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The best PlayStation 4 games

October 13,2018 00:18

Sony has enjoyed a dominant position over its competitors in this console generation, thanks to a simple and straightforward message that its PlayStation 4 is a video game system first, with everything else coming second. It helps that Sony has both ...and more »


Sony has enjoyed a dominant position over its competitors in this console generation, thanks to a simple and straightforward message that its PlayStation 4 is a video game system first, with everything else coming second.
It helps that Sony has both developed an impressive lineup of first-party games and struck deals with other game makers to bring exclusive content to PS4 first. Sony has remastered and reinvented some of its most popular gaming franchises on PS4, and given its teams opportunities to stretch their wings, establishing all-new franchises over the past five years.
If you’re just now upgrading to the PlayStation 4 or purchasing a PlayStation for the first time, the following list will help get you started with some of the console’s best games. And if you’re a longtime fan of Sony’s hardware, this list will help you pick what to play next. We’ll continue to update it as new games come to PS4.

Polygon Essentials is a collection of persistently updated lists of the best of the best games for each platform — from the hardware’s launch to its end of production — as well as the best entertainment across virtually every medium. For folks new to a platform, think of this as a starter kit. For long-term fans, consider it a list of what to play or watch next. We’ll be updating these lists often, with entries listed in reverse chronological order. To see a collection of other titles we recommend that might not have made the Essentials lists, check out Polygon Recommends.

SIE Santa Monica Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment
The PlayStation 4’s best game so far, 2018’s God of War reinvents Sony’s eternally enraged Kratos in an action game that tells an adult story of a different sort. While previous God of War beat-’em-ups slathered on graphic sex and violence, PlayStation antihero Kratos is now a gruff, quietly grieving (but occasionally still very mad) father. He adventures with his son, Atreus, across a Nordic land inhabited by new gods. There’s still plenty of gore and fury in the new God of War, but now the guts have meatiness.
There’s a vast world to explore, and dozens of combat encounters, quests and secrets to uncover. Even when the lengthy, engaging story wraps up, there’s still plenty to do. God of War is overflowing with side missions and busy work that remains fun, even dozens of hours in.
Get it here: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop | Walmart | PlayStation Store

Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment
There have been dozens of Spider-Man video games, but none of them have matched the ambition and quality of Insomniac Games’ original take — the game is unrelated to the Marvel Cinematic Universe — on Marvel’s friendly neighborhood wall-crawler. Spider-Man offers the thrill of swinging between realistic skyscrapers across an uninterrupted Manhattan skyline paired with a story that’s as much about Spider-Man as it is about Peter Parker, his family and his friends.
Spider-Man falters here and there, sometimes as a result of its open-world video game nature, and sometimes in its story, but it’s also a very rare thing: a polished, exciting Marvel superhero game.
Get it here: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop | Walmart | PlayStation Store

Bungie, High Moon Studios/Activision
It took a year to get there, but after three expansions and a substantial overhaul, Destiny 2 is good. Really good. The version of Destiny 2 that you can play right now is the best the game has ever been, offering myriad challenges and quests, as well as formidable raids that demand teaming up with friends to overcome. Developer Bungie finally nailed the rhythm of Destiny 2 as a living game; there’s something new or fresh to do every day, every week and every time a limited-time event rolls around. And there’s more content to come, with (paid) expansions on the way.
Of course, the shooting’s great too. Destiny 2’s arsenal of guns, rocket launchers, swords and bows handles spectacularly, and mobs of enemies are consistently fun to shoot. It’s a loot-based game, so collecting guns is just as much fun as firing them.
If you’re going to play Destiny 2, you’re going to get the most stuff on PlayStation 4. Sony has an exclusive arrangement with Activision that means certain guns, strikes (Destiny’s name for repeatable missions) and multiplayer maps stay on PS4 for up to a year. It may look better on PC, but you’ll be missing out on a few (nonessential) goodies.
Get it here: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop | Walmart | PlayStation Store

FromSoftware/Sony Computer Entertainment
FromSoftware’s grim action-horror game Bloodborne puts you in the role of a Hunter, a champion who fights through the streets and sewers of a gothic, Victorian era-inspired city trapped in a perpetual night. Like From’s Dark Souls games, Bloodborne is immensely challenging, in an old-school video game way. You’ll fight massive bloodthirsty beasts who strike fast and hard, and show you no quarter. But Bloodborne is as satisfying as it is difficult; the thrill of barely surviving the game’s many nerve-wracking battles can provide an adrenaline rush like few other games.
Bloodborne can be opaque and inscrutable if you’re new to such games. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, turn to the many other Hunters out there who are willing to help you through your journey. Summoning a friendly spirit to your game offers respite and a sense of fleeting camaraderie. Robust online wikis and FAQs can also help.
Get it here: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop | Walmart | PlayStation Store

