventure, a spiritual successor to Hidetaka Miyazaki‘s Dark Souls series, takes the challenging combat and methodical boss encounters of the aforementioned games but speeds up the gameplay for a more frenetic and tense experience.
A dark, gothic setting and Lovecraftian story provide a bleak backdrop for the white-knuckle gameplay. As a Hunter, you’ll make your way through the city of Yharnam, where a strange curse has begun turning locals into mindless beasts. While not technically a horror game, Bloodborne’s setting and high-stakes combat are uniquely terrifying. Be sure to stay alert, because the world of Bloodborne is full of unforgiving monsters and traps around every corner, making it one of the best PS4 games to date.
Read our full Bloodborne review
Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition
The launch of Diablo III is infamous. Hotly anticipated, the game was hit with awful server issues and serious gameplay flaws, like a real-money auction house, that sucked out the fun. Thankfully, Blizzard revamped the game through a number of patches and one full-blown expansion. Then, it released the game on console with support for up to four players in co-op.
The result is a fiendishly entertaining, supercharged action-RPG that’s a blast to play with buddies on a couch or online. While other games might have a better story or better graphics, Diablo III is pure stress relief. Sit down, obliterate some demons, and watch your numbers shoot into the stratosphere.
Read our full Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition review
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
From the mind of designer Hideo Kojima comes Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, the fifth (and ostensibly final) entry in the long-running stealth espionage series. The goofy and over-the-top tone the series is known for has been downplayed, and this installment instead delivers a far grittier and more reined-in narrative that follows Venom Snake (Big Boss) as he works to re-establish his mercenary army in his war against the shadowy Cipher.
It’s one of the best PS4 games available and has garnered near-universal acclaim thanks to its meticulously designed gameplay, which allows players to complete missions in virtually limitless ways while recruiting and building a mercenary army. Kiefer Sutherland lends his voice as Big Boss, in what might be the best stealth action game of all time.
Grand Theft Auto V
Don’t mistake the PS4 version of Grand Theft Auto V — Rockstar’s extraordinary open-world opus — for a mere cash-grabbing re-release. The next-gen version of the already impressive game blows the original out of the water, even if the storyline and locales are identical. Rockstar’s unique additions, such as the first-person mode, allow the title to stand out from the crowd, bolstering it more than the updated visuals and expanded heists ever could.
The re-release also allows for larger online matches, adds a number of songs to in-game radio stations, and even allows PlayStation 3 players to upload their previous characters. Couple all this with some of the finest writing and voice acting of any video game to date, and you have a title that’s the cream of the next-gen crop.
Read our full Grand Theft Auto V review
Hitman 2 almost failed to see the light of day, as publisher Square Enix cut ties with developer IO Interactive before it had a chance to release the game. Now independent, the studio not only salvaged its legendary assassin series but delivered an impressive sequel that builds on everything that made the 2016 reboot so impressive. There are dozens of ways to take out each target, and the game’s enormous, sprawling maps are loaded with secrets and hilarious interactions that fit the Hitman tone perfectly.
Unlike the 2016 reboot, Hitman 2 also released as a retail release from the very beginning, rather than being split up as episodes over the course of several months. Players who own the 2016 game even get access to all of those missions in Hitman 2, complete with the enhancements IO Interactive included in the sequel.
Read our full Hitman 2 review
Director Yoko Taro’s games have always been delightfully bizarre, but their moment-to-moment gameplay had never reached the same heights as Taro’s stories. For Nier: Automata, the semi-sequel to 2010’s Nier, Taro partnered with PlatinumGames to create a game with stylish action, tight twin-stick shooting, and clever perspective shifts.
For the first time, Taro has delivered a game that is just as engaging to play as it is to watch, and it also happens to feature one of the best narratives, and endings, in the entire medium. It takes three playthroughs to see the entire story, but the time you invest will be well worth it by the time the final credits roll.
Read our full Nier: Automata review
Red Dead Redemption 2
Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2 is the result of decades of development experience, delivering one of the strongest stories we’ve seen from the studio despite often being limited to characters we’ve already known from the original game. Over its long, slow-burn tale, we are shown the heartache and pain that came with the end of the Wild West era, and protagonist Arthur Morgan’s gruff-but-nurturing personality makes him the perfect star during this transition.
If you don’t care about dialogue, however, Red Dead Redemption 2 is just an absolute joy to play. Exploring the open world almost always results in finding something you haven’t seen before, whether it be a new species of animal to hunt or a bizarre murder scene to investigate. Getting lost in the Wild West is easy, but we don’t ever want to leave.
Read our full Red Dead Redemption 2 review
God of War
The original three God of War games, as well as the prequel God of War: Ascension, are violent, over-the-top, often ridiculous games that center on anti-hero Kratos and his struggle against the gods and monsters of Greek mythology. After so many games, the formula had grown stale, so developer Sony Santa Monica went back to the drawing board for its 2018 reboot/sequel, simply titled God of War.
The result? A more grounded and intimate adventure that breaks down Kratos’ character and turns him into a more relatable hero. The combat has also been altered drastically, focusing more on strategy than blind button-mashing, and the new two-person encounters with Kratos’ son Atreus guarantee each fight still feels fresh.
Somewhat surprisingly, the game eschews the linear structure of the previous games for the more open-ended “Metroidvania” style we’ve seen become so popular in action-role-playing games this generation. It isn’t exactly a fully open-world game, but God of War provides you with plenty of optional areas and secrets to find. God of War just might be the most visually impressive game to hit the PlayStation 4 to date, so you’re going to want to take some time and just look around and take in the developers’ interpretation of Norse mythology.
