The PlayStation 4 is currently in its fifth year on the market and despite persistent rumors about when we might see the PS5 hit store shelves, Sony’s fourth home console continues to be a juggernaut. The PS4 is on pace to outsell its predecessor, the PlayStation 3, before the end of 2018 and could very well hit 100 million total units sold by the end of its lifespan – a feat only a small handful of consoles have ever managed to pull off.
Much of the PS4’s success can be attributed to Sony’s games-first mentality, in that they’ve ensured that the console has the most attractive and diverse software library on the market. While the console struggled a bit in its first year to get must-have games into the market, the PS4 has been a powerhouse ever since, with a staggering lineup of great games to choose from.
Of course, no one has time to play ALL the games, so whether you’ve had a PS4 since the beginning or just picked one up and are wondering what the console’s best experiences are, we’ve highlighted 25 games that we feel are essential for every PS4 owner.
25. Fortnite: Battle Royale
It’s easy for Fortnite: Battle Royale’s haters to write it off as a goofy, kid-friendly online shooter but even though Epic Games’ ridiculously successful take on the emergent Battle Royale formula isn’t for everyone, its popularity can be attributed to one simple reason: it’s a really fun, polished video game. Of course, there are other factors at play, including the fact that Fortnite is free and available on multiple platforms, but no game becomes a global sensation without having an addictive feedback loop at its core.
Battle Royale’s 100 player, winner-take-all formula doesn’t break any new ground, but Epic’s commitment to making their creation the best free-to-play game on the market is something to be commended. Special timed events like the Thanos Avengers: Infinity War tie-in and the introduction of “seasons” are evidence of Epic’s drive to constantly evolve their multiplayer juggernaut. Even though there’s nothing special about the PS4 edition of the game, the fact that Bluehole has yet to port PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds to Sony’s console has helped make Fortnite: Battle Royale an uncontested success on the platform.
24. MLB The Show 18
The PlayStation exclusive MLB The Show series is one of the most reliably excellent sports video game franchises around, so you could pretty much slot any yearly title into this spot. In terms of gameplay and visuals, the 2018 version is the best so far, with the team at SIE San Diego Studio delivering possibly the most authentic baseball experience in gaming history.
Like most realistic sports games, The Show can be a bit overwhelming for newcomers, as its numerous systems and modes are still catered to the hardcore crowd, but some intuitive tutorials and the reintroduction of Retro Mode help make the 2018 edition more accessible. Of course, if you’re not a baseball fan, MLB The Show probably isn’t something you’re ever going to bother picking up but in terms of PS4 exclusive sports titles, it’s the best you’re going to find.
23. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is a psychological horror action game developed by Ninja Theory, the same studio behind other underappreciated gems such as Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and DMC: Devil May Cry. Tying in elements of Celtic and Nose Mythology, the game follows the titular heroine Senua as she travels to the homeland of the Northmen, taking her through a land called Helheim (essentially the Norse version of hell). Throughout its six-to-eight hour story, Hellblade is an overwhelmingly sensory experience, to the point where the game actually recommends that you wear headphones while playing.
The use of audio and visual distortion in Hellblade is truly something to behold, as the game smartly uses these elements to convey Senua’s psychosis and delusion as she further descends into a nightmarish world where what you don’t see is almost more terrifying than what you do. Hellblade may not be an overly long experience but in terms of the way it blends its atmospheric narrative elements with more traditional action mechanics, there are very few games that rival it on the PS4.
Resogun is one of the best twin-stick shooters available on the PS4, made all the more impressive by the fact that it was a launch title for the system. Developer Housemarque has been one of Sony’s most reliable indie studios ever since the original Super Stardust blew everyone away on the PS3, but Resogun may just be their finest title to date.
The game tasks players with flying their small ship around a variety of 360-degree courses as they fend off waves of enemies, all while trying to rescue as many civilians as possible. The controls are tight and responsive, the gameplay is challenging and addictive and visually, Resogun still impresses even years after its initial release. Oh and like any good twin-stick shooter, it only gets better in co-op.
21. Assassin’s Creed: Origins
Following the release of Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate in 2015, Ubisoft finally clued into the bitter reality that, after nearly a decade of yearly sequels, the franchise had hit a creative rut and the publisher decided to take some time off before releasing the next iteration. The result of this hiatus was Assassin’s Creed: Origins which, like its name implies, offers a reboot of sorts for the series, taking the action all the way back to Ancient Egypt.
