How do the PS5 launch titles compare to PS4, PS3, PS2, and PlayStation?

(Image credit: Bluepoint)

With the PS5 set to launch on November 12, 2020, and with PS5 pre-order initiative live today, Sony is beginning to usher us into the next generation of gaming. In past generations, the beginning of a new console cycle would be used by developers and publishers to push the boundaries of interactive entertainment beyond that which we thought was possible. That would be explored in the launch games: the titles that were purpose-built to showcase the graphical prowess of the new technology, the benefits of new hardware and peripherals, and signal the type of experiences we should expect to be playing in the future. 

We thought it would be fun to look back at Sony's history in the console market. Join us as we explore the PS5 launch games and see how they compare to the North American launch lineups for PS4, PS3, PS2, and the original PlayStation.

PlayStation launch titles (September 9, 1995)

(Image credit: Ubisoft)
  • Air Combat
  • Battle Arena Toshinden
  • ESPN Extreme Games
  • Kileak: The DNA Imperative
  • NBA JAM Tournament Edition
  • Power Serve 3D Tennis
  • The Raiden Project
  • Rayman
  • Ridge Racer
  • Street Fighter: The Movie
  • Total Eclipse Turbo
  • Zero Divide

If ever there was an argument that launch lineups don't make a difference in the grand scheme of things, it would be made by the original PlayStation. Sony waded into a market that had long been dominated by Sega and Nintendo with a point to prove. The manufacturer had been very publicly humiliated by Nintendo, having announced it was building a version of the SNES with an in-built CD-ROM drive only for the game maker to turn around and partner with one of Sony's biggest rivals, Philips. Fueled by that betrayal, Sony pieced together the PlayStation. The console arrived with revolutionary 3D graphics and CD storage to replace expensive ROM cartridges and, in an instant, had changed the landscape of the industry forever. 

The launch lineup didn't do a fantastic job of reflecting that, however. Early adopters in North America had to make do with Ridge Racer and Rayman – formative titles for the racing and platformer genres, respectively – but outside of those two classics, the lineup didn't exactly inspire much confidence. Battle Arena Toshinden, Street Fighter: The Movie, and Zero Divide are better left forgotten, the same could be said for Kileak and The Raiden Project.

The quality of the launch lineup didn't matter all that much, mind. The PlayStation was a powerful system that outclassed the SEGA Saturn and SNES, and the games that arrived in the years after its launch established Sony as a market leader. 

PS2 launch titles (October 26, 2000)

(Image credit: Bandai Namco)
  • Armored Core 2
  • Dead or Alive 2: Hardcore
  • Dynasty Warriors 2
  • ESPN International Track and Field
  • ESPN X-Games Snowboarding
  • Eternal Ring
  • Evergrace
  • FantaVision
  • GunGriffon Blaze
  • Kessen
  • Madden NFL 2001
  • Midnight Club
  • Moto GP
  • NHL 2001
  • Orphen: Scion of Sorcery
  • Q-Ball Billiards Master
  • Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2
  • Ridge Racer V
  • Silent Scope
  • Smuggler's Run
  • SSX
  • Street Fighter EX3
  • Summoner
  • Swing Away
  • Tekken Tag Tournament
  • TimeSplitters
  • Unreal Tournament
  • Wild Wild Racing
  • X-Squad

Looking back at it now, the PS2 launch lineup is, frankly, ridiculous. The PS2 would ultimately go on to become the best-selling home console of all time, and the games that were there on day one reflect that ambition. This is undoubtedly the most diverse lineup of games to ever launch alongside a Sony system, signalling that this was going to be a console with the potential to appeal to prospective players outside of a traditional "core" audience. 

That was seen in the hardware too, with the DVD player broadening the appeal of the PS2 outside of gaming – the foray into the realm of multimedia accessibility certainly helped propel the console into more homes than any of its competitors. Not that you'd want to watch movies on your PS2 at launch, not with the likes of Tekken Tag Tournament, Midnight Club, Dynasty Warriors 2, and TimeSplitters all vying for your attention. 

The PS2 established an early foothold against Nintendo's GameCube and helped kill SEGA's ambitions in the console market entirely, with the Dreamcast failing to gain traction. The PS2 is considered one of the best consoles of all-time and you get the sense that publishers always knew it was destined for greatness from its day one launch lineup. What the PS2 lacked in first-party exclusives, it made up for with variety, in a lineup designed to appeal to any and all that wanted to play. 

PS3 launch titles (November 17, 2006)

(Image credit: Insomniac)
  • Blast Factor
  • Call of Duty 3
  • Genji: Days of the Blade
  • Madden NFL 07
  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire
  • NBA 07
  • NBA 2K7
  • Need for Speed Carbon
  • Resistance: Fall of Man
  • Ridge Racer 7
  • Tony Hawk's Project 8
  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07
  • Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom

When you look back at Sony's history in the video game industry, the tepid reveal and subsequent launch of the PlayStation 3 were among its most difficult days. While the early stages of the PS3 weren't quite as messy as Microsoft's handling of the Xbox One in the generation that would follow, it wasn't great. The company was fighting battles on multiple fronts, in a turmoil that is ultimately reflected back in that muted launch lineup.  