Read our full God of War review
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Following the success of Tomb Raider and Rise of the Tomb Raider, the end of Lara Croft’s origin story, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, is an epic adventure that shows us a different side of our hero. Set across beautiful landscapes in South America, Shadow of the Tomb Raider both ups the scale of the series and the emotions.
This is an edgier Croft, one whose decisions sometimes bewilder but always entertain. With great stealth and third-person shooting mechanics and tons of hidden treasures and mysteries to uncover, Croft’s origin story is as fun as it is narratively satisfying.
Read our full Shadow of the Tomb Raider review
Naughty Dog is one of the most talented game studios on the planet, and the developer certainly showed that with the Uncharted series. Following treasure-hunting adventurer Nathan Drake in all but the recent Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, the series riffs on the Indiana Jones format, but with an added dose of sarcasm and adrenaline that truly makes it feel like you’re playing a movie.
Over the course of the four main games – the first three are bundled in The Nathan Drake Collection – Drake and partner Sully travel across the globe in search of riches, and they always seem to run into trouble along the way. That leads to plenty of shootouts and skin-of-your-teeth escape sequences, which often offer spectacle rarely seen elsewhere in video games. If you want to try out online play instead, Uncharted 4’s competitive multiplayer is surprisingly engaging, even managing to pack in some of the campaigns’ humor.
Read our full Uncharted: The Lost Legacy review
Swinging from skyscraper to skyscraper through a living, breathing New York metropolis is just one of the things that Marvel’s Spiderman does incredibly well. Though the main story is only an estimated 20 hours long, there’s plenty for players to see and do. From unlocking really cool Spidey suits and gadgets to taking out your camera and capturing some of the city’s best landmarks, it’s really hard not to feel like the real Spider-Man when playing this game.
Critics have even gone on to say that it’s the best Superhero video game of its time (surpassing that of Batman: Arkham Asylum) and we hope that this means we’ll get more games in other superhero universes just like it.
Read our full Marvel’s Spider-Man review
Mortal Kombat 11
Made famous (or infamous) in the ‘90s for its violent gameplay and ridiculously gory Fatalities, the Mortal Kombat series did not continue for more than 25 years because of shock value. NetherRealm Studios’ turned the fighting franchise into one of the best on the planet by introducing more complex combat mechanics and a cinematic story, and Mortal Kombat 11 builds on that success with more space-focused combat the addition of new Fatal Blows.
Mortal Kombat 11 is also one of the most customizable fighting games we’ve ever played. Alongside cosmetic skins, a gear system allows you to swap out multiple items and weapons on your character, and they can be augmented to alter your performance. Moves can also be swapped out for others to create your ideal fighter, and you can explore the sprawling Krypt to unlock even better rewards.
Read our full Mortal Kombat 11 review
Following up on the success of Injustice: Gods Among Us and Mortal Kombat X, developer NetherRealm delivered its best fighting game to date with Injustice 2. Refinements to the already great mechanics of Injustice: Gods Among Us would have been enough to recommend Injustice 2, but the studio exceeded our expectations entirely. With stunning visuals and character animations, the well written, grim story offered one of the best DC tales in years. But it is the Multiverse and deep customization system that gives Injustice 2 its legs.
Each fighter can be leveled up and customized with items obtained from loot boxes. Essentially, Injustice 2 blended the fighting genre with RPG elements, making it a unique brawler to come around in quite some time. Its excellence keeps on giving the more you play, with Multiverse events changing and updated continuously. Perfect for solo players, and a rousing good time online, Injustice 2 easily earns the distinction of the best fighting game on PS4.
Read our full Injustice 2 review
Resident Evil 2
The typical video game “remake” improves the resolution or updates a few control issues for a new generation of players, but Capcom took things much further with 2019’s Resident Evil 2. Telling the same basic story of the 1998 game but with completely redesigned characters, environments, combat, and conversations, it feels like it used the original game as a framework for a modern take on survival-horror.
Every gruesome creature is brought to terrifying life on the PlayStation 4, and it shines even brighter on the upgrade PS4 Pro system. With some of the best audio design in the medium, you can also hear every grotesque monster’s screams and movements, and that comes in handy when trying to avoid the terrifying, lumbering Tyrant.
Read our full Resident Evil 2 review
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
If Resident Evil’s deviation from its classic survival horror roots bummed you out in previous games, then you’ll be happy to know that it returns in Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. Don’t expect old school Resident Evil though, because this a modernized take that’s way more refreshing. Instead of the third-person visuals that Resident Evil 6 has, Biohazard immerses us in the first-person.
The story takes us somewhere we’ve never been before in Dulvey, Louisiana. You’ll play as Ethan Winters as he investigates an isolated plantation in search of his wife. You’ll fight desperately for your survival and uncover incredibly horrifying secrets that could be related to Umbrella Corporation. Resident Evil: Biohazard is one of the best games for PS4 to satisfy that horror bug. It’s also available in VR if you’re brave enough to try it.
Read our full Resident Evil 7: Biohazard review
Borderlands changed the way open-world first-person shooters were created with its emphasis on looting, leveling up characters, and customizing abilities to fit your play-style. The sequel built on the foundation with a much more interesting series of missions and an entertaining story, and for Borderlands 3, Gearbox has gone even bigger. For the first time in the main series, you can venture off the planet Pandora and explore what the rest of the game’s gorgeous universe has to offer, and there are more than 1 billion possible guns you can collect on your journey.
Borderlands 3 wisely keeps the game’s focus on looting and shooting, and when you play with a friend cooperatively, you can enjoy the entire experience together. With a level-syncing system, you can play with people regardless of how far each individual is in their own game save, as well.
