The PlayStation 4 has had a great life, and it’s not over yet, despite the upcoming launch of the system’s successor in 2020.
But don’t worry if you’re just now getting a PS4. Here are 22 of the best games for the console to get you going. If you don’t know where to start with your nascent PS4 game collection, start here. We have you covered.
Why 22 games, though? Why not?! It’s a good amount of titles, spread across a variety of genres, with selections for families, children, and adults. But 22 isn’t an overwhelming number, and we wanted to focus on the best of the best for this guide to the essential releases of the platform. Find something you like, and see what you think. And heck, when possible, we’ve included a link to our guide for each game, just in case you need a little help.
And if the list of 22 games up top isn’t enough for you, check out a few extra recommendations we threw in at the bottom. So dig in, find something to play, and enjoy; the PlayStation 4 is currently wrapping up one of the most impressive runs of software we’ve ever seen in gaming, with plenty of classics to go around. No list is going to be perfect, and they are always going to be arguable, but we stand behind every selection on this list: Each one is a great time, depending on what you’re in the mood to play.
Control offers a world that is seductive, powerful, and internally consistent, but developer Remedy Entertainment is able to stretch the tension of entering that world — without any kind of instruction or illumination — to its breaking point.
By the end of Control, you will be an expert on this strange existence. There’s no “weird for the sake of weird” here. It all makes sense, once you learn the language of the world. That’s a true rarity in video game storytelling, where complex plots are often burdened by so much excess exposition and so many complications that it all turns into a meaningless soup by the end. Control, instead, feels like a carefully prepared meal being fed to you methodically, until you develop a taste for it.
Developer FromSoftware spent the last decade making games so absurdly difficult that its popularity is a bit difficult to explain. Demon’s Souls begat the Dark Souls trilogy, which spawned Bloodborne. Every game was a riff on a formula that brought the quirky Japanese developer closer to mainstream success.
In 2019, with Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, FromSoftware took a hard turn, replacing medieval European fantasy and Gothic horror with feudal Japanese fantasy.
It’s a riff on the formula that the studio created and popularized, but it’s also something new — a fast-paced, action-focused departure from its more deliberate and esoteric forebears. It eschews role-playing classes, so everyone plays as the same titular character. Skills for your constant blade replace the bloated menagerie of weapons and armor in previous titles. The story is straightforward, not something that requires reading vague item descriptions and then watching YouTube videos just to almost kind of understand it.
Sekiro is FromSoftware’s sensibilities refined and focused. It’s as beautiful as it is brutal, and the sweetness of victory is still strong enough to make the frustration of frequent failure worthwhile. It is also unambiguous proof that FromSoftware isn’t a one-trick pony.
Outer Wilds is a nonviolent first-person exploration game set in a solar system sprinkled with delightful mysteries. Its secrets are scattered among a whirling orrery of planets. Its many marvels are like disparate fragments, difficult to comprehend in the whole, but undoubtedly greater than the sum of their parts.
Outer Wilds’ narrative centers on an alien space explorer who sets out to solve the riddle of a lost civilization. The twist is that players have just 22 minutes to explore before the sun goes supernova, destroying everything. Then, the clock resets, and with each expedition, players search further and deeper, gradually piecing together a picture of a lost species that came before — one that held the secrets of the universe.
At its core, Outer Wilds is an adventure game, but it defies so simple a classification, mixing itself up with a powerful narrative, satisfying physical challenges, and fantastical meta-puzzles. It eschews cheap violence and sprawling systems such as upgrade trees and stats-based progress. It’s a genuine original.
Get it here: PlayStation Store
I bounced off Assassin’s Creed Odyssey after 10 or so hours. Its spin on ancient Greece felt both too big and too familiar, a Frankenstein’s monster of Breath of the Wild’s climbing, Black Flag’s sailing, and every Mass Effect’s dialogue trees spread across an exhaustingly grand world of nearly identical islands. Alongside Red Dead Redemption 2, I mistook it, at the time, as a less ambitious relic from the last generation.
A few months later, with the announcement of an expansion set in Atlantis, and at the urging of my co-workers, I revisited the game. I haven’t stopped playing since. Yes, Odyssey borrows liberally from many of its contemporaries, but it’s neither too big, too rote, nor too repetitive. The game rewards investment, gradually revealing its many interlocking parts, from the masked cult running its world to dramas of the great philosophers to the meddling of mythological gods and monsters.
