Sony has always done well in the console business, but this might be the best generation yet for the Japanese electronics giant. While the PlayStation 4 doesn’t pack quite as much raw power as the Xbox One or the portability of the Nintendo Switch, it’s been absolutely killing it with a steady stream of exclusives that can’t be played anywhere else. And as the only console with a VR peripheral, it offers a much more immersive way to play games at a much lower cost than a VR rig for PC.
While each console has plenty to offer, and may even have features that better suit your playstyle, it’s hard not to recommend the PS4 to almost any gamer thanks to its deep library. These are the 25 best Playstation 4 games currently available:
25. Days Gone
2019 | SIE Bend Studio
Despite years of hype, Days Gone admittedly isn’t the best exclusive to come out of Sony in the last few years, and with the divisive reception it received, it may not even get a sequel. But those who ignored the reviews and picked up this hidden gem have found a unique open-world adventure with fun survival mechanics and one of the better takes on zombies in gaming.
It may not break a ton of new ground, but strategically eliminating a horde of Freakers with a barrage of grenades and Molotov cocktails is one of the more memorable moments in a PS4 game. Overall, the gameplay props up a sometimes questionable story.
24. MLB The Show 19
2019 | SIE San Diego Studio
Years of exclusivity deals have severely limited the number of new baseball games on the market and made Sony’s exclusive MLB The Show series the go-to game for any serious baseball fan. Lack of competition in the sports video game market is usually not a great thing (looking at you, Madden), but The Show has remained a remarkably strong series year after year. The 2019 edition tweaked the fielding and batting to be more realistic than ever but also added more RPG mechanics in the Road to Show mode, ensuring plenty of replay value for fans throughout the entire season.
23. Beat Saber
2018 | Beat Games
PSVR has sold better than everyone expected, but it still lacks a killer app to make VR a must-have. Beat Saber may not quite be the game that gets gamers to go all-in on VR, but it’s the best showcase yet for the potential of the fledgling technology.
The appeal of Beat Saber is in a new type of gameplay that wouldn’t be possible with traditional controls and a television. You need to use the Playstation Move controllers as lightsabers to hit blocks in time with the game’s rocking soundtrack. This is the type of futuristic game that movies always imagined we would be playing in the 2000s, and it’s even better than expected.
22. Gran Turismo Sport
2017 | Polyphony Digital
Gran Turismo Sport is a very different game than its predecessors. The number of cars and tracks is drastically reduced, but online has been expanded to create the best competitive driving scene of any game around. And while Gran Turismo has always been a little less flashy than other driving sims, the handling remains the most realistic in the genre.
Sport might be a little light on content compared to other games in the series, but Polyphony Digital has released a steady stream of new cars and tracks over the last couple years, so it’s not exactly lacking in stuff to do, but it’s also not clear if this is the future of Gran Turismo or if we’ll see a “true” numbered sequel at some point.
21. Dragon Quest Builders 2
2019 | Square Enix
Minecraft came out more than a decade ago to become one of the biggest games in history, but it’s completely open, build anything, anywhere gameplay isn’t quite for everyone, especially older gamers who don’t have dozens of hours to spend on constructing massive structures. At its core, Dragon Quest Builders 2 is the guided version of Minecraft, offering more direction and questing and a lot less aimless wandering. The first Dragon Quest Builders is a fine game, but the sequel is even better, now offering the ability to fly and travel underwater, and finally introducing four-player online co-op.
20. Odin Sphere Leifthrasir
2016 | Vanillaware
Odin Sphere was a well-received but flawed action RPG when it debuted on the PlayStation 2 way back in 2007. While the hand-drawn take on Norse mythology looked amazing, the RPG aspects of the game weren’t fully realized, and the game could be annoyingly difficult.
Vanillaware spent years lovingly remaking Odin Sphere for the PS4 with updated graphics, new areas, and special attention on ironing out the gameplay wrinkles in the original. Leifthrasir remains one of the most visually striking games on the PS4, with an extremely addictive gameplay loop of taking down monsters and collecting and crafting. There’s a strong argument to be made that it’s the finest 2D game ever made.
19. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
2018 | Square Enix
An old school RPG with all the modern trimmings, Dragon Quest XI is a pure joy to play. While the combat may have barely changed from the NES games (and even the story hits a lot of familiar beats), Yuji Hori’s designs have never looked better than the eleventh edition of Dragon Quest. And while the story starts off with a relatively simple quest to save the world, it actually takes a lot of interesting turns, ultimately exploring failure and time travel. If you really dislike turn-based combat, Dragon Quest XI isn’t going to change your mind, and the MIDI music feels out of place at times, but for anyone else with the slightest bit of interest in traditional JRPGs, Echoes of an Elusive Age is a must-have.