The original Rage was a technically impressive but uninspired take on the apocalypse from one of the most legendary shooter studios of all time: Id Software. A sequel seemed unlikely, but thanks to a partnership between the developer and Avalanche Studios, the game was finally released in 2019. Leaning into the silliest aspects of the world and giving its characters a healthy dose of flavor, Rage 2 is just fun to play, with tons of vehicles to control and several high-powered weapons to wield.
Though the open-world aspect of Rage 2 is far from revolutionary, the game succeeds because its core shooting mechanics are so highly polished. The shotgun is among the most satisfying weapons in any video game, and when combined with your superhuman powers, you’re capable of unloading some serious damage on even the biggest enemies.
Read our full Rage 2 review
An emotional and harrowing story of survival in the face of nearly certain death, Metro Exodus is an exhilarating ride through an irradiated Russia that doesn’t feel the need to throw in mindless cutscenes or boss battles. Instead, its carefully-paced journey through snowy cities and desolate deserts relies on small details and dialogue to build suspense and tasks you with fully examining your surroundings if you want to survive.
Despite largely taking place outside the Metro system itself, Metro Exodus hasn’t lost the tough-as-nails approach to survival seen in the first two games. You still have to keep your flashlight charged and your air filters in stock and ammunition is particularly scarce. With a little practice, however, you can still become the hero the survivors on Earth so desperately need.
Read our full Metro Exodus review
Id Software took a long break from the Doom series following the release of the horror-inspired Doom 3, but that time away did wonders. 2016’s rebooted Doom is one of the most energetic and downright fun first-person shooters ever made, with the titular Doomslayer quickly jumping between demons to pump them full of lead and curb-stomp their heads into a mist of red.
The development team wisely chose to put the story on the back burner, giving you just enough motivation to go out into a Mars-based facility — and Hell itself — to murder as many grotesque monstrosities as you can find. With SnapMap mode, players can even create their own custom levels and missions, so you’ll never run out of challenges, and an online multiplayer mode lets you test your skills against others with the game’s wide variety of weapons.
Read our full Doom review
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
Wolfenstein: The New Order took us by surprise with its unique mix of over-the-top action and emotional storytelling, and for the game’s sequel, developer MachineGames doubled down on both fronts.
Armed with a hatchet, a flaming grenade cannon, and enough shotgun ammo to make the Doom marine jealous, B.J. Blazkowicz is prepared to take down hundreds of Nazis, and he is more than willing to do so on his way to exact revenge on the sadistic General Engel. With crazy twists and phenomenal level design, Wolfenstein II bests its predecessor in nearly every way.
Read our full Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus review
Far Cry (series)
With Far Cry 3, Ubisoft Montreal found a winning formula. The open-world first-person shooter put you in control of a spoiled American who must quickly learn to deal with the death threats — human or otherwise — lurking around every corner on a tropical island, and villain Vaas’ was quotable enough to keep players talking for months.
Far Cry 4 doubled down on what made the previous game work so well, and its Himalayan setting was just as much fun to explore, as secrets were hidden all over the map. Far Cry 5, however, shook things up by throwing us into Montana to fight against a deranged cult that believes the end times are upon us, and it led to some truly bizarre moments.
The follow-up, Far Cry New Dawn, got even more surreal, with a nuclear bomb leaving the landscape unrecognizable and giving life to new, even more dangerous bandit groups. It also especially emphasized themes of player-choice and danger around every corner, which have been pillars of the series since its earliest days at Crytek.
All the Far Cry games thrive on open-world combat that lets you choose how you want to approach a situation. They also feature heavy use of vehicles, spectacular level design, and (since Far Cry 3) focus on co-op multiplayer. If you want to shoot baddies with a couple of friends, this is the franchise for you.
Read our full Far Cry New Dawn review
For a while, it seemed like Blizzard might never make a new game outside of its three major franchises, Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo. Then along came Overwatch. A multiplayer, objective-based shooter with a focus on diverse character design, Overwatch is not merely a new direction for Blizzard, but a shot across the bow of the entire genre.
Set in a world where an international team of superheroes once stopped a robot revolution, the game gives players more than 20 unique characters to choose from, each with their own set of abilities. Characters fall into a broad set of roles — offense, defense, tank, and support — and players must cooperate using their particular skills to take objectives and fend off the other team.
The game’s heavy focus on teamwork over lone-wolf tactics is refreshing, and the various abilities make for fights that rarely feel the same. Overwatch is also one of the most attractive games of this generation; each character has a distinct look that suits their personality, and the game boasts a vibrant art style that evokes classic comic books.
Read our full Overwatch review
Titanfall 2 stands above the crowd by providing an extremely quick, polished, varied experience. While the first Titanfall never made its way to the PlayStation ecosystem, its sequel has — and it’s better in every way. The main event is multiplayer, in which players battle it out as Pilots, who can run on walls, climb just about anything, double-jump, and more. At about the midway point of every match, though, out come the Titans: giant, walking mechs that totally change the course of every battle.
Whether you’re a Pilot zipping around the map, a Titan lumbering into battle with other mechs, or a little guy jumping on the back of a giant robot to drop a grenade inside it, Titanfall 2 is full of amazing, crazy moments, and intense battles. And unlike the last title in the series, Titanfall 2 also packs a single-player campaign that’s a standout from a design perspective. Every level is a little different from the one before, providing a host of interesting challenges to work through.
Read our full Titanfall 2 review
The spinoff title Battlefield Hardline wasn’t exactly the greatest game in the world, failing to impress with either its single-player campaign or competitive multiplayer. Dice righted these wrongs in Battlefield 1, a WW1-era shooter that builds on the large-scale chaos of the Battlefield series with weapons and vehicles appropriate for the era.
