Released to much hype and fanfare in 2013, the Sony Playstation 4 reigns as one of this generation's most prolific consoles.
It was the undisputed #1 next-gen console when it launched all those holiday seasons ago, eclipsed only by the Xbox One in terms of units sold during launch week. Many seem to attribute this to the PS4's weak launch lineup; on the other hand, the Xbox One charged out of the gate swinging, launching with an impressive volley of powerhouse gaming titles.
Indeed, back during the PS4 launch, once you'd gotten your hands on your brand new Playstation, there simply weren't a lot of good games to play on it. And as one poignant console game reviewer points out: "you can't play hype."
But times have changed. In the 3, going onto 4 years since its launch, the selection of games for the PS4 has only gotten better with age. Add to that a number of excellent console exclusives, the PS4 has become the console to beat. If you own a PS4, these are the top 10 games that are most worthy of a place in your gaming collection.
Top 10 PlayStation 4 Games
10. Street Fighter V
If the hyperactive, button-mashing 14-year-olds who destroy you in multiplayer brawlers are to be believed, Capcom's latest installment to its super stylish one-on-one slugfest is not Street Fighter "Five," but Street Fighter "Vee."
But I digress, if only because it's nearly impossible to talk about Street Fighter V without bringing up its terrible launch earlier this year. Being one of Capcom's oldest and most venerated intellectual properties, you'd think the latest installment in the Street Fighter series would have launched with a robust multiplayer and a solid, story-driven single player experience that fans have come to adore about the franchise. But this was not so.
Street Fighter V launched with no single player component whatsoever; yup, at launch, the game was only playable online, and only then, in theory. The multiplayer matchmaking system took upwards of 20 minutes to pair you up with an opponent, and on the off-chance it did, the game's online connectivity was so poor that you were more likely to drop from a match quicker than you could fire off a Hadoken.
Understandably, this shaky launch did much to both alienate long-time Street Fighter fans and render it completely inaccessible to newbies. But the game has come a long way since then, and Capcom has worked hard patching in a fully fleshed out single player story and arcade mode, balance adjustments, and new characters and unlockable costumes.
With time travel technology still firmly entrenched in the realm of science fiction, it's heartening to see Capcom working so hard on fixing and improving its game in spite of its horrendously botched launch, so we gotta give those guys a break.
Since its developers are still working hard on tweaking and improving the game, Street Fighter V is looking more and more like a solid buy for the PS4.
Pack your shotgun and plasma rifle, and be sure to leave plenty of room for that BFG. 'cause we're going to Hell!
Hell on Earth, that is.
Well, okay, it's more like Hell on Mars, but, close enough.
Hearkening way back to its roots in the classic sprite-based pseudo-3D first person shooter, Doom captures so intensely its predecessor's fast paced, demon destroying action. Linear maps? Pff. Auto-regenerating health? Yeah, right. Fancy schmancy cover mechanics? Get outta here. The only cover you'll get is from surrounding yourself with a wall of smoking, ruined corpses that were once inhabited by the demons you've mowed down.
Doom looks great, runs silky smooth, and is every bit as frantic, fast-paced and no-frills as the FPS that hellspawned it.
There's some story about how a high-tech facility on Mars has somehow accidentally opened a portal to eternal damnation, but here's all you need to know: you're the Doomslayer, and you're the only one standing between Earth and the monstrous legions of Hell.
So you'd best get your exorcism on: exorcism on full-auto, that is.
Quite possibly like no other game before it, third person action hack 'em up Dark Souls series has earned a rightful reputation for its utterly soul-crushing difficulty.
Going into the battle without the correct loadout of items, skills or summons mean certain death. Not being quick enough on one too many dodge-rolls (usually this means a total of two dodge rolls, at most) means certain death. Not leveling up enough before progressing to a certain boss fight means certain death. Looking at the wrong enemy in the eyes means getting invited to a lovely tea party with a charmingly musically-inclined princess and her adorable woodland friends. Just kidding. It means, you guessed it, certain death.
Every minute spent in the world of Dark Souls is like a week spent in a miserably one-sided courtship: the game hates it, it scorns success, and make no mistake, it absolutely despises you for even trying. More than any other game before it, Dark Souls 3 pulls aside the veil of this feeble, miserable thing we call hope and exposes it as the narcotic, psychological lie that it is. And yet, somehow, hope we still hope. Because if we don't, then Dark Souls wins. And we can't have that.