18. Tetris Effect
2018 | Monstars Inc. and Resonair
If you’re reading this, odds are you’ve played some version of Tetris. Fit falling blocks into place. Clear lines. Repeat. It’s timeless. It’s hard to make a bad version of Tetris. But how to make a truly excellent version of Tetris? The answer, it turns out, is Tetsuya Mizuguchi, who has spent the last couple of decades attempting to perfectly balance interactive music and gameplay in games like Rez, Lumines, and Every Extend Extra Extreme.
Mizuguchi’s influence ensured a version of Tetris that’s essentially the classic game filtered through an electronic music festival. It’s unabashedly loud, bright, and strangely uplifting. And as great as it is on a big screen TV, you’ll experience a new type of sensory overload when played in PSVR.
17. Until Dawn
2015 | Supermassive Games
Despite decades of advances in technology, one thing that has continually eluded artists is a coherent interactive film, a game that features meaningful choices but is still enjoyable to watch. Until Dawn may be a little choppy at times, but it’s about the closest anyone has come to creating an enjoyable interactive movie on a console.
The basic story about eight young adults (including Rami Malik pre-Bohemian Rhapsody) in a creepy secluded cabin is a classic horror trope, and it has plenty of twists to create its own frightening world, but how many of these eight characters survive is completely up to the player. One wrong move during a quick time event and you’re going to lose someone…or possibly everyone. It can lead to some very different playthroughs, each of which tells one hell of a story.
2017 | Team Ninja
Dark Souls is arguably the most influential video game of the last decade, essentially spawning its own genre of tough-as-nails action RPGs. At first glance, Nioh, which spent a whopping 12 years in development in various forms, appears to be little more than a Dark Souls clone infused with Japanese mythology. That first impression couldn’t be further from the truth, though.
Nioh is an even tougher take on the genre started by Dark Souls, requiring hours of practice to master its multi-stance and regenerating stamina systems. Souls vets who have cruised through those games multiple times are in for a whole new world of hurt with Nioh’s faster combat and even more brutal bosses.
15. Fallout 4
2015 | Bethesda Game Studios
While Fallout 3 brought the series into the third dimension with innovative new systems like V.A.T.S. and S.P.E.C.I.A.L., Fallout 4 spends a lot less time reinventing the wheel. In fact, at first glance, it almost looks like a prettier version of Fallout 3. But this sequel also adds new crafting and base-building systems that make for a much deeper gameplay experience that you can easily get lost in for dozens of hours.
And though it may not be a radical departure from the earlier games, The Commonwealth may actually be Fallout’s best location, not just for the cast of characters, but also for its diversity of locations, ranging from swamps and forests to beaches and farms.
14. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
2017 | Capcom
After Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6 pushed the franchise too far into action movie territory, Resident Evil 7 is the return to survival horror roots that the series badly needed. The switch to a first-person camera increases the more frightening aspects of the game, as does the move to a dilapidated Louisiana estate reminiscent of the house in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
As great as the base game is, what really sets the Playstation 4 version apart is that it’s one of the few AAA games that can be played completely in virtual reality. Even if you’re used to the typical Resident Evil scares, nothing can really prepare you for coming face-to-face with the Baker family in VR.
13. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
2015 | Kojima Productions
While most open-world games promise freedom, ultimately there’s a pretty narrow path to complete each mission. Stealth missions largely require sneaking around. Action missions are going to have big shoot outs. Maybe there’s a little deviation, but getting too far from what the developers intend is going to make it pretty difficult to complete the mission, if not impossible. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, however, is one of the few open-world games that really does give the player the freedom to decide exactly how to tackle each mission.
Need to free a prisoner? Great, you want to do it during the day or at night? It’s going to be much easier to sneak around at night. Or maybe you should wait for a storm to come through, which will make it even easier to sneak around. Or just go in with explosives and blow everything up. The Phantom Pain is an infinitely replayable and customizable experience thanks to this freedom of choice, and if it really is the last Kojima-developed Metal Gear we get, at least the series went out with one of its very best installments.
