The 25 Best PS4 Games of All Time

The 25 Best PS4 Games of All Time

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The PS4 is enjoying some time in the spotlight. From towering sales figures to a staggering library of exclusives, both past and upcoming, the PlayStation is to gaming consoles what chinos are to pants, apparently. Whether it’s the PS4 base model or the beefy PS4 Pro upgrade, Sony’s basically a runaway train of quality entertainment and we know exactly where to hop on that locomotive. These are the best PS4 games you can by right now.

Exclusives

The whole reason separate consoles exist is to play exclusive titles, so a list of great PS4 games that you can also buy for Xbox isn’t really much of a PS4 list. That’s why the majority of our picks, and the first section, are going to be console exclusive titles (though some PS4 exclusives are also available on PC).

The Uncharted Series

The Uncharted series has been converting people to Playstation since before Barack Obama was elected president and it’s no wonder why. The games are basically action heavy, modernized Indiana Jones titles. There are very few Playstation owners who don’t have Uncharted on their game shelf or in their downloaded titles list, and while we’d never tell you to join a cult, you should join this cult. Especially because, in this case, cult membership gets you hours of cinematic gaming fun, not eviscerated on a stone altar in the woods. Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection$19 | Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End$31


The Last of Us

The Last of Us got a remastered version when the PS4 came out, making it the definitive way to experience Naughty Dog’s perfect game, whether you’re a Playstation veteran upgrading to the new console or a newcomer who’s never heard of fungus zombies. Everything’s been updated to reflect the enhanced power of the PS4, without impacting what people loved about the original. The unmatched story, crushing atmosphere, brutal violence, and brilliant voice acting make it a game that will stick in your mind no matter what generation of PlayStation you own. There are so few games that nail every aspect of why people like this hobby that we’re sure The Last of Us was a major reason people purchased the PS4. $18


Horizon: Zero Dawn

Horizon: Zero Dawn is similar to other open world games. Climb a high place, reveal part of the map, and collect stuff for fetch quests. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it type of stuff. But the setting is unlike anything we’ve seen. Most games pick either pre- or post-apocalypse, but Horizon: Zero Dawn chooses to explore the time after the post-apocalypse, when humanity got bored with trying to restore society and decided to just build a new one. The setting and weapons are primitive and future tech hybrids. Characters use bows and arrows, but the arrows do more than just stab people. Also, most of what you fight are the same physical threats cavemen faced, just in robot form now, so get ready to fire EMP-arrows into mechanical saber tooth tigers. $59


The Last Guardian

The Last Guardian has a similar development story to Duke Nukem: Forever. It was highly anticipated, stuck in development hell for years, teased everyone with trailers for awhile, then finally came out. Except, when The Last Guardian was released, people actually liked it. One of the strongest parts of the game is the setting, with colors and brilliant lighting bouncing around the ruins. It’s similar to Fumito Ueda’s other games, The Shadow of the Colossus and Ico, and with a resume like that, you know anything Ueda makes is going to be atmospheric, weighty, and a bold departure from the gaming norm. $37


Infamous: Second Son

One of the early games that set the PS3 apart from the competition was Infamous. Basically, it was an electricity-based superhero (or supervillain) game set in fictional Empire City. Infamous: Second Son is the series’ PS4 entry and builds on what made the first one successful, namely, using super powers to either save or corrupt a city. Like most choice driven games, there can be problems with the strict moral dichotomy seen in the game, but the story and character relationships are well written, so the game gets away with only giving you black and white choices. Plus, you know, super powers. $20


Until Dawn

Replayability is a challenge unique to gaming. For most movies or TV shows, repeat viewings aren’t the goal. You watch it once and you’re pretty much done. For gaming, there’s more of an expectation for it, but it can be extremely difficult to pull off. Things can get monotonous quickly. Until Dawn seems to have accomplished it though, as the developer went for a short game with plenty of variables. It’s designed to be something where small choices yield new results, so different playthroughs can vary based on things that didn’t seem significant at the time. $18


Bloodborne

Bloodborne is for gamers who not only want to challenge themselves, but want that challenge to verge on the masochistic. It comes from developer FromSoftware, whose main claim to fame is the Dark Souls series, so you already know Bloodborne isn’t going to hold your hand with tutorials, quicktime events, or frequent save points. You’re going to die over and over and over, but when you finally succeed, you get a massive rush of adrenaline. You grind away until finally, at long last, you stand triumphant on the corpse of a skeleton-bodied wolf mummy.  $40