Seventy hours into the adventure — finally beginning that Atlantis expansion that had reignited my interest — I’m shocked I ever thought of the islands as identical, or that I compared this game unfavorably to its contemporaries. Sure, it might seem less ambitious on paper, but it feels no less special in action.
This is a colorful, warm, surprising game with a big world that feels, around nearly every corner, made by humans with creative intent. Many nooks have their own personality and industry: boat builders, theater proprietors, merchants, and mercenaries. But to appreciate them, you must find them. I know it’s a tired phrase, but in Odyssey’s case, it’s true: The journey is more than the destination.
Resident Evil was born on the PlayStation, and Capcom’s latest entry in the venerable survival horror franchise is one part classic, one part modern horror-action video game.
Capcom has taken Resident Evil 7’s brilliant design decisions to heart in its remake of Resident Evil 2, which has not simply been polished with slick graphics for current-generation consoles, but has been completely remade inside and out.
The developers of the Resident Evil 2 remake have carefully threaded a needle with their new version of a very old thing. Capcom infused modern mechanics into its groundbreaking sequel, while never abandoning what is truly great about the original Resident Evil 2. The result is a fresh, expensive-looking game that evokes the best memories of the PlayStation title, while also being something altogether new.
Capcom’s latest entry in this stylish action series is silly, raucous, and spectacular — and yet surprisingly consistent, juggling gobs of ideas but never losing focus.
Devil May Cry 5 leans into the rule of cool: Play as a trio of badass demon killers who fight with guns, swords, motorcycles, and poetry in a video game that plays like a heavy metal album cover come to life.
DMC5 delivers on its own aesthetic with so much confidence and such a deep commitment that it justifies its style-as-substance design. Nothing about the game is subtle. It’s a gory, imperfect, metalcore-driven romp, and that’s why it’s so much fun.
What if Tetris, the classic 35-year-old puzzle game, could make you feel blissful? Tetris Effect, named for the phenomenon in which repetitive tasks infest our dreams and memories, takes the game’s original concepts and adds joy, connection, and audiovisual euphoria. It’s Tetris, but beautiful, and it’s made even better if you have PlayStation VR hardware.
Tetris Effect’s emotional trek weaves through a campaign known as the Journey, where games of Tetris are set against a variety of gorgeous backdrops, songs, and sound effects. The Journey ventures from the deep sea, where blue whales and schools of fish made of glittering particles orbit the Tetris play field, to deserts to deep space and beyond. The music throbs in time with the movement of play, with every twist or drop of a piece adding to the song.
Beyond the stylish Journey mode lies the Effect mode, a series of puzzle game types that vary from more traditional scoring modes to more experimental ones. The oddest is a series of elaborate rule-breaking gimmicks known as Mystery mode, during which the play field can flip upside down or puzzle pieces become comically gigantic.
Like other Tetris games, Tetris Effect is infinitely replayable, as you seek higher scores and better combos. But it’s also a great way to relax, setting aside the chase for better play to simply be in the moment.
The PlayStation 4’s best game so far, 2018’s God of War reinvents Sony’s eternally enraged Kratos in an action game that tells an adult story of a different sort. While previous God of War beat-’em-ups slathered on graphic sex and violence, PlayStation antihero Kratos is now a gruff, quietly grieving (but occasionally still very mad) father.
He adventures with his son, Atreus, across a Nordic land inhabited by new gods. There’s still plenty of gore and fury in the new God of War, but now the guts have meatiness.
There’s a vast world to explore, and dozens of combat encounters, quests, and secrets to uncover. Even when the lengthy, engaging story wraps up, there’s still plenty to do. God of War is overflowing with side missions and busywork that remain fun, even dozens of hours in.
There have been dozens of Spider-Man video games, but none of them have matched the ambition and quality of Insomniac Games’ original take — the game is unrelated to the Marvel Cinematic Universe — on Marvel’s friendly neighborhood wall-crawler.
Marvel’s Spider-Man offers the thrill of swinging between realistic skyscrapers across an uninterrupted Manhattan skyline paired with a story that’s as much about Spider-Man as it is about Peter Parker, his family, and his friends.