12. Yakuza 0
2017 | Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
The Yakuza series has been around for more than a decade now, but it didn’t really find a North American audience until the recent PS4 releases. For those of you who have yet to experience one of these gems, picture a modernized Shenmue with a cutting-edge presentation, tons of tense, well-acted cutscenes, lots of fighting on the mean streets of Japan, and then throw in some cats and karaoke for good measure.
All of the Yakuza games look and play great on the PS4 (including the remakes of the first two games and the Judgment spin-off), so it’s more a matter of where to start than anything else. Chronologically, Yakuza 0 is the first game in the series, making it among the easiest to get into, and since it’s not a remake, it has all the best gameplay features of the newer games.
11. Street Fighter V
2016 | Capcom
Street Fighter V has never been a bad game per se, but it did need a couple of years to get into fighting shape. The original release was a little light on content and characters, but after the release of several season passes, the current iteration of Street Fighter V is one of the more complete fighters on the market, with more than three dozen characters, a full-fledged story mode, and tons of online options.
The franchise has always featured some of the deepest 2D mechanics around, and the V-Gauge, with its new skills, reversals, and triggers, has added yet another layer of complexity. To purists, nothing will ever top the glory days of Street Fighter II, but Street Fighter V is an excellent modern take on the franchise and arguably the best current-gen fighting game available.
10. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
2018 | Ubisoft
The word “epic” is thrown around a lot when describing open-world video games, but Assassin’s Creed Odyssey really does live up to that description. The setting, steeped heavily in Greek history and mythology, is one of the grandest that gaming has ever seen, and if you try to do everything that’s available in the world, you’re going to be playing for a very, very long time. It’s easy to sink 100 hours into the main game, and a couple dozen more into the game’s excellent DLC.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey finally lives up the promise the series has been reaching for, as a deep, customizable historical action game. And with Odyssey widely seen as the best game in the series, it will be interesting to see if Ubisoft can even top it going forward.
9. Shadow of the Colossus
2018 | Bluepoint Games
Remaking a classic is always risky, but in the rapidly changing world of video games, it’s almost a necessity to update classics to meet modern standards. Shadow of the Colossus was heralded as one of the greatest games of all time almost from the moment of its release on the PS2. It was an achievement in world-building and minimalist storytelling that still has few competitors. It also had janky controls and technical issues due to the limitations of the PS2 hardware.
Thankfully, Bluepoint Games realized there was no point in messing with what worked. Everything gamers loved about the original Shadow of the Colossus is still here. The remake just looks and runs a lot better. Even if you grew up with the original version, it’s hard to go back to it after playing the PS4 update.
8. Red Dead Redemption 2
2018 | Rockstar Games
The Red Dead franchise has had a strange journey. The first game in the series, Red Dead Revolver, actually started development at Capcom in the early 2000s, before it was purchased by Take-Two and moved over to Rockstar. As a level-based third-person shooter, Red Dead Revolver received a lukewarm reception upon its release in 2004. It wasn’t until the first Red Dead Redemption in 2010 that the series received widespread acclaim, although calling that game “cowboy Grand Theft Auto” isn’t completely unwarranted.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is firmly rooted in much of the same open-world gameplay as its predecessor, but new systems that require paying attention to hunger and wearing the right clothes for the weather, along with closer integration between story and gameplay, give the sequel its own identity. Red Dead Redemption 2 is not above criticism, though. Its story can drag on, and sometimes it feels like a chore to play, but the fully realized world created by Rockstar is among the very best ever seen in a video game.
7. Horizon Zero Dawn
2017 | Guerilla Games
Horizon Zero Dawn has quickly become one of the greatest games of this console generation. The game’s true strength is in its unique setting unlike anything we’ve seen in a AAA title before. While we can all agree that big robotic dinos are cool, it’s actually a concept that has barely been explored in video games. The neo-primitive setting a thousand years from now is just icing on the cake.
While most open-world games are happy to settle on the typical run-and-gun combat, Horizon Zero Dawn actually makes you strategize each encounter, laying traps and setting up perfect shots with Aloy’s bow. While these creatures are mechanical, they need to be hunted and brought down like real animals, making the game’s combat one-of-a-kind. Hopefully, Sony keeps expanding on these ideas in a sequel.
6. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
2016 | Naughty Dog
One of the biggest issues with video games, and indeed most modern forms of entertainment, is that we fall in love with these characters and never want to say goodbye. We insist creators drag things out and keep making sequels (looking at you, Sonic and Mega Man).
