While it’s getting slightly easier to buy a PlayStation 5, some of you might be in no rush to get your paws on your next console. After all, the PS4 has seen some of the best games in PlayStation history come to pass. So while some of you might be waiting around with bated breath for the next PS5 drop, why not revisit 15 of the best games that have graced the PS4’s legendary line-up?
From tight puzzle games to sprawling open-world adventures, the PS4’s library has it all. We’ve rounded up only the best of the best PS4 games on the platform and trust us, it was no easy choice.
But first, there’s something we need to discuss.
PS Plus Benefit
PS Plus members who own a PlayStation 5 will be able to play a selection (20, currently) of the best PS4 games on their new console. Some of the games on our list (like God of War, Persona 5, and Monster Hunter: World) are accessible with the service. So are some of the games that used to be on our list (Uncharted 4, Until Dawn, and Infamous: Second Son, among others).
If you’re thinking about picking up a PS4 for these games explicitly — and have a high level of patience — it might be best to think about investing in a PS5 instead.
Final Fantasy VII Remake
Whether you played the 1997 original a dozen times or have no clue what a Tifa is, there’s something to like about Final Fantasy VII Remake, a bold reimagination of one of gaming’s great role-playing games. Remake takes the first section of Final Fantasy VII—a four-hour stretch of game set in a dystopian city known as Midgard—and blows it up into a forty-hour adventure. You play as Cloud, a former soldier with a fuzzy memory. In short order, as with the first game, he’s roped into an eco-terrorist plot and a vast corporate conspiracy. No spoilers, but Final Fantasy VII Remake deviates from the original in some major ways. Even those who think they know every beat are bound to be surprised.
A Good Match For: Fans of playing action-RPGs, min-maxing stats, and gawking gape-mouthed at top-flight visuals.
Not A Good Match For: Players who abhor backtracking as Remake has a few sections that demand it.
Pyre is a sports game unlike any other. You control a group of exiles, a set of miscreants banished from a prosperous kingdom to an underworld-esque realm. Their goal, as with most exiles, is to claw their way back to society. To do so, they engage in a trial of games, known as “rites,” that can best be described as “soccer, but magic.” Every character has different attributes, each of which helps immensely in rites. (Some are fast, some can triple jump, some can fly, and so on.) And when an exile wins enough rites, they’re able to become un-exiled—which means leaving your team. Inevitably, this means your best players hit that crossroads earliest. Thus begets a tough choice: Do you deny this beloved character the one thing they want, all in the name of furthering your victory? Or do you bid them farewell? Pyre further shines in its player-vs.-player mode. The campaign is easy enough, especially once you get the hang of it. Play against another human, though—with all the raw unpredictability that entails—and you’re bound to find yourself locked in a series of palm-sweating, curse-laden matches.
A Good Match For: Fans of Transistor, Hades, and Bastion, and anyone who likes the frenetic competition of fast-paced, nontraditional sports games like Rocket League.
Not A Good Match For: Those who lack a competitive streak (for the multiplayer). Those who need constant action (for the single-player).
Purchase From: PlayStation Store
Uncharted: Lost Legacy
Let’s be honest: longtime protagonist Nathan Drake has had enough time in the limelight. Uncharted: Lost Legacy—a planned Uncharted 4 expansion that ballooned, in development, to a nearly full-size campaign—takes the focus off Drake and instead puts fan favorite Chloe Frazer front-and-center. The campaign features all the quality third-person shooting and eye-popping vistas the series is known for, and adds a few new features. There’s an open world section, complete with side quests (a series first) and a map. There’s a photo mode in which you can pause the game and make Chloe wink at the camera. And the last level packs more setpieces into 30 minutes than any Uncharted before it.
A Good Match For: Time-pressed gamers who want something to entertain them for 12 to 15 hours. Uncharted fans who want more Uncharted but have had enough of Nathan Drake’s laissez-faire hijinks. Indiana Jones.
Not A Good Match For: Anyone who had their Uncharted fill after playing the first four console games.
Inside is the rare game that’s so good we don’t want to tell you anything else about it. It takes the framework of a 2D puzzle-platformer and wrings it for three hours’ worth of gobsmacking surprises. Horrifying, engrossing, brilliantly constructed and perfectly paced, Inside is one of the best games in recent memory. Just go play it.
A Good Match For: Anyone who liked the developer’s last game Limbo. Those looking for something they can finish over the course of an evening that will stick with them for much longer.
Not A Good Match For: Those who need their games to be lengthy affairs. Anyone freaked out by the monstrous and the deadly.
The Last of Us Part 2
Flaws and controversy (both valid and disingenuous) aside, the fact of the matter is that The Last of Us Part 2 is a tour de force. There’s so much worthy of commendation here. We could tell you that the writing rivals anything from a prestige HBO show (indeed, Halley Gross, a writer for HBO’s Westworld, served as the game’s narrative lead). We could tell you that it’s a more-than-worthy follow-up to 2013’s The Last of Us, one of the most acclaimed games of all time.
