The 25 best PS4 games
Updated on 8/20 to include Metro Redux.
The PS4 is one hell of a system, that much is certain. But, seeing as we haven't even reached the end of its launch window just yet, it's still a tad light on games. If you're still debating whether to get a PS4 or Xbox One, this list will make your choice much easier (maybe). Don't fret, dear reader: We've played just about everything that's available for the console, and have painstakingly ranked the best of the best so that there's no question as to which games deserve your hard-earned cash and limited time.
We'll keep this list updated as quality upcoming PS4 games continue to release. If you're hungry for something new to play right now, here are the 25 best games currently available on the system, starting with...
25. Need for Speed: Rivals
Fans of Criterion's recent run of arcade racers will be happy to know that Ghost Games' first Need for Speed continues in the Burnout developer's path of fast, fun racing. Set in an awesome world full of things to do (our Need for Speed: Rivals review called it the Skyrim of racers), the game features brilliant driving that looks downright fantastic on the PS4.
Those interested in changing engine parts and simulating driving in circles need not apply--Rivals is made for those more comfortable running opponents (or, let's just say it: rivals) off the roads. With a suite of online multiplayer options, NfS: Rivals has plenty to offer.
24. DC Universe Online
DC Universe Online isn't a new game by any means--it's been alive and well on the PC and the PS3 for some time now. The free-to-play MMO gives you the ability to customize and create your very own hero or villain and fight through all your favorite DC locations, with powerful, physical combat that makes the game feel more like a brawler than a traditional MMO. It's ranked pretty high on our list of the best free MMORPGs, too, and it stands the test of time.
The changes to DCUO on the PS4 are pretty minimal when you put them side by side. A few new environmental effects pop up from time to time, and overall things are a little less jaggy. When you're flying high above the city you will still get substantial pop-in, but it's hardly a deal breaker. Instead of a leap forward to next-gen, DCUO on PS4 is more for people to continue their current experience onto their new console.
In real life, robbing folks blind typically results in jail time. But in Thief, a reboot of the classic stealth series, stealing is encouraged. Despite a wholly underwhelming story, the stealth gameplay here is enough to warrant a playthrough. As Garrett, the master thief, you'll have dozens of tools and abilities at your disposal to help you navigate the shadows, avoid the ever-watchful eye of guards, and steal everything in your path.
Everything you steal earns you more cash, which purchases new gear--such as a wrench that allows you to access ventilation shafts--and minor ability upgrades. Figuring out how best to use the tools at your disposal to distract enemies and sneak by undetected is super engaging, and it's impossible not to feel a bit of satisfaction when doing so leads to a cache of loot just waiting to be lifted. Hungry for a pure stealth game? Thief won't disappoint.
22. Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes
Few PS4 games show as much next-gen promise as Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes. The newest adventure from creator Hideo Kojima sends Snake on a seemingly familiar sneaking mission, but you quickly find out that so many of the rules have changed. The new Fox Engine supplies the game with astoundingly gorgeous graphics that supports updated gameplay. And Ground Zeroes’ new open world setting actually enhances the classic stealth action instead of hindering it. This all makes Metal Gear more modern than ever.
So why isn’t Snake’s newest mission higher on the list? Because Ground Zeroes is merely an appetizer for the real Metal Gear Solid 5, which is a long way off. The intent is to give players a taste of the future, which is all well and good for a demo, but less so with a $30 price tag. Still, if you’re ready to pay for a brief glimpse of Snake’s future, this one is worth it.
Nothing quickens the pulse like a wall of incoming fireballs, speeding at you amidst an eye-popping chaotic neon light show. And wouldn't you know it--that feeling encompasses every moment of Resogun, an arcade shooter that's traditional in its gameplay and stunningly advanced in its presentation. This PS4 downloadable is just the kind of experience you're looking for at launch: a score-driven good time that'll have you chasing your friends' records for weeks.
When you're not engrossed by the frenetic shooter action, you'll be in awe of Resogun's particle effects, which fly around the screen at a furious pace. Your reward for completing levels is actual Armageddon, as the whole mother-loving cityscape explodes around you into itty-bitty fragments. It's glorious destruction at its best, and serves as a fitting incentive for saving the last remnants of humanity.