Spider-Man falters here and there, sometimes as a result of its open-world video game nature, and sometimes in its story, but it’s also a very rare thing: a polished, exciting Marvel superhero game.
Naughty Dog’s brutally violent action adventure game is not for the faint of heart. The Last of Us is a harrowing experience about zombies and loss. It’s video games’ version of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road meets Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men.
But it’s intermittently beautiful and rich in detail, with standout performances from the actors who play Joel and Ellie, two survivors of a cataclysmic plague. The remastered version of this PlayStation 3 game ups the detail and includes a separate expansion, Left Behind, that fleshes out Ellie’s backstory.
FromSoftware’s grim action-horror game Bloodborne puts you in the role of a Hunter, a champion who fights through the streets and sewers of a gothic, Victorian era-inspired city trapped in a perpetual night.
Like From’s Dark Souls games, Bloodborne is immensely challenging in an old-school video game way. You’ll fight massive bloodthirsty beasts who strike fast and hard and show you no quarter. But Bloodborne is as satisfying as it is difficult; the thrill of barely surviving its many nerve-wracking battles can provide an adrenaline rush like few other games.
Bloodborne can be opaque and inscrutable if you’re new to such games. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, turn to the many other Hunters out there who are willing to help you through your journey. Summoning a friendly spirit to your game offers respite and a sense of fleeting camaraderie. Robust online wikis and FAQs can also help.
Few PS4 games can match the scale and beauty of Horizon Zero Dawn. As the heroine Aloy, you explore a post-post-apocalyptic world in which the Earth has recovered from a cataclysmic event and humans have regressed to a tribal society. The world is filled with robotlike creatures known simply as machines, some of which are tame, some of which have become increasingly hostile due to a mysterious phenomenon known as the Derangement.
Horizon Zero Dawn is an action role-playing game with a deep set of skills and techniques to learn, and dozens of things to collect and craft. The game’s vast open world is fun to explore, and it’s often breathtaking just to look at. An included photo mode will help you appreciate the grandeur of Horizon’s vision of the 31st century.
Slick and stylish, Persona 5 is a huge role-playing game about disaffected youth desperate for a shift in the status quo. You play as Japanese high school students who moonlight as The Phantom Thieves, teens with the power to enter a shadow world known as the Metaverse.
In this alternate dimension, they steal the hearts of corrupt people in the real world, a fantastical setup for effecting change in Persona 5’s version of Tokyo.
Along the way, players will need to forge and grow relationships with other characters and take on side jobs, while exploring surreal dungeons inhabited by bizarre, stylized creatures.
There’s a lot of game here — perhaps too much, as Persona 5 can eat up dozens if not hundreds of hours of your time. It’s long and strange, but it’s a hell of a trip, and we can help get you started if you’re new to the series.
Similarly strange (and similarly steeped in Japanese culture), Yakuza 0 is a great entry point for newcomers to Sega’s series about the lovable gangster Kiryu Kazuma and his charismatic clanmate Goro Majima. While Yakuza 0 may be the umpteenth entry in the Yakuza franchise, it’s an origin story of sorts set in the ’80s, during Japan’s economic bubble.
All that flowing money features heavily in Yakuza 0’s gameplay: You’ll literally beat the cash out of your opponents in street fights, and you can also run real estate and cabaret club businesses on the side.
While the Yakuza games trade in organized crime and brutal street violence, they’re also some of the funniest, most bizarre video games being released right now. Throw in a bunch of side activities and classic Sega arcade games — you can visit arcades to play perfect recreations of Out Run, Super Hang-On, Space Harrier, and Fantasy Zone — and you’ll always have something to do on the mean streets of Yakuza 0’s take on Tokyo and Osaka.
The PS4 is overflowing with high-quality third-person action games, but many of them are violent, M-rated titles. For something a little softer, there’s Ratchet & Clank, a remake (or reimagining) of the first game in the platformer-shooter series. It’s from the same folks behind 2018’s Spider-Man, and offers a gorgeous, vivid alien world for players to explore as furry hero Ratchet and his robot sidekick Clank. There are a ton of gimmicky, goofy weapons to use for the purposes of good, clean fun.
Even more devoid of death and graphic violence is Rocket League, the cars-playing-soccer phenomenon that’s perfect for a pick-up-and-play game. Even if you’re not a sports video game aficionado, give Rocket League a shot.