While early preview coverage for the game was positive, no one was expecting Origins to become one of the best games of 2017, as it does away with much of the stale gameplay and story elements that dragged down previous Assassin’s Creed games in favor of a deeper combat system, RPG elements, and an overhauled mission structure wherein even the side quests feel fleshed out and essential. Add in one of the most stunning open worlds yet seen in a video game and Assassin’s Creed: Origins is a return to form for the franchise that also happens to be one of the PS4’s best titles.
20. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Although the publicity surrounding Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain — most notably a troubled production that saw a falling out between the game’s publisher Konami and lead designer Hideo Kojima — arguably made more of an impact than the game itself, Kojima’s final Metal Gear is still a heck of an accomplishment. By taking the classic espionage series and making it truly open world for the first time, Kojima and his team took the series to the next level, delivering arguably the deepest, most engaging Metal Gear Solid to date, at least from a pure gameplay level.
Admittedly, the story elements are a bit lacking when compared to earlier installments, as the plot takes a backseat to features such as the deeply addictive Mother Base building elements, but this isn’t a deal breaker by any means. Somehow, Metal Gear Solid V is the most accessible and deepest experience in the series so far and if it truly is the last great Metal Gear game we ever see, at least Kojima went out on a high note.
19. The Witness
Brilliant game designer Jonathan Blow made us all wait years for his follow-up to Braid but considering how well The Witness turned out, we’d say it was worth it. Revolving entirely around line puzzles, The Witness is a game that puts enormous faith in the player’s intelligence (some might say, too much faith), as there are no verbal or text commands in sight. Instead, you learn about the game’s various rules by solving increasingly complex puzzles, with each one building upon the foundation of the last.
It’s a unique difficulty curve that admittedly gets a bit too harsh at times, with the temptation to throw in the towel and look up a solution online persistent throughout, but The Witness is best enjoyed if you stick with it and persevere. Sure, you have to really like puzzles to get the most out of the since the only reward for solving one is even more difficult puzzles, but considering how absolutely gorgeous the game’s island setting is, it’s hard to think of another game that finds such a perfect balance between relaxation and immense frustration, or one that elicits such a satisfying feeling of accomplishment when you finally figure out its complex systems.
18. The Last of Us: Remastered
The best game of the last console generation is coincidentally also one of the best games of this generation. Originally released in June 2013 for the PlayStation 3, The Last of Us may look a bit dated now visually when compared to newer PS4 games such as God of War, but it’s still one of the most engrossing narrative-driven games ever made. It also happens to be one of the best PS4 ports there is, as developer Naughty Dog was not content with just doing a smash-and-grab port job.
The bump to 60 frames per second is noticeable and appreciated, and even though it’s more difficult to find players online these days, the game’s multiplayer mode still provides some intense thrills. There’s really not much else to say about The Last of Us at this point, considering it’s still one of the greatest games ever made and the PS4 is the best place to play it.
17. Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto V is the game that just won’t quit. Even though it first released half a decade ago on last generation hardware, Rockstar’s big open world crime playground remains one of the most popular games on the market and it’s all thanks to GTA Online. It’s easy to forget now that GTA V’s online multiplayer was plagued by all sorts of problems in the beginning but nowadays, it’s a virtual obsession for many, with countless missions, modes, and customization features keeping players hooked and engaged.
And even if you don’t care one iota about going online, GTA V’s single player offerings are still well worth your time, even if the actual story doesn’t quite stack up to previous games in the series. While the PC version still reigns supreme, the best console version is easily the PS4, as it offers the best performance and most active player community and with the game regularly on sale, GTA V is a game that should be on every PS4 owner’s shelf.
16. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Although there is a number in its title, Resident Evil 7 has very little connection to prior Resident Evil games. Gone are the campy villains and action-packed gameplay of the series’ past and in their place is a disturbing, claustrophobic haunted house experience that returns the series firmly to its survival horror roots. The switch to a first-person perspective helps add to the creep factor, as the horrific nature of the backwoods Baker family slowly reveals itself and gets under your skin. While available on multiple systems, RE7 is arguably at its best on PS4 thanks to the addition of PlayStation VR support, which works surprisingly well and enhances the immersion factor.
Stripping away almost every familiar franchise character and changing up the gameplay to such a significant degree was a risky gamble on Capcom’s part, but one that wound up paying off. RE7 was critically-acclaimed and sold well, which suggests that Capcom will continue with its new vision for Resident Evil when it comes time to release Resident Evil 8.
15. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
A standalone expansion to Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, The Lost Legacy may not be developer Naughty Dog’s best or most ambitious work, but it proves that the franchise doesn’t even need its main protagonist to deliver something memorable. In a first for the Uncharted series, wise-cracking explorer Nathan Drake is nowhere to be found, with The Lost Legacy following a pair of supporting characters from previous games: Chloe and Nadine.
Set in the beautiful wilds of India, The Lost Legacy plays like a distillation of a decade’s worth of Uncharted games, as it’s arguably the best game in the franchise in terms of visuals and pure mechanics. The main thing that holds The Lost Legacy back is that it doesn’t really break any new ground but with a developer as talented as Naughty Dog, even their lesser works are still practically masterpieces.
14. Nier: Automata
The original Nier was a somewhat obscure Square Enix action-RPG released in 2010 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 that only received mixed reviews. As such, the arrival of Nier: Automata seven years later came as a bit of a surprise; not just because of the long wait between games, mind you, but because it was a vastly superior sequel in every way. With more and more games competing for our time, it can be difficult to devote oneself to a single game, let alone even finish it.
In that sense, Nier: Automata asks a lot of players in that it needs to be completed multiple times in order to discover the true depths of its wildly ambitious narrative but thankfully, the smooth combat mechanics and likable characters make it a worthwhile pursuit. Like the original game, Nier: Automata is definitely still a niche title but for fans of weird, fun games with complex narratives, there are few titles that rival it on the PS4.
13. Titanfall 2
Titanfall 2 is an excellent game that had the misfortune of being released at the worst possible time. Sandwiched in-between the releases of Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare — two of the biggest games of 2016 — Titanfall 2 never really stood much of a chance. The most exasperating part of it all is that the game’s publisher, Electronic Arts, also publishes the Battlefield series, so they were directly competing with themselves by releasing two first-person shooters marketed to the same demographic in consecutive weeks. It’s a shame really because even though Battlefield 1 is a phenomenal game, in some ways Titanfall 2 is even better.
Its campaign mode features some of the best level design since Portal 2 and its multiplayer is fast, fluid, and well-balanced. EA claims that Titanfall 2 sales were lower than expected but honestly, what did they expect when they knowingly sent it out to die? Fortunately, it’s not too late to jump into Titanfall 2 if you decided to opt for another big-budget shooter at the time of its release, as the game is still receiving small but free updates to its multiplayer and the campaign mode alone is worth the price of admission (it helps that it’s not hard to find a good discount on it). Titanfall 2 should have been a best-seller but as things stand, it’s not even clear whether we’ll ever see another game in the franchise.
12. Until Dawn
We’re convinced that Sony had no idea what they had with Until Dawn, which helps explain why it was released with barely any marketing push to speak of back in 2015. It’s a shame too because Until Dawn is one of the PS4’s strongest exclusives and an excellent new franchise that deserves to continue. Until Dawn isn’t so much a game in the traditional sense as it is an interactive drama (think Telltale’s The Walking Dead) and one that wears its love for the horror genre and its many conventions on its sleeve. Set in and around an isolated cabin on the fictional Blackwood Mountain, the game centers around a group of eight teens who have to try and survive the night against increasingly disturbing and mysterious forces.
What begins as a seemingly run-0f-the-mill slasher flick begins to morph into something much more ambitious that covers practically every corner of the horror genre, contributing to a surprisingly engrossing narrative that you’ll want to see through to the end. With its branching narrative paths, Until Dawn is very much dependent on the player’s actions, which can lead to all sorts of grim and sometimes even hilarious outcomes. Combine that with a great cast of performers that includes Hayden Panettiere, Mr. Robot’s Rami Malek and the always delightful Peter Stormare and Until Dawn is truly something special that every PS4 owner should experience.
Released in early 2017, it was hard to not know anything about this action role-playing game from Team Ninja considering the rave reviews and hype it received at the time. However, given the flood of other incredible games that would end up being released over the course of the year, it feels like Nioh was quickly forgotten about, which is a shame because it’s still one of the best games of its kind on the PS4.
Set in a fantastical version of feudal Japan, Nioh owes quite a bit of its design philosophy to FromSoftware’s Dark Souls, as this is another third-person action game with tough but rewarding gameplay and a wealth of conflict to explore. However, describing Nioh as a Dark Souls clonet does a disservice to what Team Ninja has accomplished here, as Nioh actually plays quite differently, opting for a faster, more aggressive combat style in comparison to Dark Souls more methodical approach. This is a special game and without a doubt one of the PS4’s best exclusives to-date.