Regarding tight action gameplay and morale-demolishing difficulty, Dark Souls III doesn't deviate much from its predecessors, and excels at providing a tantalizingly riveting game experience. Especially if you're the type of gamer who really likes reloading from your last checkpoint.
Originally intended as a spiritual successor to Dark Souls and Demon Souls, From Software's Bloodborne retains the ultra hard mode difficulty levels of its inspiration. But where Bloodborne distinguishes itself is its cleverly executed departure from a standard medieval fantasy and magic setting; instead, it pits you against Lovecraftian horrors, eldritch things from beyond the realms where mortal minds fear to tread.
The opening seconds of Bloodborne have you laid out on an operating table, where an unfamiliar old man appears to be messing around with your insides. "You are undergoing a blood transfusion," he tells you, moments before strange, shadowy creatures begin to loom from somewhere just outside your field of vision.
The old man instructs that you will be embarking on a long journey that will seem like a bad dream. You pass out, and Bloodborne begins. When you awake, you learn that you are a Hunter, and have emerged somewhere in Yarnham, a decrepit, Gothic, and pseudo-Victorianesque town where nothing is as it seems.
Arming yourself with an arsenal of otherworldly weaponry, you begin your quest to free yourself and the city's inhabitants from a mysterious bloodborne (ha!) plague, all the while unraveling mysteries that would have been better left unknowable.
Drawing heavily from influences in Bram Stoker's Dracula as well as the works of HP Lovecraft, Bloodborne stands solidly on its own two legs and broods somberly as a masterpiece to rival Dark Souls.
The latest entry into the long-running King of Fighters series blasts its way onto next-gen systems in the form of a 2D/3D brawler, not unlike its longtime competitor in the Street Fighter franchise.
Unlike previous iterations, which used 2D raster imagery, KOF XIV is fully rendered in 3D, and it looks great. With a staggering character roster numbering in the dozens (fifty characters, to be precise, divvied up into 16 teams of three fighters apiece, plus a sub-boss and final boss), KOF lets you customize a team of three characters per player and duke it out tag team style.
Another thing that KOF does differently from most other mainstream fighters is that its gameplay is actually designed to be welcoming to new players.
Certain mechanics are tailored to be less punishing to players unfamiliar with the series' staples of combos, juggles, cancels, Rush techniques, and other more nuanced systems of beating each other's faces in with flaming fists.
If you've always been curious about competitive head-to-head fighting games but have been too intimidated to stick your toes in the water, KOF XIV may well be the game for you.
The sequel to the 2013 reboot of the legendary Tomb Raider franchise, Rise chronicles the further adventures of a younger, slightly less experienced Lara Croft.
Struggling to reconcile her traumatic experiences in Yamatai during the previous game, Lara finds herself following in her late father's footsteps as a budding action science explorer. (There's no science like action science!) This time, Lara's shipping off to the desolate mountain regions of Syria, hoping to track down the elusive tomb of the Prophet of Constantinople. Along the way, she finds her efforts thwarted by Trinity, a mysterious and ancient order of knights armed with modern day paramilitary firepower.
Featuring an open-world sandbox gameplay with plenty of exploration nodes scattered throughout the map, a crafting system, and redesigned combat that emphasizes stealth and sneak attacks, as well as exploiting the environment to your advantage.
As the best-selling holiday title on Xbox One during its release, Rise's 20th Year Celebration Edition is now available on the PS4, bringing with it all previously released DLC, including new skins for Lara and bonus content like the Baba Yaga Missions and a whole bevy of extra unlockables.
Re-released on Xbox One and the PlayStation 4, GTA V is one game that critics agree is so good, it's worth buying twice.
The Playstation 4 version boasts a first person mode, and upgraded 1080p visuals at 30 frames per second, so driving down the besotted streets of San Andreas in a stolen Mustang while listening to one of the 150 new radio stations tracks feels every bit as stunning as you'd expect.
Return for the first time to sunny, fictional San Andreas like you've never experienced it before as one of the game's three playable protagonists, each vying for their own slice of the American dream.