Its multiplayer option is one of the best in the history of Battlefield, giving even the greenest players a chance to make a difference, and the multi-map “Operations” mode makes for some of the tensest moments in any shooter. Battlefield 1 also impresses on the campaign (Western) front, with multiple “War Stories” giving you unique looks into the lives of several soldiers and combatants during the War to End all Wars.
Read our full Battlefield 1 review
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 stands as a great alternative to PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, with snappier gunplay and a varied battle royale environment filled with surprises. The battle royale mode “Blackout” mixes the fast and intense first-person shooting the series is known for with the white-knuckled suspense of PUBG, all while paying tribute to classic weapons and locations from other Black Ops games.
Though it doesn’t have a campaign, there is still a ton of content included in Black Ops 4. The multiplayer and cooperative Zombies modes are both fantastic, and the progression systems for both encourage continued play in a way that few other shooters can do. For anyone burnt out with the excess of the previous Call of Duty games, its straightforward approach to leveling up is more than welcome.
Read our full Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 review
It took a year after the game released on Xbox One, and even longer since its PC release, but PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is now available on PlayStation 4. The battle royale game that helped bring the genre into the spotlight, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is a slow, stealth-focused multiplayer shooter that requires careful item management, knowledge of the map, and team coordination, with just a few shots taking down anyone not wearing substantial body armor.
Where Fortnite focuses on players’ ability to quickly acquire targets and evade damage as they build their own structures, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds takes a completely different approach. Running around and attempting to play the game as you would Call of Duty or Battlefield will result in a quick death, with only the most patient, efficient, and quiet players having a chance at being the last player standing. More maps have been added for free since the game’s initial release, all of which must be mastered and memorized, and new weapons and vehicles are often added to give players a few more tools to work with, as well.
Rather than develop a full-fledged sequel to Titanfall 2, Respawn Entertainment instead developed the free-to-play battle royale game Apex Legends. Set in the same universe as the studio’s Titanfall games, the class-based shooter retains Respawn’s knack for excellent first-person shooting action, and the various classes’ special abilities offer variety for players bored by the same old battle royale matches.
Respawn also cleverly added its own twists on the battle royale formula by introducing respawning – with its name, how could it not? If killed, a player’s banner can be picked up by a teammate, who can then bring them back to life at a special respawning terminal. There are also special redeployment devices that you can use to launch yourself back into the air as you would at the beginning of a match, and the game’s “ping” system makes it incredibly easy to communicate with teammates who aren’t wearing headsets.
Epic Games’ Fortnite, and more specifically its free-to-play Fortnite: Battle Royale release needs little introduction. The game has become nothing short of a worldwide phenomenon, with its dances and mechanics making their way into nearly every facet of pop culture and its addictive battle royale gameplay keeping players glued to their screens for hours at a time.
Building on the formula established in games like The Culling and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Fortnite adds buildable structures to the mix, allowing you to create cover and ambush opportunities no matter where on the map you happen to be. With regular updates adding more weapons and vehicles as well as story content, there’s always something in the game that you haven’t seen before.
Read our full Fortnite Battle Royale review
One of the first games to launch on the PlayStation 4, Warframe offers the grind and cooperative action of a game like Destiny 2 without making its players spend a dime, and it has continued to improve over the years into something many of its fans view as their primary hobby. With both melee and ranged attacks and advanced parkour abilities, you’re free to play the game in whatever manner best suits your particular style.
While the game is easy to start playing, it becomes complex quickly as you advance, and eventually evolves into something like a third-person action-RPG. Cleverly combining warframes, weapons, and other abilities to maximize your firepower is the key to victory.
Paladins: Champions of the Realm
Overwatch is likely the first game you think of when you hear the term hero shooter, but that’s no reason to discount Hi-Rez Studios’ Paladins. The multiplayer game contains dozens of different characters to choose from, each offering their own weapons and special abilities to help your team succeed in matches. These include humans such as the tank-like Fernando and the mechanic Barik, but also more bizarre heroes like the tree Grover and the impish Willo.
The Overwatch-like Siege mode tasks your team with capturing an objective and then pushing the all-important payload to its destination, but to mix things up you might also try out Team Deathmatch or the king-of-the-hill mode Onslaught.
Many publishers use sandbox as a general term for large, open-ended game worlds, but few games deserve that term more than Minecraft. Its premise is as simple as it is inviting — you’re thrown onto a procedurally generated world, and you must survive in any way you can. This includes venturing into the depths of the planet to mine new resources, squaring off against explosive Creepers, and building shelters to protect yourself against the enemies hoping to snack on your brains whenever the sun goes down.
If the survival mode isn’t for you, a creative option is also available, giving you access to all the game’s resources and tools in order to make your dream home. If you want to bring a friend into the mix, there’s a multiplayer option, and tons of special skins are available to give your world the perfect look.
Read our full Minecraft review
Who knew a farming simulator could be such a smash hit? After first-time developer Eric Barone had grown frustrated with the state of the long-running Harvest Moon series, he took it upon himself to create the game he wanted to play. The result was Stardew Valley, a charming love letter to the 16-bit era with a delightful cast of characters to meet, activities to complete, and dangerous areas to explore.
You can turn your land into the farm you’ve always wanted, and there are plenty of customization options for turning your house into a home. You can even start a relationship with 12 different people in the town, provided you’re able to tear yourself away from your crops long enough to talk to anyone.