Guerrilla Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment
Few PS4 games can match the scale and beauty of Horizon Zero Dawn. As the heroine Aloy, you explore a post-post-apocalyptic world in which the Earth has recovered from a cataclysmic event and humans have regressed to a tribal society. The world is filled with robot-like creatures known simply as machines, some of which are tame, some of which have become increasingly hostile due to a mysterious phenomenon known as the Derangement.
Horizon Zero Dawn is an action role-playing game with a deep set of skills and techniques to learn, and dozens of things to collect and craft. The game’s vast open world is fun to explore, and it’s often breathtaking just to look at. An included photo mode will help you appreciate the grandeur of Horizon’s vision of the 31st century.
Get it here: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop | Walmart | PlayStation Store

P-Studio/Atlus
Slick and stylish, Persona 5 is a huge role-playing game about disaffected youth desperate for a shift in the status quo. You play as Japanese high school students who moonlight as The Phantom Thieves, teens with the power to enter a shadow world known as the Metaverse. In this alternate dimension, they steal the hearts of corrupt people in the real world, a fantastical setup for effecting change in Persona 5’s version of Tokyo.
Along the way, players will need to forge and grow relationships with other characters and take on side jobs, while exploring surreal dungeons inhabited with bizarre, stylized creatures. There’s a lot of game here — perhaps too much, as Persona 5 can eat up dozens if not hundreds of hours of your time. It’s long and strange, but it’s a hell of a trip.
Get it here: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop | Walmart | PlayStation Store

Sega
Similarly strange (and similarly steeped in Japanese culture), Yakuza 0 is a great entry point for newcomers to Sega’s series about the lovable gangster Kiryu Kazuma and his charismatic clanmate Goro Majima. While Yakuza 0 may be the umpteenth entry in the Yakuza franchise, it’s an origin story of sorts set in the ’80s, during Japan’s economic bubble. All that flowing money features heavily in Yakuza 0’s gameplay: You’ll literally beat the cash out of your opponents in street fights, and you can also run real estate and cabaret club businesses on the side.
While the Yakuza games trade in organized crime and brutal street violence, they’re also some of the funniest, most bizarre video games being released right now. Throw in a bunch of side activities and classic Sega arcade games — you can visit arcades to play perfect recreations of Out Run, Super Hang-On, Space Harrier and Fantasy Zone — and you’ll always have something to do on the mean streets of Yakuza 0’s take on Tokyo and Osaka.
Get it here: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop | Walmart | PlayStation Store

Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment
The PS4 is overflowing with high-quality third-person action games, but many of them are violent, M-rated titles. For something a little softer, there’s Ratchet & Clank, a remake (or reimagining) of the first game in the platformer-shooter series. It’s from the same folks behind 2018’s Spider-Man, and offers a gorgeous, vivid alien world for players to explore as furry hero Ratchet and his robot sidekick Clank. There are a ton of gimmicky, goofy weapons to use for the purposes of good, clean fun.
Get it here: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop | Walmart

Psyonix
Even more devoid of death and graphic violence is Rocket League, the cars-playing-soccer phenomenon that’s perfect for a pick-up-and-play game. Even if you’re not a sports video game aficionado, give Rocket League a shot. It’s a wonderfully balanced, highly replayable game with a huge number of players — you’ll never be left wanting for a competitor. The game is playable online against friends and foes, but Rocket League is also a rare modern multiplayer game that supports split-screen, if you’re looking for something to play with people in the same room.
Get it here: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop | Walmart | PlayStation Store

thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment
In this quiet, meditative adventure, you’ll leap and surf across sand dunes as a nameless wanderer, piecing together puzzles from the past. You’ll also encounter other players on your trek, casually intermingling with fellow travelers who are undertaking similar journeys. You can peacefully sing together and dance across the desert in one of the most pleasant multiplayer experiences of the past decade. Journey was originally released on the PlayStation 3, but its PS4 version makes the game’s already stunning visuals even richer. Even if you’ve played it before, it’s a game worth revisiting.
Get it here: Amazon | Best Buy | PlayStation Store

Naughty Dog/Sony Computer Entertainment
Naughty Dog’s brutally violent action adventure game is not for the faint of heart. The Last of Us is a harrowing experience about zombies and loss. It’s video games’ version of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road meets Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men. But it’s intermittently beautiful and rich in detail, with standout performances from the actors who play Joel and Ellie, two survivors of a cataclysmic plague. The remastered version of this PS3 game ups the detail and includes a separate expansion, Left Behind, that fleshes out Ellie’s backstory.
Get it here: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop | Walmart | PlayStation Store

Team Ico, Bluepoint Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment
Another remake, this time of a landmark PlayStation 2 game. Shadow of the Colossus is a serene tragedy about a hopeful hero who must battle 16 colossi in the hopes of resurrecting a dead maiden. As players wander through a forbidden land, armed with a bow and a magic sword, they must track down and topple majestic beasts that are actually cleverly designed climbing puzzles. The PS4 remake of Shadow of the Colossus updates the game’s graphics and controls to modern standards while honoring its classic, groundbreaking gameplay.
Get it here: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop | Walmart | PlayStation Store
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