It’s a wonderfully balanced, highly replayable game with a huge number of players — you’ll never be left wanting for a competitor. The game is playable online against friends and foes, but Rocket League is also a rare modern multiplayer game that offers a split-screen mode, if you’re looking for something to play with people in the same room.
In this quiet, meditative adventure, you’ll leap and surf across sand dunes as a nameless wanderer, piecing together puzzles from the past. You’ll also encounter other players on your trek, casually intermingling with fellow travelers who are undertaking similar journeys. You can peacefully sing together and dance across the desert in one of the most pleasant multiplayer experiences of the past decade.
Journey was originally released on the PlayStation 3, but its PS4 version makes the game’s already stunning visuals even richer. Even if you’ve played it before, it’s a game worth revisiting.
Get it here: PlayStation Store
Another remake, this time of a landmark PlayStation 2 game. Shadow of the Colossus is a serene tragedy about a hopeful hero who must battle 16 colossi in the hopes of resurrecting a dead maiden.
As players wander through a forbidden land, armed with a bow and a magic sword, they must track down and topple majestic beasts that are actually cleverly designed climbing puzzles. The PS4 remake of Shadow of the Colossus updates the game’s graphics and controls to modern standards while honoring its classic, groundbreaking gameplay.
It took a year to get there, but after multiple expansions and a substantial overhaul, Destiny 2 is good. Really good. The version of Destiny 2 that you can play right now is the best the game has ever been, offering myriad challenges and quests, as well as formidable raids that demand teaming up with friends to overcome.
Developer Bungie finally nailed the rhythm of Destiny 2 as a living game; there’s something new or fresh to do every day, every week, and every time a limited-time event rolls around.
Of course, the shooting’s great too. Destiny 2’s arsenal of guns, rocket launchers, swords, and bows handles spectacularly, and mobs of enemies are consistently fun to shoot. It’s a loot-based game, so collecting guns is just as much fun as firing them.
You can’t play Astro Bot Rescue Mission on a PlayStation 4 alone — you’ll need a PlayStation VR headset in order to enjoy one of the best platformers in years. But if you do own PSVR, Astro Bot is a must-have (along with VR games like Superhot VR, Moss, and Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes), if only for the a-ha moments that this unique action game offers.
It’s rare to play a game with such a clear sense of purpose. Its designers want simply to delight you. Each level is a fountain of new toys, gags, and ideas. The game comes with 20 levels with eight robots to find in each one, six boss encounters, and 26 challenge areas, along with a crane game-style room where you can cash in your coins for play areas and collectibles. There’s a lot to see and do, and the number of interesting, one-off ideas and surprises the game hurls at you is, in a word, generous.
It’s one of those experiences that needs to be, well, experienced.
Get it here: PlayStation Store
There’s a reason that we’re still talking about (and playing) Grand Theft Auto 5 more than six years after it was first released. It’s a rollicking good time of capers, heists, and criminal chaos, a massive and fully realized sandbox of bad behavior.
Grand Theft Auto 5’s multiple protagonists make considerable headway in the series’ struggle to sustain a narrative thread over more than 30 hours of story. The three leads share the central storyline, but also have their own handful of conflicts that, over time, weave in and out of the broader picture. It’s a television-style serial structure, with missions playing out like episodes, the entire game a season.
But beyond GTA 5’s meaty single-player side is the ever-growing Grand Theft Auto Online, a playground where you can race against other players, partake in gunfights, plan and execute heists, build a criminal empire, and do a dozen other activities that are constantly evolving.
Titanfall 2 is what you’d expect from a sequel — a refinement and expansion of the ideas and potential in the sparse first game. The core conceit remains: a mix of mech, movement, and first-person shooter mechanics from veterans of the studio that birthed Call of Duty. And it elevates the original game’s multiplayer with a new progression system.
Less expected is the quality of Titanfall 2’s single-player campaign, the first in the series. It is a master class of the last decade of FPS design. It gleefully apes everything from GoldenEye to Half-Life to Unreal. And though the story isn’t revelatory, it has enough heart to win over skeptics. The combination of refined mechanics and narrative twists defines Titanfall 2 in a way that sets it above its contemporaries.
Other recommended PS4 games
Get it here: PlayStation Store
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