Dragon Quest Builders 2
The original Dragon Quest Builders was already a strange game, blending the traditional JRPG series with building and exploration mechanics not unlike Minecraft. Dragon Quest Builders 2 didn’t have to reinvent the wheel to improve on the original game, instead introducing smaller quality-of-life changes such as an unlimited inventory. You’ll be completely fine starting with the sequel if you didn’t play the original, as the characters and story are all new.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 might resemble Minecraft at first look, but it still has that classic Dragon Quest charm. The Toriyama character designs are top-notch, and the joyous, lighthearted faces you meet are sure to put a smile on your own face – even if they’re evil.
No Man’s Sky
The development of No Man’s Sky was a marathon, not a sprint. The insanely ambitious space exploration game was made by a tiny team at the U.K.-based Hello Games, and it got the gaming community’s attention in a hurry. With potentially billions of planets to explore, each with unique flora and fauna to discover, no two players’ experiences in the game were ever alike.
At launch in 2016, however, it was rough around the edges, but the game has continued to improve over time, all culminating in the July 2018 “NEXT” update, which expanded on building features and finally added a multiplayer option so players could lose themselves on a mysterious planet with a buddy.
Read our full No Man’s Sky review
XCOM 2 and War of the Chosen
2012’s XCOM: Enemy Unknown successfully rebooted the classic science-fiction strategy series with a delightful mix of polished turn-based combat and strategic management, and it did it without sacrificing the brutal difficulty that made the original games so loved. XCOM 2 doubled down on everything players loved about the previous game, with a variety of brutally intelligent enemies to defeat, tricky missions to complete, and an overarching countdown timer that manages to put you on edge no matter how well you’re actually doing in the game.
The War of the Chosen expansion sends even more threats after humanity as the alien menace seeks to conquer all of Earth, as well as a few special resistance factions looking to ally with the commander and take back the planet.
Read our full XCOM 2 review
The Banner Saga (series)
We’ve seen video games pay tribute to pixel art and even 1930s animation, but The Banner Saga’s art style evokes memories of classic ‘70s cartoons, feeling both elegant and quaint — and unlike anything else on the market. The original The Banner Saga has 25 different playable characters to choose from, and a focus on player-choice — and permadeath — mean that all of your actions will have consequences.
For the sequel, some of the choices you made in the original game get imported, allowing you to effectively continue your journey, and The Banner Saga 3 follows suit. Depending on how you engaged in the previous two games, your ending could be totally different, but with all three titles now available, there’s never been a better time to start from scratch.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
Konami seems more than willing to leave the Castlevania series behind, only releasing older games on the current-generation consoles and supporting the animated Netflix adaptation. However, longtime producer Koji Igarashi knew that fans were interested in a new open-ended action game, and he led the creation of spiritual successor Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.
A Castlevania game in all but name, Bloodstained features sprawling levels filled with traps and enemies, upgradable characters, different weapons times, and plenty of dastardly bosses to defeat. It also gives you several magical abilities that can be used in combat, such as a summoned tentacle, and it retains the Castlevania games’ signature cheese.
Mega Man 11
Mega Man 11 is the first mainline entry in the series in more than eight years. Luckily for fans, Capcom doesn’t miss a beat in this long-awaited revival. Mega Man 11 uses colorful 2.5D graphics, going away from the retro look seen in all other iterations of the Blue Bomber.
The classic, challenging action-platforming gameplay is unchanged, though. Throughout the brilliantly designed stage, you’ll run, jump, and shoot your way to glory. The power-ups are interesting, each boss exudes personality, and the platforming is constantly throwing new obstacles in your way. Mega Man 11 doesn’t last long, but it’s wonderful nonetheless.
Occasionally, a throwback game can end up being more successful than the games from which it spawned. This was certainly the case with Yacht Club Games’ Shovel Knight, which found inspiration in everything from Mega Man to DuckTales but managed to fold them into a modern game. Initially released with a single campaign focused on the titular Shovel Knight, Shovel Knight has subsequently received multiple updates that add entirely new storylines and playable characters.
It helps that the basic action-platforming controls are close to perfect, which characters able to bounce on enemies and use multiple special abilities to take down bosses. If you loved retro pixel-art platformers, you’ll love Shovel Knight, but even younger players will get sucked into its masterful design.
After years of mediocre spinoff games and borderline obscurity, Ubisoft’s Rayman jumped back into the spotlight with the excellent 2D platformer Rayman Origins, and for the sequel, nearly everything was improved. Rayman Legends has some of the most creative level design we’ve ever seen in a platformer, often rivaling Nintendo’s Mario games, and its whimsical art and music make it very difficult to stop playing.
The standout feature, however, is the special musical levels that end each area – Rayman must run and jump in time to goofy songs, including a mariachi rendition of Eye of the Tiger, and it’s impossible to get through them without a smile on your face.
Looking for a tough-as-nails platformer and rogue-like that also rewards you for each small success? Then you have to check out Dead Cells. This fast-paced game tasks you with exploring levels and fighting vicious enemies to escape a ‘cursed’ island. While the setup isn’t much different from Dead Cells‘ peers, the game’s highly responsive controls take the combat to a new level.
You’ll also come to appreciate the many special abilities your character can acquire across multiple runs. They feel powerful despite the fact that you are, in fact, almost constantly at risk of dying if you slip up. This high-risk, high-reward gameplay creates wonderful tensions and will make you crave just one more run.
The Witness, the long-anticipated follow-up to Jonathan Blow’s 2008 breakout indie platformer Braid, is a beautiful, sedate, first-person exploration puzzler in the vein of Myst. Much like that ’90s classic, you are dropped on a mysterious island with little to no context and tasked with solving a series of puzzles, which in turn allows to you explore more and uncover the island’s secrets.