We could go on at length about how tight the gunplay is, how tense the stealth is, how well-realised this cynical vision of a bombed-out America is, how terrifying the fungal not-zombies are. We could, as so many have, sing the praises of Naughty Dog’s unrivalled technical prowess. But, boiled down, the key thing to know about this tremendous game is that it’s all but guaranteed to elicit emotion.
Rage, elation and anything in between, no one who’s played this game can reasonably say they walked away feeling nothing. Whether that’s a positive or a negative is up to you. In our mind, it’s worth giving a shot.
A Good Match For: Lovers of stealth games, action games, horror games, survival games, story-driven games, really just well-made games in general ” there’s not a pixel out of place here.
Not A Good Match For: People who like to rush through games: Part 2 is best enjoyed in bite-sized chunks, not 10-hour marathon sessions.
Ghost of Tsushima
At a glance, Ghost of Tsushima looks like a pastiche of “stuff that’s been done before.” You’d not be wrong for thinking that, but it’s no reason to skip this one. In fact, Ghost of Tsushima is a terrific distillation of some of the best ideas from this generation of console gaming. There’s an open world, but it’s parcelled more manageably, and more enticingly, than anything out of Ubisoft. Combat is a standard mix of swinging swords and dodging (or parrying) other swords, but it’s more slick and responsive than similar action games (including some on this list, like The Witcher 3).
Sealing the deal is a distinctive setting — an island off the coast of Japan during the 13th century — that’s rendered in astonishing beauty. Bonus: Ghost is also loaded with subtle quality-of-life tweaks (exhibit A: non-player characters will match your speed) that other developers would be wise to copy in the future.
A Good Match For: Fans of feudal Japan, Akira Kurosawa, and compulsive open-world gameplay.
Not A Good Match For: Players who want action as difficult as Bloodborne; Ghost can be tough, but it’s by no means punishing.
Horizon Zero Dawn
At a cursory glance, Horizon Zero Dawn may seem overly familiar. It’s got Uncharted platforming, a Far Cry open world with stealth and crafting, Tomb Raider third-person bow fights and Monster Hunter-style battles against massive robot dinosaurs. Wait a minute, did we say overly familiar? Because that sounds great. Horizon actually manages to simmer those promising raw ingredients into something that works even better than we’d hoped. It’s got a steady stream of exhilarating gameplay and awe-inspiring sights all wrapped up in a surprisingly engrossing and satisfying story. As a bonus, it’s one of the most most technically advanced, gorgeous games you can play on a PS4.
A Good Match For: Fans of the games mentioned in the description above, anyone who’s ever wanted to go toe-to-toe with a robot velociraptor.
Not A Good Match For: Those looking for an easy time. Horizon is a bracingly difficult game, and you’ll have to play smart and aggressively to make it through alive.
Red Dead Redemption 2
From tip to tail, Red Dead Redemption 2 is a profound, glorious downer. It is the rare blockbuster video game that seeks to move players not through empowering gameplay and jubilant heroics, but by relentlessly forcing them to confront decay and despair. It has no heroes, only flawed men and women fighting viciously to survive in a world that seems destined to destroy them. It is both an exhilarating glimpse into the future of entertainment and a stubborn torch bearer for an old-fashioned kind of video game design. It is a lot, and also, it is a whole, whole lot.
A Good Match For: Cowboys, open-world connoisseurs, history buffs, lapsed game-playing persons lured by a game whose atmosphere strikingly mimics many masterpieces of film and literature.
Not A Good Match For: Those averse to open worlds, because this sure is the open-worldest of all possible open worlds. Also, Sonic the Hedgehog fans need not apply (your cowpoke’s walking speed is the exact opposite of going fast).
Nier: Automata will probably surprise you. It starts out as a fast-moving action game in the vein of Bayonetta or Devil May Cry, telling a story about hot robots exploring a ravaged future earth. And until the first time the credits roll, that’s what it remains. Keep playing, though, and Nier will begin to open up and transform. It shifts viewpoints and twists inside of itself, eventually unfolding in a spiral of revelations that crescendoes all the way to the grand finale(s). Yes, you must “finish” Nier: Automata five times to get the complete story. But like the rest of this fantastic game, that doesn’t mean what you think it means.
A Good Match For: Fans of narrative mindfucks like the first Nier or the Metal Gear Solid games; people looking for something ambitious and unapologetically weird.
Not A Good Match For: People who like their game stories straightforward, anyone who doesn’t like beat-em-ups or shoot-em-ups.
What if there was a soap opera that made you cry, but also let you play classic Sega games? The Yakuza series is a unique mixture of melodrama and comedy, packed with compelling characters and criminal intrigue. It’s also a series where you can hire a chicken as your real estate manager and manage a cabaret club. Yakuza 0 is the perfect entry point into the series, spinning a tale of two criminals wrapped up in intersecting plots. The story twists and turns, while the open world provides colourful side quests and distractions. It starts slow, but if you stick with it, you’ll find one of the most sincere games on the PlayStation 4, emotionally packed and surprisingly funny.