20. NBA 2K14
It’s not just about shiny basketball men with wavy shorts (although the player models and cloth physics are amazing). NBA 2K14 on next-gen plays slicker thanks to improved on-court animations and smoother flow between them. It also adds more immediate tactical options, and refreshes the presentation with mid- and post-game interviews.
Big changes abound in the modes too. My Career is now a proper story, with cutscenes, characters, and interesting scenarios to smash through. It’s a fantastic way to revamp the stale career mode. Meanwhile My GM makes franchise-management easier on the eye, and My Team gets online tournaments. Only rough edges and some reused presentation content spoil an otherwise superb next-gen sports experience.
19. Call of Duty: Ghosts
So, you're looking for a shooter and you don't feel like playing Killzone: Shadow Fall or Battlefield 4? Good news! As our Call of Duty: Ghosts review explains, the latest CoD has everything you're looking for. Want to blow up a nuclear-missile-launching space station while floating around in zero gravity? Yeah, that happens. Like, right away.
Oh, you're a multiplayer gamer? CoD: Ghosts has one of the most polished and robust multiplayer offerings on the market. How robust? Dude, you can be a female soldier, customize your loadout with 30 perks, and play in a bunch of multiplayer modes. Not a multiplayer gamer? What else is there? Oh wait! Aliens. Extinction mode. Co-op. Boom!
18. Don't Starve
Don't Starve isn't actually about not starving. Well, technically starvation is something you need to worry about as you explore the procedurally generated world, but in our experiences you're much more likely to be killed in other, more disturbing ways. Like, maybe you'll freeze--or get eaten by a Beefalo you decided to poke while it was in the middle of mating. And then you're dead, and you need to start over.
But you'll want to start over. It's entrancing. In the time between arriving in the world and dying, you'll experience a wonderful, dreadful survival simulation, where you'll learn which enemies to fight, which berries to eat, and how to live off the land. Every death is a lesson, and one you'll gladly learn before jumping back into the wilderness again and again.
17. Trials Fusion
How can a game this ferociously difficult also be this fun? The Trials series puts you in the boots of a motorcycle rider who's seemingly got a death wish, since he insists on riding through the most dangerous, hazard-filled obstacle courses imaginable. Trials Fusion adds a new spin to the thrill-seeking action by moving the setting into the far future, with a dramatic artificial-intelligence subplot to match.
But the main draw of Trials Fusion is its incredible physics and easy-to-learn controls, both of which you'll need to master if you want any hope of completing the more extreme tracks. This is one of those games that gets insane mileage out of leaderboards and competition among friends, since you'll pull out the craziest maneuvers to improve your times and nail flawless runs. When you do finally manage to ace an incredibly difficult level, you'll feel nothing short of elation.
16. Killzone: Shadow Fall
Easily the better of the PlayStation 4's two AAA launch titles (as you likely read in our Killzone: Shadow Fall review), the latest entry in the Killzone franchise is an immensely enjoyable first-person shooter, with decent multiplayer and a single-player campaign that's wrapped in a surprisingly tense Cold War narrative. Its main characters are a bit bland at times, but the campaign more than makes up for their shortcomings with powerful vignettes that depict the effects of its fictional sci-fi war. And even if you can't be bothered to care about its story, the gunplay here is great, thanks to open-ended levels and really awesome equipment that lets you apply some strategy to your next-gen firefights.
On the multiplayer side, Shadow Fall features a suite of standard modes, including variants of team deathmatch and capture the flag, among others. The series' trademark Warzone mode, which randomly rotates through various objectives on the fly during a single match, makes a triumphant return, and the ability to customize your own rulesets means you can create a variety of unique modes separate from the official offerings. As a complete package, Shadow Fall is definitely a PS4 game worth getting excited about.