Unlike Myst‘s wide-ranging environmental puzzles, however, the challenges of The Witness are very clearly defined as panels laced with grids that you must navigate like a maze. Blow has iterated a rich syntax of puzzle mechanics within that consistent framework, which helps keep up the pressure.
Read our full The Witness review
Life is Strange 2
The sequel to the heralded episodic adventure is off to a moving start. Life is Strange 2 – Episode 1 introduces us to Sean and Daniel Diaz, brothers who quickly must flee their hometown of Seattle. It’s hard to say too much about the story without giving anything important away.
Just know that it confronts societal issues such as race relations and interactions with police, while also delving into the supernatural like the first game. If you want to get a taste of the quality writing before shelling out cash, you can download The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, a prequel episode of sorts, for free. Your decisions will affect the story in Life is Strange 2.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
Ubisoft’s second attempt at turning its long-running Assassin’s Creed franchise into RPG fares better than the first. Set in an absolutely gorgeous and sprawling depiction of Ancient Greece, you play as either Alexios or Kassandra, siblings cursed to a terrible fate. As a Misthios (basically a hired sword) during the Peloponnesian War, you’re dropped in the middle of the struggle between Athens and Sparta.
At the center of it all is a family story, though, which shines despite some pacing issues. With a leveling and weapon system comparable to Destiny 2, Odyssey demands that you explore much of its lavish world to progress through the story. Though it’s overly focused on level-grinding, if you enjoy the combat loop and get interested in the rich history of the open world, you could easily spend north of 50 hours in Ubisoft’s version of Ancient Greece.
Read our full Assassin’s Creed Odyssey review
Horizon Zero Dawn
From the studio best-known for the Killzone franchise, Horizon Zero Dawn is quite the change of pace. You play as Aloy of the Nora tribe in a third-person, open-world action-RPG across a vast and sprawling post-apocalyptic world overrun by large mechanical beasts resembling animals. It’s arguably the prettiest game ever released on a home console, but Horizon Zero Dawn is much more than just a pretty face.
Engaging, fluid combat makes toppling the wide array of robotic beasts consistently exciting and fresh. The copious scavenging and crafting requirements are rewarding because of the diverse combat. The well-spun yarn is equal parts origin story for the captivating world and coming-of-age story for its brave heroine. Horizon Zero Dawn manages to hold onto its bountiful fun-factor throughout its 30-plus hour adventure, making it a standout within its cluttered genre.
A story DLC, The Frozen Wilds, was released to widespread acclaim and offers a whole new area for players towards the end of the game.
Read our full Horizon Zero Dawn review
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Following the success of BioWare’s Dragon Age: Origins, the studio was forced to rush Dragon Age II out the door, and it showed – the sequel simply lacked the ambition, depth, and love that went into the original, but it did show flashes of brilliance in its more action-focused combat.
With Dragon Age: Inquisition, BioWare combined what worked in both games, and it’s a sprawling open-ended role-playing adventure with a brilliant story, strategic and engaging combat, a cast of entertaining supporting characters, and enough content to keep you busy for weeks at a time. Dragon Age: Inquisition is peak BioWare, and you really can’t ask for the studio to do a better job than that.
Read our full Dragon Age: Inquisition review
Fallout 4 was one of the most-anticipated video games of all time, and Bethesda’s post-apocalyptic shooter didn’t disappoint. Giving you nearly limitless freedom in how to tackle the open-world, including creating your own settlements, which then must be defended from raiders, Fallout 4 is filled with enough storylines and missions to satisfy even the most hardcore veterans of the series, and improvements to its first-person-shooting mean that you won’t have to rely on the time-stopping V.A.T.S. system to kill your enemies. With the PlayStation 4 version now supporting user-created mods, as well, you can customize your Fallout 4 experience to be uniquely yours.
Read our full Fallout 4 review
Mightily popular in Japan, the Shin Megami Tensei series has steadily become more and more popular among western players with each new entry. Atlus’ Persona 5 was the first in the series to receive an abundance of pre-release hype on our shores. Thankfully, it delivered, becoming one of the best RPGs on PS4 to date.
You play as a nameless teenage protagonist sent to a new city because of a run-in with a powerful man doing bad things. As such, our protagonist is treated like a troublemaker. Soon, a mysterious app on his phone beckons him to an alternate reality built from the thoughts of others.
Like most entries in the series, Persona 5 doubles as a traditional turn-based RPG and a visual novel with Japanese dating sim elements. With a creature- collecting system in the vein of Pokémon and an intoxicating story, Persona 5 earns its way onto our list for a multitude of reasons. A deep time sink, you can waste away well over 100 hours in Persona 5‘s brilliantly presented dreamscape.
Read our full Persona 5 review
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
While there are plenty of RPGs available on Sony’s PlayStation 4, CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is one of the best. In the epic conclusion to the adventure trilogy, players once again don the role of Geralt of Rivia, waging battle against the advancing Wild Hunt army in the Northern Kingdoms. Although the title remains similar in style to previous games in the series, CD Projekt Red included new combat mechanics and significantly bolstered the customization, all of which help it improve upon the gameplay and imbue its open-world with a greater sense of depth.
Few games possess the kind of writing present in The Witcher 3, which features an enthralling story penned by regular series writer Marcin Blacha. Perhaps the game’s biggest draw is the fact the main storyline takes players roughly 30 hours to complete. That number balloons to more than 100 hours if you take into account side quests and mini-games, rendering its longevity as attractive as its visuals.