A Good Match For: Tattoo enthusiasts, anyone who loves a good plot twist, folks interested in great localizations, mini-game lovers, and anyone looking to experience a rich story.
Not A Good Match For: Anyone who absolutely hates cutscenes, that one guy who says “this would be better with English voice actors,” and players looking for a shorter narrative experience.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
There’s no shortage of ambition in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Geralt of Rivia’s latest adventure is massive, a world you can get lost in for hours and still have plenty to do. And while many games these days have sprawling landscapes, The Witcher 3 is utterly dense. Every nook and cranny is filled with memorable characters, clever writing, and rewards for curious players. The main story is as thrilling as it is emotionally draining, and the side quests are actually worth doing! Best of all? You don’t need to have played a Witcher game to enjoy the heck out of the third.
A Good Match For: Open-world fans, especially those who enjoyed Skyrim but were disappointed by the combat. In The Witcher 3, fighting is nearly as enjoyable as exploration.
Not a Good Match For: People who value their time and social life, or those who prefer their games hyper-polished without any framerate drops or other nagging technical flaws.
“Be curious on your journey!” proclaims one of the characters in Outer Wilds. No line could sum it up better. At the onset, your silent alien hero is given a rickety spaceship and sent off to explore the universe with a single goal: Go on an adventure. Roughly 20 minutes later, the universe explodes, and you wake up on your home planet as if nothing ever happened.
Soon you’ll find yourself ticking off goals and jotting down questions: Why is the universe exploding? How did that ancient alien race go extinct? What’s up with that planet that keeps disappearing when you try to land on it? And is it possible to save the universe? Outer Wilds mixes the exploration of Metroid with the time loop of Majora’s Mask to brilliant effect, and it culminates in one of the most satisfying endings we’ve ever seen in a video game.
A Good Match For: Curious gamers, anyone who loves the idea of getting into a space ship and exploring the cosmos.
Not a Good Match For: Impatient people, people who need combat in their games, people who hate finicky controls.
Purchase From: Available digitally on the PlayStation Store.
If we had to sum up Bloodborne in a single phrase, it would probably be “There’s blood everywhere.” From Dark Souls maestro Hidetaka Miyazaki and his team at From Software, Bloodborne represents both a careful iteration of the Souls formula and a significant departure from it. The games’ fundamental structure and signature difficulty remains, but everything has been intensified, with knife-cuts and quicksilver bullets flying faster than your eye can track. Bloodborne is a gore-soaked masterpiece.
A Good Match For: Fans of From’s other games like Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls, people who like tough games, H.P. Lovecraft buffs.
Not a Good Match For: Anyone who gets easily frustrated by difficult games, people looking for a more traditional RPG with a more traditional story.
What if you could relive high school but do it way, way better? That’s the promise of Persona 5, and Atlus’s killer social sim slash dungeon crawler more than delivers. You’re a high school student spending a year at a new school in Tokyo, but you’re anything but ordinary. You and your motley crew of friends have the ability to infiltrate the subconscious “palaces” of the various villains and tormentors who challenge you in the real world, changing their hearts and bringing them to justice. As the days tick by, you’ll spend your afternoons deciding whether to go shopping, hang out with your friends, or head into a dungeon to slay some demons. The more you play, the more the cast expands, the story unfolds, and the mystery deepens. What’s really going on? Where do these mystical powers come from? How’s it all gonna end? And will you finally be able to get Makoto to go out with you?
A Good Match For: Fans of previous Persona games, along with anyone who likes stylish art and killer music. Persona 5 is overflowing with both.
Not A Good Match For: People who hate turn-based JRPG combat, people who don’t like games with a lot of text to read, anyone looking for a game they can finish in a single weekend.
God of War
God of War is every bit the prestige, mega-budget action game it sets out to be. It’s got uncommonly satisfying combat, gorgeous music and art direction, and gives players hours and hours of fun stuff to do. Like past God of War games, it mixes joyously violent melee fighting with clever environmental puzzle solving. Like past God of War games, it takes players on a Cliff’s Notes tour of an ancient religion, with Norse mythology taking over this time for the Greek pantheon of its predecessors. Unlike past God of War games, however, it takes greater care with its story, revitalizing and to an extent rehabilitating its long-in-the-tooth anti-hero Kratos by focusing on his relationship with his young son Atreus. Their story is full of shocking twists and massive set-pieces, but some of its best moments feature the heroes quietly rowing a boat down a river, regaling one another with stories of ages past. God of War is an unusually thoughtful blockbuster, an epic that manages to be quietly reflective and wildly entertaining at the same time.
A Good Match For: Fans of Norse Mythology, people who like intense action, anyone looking for something that’ll really show off how good a PS4 game can look.
Not A Good Match For: Those uncomfortable with on-screen violence. God of War‘s mayhem doesn’t feel as gratuitous as past games in the series, but there’s still some extremely brutal stuff.
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