If a party game aims to welcome non-video-gamers, Sportsfriends fits that bill nicely. The exceptional thing about it, though, is how it ropes in people who don’t enjoy sports. Indeed, the imaginative games in the collection aren’t based on established physical sports (although one of them, Johann Sebastian Joust, demands actual physicality), but they are definitely sports games. Try to get somebody who’s not interested in real football to play Madden, and you’ll encounter strong resistance. But sit that same sports sourpuss in front of Hokra, the production-sparse hockey-esque chunk of Sportsfriends, and see him immediately hooked.
At $15, Sportsfriends is also a tremendous value, including four endlessly replayable mini-games. That might sound small for a mini-game collection, but each is so well-designed and satisfying that you’ll be happy to spend hours on any one of them. Also, one of them is called Super Pole Riders. So, if you have a PS4, good luck not getting into Sportsfriends.
From the second you're dropped into this arcade classic reboot, you'll be chopping up cyborgs and cartwheeling through the air in style. Double Helix's Strider is a reimagining done right, transforming the beloved Strider series into a fun, fast-paced Metroidvania exploration game. The various levels are packed with upgrades and new abilities, and the hack-'n-slash combat makes you feel like one of the baddest ninjas around.
One of the most impressive things about Strider: its constant sense of forward momentum. Yes, you can backtrack through previously explored areas to make sure you've found every last secret, but you're never forced to revisit zones if you don't want to. Though the map layout's initially confusing, and the plot may as well not exist, you'll no doubt have an absolute blast cutting down enemies while splashes of neon color erupt from all directions.
13. TowerFall Ascension
Once upon a time, primitive internet connections (or the complete lack thereof) meant multiplayer gaming consisted of inviting some friends over to play a few rounds of your favorite game. TowerFall Ascension, a downloadable local multiplayer-only game on the PS4, is perhaps the ultimate callback to that era. Its premise is simple but insanely fun: four archers enter an arena, and the last one standing wins.
Every match is a frantic battle to the death. As you leap around each stage trying to dodge the one-hit-kill arrows of your enemies, you must be wary of the location of each player while trying to pick up power-ups that will give you an edge in battle. Hilarity ensues when an arrow from above just happens to pierce your skull unexpectedly, and the instant replay feature that follows each round means laughing all over again as you watch your demise unfold in slow motion. If you've been looking for a new party game on your PS4, it doesn't get much better than this.
12. Wolfenstein: The New Order
Remember when shooters were still a new-ish genre, and the only thing that mattered was running around with the biggest guns you could find and blowing shit up? Wolfenstein: The New Order perfectly recaptures that oldschool feeling, yet it employs mechanics and concepts that feel distinctly modern.
The basic gunplay is awesome; you'll run around while dual-wielding shotguns, annihilating everything (well, just Nazis, really) that moves. When the bullets start flying, an easy-to-use cover system will save your hide time after time, while a well-implemented upgrade system will have you eager to experiment with various playstyles. The gunplay is further enhanced by open, arena-like levels that give you plenty of room to maneuver, and just about every gun in your entire arsenal is really fun to shoot. Add to the mix some surprisingly great character development--and the fact that you're dishing out some payback to the evil Nazi overlords--and you're bound to have a great time.
11. Child of Light
Take one look at Child of Light. Then, take a listen to its music. Take in a couple of lines of its enchanting dialogue. Then say, honestly, that the game isn’t for you. Pretty tough, right? So dig in, and see that Child of Light’s striking aesthetic and musical direction aren’t just for show--they’re perfect complements to its narrative and gameplay sensibilities. It’s not often that a game this thoroughly devoted to a singular, cohesive vision comes along. It’s even less often that it executes uniformly well in every aspect supporting that vision.
Child of Light, is, of course, an excellent game--a unique combination of light RPG mechanics and puzzle-platforming--and it’s a welcome and much-needed addition to the PS4’s still-small library. If you have a PS4, you must play Child of Light, and not just because you’re desperate for anything to play on the system.
Combat in Transistor is remarkably clever and strategic. You don't just dash around the battlefield and spam attacks on robotic enemies, you freeze time and plan out incredibly precise battle maneuvers. That might mean combining your "Get" attack with your ranged "Bounce" attack to pull enemies toward you, and then knock them all into the sky with another move. It's a rewarding approach to battle that never gets stale..