Read our full The Witcher 3 review
Monster Hunter: World
It’s not exactly the most traditional Monster Hunter game but that’s what makes it so damn good. If you enjoy a good open-world RPG where you can track rare monsters, engage in tough combat, and craft awesome armor out of their remains then Monster Hunter: World is right up your alley.
Monster Hunter: World modernizes a classic RPG and makes it easy for anyone to jump in. It features beautiful zones that feel alive, monsters with improved A.I., and really cool DLC crossovers with Final Fantasy, Street Fighter, and Horizon Zero Dawn. There’s also a multiplayer mode where up to four players can suit up in their best gear and take down dangerous beasts together. As one of the PlayStation 4’s best selling games, you’d be missing out if you didn’t at least consider picking it up.
Read our full Monster Hunter: World review
Kingdom Hearts III
After a more than 13-year wait, Kingdom Hearts 3 finally arrived. The Disney-infused action RPG sticks to its PS2 roots while moving the action forward in smart and engaging ways. The seven Disney worlds Sora, Donald, and Goofy visit on their adventure are much more accommodating and fully realized than in previous entries, allowing the Disney magic to fully enwrap the experience.
While each of the Disney storylines will warm your heart, the combat is the reason why the game doesn’t tire after dozens of hours. Armed with a bevy of Keyblades with a transformation or two each, taking out hordes of Heartless has never been this varied. Sora can even summon Disney theme park rides such as spinning teacups to eliminate foes both large and small in a hurry. Yes, Kingdom Hearts 3 has a bonkers story that’s hard to follow, but it’s a thoroughly amusing farewell to a story arc that began 17 years ago.
Read our full Kingdom Hearts III review
Massively multiplayer games
Tom Clancy’s The Division 2
The Division 2 didn’t need to have drastic changes made compared to the first game — especially after Ubisoft Massive and its sister studios had managed to iron out some of its issues. The open-world role-playing shooter follows the same structure of its predecessor, with your agent leveling up and acquiring new skills and gear as they progress through a campaign filled with firefights and explosions. It’s standard Clancy fare, but there are plenty of set-piece moments this time around that give the game’s version of Washington D.C. a dynamic feeling not present in the first Division.
Nearly everywhere you go in The Division 2, you’ll find a new activity to do or a group of enemies to defeat, but the game manages to avoid feeling overwhelming by dividing its areas into progressively higher levels. Once you complete the missions designed for one area, you begin taking on those in the next, and collectibles and special holographic recordings help to fill in the gaps of the story along the way. The PlayStation 4 version of the game does suffer from an extremely big file size requiring close to 100GB in downloads, even if you own the disc, but it’s definitely worth it once you finally get started.
Destiny 2: Forsaken – Legendary Collection
Though many of us loved the original Destiny, it had a cryptic and confusing story and a surprisingly empty world. These issues have been rectified in Destiny 2, a game so content-rich and satisfying that we’ve found ourselves playing for three or four hours at a time without much thought. The buttery-smooth combat of the first game returns, but it’s coupled with a cinematic story spanning four different worlds, a huge number of extra “Adventures” to complete, six cooperative Strikes, and a competitive multiplayer component as satisfying as Titanfall 2 or Battlefield 1.
Destiny 2: Forsaken, the major expansion released in September, added plenty of worthwhile additions to keep Guardians glued to their controllers. From the excellent Baron boss fights to the new Triumphs and Collections systems to great new environments like Gambit, Forsaken brings the already great Destiny 2 formula to new heights. You can gain access to the entire Destiny 2 experience by buying Destiny 2: Forsaken – Legendary Edition. It comes with the base game, the first two expansions, and the Forsaken makeover.
Read our full Destiny 2: Forsaken review
Final Fantasy XIV
When the MMO Final Fantasy XIV originally launched in 2010, it was derided as one of — if not the — worst games in the entire series. Square Enix wasn’t content to just kill off its enormous online game, however, and instead chose to completely rebuild it into a new version called Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Later shortened to just Final Fantasy XIV, it’s one of the only true MMO games available on the PlayStation 4, and it released to a much more positive reception.
Several patches and paid expansions have released over the last few years, including 2017’s Stormblood, which added new dungeons, a new raid, new jobs, several new playable areas, and a new level cap.
Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled
We’ve reached the point in contemporary video gaming when spin-offs of classic series are getting remastered and remade. Usually, this would cause us to boo and hiss, but Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled delivers the frenetic and goofy action of the original kart racer with a gorgeous new coat of paint. After the somewhat disappointing Team Sonic Racing, it’s the perfect substitute for a Mario Kart game on the PS4.
With the power of the internet, you can race against your friends online for the first time in Crash Team Racing, and the game also includes some of the content first seen in Crash Nitro Kart. The PS4 version comes with exclusive skins, as well, as the game series comes home to its original console.
Codemasters’ Dirt series has consistently been one of the most underrated racing franchises around, and the spinoff Dirt Rally sees it at its absolute peak. Focusing on high-intensity rally car races, the game features Codemasters’ pristine car physics. It isn’t a game designed for those without any racing experience, but once you get the hang of the rally cars and the precarious courses you’ll be racing, you’ll be able to cross the finish line in first place in no time.
In addition to the single-player championship option, you can compete in special online events and challenges, or join a racing league to test your skills against other players around the world. If you prefer to use a racing wheel instead of a controller, more than two dozen of them are supported on PS4.
Gran Turismo Sport
Polyphony has crafted one of the most realistic and engaging entries in the entire series with Gran Turismo Sport. With support for 4K resolution, 60 frames per second, and HDR, you’ll be able to see the tread of your tires and every drop of rain falling on your windows, and more than 150 different vehicles are available to choose from.