Following a lawsuit over the technology that powered the DualShock controller, Sony had to strip rumble out of its next-gen offering entirely. If that weren't bad enough, it was also being ridiculed for its boomerang shaped, motion-sensing controller that it pitched as the replacement. At that infamous E3 2006 press conference, it also tried to justify a $599 price point for a 60GB machine (a full $200 more than the Xbox 360) and move on from game reveals that were quickly enshrined as memes in the earliest days of the internet. And to top it all off, it had developed a powerful Cell processor that delivered impossibly impressive results, at the cost of being infamously difficult to develop for. 

All of that to say that Resistance: Fall of Man was among the only highlights of the launch lineup. Insomniac Games (who were acquired by Sony in 2019) finally found an opportunity to move away from Ratchet & Clank and Spyro the Dragon and delivered a first-person shooter that is now considered something of a cult-classic. Beyond that, many players found that there was still life in the PS2 and chose to sit the launch window out entirely. 

PS4 launch titles (November 15, 2013)

(Image credit: Guerrilla Games)
  • Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag
  • Battlefield 4
  • Blacklight Retribution
  • Call of Duty: Ghosts
  • Contrast
  • DC Universe Online
  • FIFA 14
  • Flower
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us -- Ultimate Edition
  • Just Dance 2014
  • Killzone Shadow Fall
  • Knack
  • Lego Marvel Super Heroes
  • Madden NFL 25
  • NBA 2k14
  • Need for Speed Rivals
  • Resogun
  • Sound Shapes
  • Super Motherload
  • Trine 2: Complete Story
  • Warframe

While it felt as if the seventh console generation had dragged on for an eternity, the PS3 had made considerable gains on the Xbox 360 as the cycle drew to an end. That – and Microsoft's inability to put a coherent or consistent message forward for the Xbox One – meant that Sony was entering the next generation in a position of relative power. It capitalized on that with the PS4 launch lineup. 

As derided as it was ahead of the November 15 launch, Knack would prove to be a fairly capable showcase of the PS4's power thanks to its smart use of particle effects and physics. More importantly, it also demonstrated that the PS4 could be a place for families and younger players to play too. The system seller was, of course – no, not Killzone: Shadow Fall – Resogun, a digitally-released side-scrolling shoot-em' up that would prove to be the closest thing Sony had to the Xbox 360's breakout hit, Geometry Wars. 

Speaking of Killzone: Shadow Fall, it was but an early showcase of what we should expect from the next-generation. Its opening level was huge in scale, the weapons felt heavy, and it still looks sublime – Guerrilla's PS4 powerhouse was a first-person shooter that felt like it wouldn't have functioned on the previous generation. It wasn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it did what all good launch lineup games do: it justified the price of entry, looked impressive enough to make your friends jealous, and it helped us dream of what could come next. 

PS5 launch titles (November 12, 2020)

(Image credit: Insomniac Games)
  • Assassin's Creed: Valhalla
  • Astro's Playroom
  • Demon's Souls
  • Destruction All Stars
  • Dirt 5
  • DmC 5: Special Edition
  • Godfall 
  • Madden NFL 21
  • Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales
  • Sackboy: A Big Adventure
  • Watch Dogs: Legion

Given the external pressures that development studios have faced throughout 2019, you'd be forgiven for wondering whether the launch day experience of the PS5 would be light. Surprisingly, Sony has been able to assemble a solid launch lineup with Bluepoint's Demon's Souls positioned as the system seller. 

The stunning remake of FromSoftware's 2009 cult-classic joins Destruction All Stars, Godfall, and Astro's Playroom (which is built onto the hard-drive of every console) as PS5 exclusives. Meanwhile, Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Sackboy: A Big Adventure will be cross-gen experiences, specifically engineered to take advantage of the new system's capabilities. If the lineup looks a little light compared to PS4 or PS3, that's largely down to the third-party multi-platform releases failing to align. 

In previous years, we might have seen big marquee titles (Call of Duty, for example), as well as highly anticipated cross-gen games like Cyberpunk 2077, align their launches a little more closely with the release of new hardware. Instead, we're seeing Black Ops Cold War, for example, launch the day after the PS5 lands in North America. Much like the Xbox Series launch games, you should expect to see massive online games such as Fortnite, Rainbow Six Siege, Warzone, and others be patched to support the new system. You can find out more about the PS5 upgrade games here. 

Overall, it's a solid launch lineup from Sony. Looking at the first-party games and exclusives it's putting forward, you get the sense that the company was shooting for something with the size and variety seen in the PS4 launch lineup, but external circumstances have forced it to scale back. Regardless, there's something for everybody here and it's easy to see plenty to keep you occupied beyond launch and into 2021.  

Josh West
UK Managing Editor, GamesRadar+

Josh West is the UK Managing Editor of GamesRadar+. He has over 10 years experience in online and print journalism, and holds a BA (Hons) in Journalism and Feature Writing. Prior to starting his current position, Josh has served as GR+'s Features Editor and Deputy Editor of games™ magazine, and has freelanced for numerous publications including 3D Artist, Edge magazine, iCreate, Metal Hammer, Play, Retro Gamer, and SFX. Additionally, he has appeared on the BBC and ITV to provide expert comment, written for Scholastic books, edited a book for Hachette, and worked as the Assistant Producer of the Future Games Show. In his spare time, Josh likes to play bass guitar and video games. Years ago, he was in a few movies and TV shows that you've definitely seen but will never be able to spot him in.