But there's more to Transistor than its combat. There's also the sword itself--a talking blade that guides you through the futuristic world of Cloudbank. It narrates your journey, giving context to the world and helping you find your way as you attempt to take down the robotic Process and their leaders, the Camerata. Oh, and the game is absolutely beautiful and has an amazing soundtrack--seriously, you'll want to play this.
9. Rayman Legends
Fact: Rayman Legends was easily one of the best games of 2013 thanks to its colorful, hand-drawn aesthetic and accessible but challenging level design. So, naturally, we were pretty pumped to see it get a next-gen release on the PS4.
Though the visuals look marginally better on Sony's latest console than they did on the PS3, there isn't really enough new content here to convince those who have already played through the game to buy it all over again. A few new playable characters have been added, and you can now use the DualShock 4's touch pad to pause the game and take screenshots. But, if you haven't already played this gem of a game, adding it to your small but growing PS4 library is a no-brainer.
8. InFamous: Second Son
Delsin Rowe really, really likes having super powers. He can't get enough of 'em--when he's blasting puffs of charcoal into the throats of enemies and running at super speeds with his neon powers, he does so with a giant smile on his face. And we totally get why, because we had the same expression while playing InFamous: Second Son.
Cruising through the streets of Seattle is extremely fun, and battling enemy DUP soldiers never gets old. It's disappointing that there's not much to do outside of completing the main story missions, and you'll definitely see the credits roll sooner than you'd want, but the time you do spend putting down enemies with blasts of smoke and navigating the world is wonderful.
7. Watch Dogs
You've run over rooftops as Ezio, swooped through the streets as Batman, and gone on killing sprees as Trevor--but you've never seen an open-world game like Watch Dogs. It merges the things you like about the genre into one game, and does so brilliantly. You're given the ability to hack the world, raising street pylons to block cars and knocking the power out to escape enemies. Oh, and you can view literally anyone's personal data with the touch of a button. It's addicting in a perverse, voyeuristic way.
The world is jam-packed with things to do, too--you'll be able to compete in street races, hunt down criminal convoys, stop crimes in progress, and engage in all manner of vigilante justice. Most impressive, though (besides the absolutely incredible visuals), is the game's multiplayer. It's seamlessly weaved into the game, and has you occasionally being hunted down by players in your own game, Dark Souls-style.
6. Metro Redux
Tired of the same old FPS shootin' and scootin'? You definitely need to spend some time exploring the horrifying, monster-infested tunnels of the Metro series. And the best way to visit the post-apocalyptic wasteland is definitely the re-released Metro Redux edition. Metro Redux gives both Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light a visual overhaul for the new-gen consoles, puts the gameplay at a silky smooth 60fps, and features new game modes to customize your playthrough.
In Metro, there's more to survival than being a crack shot with an automatic rifle. Limited resources force you to use tactics other than just going into a firefight guns blazing--and then you have to worry about the deadly, irradiated environment. Running out of air filters for your gas mask? You're going to die of radiation poisoning. Low on flashlight power? Good luck fending off those giant spiders. If you're looking to give the Metro series a shot, Metro Redux is the best version of both games that you're going to find.
5. Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn
It's perhaps a little surprising that one of the best Final Fantasy games to release in the past five years is an MMO--but so it is. Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn captures a lot of what we love about the franchise: It's got a great story, deep RPG combat and progression, and a fantastic musical score (composed by Nobuo Uematsu himself, no less!). And, despite it being an MMO, which are typically overly complex, it's a game that plays quite well with a controller.
Sure, it'll take some getting used to, and yes, FF14: ARR is a bit overwhelming at first. Its ginormous world is mostly open to you right at the start, and if you've never played an MMO before, it will definitely take you a while to gain your footing. But once you do, and once you get acclimated to the controls, you'll be partying up with others to take down towering raid bosses (Titan, anyone?) in no time. Do be warned, however: because of the constantly-evolving nature of this MMO, you will have to pony up a monthly subscription fee to play it. Worth it? You bet.
4. Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag
We weren't too sure what to think when we heard that the Assassin's Creed franchise would be heading to the high seas in a pirate-filled adventure. What we definitely didn't expect, though, was for our Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag review to call it the best AC yet. Seriously, it's that good. The land combat is as strong as ever, and features some of the most interesting outdoor locations we've explored in the series--but it's really the open ocean where AC4 is at its best.
When you're sailing through a massive storm, raiding enemy ships for rum and harpooning whales for crafting materials, it's easy to forget how mediocre AC3 was. Blasting apart enemies is rewarding thanks to refinements to the ship combat, and boarding vessels provides a non-stop source of entertainment. Turns out, Assassin's Creed's combat works really well within the bounds of a pirate game--who knew?
3. Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition
In last year's Tomb Raider reboot, you saw heroine Lara Croft get impaled on rebar, narrowly escape exploding buildings, and survive the mysterious and beautiful island of Yamatai. The game takes you through Lara's first desperate, life-or-death adventure in the early days of her tomb-raiding career. You'll watch Lara transform from a scared, lost historian to a brutal, do-what-it takes survivor plunging into ancient ruins, crafting makeshift weapons, and scaling impassable cliffs.
How do you make a great game even better? Why, give it a complete graphical overhaul, of course. The Definitive Edition does just that, as it offers a revamped, more detailed Lara model, adds new environmental elements to enhance the island's visual storytelling, and vastly improves the lighting effects to the point you see every raindrop in the sky light up from a flash of lightning. If you haven't experienced Lara's newest adventure, the next-gen's Definitive Edition is definitely the definitive version.
2. Battlefield 4
No doubt about it, Battlefield 4 on the PS4 is hands-down one of the best ways to experience this absolutely thrilling multiplayer shooter. The difference between playing it on your PS3 and a shiny new machine packing seven years of technological advancement is nothing short of astonishing. The visuals look roughly a billion times cleaner, which has a direct effect on the amount of enjoyment you'll derive from playing it. Few things are as exhilarating as fighting in massive battles with a total of 64 players, watching soldiers duke it out in the streets while tanks hurl shells at anything that moves.
You'll instantly understand why we fell in love with this game the second a humongous battleship comes plowing through the shoreline, while player-controlled fighter jets dogfight in the sky overhead. The environmental destruction is more impressive than ever, the battles are tense, and even the single-player campaign has been greatly improved in comparison to the tragedy that was Battlefield 3's solo offering. If you're planning on playing Battlefield 4 on consoles, go PS4 or bust.
1. The Last of Us Remastered
The Last of Us is the sort of game that only comes along once or twice a console generation--a landmark experience that it not only defines its genre, but also the era in which it was released. Its combination of subtle, crushingly-earnest storytelling and gritty action survival gameplay makes it a game you're not likely to forget--and if there's just one game you absolutely must play on your PS4, it's The Last of Us Remastered.
This post-apocalyptic tale tasks Joel, a man hardened by tragedy, with escorting a 14-year-old girl named Ellie clear across what remains of America. Most of the world's population has been transformed into genuinely terrifying zombie-things, and the pair must sneak, fight, and run their way past the many dangers that populate their journey. The slow-burn action gameplay is often uncomfortably tense, forcing you to think about and adapt to each enemy encounter. Do you have enough bullets to take out a group of infected head-on? Do you try and sneak past them? Do you have the tools necessary to thin them out with traps? Survival here is rarely easy, but your reward is watching the brutal, heartbreaking story unfold.
Well, does the next generation of gaming give you everything you want? No? Well, if you wait a bit there'll be plenty more to get excited for. There's bound to be a new entry in [insert your favorite franchise here] that'll blow your pants clean off. Like, you'll be without pants. Pantless. Where your pants once were, there will be a pile of PlayStation 4 games that you'll happily play (without leaving your house, because pants).
Think the grass might be greener on the other side? Check out the best Xbox One games and the best Wii U games.
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