10. Persona 5
Persona 5 has “niche JRPG” written all over it, but to write it off as such is doing this wonderful game a disservice. Although you could easily spend over 100 hours exploring all of the game’s content, Persona 5 is surprisingly accessible, even for those who typically despise Japanese role-playing games. Much of this can be attributed to the game being grounded in reality, even though it is often still a very surreal experience. Sure, you’ll spend a lot of time fighting monsters and dealing with alternate dimensions but at its core, Persona 5 is all about nurturing relationships.
As you navigate the game’s Tokyo high school setting, you’ll come to care for the colorful cast of characters and want to learn more about them and what’s going on in the surprisingly engrossing story. While Persona 5 still relies a bit too heavily on certain JRPG tropes that tend to turn off the genre’s detractors (grinding, turn-based combat, lots of text to read), it’s such a well-made game that deserves to be considered alongside the PS4’s finest.
Playdead made a name for themselves with their fantastic side-scrolling platformer Limbo back in 2010, and while it would be easy to write off their latest game, Inside, as spiritual successor that doesn’t really do all that much different, that would be a massive disservice to what the studio has crafted. Simply put, Inside is not only a worthy follow-up to Limbo , but is arguably even better than its predecessor. Although it retains the same try-and-die learning curve, Inside’s world feels more fleshed out than Limbo’s and is darkly disturbing in all the right ways.
Themes of slavery and conformity run throughout and while some players likely took issue with the game’s vague narrative, we adored how open to interpretation everything is, especially the game’s third act, which features one of the best twists of the year. It’s hard to really talk about Inside without giving much of it away and considering it’s a relatively short experience, it would be a real shame to have this game spoiled. All you really need to know is it’s a must-play and arguably the best indie title of the year.
8. Rocket League
One of the greatest success stories of this generation has got to be Rocket League, a game that was on nobody’s radar when it was released back in July 2015, but thanks in part to its inclusion as a free PS4 game on Sony’s PlayStation Plus service, it took the gaming world by storm with its ingenious pairing of rocket cars and soccer.
Much more than just a novelty product, developer Psyonix essentially created an entire new sport with Rocket League. It’s an example of addictive gameplay stripped down to its simplest and most accessible form and yet, Rocket League never seems to get old. This is a game that can be picked up and understood within five minutes of playing, but can still reveal new tricks hundreds of matches later. Psyonix has constantly evolved the experience ever since, adding additional modes such as hockey and basketball variants, as well as a lot of DLC both free and paid. Today, Rocket League has become its own eSport and has proven to be one of the PS4’s most enduring, addictive games.
From Software, known for making brutally difficult, but immensely rewarding third-person action games such as Dark Souls, turned out arguably their crowning achievement to date this year with the Gothic horror masterpiece Bloodborne. Eschewing the dark fantasy template of the Souls series for the Lovecraftian creepiness of the fictional land of Yharnam and its blood-cursed mysteries, Bloodborne may look like a carbon copy of Dark Souls with a different thematic template, but it changes the core gameplay experience up enough to set itself apart.
From Software introduced one of the most intriguing combat systems of the year, replacing the sword and shield defensive style of Dark Souls with an offensive melee and gun combo. To survive in Bloodborne, you need to be fast and aggressive, which is a shock to the system after the more methodical approach found in From’s other games. Although Bloodborne may be a punishing experience, it’s one that’s absolutely worth getting a taste of, as you may find that this PS4 exclusive sinks its hooks into you early and doesn’t let go.
6. Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20th Anniversary Edition
Simply put, Rise of the Tomb Raider is one of the best games of this generation but unfortunately, Square Enix didn’t put its best foot forward when it came to giving the game its best chance at commercial success. Initially released as a timed exclusive for Xbox One, Rise of the Tomb Raider was initially a sales disappointment but was eventually able to turn things around enough to justify the creation of a sequel.
While PS4 owners had to wait a whole year to get their hands on the game, they arguably got the best version, as the 20th Anniversary Edition includes all previously released DLC, as well as additional content like an exclusive level built for PlayStation VR. The game itself is an epic third-person action adventure that improves upon its predecessor with tighter gameplay, more varied environments, and a more nuanced portrayal of Lara, who really comes into her own as a young explorer obsessed with seeing her father’s unfinished quest through to completion. With Rise of the Tomb Raider, Square Enix created an experience that is just as good (and in some cases, better) than the PlayStation exclusive Uncharted series, as well as one of the PS4’s finest games.
5. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
2015 is the year CD Projekt Red hit the big time, with the Polish development studio deserving a spot right alongside other Western RPG legends like Bethesda and Bioware. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is not only the best entry in The Witcher series, which has quietly been one of gaming’s most interesting RPG franchises for some time now, but is so overwhelmingly impressive that it quite justifiably should be considered the best overall game of the year. The Witcher 3 is ambitious and that’s putting things lightly. It not only tells a captivating story filled with all manner of fascinating characters and incredible fantasy locations, it delivers it all in one of the most beautifully-realized open worlds we’ve ever seen.
The Witcher 3 also happened to be a breath of fresh air when it came to its business model, as CD Projekt released a number of post-release DLC packs and only asked players for more money when they released two massive (and absolutely essential) expansions. Although many likely ignored The Witcher 3 due to having no previous knowledge of the series, it is absolutely worth your time and money regardless of your affinity for the franchise. The Witcher 3 will go down as one of the best RPGs of this generation, if not all time.
Blizzard’s colorful first-person shooter really shouldn’t have worked as well as it did, as it was a full-priced game lacking any sort of offline story component, which as the rotting corpses of games like Evolve has shown, is typically a recipe for disaster. However, Blizzard proved to be the exception, crafting a finely tuned shooter that, despite not featuring a campaign of any sort, is dripping with character thanks to its cast of diverse heroes.
Although Overwatch can get extremely competitive, it really is a shooter for everyone, as its focus on objectives over kills means that raw skill is less important than the ability to work together as a team. Most importantly, it’s a game that is constantly evolving, with Blizzard adding new heroes, maps, and balance tweaks on a consistent basis since release. If its rabid fan following is any indication, Overwatch is a game that will continue to be one of the industry’s most talked about (and most played) games for years to come.
3. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Even before release, we kind of expected that Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End would be one of the best PS4 games ever made, as Naughty Dog have routinely proven themselves to be one of the most talented developers in the business. Still, while we knew the studio would deliver a fitting conclusion to Nathan Drake’s story, we didn’t expect they would save the best for last, as Uncharted 4 could very well be considered best entry in the series to date (it’s a toss up between it and Uncharted 2). While it’s easy to praise the game’s incredible performances (has there been a better depiction of marriage in gaming?), level design, and visuals, what truly elevates Uncharted 4 is its narrative.
At this point, you would think that there wouldn’t be much else to say about plucky adventurer Nathan Drake, yet Naughty Dog found a way to close out his story in an emotional way that doesn’t feel contrived and actually digs deeper into the psychology of a man who hunts treasure (and murders a ton of mercenaries) for fun better than any previous game in the series. While it doesn’t quite top The Last of Us, which remains Naughty Dog’s masterpiece, Uncharted 4 is still a crowning achievement no matter which way you look at it.
2. Horizon Zero Dawn
Guerrilla Games have been one of Sony’s most talented first-party studios since the PS2 era, but had begun to be viewed as something of a one trick pony after releasing numerous entries in the Killzone franchise. While technically impressive, Killzone never quite reached “top tier” status among Sony’s lineup of PlayStation exclusives and after releasing the 2013 PS4 launch title Killzone Shadow Fall, Guerrilla decided to go in a totally new direction with their next game.
The result of that labor was Horizon Zero Dawn, an open world third-person shooter that depicts a future Earth overrun by machines, with humans having long ago reverted back to tribal civilizations after losing touch with technology during a mysterious past calamity. Although Horizon lifts a number of familiar gameplay ideas from other franchises — Uncharted-style platforming, Tomb Raider-like combat, boss battles that feel reminiscent of Monster Hunter — it wraps it all up to form a cohesive whole that is elevated by a rich narrative and excellent character work, with lead protagonist Aloy proving to be one of the best new video game characters of this generation. Immaculately made from top to bottom, Horizon Zero Dawn is about as essential as it gets.
1. God of War
The most recent title on this list, Sony Santa Monica’s God of War is not just the best game currently available on the PlayStation 4, but one of the greatest games ever made. Though each mainline entry in the God of War series received overwhelmingly positive reviews, they were clearly running out of ideas (and gods for protagonist Kratos to butcher) by the time God of War: Ascension was released in 2013.
Going back to the proverbial drawing board, the developers spent five years crafting a new adventure for Kratos that transplants the action from the Greek pantheon to Norse mythology while making fundamental changes to gameplay and story. It’s the latter changes that end up paying off the most, as Kratos’ aggression is toned down significantly as he is paired with his young son Atreus. Really, the game should be called “Dad of War,” as much of the focus is on the central relationship between father and son as they navigate a visually stunning world filled with all manners of mythological threats. A true masterpiece, God of War is the PS4’s crowning achievement and one that should not be missed.