There are also driving assist functions to enable less-experienced drivers to enjoy Gran Turismo Sport, as well as a “driving school,” and provided that your stomach can handle it, the game also supports PlayStation VR — this isn’t some tacked-on mode, either, but rather a full 360-degree mode showing the entire interior of the vehicle as you race.
Read our full Gran Turismo Sport review
Not all racing games need to be realistic simulations, as Trackmania Turbo proves. The over-the-top racer will send you barreling down courses at ludicrously high speeds, going through loops and other incredibly dangerous obstacles along the way. Its fast-paced title that’ll remind you of playing with Hot Wheels toys or slot-car racers.
There’s more to Trackmania Turbo than the racing, though. The Trackbuilder mode allows you to create courses where the only limit is your imagination, and Trackmania has built up a loyal following of course architects over the years. You can even try out the “Double Driver” mode to play the game with a friend on one controller. Plus, a selection of courses is compatible with PlayStation VR.
Wipeout Omega Collection
It has been a few years since we’ve gotten a new entry in the science-fiction racing Wipeout series, but several of its best games are available on PS4 in the Wipeout Omega Collection. Bundling in Wipeout HD, Wipeout HD Fury, and Wipeout 2048, the games have been remastered to support 4K and HDR on PlayStation 4 Pro, and textures have been completely reworked to look much better up close. It gets even better with a PlayStation VR headset, as the included VR mode moves the action to a first-person perspective so you can truly experience the larger-than-life loops and twists you go through in each race.
MLB The Show 19
Baseball game offerings are pretty slim in 2019, with Electronic Arts and 2K Sports long since exiting the competition. Sony, however, remains committed to delivering excellent baseball simulations in its MLB The Show series, and MLB The Show 19 is the most refined version of its winning formula yet. The famous modes you know and love, including “Road to the Show” and “Conquest,” once again make their return, as does the card-based “Diamond Dynasty” mode so you can show off your skills to the world.
The new “Moments” allow you to take part in famous plays from baseball history, such as Babe Ruth calling his shot before hitting a home run, and in “March to October,” you play a shortened version of the season that gets you into the playoffs even faster. These larger alterations are added alongside smaller game-specific changes to hitting and defensive A.I., making MLB The Show 19 more lifelike than any other baseball game in history.
NBA 2K (series)
2K Sports has been the king of basketball for years, and the experience has never been more realistic than it is on the PlayStation 4. With player-models that are almost photorealistic, it’s sometimes hard to tell that you’re playing a video game or watching a live NBA game, and there are enough modes included in NBA 2K19 to keep you busy for the whole season.
From the popular “MyCareer” mode — focused on a single player rising through the ranks — to the MyTeam online mode, there’s always something you haven’t done before, and improvements made in each new installment only improve the basketball sim around even more.
Read our full NBA 2K19 review
While EA Sports’ NHL series has consistently lagged behind Madden and FIFA in terms of innovation, the latest entry, NHL 19, makes great strides to become the best in the rink. NHL 19 takes full advantage of EA’s in-house Frostbite engine. From checking to puck handling to the nuanced skating maneuvers, NHL 19 is a joy to watch in motion.
A retooled online mode combines fan-favorite modes such as NHL Threes into one cohesive progression system. The additions give NHL 19 some much-needed personality. If you’re looking for a great hockey sim, NHL 19 is the king of the ice.
EA Sports had its work cut out for it when developing FIFA 20 because it had to do so without The Journey story mode that has been included in the three previous installments. Alex Hunter’s tale was missed in FIFA 20, but the addition of Volta Football — complete with its own little story — helped to make the omission more palatable. The new mode feels like soccer for those who don’t like soccer, with high scores and even walls to bounce the ball off of.
Changes to traditional soccer aren’t quite as obvious to those who haven’t played last year’s game obsessively, but new “composed finishing” when in one-on-one situations and a more realistic tackling system have helped to make it a fairer and more balanced version of the sport. More objectives and options in FIFA Ultimate Team should also help to keep you playing for months.
Pro Evolution Soccer (series)
It isn’t as popular as FIFA, but Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer games still have plenty to offer soccer fans. New features included in recent games include “strategic dribbling,” which gives you significantly more control over the ball in your possession, as well as more realistic ball movement.
If you prefer to team up with a friend when playing online, you’ll enjoy PES 2018’s online cooperative mode, and the “random selection match” option gives you a chance to play against similarly skilled players in a snap. The game is also visually stunning, with players recreated down to their shirt size, and reworked facial animations tell you exactly what they’re thinking after a big play.
Is it soccer? Is it basketball? Is it something else entirely? It doesn’t really matter in Psyonix’ Rocket League, the hybrid racing game that replaces human players with rocket-powered vehicles capable of soaring into the air to knock oversized soccer balls into the net.
Despite its simple concept, mastering Rocket League demands practice, as the top players are capable of manipulating their vehicles down to the smallest turn in order to deflect a ball or get into position for the perfect pass. With other courses mimicking sports like basketball and a ton of post-launch content already released, you could easily drop everything you’re doing and play Rocket League for weeks on end.
The PlayStation 4 is easily the most impressive leap in the console’s history, bringing constant connectivity and high-power processing to a gaming crowd not easily impressed. Sony has been a powerhouse for years, and the PS4 — and the recently-released PlayStation 4 Pro — are worthy additions to the company’s legacy.
Not convinced on whether or not you should buy a PS4, or aren’t sure of which one to get? Read our PlayStation 4 review or PlayStation 4 Pro review to help make up your mind. Currently, we think the PS4 Pro is the best console you can buy, period.
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