Ranked as one of the best GTA titles ever to date, GTA V tells a tale of glitz, glamor and the gritty existence of a band of thieves, lowlifes, and madmen, replete with drug dealers, mercenaries, foreign Triad kingpins and, of course, lots and lots of grand theft auto.
Count on the JRPG writing aesthetic to combine the very embellished mythologies of Ragnarok with smatterings of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, disparate elements of pseudo-Victorian/Gothic alchemy, and the Game of Thrones penchant for unbearably wrenching character deaths into a plot that's only sometimes coherent, yet strangely engrossing.
Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir is a remake of an earlier incarnation of the game that debuted during the waning days of the PS2, and man, has it aged well. The graphics are superbly redone; each lovingly crafted sprite and backdrop look every bit as hand drawn and colorful as ever.
Quite literally about the pages of a child's storybook come to life, Odin Sphere tells the tale of a handful of disparate characters whose fates become unavoidably entangled as their world spirals towards Armageddon.
A Valkyrie fallen from grace and forced into an arranged marriage, a dark knight wielding a spectral blade that's slowly consuming his soul, warring fairy kingdoms, a wish-granting cauldron, cursed talking animals, dragons, trickster gods and heart-wrenching rounds of self-destructive obsession, Odin Sphere's got it all.
Everything about Odin Sphere, from the levels to the characters and enemies, are masterfully designed and animate with something both whimsical yet grown-up, not unlike the characters out of a Studio Ghibli production.
As for gameplay, Odin Sphere is an action side scroller, with RPG elements that allow your characters to use various restorative items, plant and harvest soul-drinking flora (because why not?), and level up their special abilities.
Achingly artistic and easy to pick up and play, Odin Sphere: Liefthrasir is definitely one title you'll not want to miss.
2. Until Dawn
A masterpiece if you like story-driven experiences and classic horror scenario about a bunch of young adults out partying in the middle of a monster-infested wilderness. Like many other 'choose your own adventure' titles in the genre, Until Dawn plays more like a movie with certain points of interactive sequences.
For example, in addition to the usual quick time button prompts, to avoid being spotted, you'll need to hold your controller very, very still in order to simulate your character holding their breath.
And the graphics certainly look movie-like, with masterful motion capturing and painstakingly crafted photo-realistic 3D models.
What Until Dawn does really well, and very different from most other similar titles is that it puts a lot of weight behind player choices.
Your choices, and most often these are split-second decisions, will determine who among your friends lives to see the end credits, and who dies a horrible death by decapitation, meathook, immolation, or, my favorite, industrial grinder.
Even after multiple playthroughs, Until Dawn is a masterpiece worthy of anyone's PS4 collection.
1. Uncharted 4
Hands down, Uncharted 4 is the game to own if you own a PlayStation 4. And if you don't own a PS4, you might seriously be thinking about buying one just so you could play Uncharted 4. (Curse you, console exclusives.)
Like the other games in the Uncharted series, Uncharted 4 casts you as modern-day swashbuckling treasure hunter Nathan Drake on his adventures around the world. This time, he's joined by his long-lost brother, and the two are seeking to unravel the mysteries of a lost pirate haven rumored to house riches beyond their wildest dreams.
But, of course, the Drake siblings aren't the only ones in search of the fame and good ol' fashioned pirate booty. On their way, they'll need to outwit and outgun rival treasure hunters, modern day pirates, and a whole host of other heavily armed bad guys out to claim what's yours.
The Uncharted series has always been exceptional at capturing the rollicking feel of a classic globetrotting adventure flick the likes of Indiana Jones, and Uncharted 4 is no exception.
If you're not a fan of Tomb Raider's minimalist narrative and gameplay-heavy experience, Uncharted 4 offers a far more cinematic approach, interweaving quality cutscenes with its fast paced chasm jumping, puzzle solving, fist fighting and running and gunning gameplay.
The PS4's come a long way since its lackluster launch lineup. With a strong selection of games in a variety of genres, you're sure to find something to treat yourself or stuff in some lucky gamer's stockings this holiday season.
Be sure to check out these titles on Amazon or your favorite retailer, and game on!Product images are sourced from their respective pages on Amazon.com.