The Best PlayStation 4 Games
These are the best ways to spend time with your PS4.
There's a big reason why the PlayStation 4 is the best-selling console: It has a smattering of games that you can't play anywhere else. Think: blockbusters like Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, Horizon: Zero Dawn and Bloodborne. But even if Indiana Jones simulators and massive open worlds where you hunt down robo-dinosaurs aren't your thing, there are still plenty of exclusives to pick from. Whether it's the best baseball video game franchise, a choose-your-own-adventure horror or an engrossing social simulator/JRPG hybrid, there's a lot to play on Sony's latest console. And then there are games from massive third-party publishers like Activision and Ubisoft, along with quirky indie offerings to round out the selection.
AAA vs Indie Darlings
It was with the PlayStation 3 that Sony started making a name for itself as the home for thoughtful, quirky, sometimes weird indie games. This directive naturally carried over to the console's successor. In the PS4's early years, a steady stream of free (with a PlayStation Plus subscription) indies like Resogun and Outlast helped keep the system afloat while everyone waited for sequels to Uncharted or the forever-in-development The Last Guardian. While Sony isn't courting indie studios quite as aggressively as it once did, the PS4 is still a great way to play niche games you might've missed these past few years.
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
With Uncharted 4, developer Naughty Dog took everything it learned about character development and narrative delivery from its previous game, The Last of Us, and applied it to treasure hunter Nathan Drake's potentially final tale. Four adventures in, the crew's past exploits have strained or bolstered their relationships. Nate isn't quite such a wisecrack anymore, and prefers dad jokes to one-liners. His wife, Elena, would rather spend a night playing Crash Bandicoot on the couch than fend off zombies on a Nazi U-boat hidden in the jungle. If this is your first Uncharted, you might not pick up on some of the fan service, but the constantly changing set pieces, puzzles and scenery should be more than enough to pull you through to the epilogue.
If you've ever found yourself screaming at the TV while watching stupid teens do absurd things in horror movies, Until Dawn should be the first "game" you play on PS4. Developer Supermassive Games' take on "teenagers stranded in a remote cabin while something terrorizes them" isn't a typical game, per se -- it's an interactive movie where you guide a group of the oldest teenagers you've ever seen from one shiny object to the next to advance the narrative. You'll make dialogue choices along the way, press buttons in time with prompts onscreen and, if you aren't careful, kill a handful of the teenagers by botching said button prompts in the heat of the moment. But rather than becoming a schlocky genre trope-fest, it feels genuine and earnest. Even better, it makes for a great pass-the-controller party game.
Horizon: Zero Dawn
After making nothing but Killzonefirst-person shooters since 2004, developer Guerrilla Games knocked it out of the park with its first open-world RPG Horizon: Zero Dawn. You play as outcast and motherless Aloy as she searches for answers about her past and the world she and her tribe inhabit. It's a world where robotic, quasi-headless brachiosaurs lumber through primeval forests, and mechanical raptor-and-saber-toothed-tiger stand-ins want to make you their lunch. Horizon's ever-present sense of mystery and its massive open world will keep you busy for a long time, even after you finish the story. And if the base game isn't enough, Sony released an expansion not long ago that takes Aloy to new areas and introduces new enemies.
There's a good chance you'll throw a controller at the wall while you're playing Bloodborne. But if you're a fan of the Dark Souls series, that probably won't surprise you. Bloodborne has the same developer (Fromsoftware), but, rather than a setting with dragons and golems, here you're exploring a vaguely steampunk Londonesque town and fighting off horrific beasts like werewolves, witches and infected boars. One or two false moves in the course of battle with these beasts will do you in, and there's a strong emphasis on learning their attack patterns. The result, when you finally dispatch an enemy, be it your first or your 45th, is a sense of accomplishment few other games can match. But yeah, prepare to die a lot along the way.
The Last Guardian
For almost a decade, it seemed as if we'd never actually get to play The Last Guardian. It was announced back in 2009, and then director Fumito Ueda and his Team Ico spent years toiling away in the shadows on this thoughtful adventure game. In 2016, we finally got to see and play the beautiful, melancholy tale of a boy and his friendship with an overgrown cat/griffin/bird creature named Trico. While the game bears the scars of its protracted development time -- the camera and controls feel like relics of the PlayStation 3 -- the result is a gorgeous experience that would feel out of place on just about any other gaming platform. It's hardly perfect, but you can't help but feel the love and hard work that went into the game at nearly every turn.
The Witcher III: The Wild Hunt
Assuming you either already picked up this year's Horizon: Zero Dawn or just want something that's steeped in fantasy rather than sci-fi, CDProjekt Red's third Witchershould be right up your alley. As in Horizon, there's a sprawling open world, except this one is filled with monsters, magic, swordplay, bloody barons, political machinations and side quests spread across several continents. Tying it all together is Geralt of Rivia, the titular Witcher (read: monster hunter), who's equally word weary and wry. Thanks to meticulous writing and design, those side quests feel just as important as the critical path -- not just filler added to stretch out the runtime. And if you want a subtle way to track how long you've played, just look at Geralt's beard: It grows in real time along your journey.
Okay, so this is technically cheating, considering that Journey made its debut on the PS3, but the game is too special to not include its PS4 remaster on the list. And really, this is the type of game that deserves to be in everyone's library. It's a quiet meditation on life and loss, told entirely through gameplay and a wordless adventure toward a mountaintop that's forever beckoning you to come closer. The game may start out with you sliding down sand dunes in an endless desert, but, without giving too much away, know that isn't all you'll see along your path toward the peak. Its clever cooperative multiplayer mode still feels as fresh as it did five years ago, too. If you're looking for a way to introduce a significant other or family member to gaming, there's no better place to start than here.