Best PS4 games
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. 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. But if you're hungry for something new to play right now, here are the games you should be paying attention to, starting with...
Updated on 3/12 to include TowerFall Ascension.
Knack is so close to being the game you want it to be. When the camera's pulled in tight the graphics looks fantastic, and when the combat is at its best, it's surprisingly clever. The end result is something of a muddled experience, with gameplay that seems stuck between the past and the present, and characters you'll forget the moment they're offscreen.
That said, there's definitely an audience for this game (see: kids), as we discussed in our Knack review. It has a ton of content, with a meaty, 10+ hours of story and plenty of replay value with its unlockable skins and gadgets. There's even a downloadable companion app that'll help you along the way, giving you access to new items that help keep the combat varied. Sony might not have a new mascot in Knack, but it definitely has a serviceable brawler.
How does that saying go? “You can’t argue with free?” Okay, that may or may not be an established saying, but it rings fully true with regards to Warframe, a competent online cooperative shooter with a few unfortunate issues. But its strong base mechanics, visual style, and interesting universe make it worth a look, especially because its barrier to entry isn't a monetary one.
Calling it free is a bit misleading, because you’ll have to play it for an inordinate amount of time to unlock most of the content you could pay negligible fees for. But jumping in without shelling out a dime will still give you enough base-level material to enjoy for hours on end, and Warframe does bring some fun ideas that you won’t find anywhere else. Like, for example, you play as a space ninja. When all you have to give up is a bit of your time, how can you turn that down?
21. Super Motherload
Create the most badass mining rig the universe has ever seen. That's your goal in Super Motherload, a score-based downloadable that tasks you with harvesting all the riches you can from the underbelly of Mars. The gameplay here follows a predictable cycle: Dig for resources, return to your mining ship to refuel and unload your harvest, then get back to it. But once you start figuring out the subtle but rewarding tricks for increasing your payout, and once you start spending all that hard-earned cash on upgrading your mining operation, you'll be eager to return to the driller controls.
Super Motherload isn't exactly the most exhilarating game out there, as its gameplay is simple and repetitive. But it has a sort of calming effect to it; turns out, mining on a planet other than Earth is an isolating process, and it's easy to fall into a hypnotic trance once the game's eclectic soundtrack kicks in. If you're after some sort of epic simulation experience, look elsewhere--but if all you want is to rack up a boatload of resources and fill your pockets with cash, Super Motherload is a decently enjoyable venture.
All a puzzle platformer needs is one interesting mechanic and we're hooked--and Contrast absolutely has that one interesting mechanic. In it, the heroine can meld into the shadows, interacting with the darkness cast on the wall by objects in the environment. That means you're able to push a box in front of a lamp to give it a bigger shadow, then climb on it. Impressive, right?
Technical hiccups and a lack of character hold it back from true greatness, but the beautiful world does a good job of providing you plenty of eye candy to gawk over as you explore the dreamlike 1920s setting. And, like, it's free on PlayStation Plus, so... you might as well, right?
19. Doki Doki Universe
Finally, a sequel to Doki Doki Panic. Wait, apparently that’s factually inaccurate. That’s okay though, because Doki Doki Universe is a thoroughly bizarre, endlessly charming adventure that harks back to the specific type of weird Japanese game that hasn’t really been around since the original PlayStation days.
Yes, the game has some problems, both technical and design-related, that get in the way. But it’s still an adorable, family-friendly experience that’s so refreshingly in the face of the copious realistic violence of other next-gen releases. And aside from its pleasant atmosphere, the Scribblenauts-meets-Monkey-Island-meets-bonkers gameplay is enough to keep you invested on its own.
18. Skylanders: Swap Force
With Skylanders: Swap Force, you have yet another chance to feed your obsession and collect even more Skylanders figures. Just drop them on the power portal, level them up, and get absurdly addicted to the beat-'em-up, co-op adventure. The new Swap Force figures take center stage, adding more variety to the gameplay with their ability to take on another character's powers by swapping the figures' lower halves.
On the PS4, the visuals get kicked up a notch. The environments are exquisitely detailed, CGI cutscenes look like they came straight out of a Pixar movie, and your characters are even more lifelike than before. There's more in our Skylanders: Swap Force review, but if you haven't already committed to purchasing Swap Force on current-gen, you won't be disappointed by the look of your characters on the next-gen hardware.
Flower is the kind of game that makes the word "game" seem meaningless. In it, you fly around beautiful, vivid landscapes as a flower petal, triggering flowers to bloom and spread color to the world. It's relatively simple and won't provide you with a challenge, but it's the perfect game to zone out to thanks to its clean visuals and fantastic music.
The PlayStation 4 version of the game isn't a huge departure from the original, though you're not going to mind. The 1080p visuals are much cleaner, and make the already-entrancing world look all the more stellar. While it might not move you as much as thatgamecompany's more recent works, it's definitely a worthwhile, magical journey (oh man, Journey has to come out on PS4 too).
16. 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.
15. 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.
14. The Lego Movie Videogame
Have you seen The Lego Movie? After watching the excellent film, did you immediately think to yourself, "Man, that would make for a cool video game"? Then you're in luck: The Lego Movie Videogame is one of the better movie tie-in games out there, transforming the film's plot into a wholly enjoyable interactive experience.
The game's entire world is built, unsurprisingly, entirely of Legos, and you'll no doubt enjoy bashing it apart during your quest to stop Lord Business's evil plans. Be warned: If you haven't seen the film, this will spoil some of its plot, but it at least does a great job of filling you in about what's going on so you'll never feel lost regardless. Much like its Lego game predecessors, The Lego Movie Videogame is fun for all ages, and makes for a great co-op experience to boot.
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.
Alright, honest show of hands: If you were an investigative journalist and heard rumors that some weird stuff was going down at a seemingly abandoned psychiatric hospital, would you break in and check it out? If your name is Miles Upshur, protagonist of the survival horror game Outlast, you'd be frantically raising your hand right about now.
Outlast is downright terrifying thanks to its great use of atmosphere. Mount Massive Asylum, the aforementioned hospital, is almost entirely dark inside, and the only way to see where you're going is by looking through the night vision of your camera. There's just one problem: If you run out of batteries, it's gonna be really hard to see when the freakish monsters inhabiting the asylum sneak up on you. As you explore, you'll uncover all sorts of documents (and the bodies of those who had created them) as you attempt to uncover the asylum's creepy mysteries.
11. 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.
10. 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.
9. 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!
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.
7. 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.
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.
5. 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.
4. 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.
3. Assassin's Creed IV: 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?
2. 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.
1. 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.
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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