Uncharted developer Naughty Dog didn’t want that to happen to Nathan Drake, a beloved mainstay of Sony consoles since the early days of the PS3. As the subtitle implies, Uncharted 4 is an emotional goodbye to one of gaming’s favorite characters, and a deeply satisfying one at that, but as great as the story is, the gameplay shines even brighter, with some of the best combat and set pieces the series has ever produced. Uncharted 4 is a master class in adventure games.
5. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
2015 | CD Projekt Red
Fan-favorite blockbuster franchises, like Star Wars and Game of Thrones, are so beloved because of the sprawling settings in which they take place. Detailed and diverse world-building is what makes these places feel real and believable. Throughout the years, these franchises have explored every corner of their universes, not just the lives of the heroes but the less-visited corners of their settings. Following the main character might be the most interesting story, but it’s the stories that might lurk around the next corner that keep people enthralled.
The Witcher 3 excels at this type of world-building. While you spend most of your time as Geralt of Rivia slaying monsters, mixing potions, and seducing sorceresses, it’s clear that for most of the people living in the Continent, it’s not a great time. This is a world torn apart by war and the petty squabbles of awful royals. It’s actually not all that different from our own world, aside from the drowners and griffins, and even these monsters can have their own fascinating stories to tell. While a lot has been said about The Witcher’s excellent gameplay, it’s that world-building that really sets it apart and makes it one of the greatest RPGs of all time.
2015 | FromSoftware
FromSoftware has received near-universal acclaim for its brutally difficult Dark Souls series, but the developer’s best game isn’t actually part of that franchise. Bloodborne keeps some of the basic mechanics of Dark Souls, but emphasizes faster, riskier combat. While Dark Souls has crafted an interesting dark fantasy universe, Bloodborne carves out its own identity by embracing gothic horror tropes. It’s a more expansive experience, too — somehow From managed to cram even more secrets into Bloodborne, with dedicated players finding new enemies in its randomized Chalice Dungeons years after release.
Many would argue that Bloodborne is actually superior to the Dark Souls trilogy, both From and Sony have remained curiously silent about a sequel more than four years after its release. Maybe they’re waiting to debut it on the PlayStation 5?
3. Persona 5
2017 | P-Studio
Honestly, the pitch for Persona 5 is a bit confounding: an average Japanese high school student by day enters the minds of adults at night to change their hearts and save the world. But that’s really oversimplifying one of the most stylish, engrossing, and lengthy RPGs to come out in years. Once you enter your first palace and start solving puzzles, negotiating with enemies, and bumping to the game’s epic acid jazz soundtrack, you’ll be hooked.
One of the most impressive things about Persona 5 is that, at its core, it’s a traditional turn-based JRPG, but the game has so much style that it feels like something brand new. JRPG developers could learn from the success of the Persona series.
2. Marvel’s Spider-Man
2018 | Insomniac Games
There have been several excellent open-world Spider-Man games released over the years, but Insomniac’s take on the webslinger is the first to be considered among the greatest games of all-time. With Marvel’s Spider-Man, Insomniac proved that it understood perfectly what makes the superhero so popular, implementing rhythm-based combat and web-swinging that captures the feeling of being Spider-Man better than any other game has to date. But what really sets this version of Spider-Man apart is the story, which isn’t tied down to any previous version of the character, but takes the best elements of the comics to craft something familiar yet wholly different, with a final scene that raises all sorts of interesting possibilities for the inevitable sequel.
1. God of War
2018 | SIE Santa Monica Studio
We really didn’t need another God of War game. Kratos had killed all the Greek gods in the original trilogy. Another three interquels fleshed out other parts of the main trilogy. Sure, it was fun watching a furious Kratos destroy everything in his path with the blades of chaos, but the series was also getting kind of old.
It turns out we weren’t tired of Kratos, we just needed a change of pace. God of War on the PS4 changes so much for the better, with an older, wiser Kratos wielding a magical axe as he guides his son through the worlds of Norse mythology to scatter his wife’s ashes. All of the over-the-top action is now accompanied by an affecting story about fatherhood and growing older.
Even after a lengthy 20-hour story mode, it never gets hold throwing Kratos’ axe at enemies and having it fly back into his hand just to do it all over again. And the whole game, with all of it twists and destruction, is told through one continuous shot, which is a technical achievement in its own right.
There’s a very good reason why God of War was hailed as one of the greatest games of all time upon its release. A franchise that once seemed on its last leg has now been reborn, much like Kratos himself.
Chris Freiberg is a freelance contributor. Read more of his work here.