Ratchet & Clank

We’ll admit, we kind of fell off with the Ratchet & Clank series after the PS2. After the first trilogy, it felt like the stuff we liked (the platforming, collecting, and enormous evolving guns) was diluted by weird non-innovative innovations. It got too self-aware, complicated, and gimmicky to really hold our attention. But the series finally got back to its roots with a 2016 reboot/revitalization effort. The environments are once again colorful and varied, the guns are quirky but powerful, and the tone returns to the genuinely enjoyable absurdity of the first three. If Insomniac had the PS4’s power back in 2002, this is the game they would have made. $20


flower

There are some games specifically designed to be relaxing stress relievers, and flower fits that description exactly. There aren’t any enemies, guns, explosions, chase sequences, or loud surprises. It’s just you controlling a flying flower petal, going from one beautiful location to another, solving simple puzzles. It’s pretty much a flight simulator that runs on good vibes and happy music. And if you’ve played it before on PS3, revisit it. The PS4 release has graphical updates and frame rate increases, making an already vibrant game look even better. $7


Journey

Journey is much like flower in that the game is more about spectacle, relaxation, and exploration than action-packed gun fights with explosives getting hucked all over the place. This is probably because they’re both made by thatgamecompany, a developer that seems to exclusively make games to show off beautiful locales and help people chill. Journey follows a nameless, faceless, player-controlled character on their quest to reach the shining peak of a distant mountain, and the short trip plays out over the shifting sands of ancient ruins with a musical score that will make you think there’s an orchestra in your living room. Journey also has the healthiest online interaction we’ve ever seen. The multiplayer maintains the nameless, faceless aspect of your character and will occasionally pair you with an anonymous player whom you have no way of contacting or ever seeing again. Both of you just experience the game, and then move on with your lives with absolutely no chance for internet fighting. $15


The Unfinished Swan

We’re going to keep the unconventional picks going for one more entry here, as The Unfinished Swan is another one of those short, storytelling, nonviolent video games. It only clocks in at about two hours and the main mechanic is simply tossing balls of paint or water, but it’s easily one of the best games we’ve played in years. The story centers around a boy’s quest to find the game’s namesake. You explore an almost completely white world that you fill out with globs of paint. The puzzles are just challenging enough and the story is engrossing, making The Unfinished Swan a lighthearted but poignant game. $15


Nioh

Nioh was best described to us as a mildly absurdist take on Dark Souls. That’s not to say it’s a clone or a knockoff, or even that it’s trying to unseat the monarch of the genre, just that the influence of the long-standing franchise can be felt. It has a foreboding atmosphere, elements of horror and suspense, and similar gameplay, but also has a more fantastical interpretation of its historical setting. There are big boss fights and challenging combat sequences, all contained inside a 17th century supernaturally active Japan. $60


Driveclub

Cars are one of our more active interests here at Cool Material, motorcycles even more so (enough that we built ourselves a bike as a pet project), so it’s a bit disappointing to find out the PS4 lacks somewhat in driving exclusives. The Xbox and PC platforms hold a bit more power there. But Driveclub shouldn’t be ignored. It’s a worthy entry into the racing genre, both accessible to new players and engaging for gearheads. There’s a significant focus on European cars in the base game and expansion packs, so fans with American preferences might find the game a bit lacking, but if you’re into European racers, you’ll be in car video game heaven. Besides, it was the Bikes expansion pack that caught our eye, so that’s where we’ll be spending most of our time. $18


Yakuza 0

The Yakuza series is a completionist’s dream. There’s so much going on in side quests, mini-games, real estate, club management, and the game world in general, that a person could sink a hundred hours into it without noticing they hadn’t left the house for five days. In most games like this, the developers make tons of crappy content instead of concentrating on making an actually good game. Yakuza 0 does not do that, as an obscene amount of effort went into making everything as good as it can possibly be. The mini games are all tight, the street fighting is the over-the-top insanity we want, and the main story is well-written and emotional. Plus, it’s a prequel, making it an easy starting point for people who’ve been intimidated by the series’ sprawling past storylines. $56


N++

The N series has been around in some form or another for almost 15 years, beginning as a free game in 2004. N++ is its current incarnation, and it’s damn near perfect. If you asked the developer, they’d probably say it is perfect. They wanted to build a challenging, frustrating, rewarding, fast-paced, simple platformer, so they did. There are literally thousands of unique levels, flashing colors, a ninja, and electronic music. Plus multiplayer, both cooperative and competitive, for all of it, so you and a soon to be ex-friend can sprint through the deadly laser light show that is N++. PS4 – $15 | PC – $15


Wide Releases

Naturally, some games are going to be titles available to more than one console. Video games are increasingly thought of as art, and if we believe that, it wouldn’t make sense for an artist to limit themselves to a single distributor. Authors probably don’t care too much about paper types or printer ink, and painters are happy as long as they have a canvas, so why would a developer care if you’re playing on PS4, Xbox, or PC?


DOOM

When they first announced DOOM was getting a remake, we had mixed feelings. They’ve tried stuff like this before, in this very series, and results have been less than fun. But then DOOM actually came out and blew everyone away. It took all the best parts of modern and classic gaming and slammed them together in a game with the most blood and guts this chronological side of the Roman Colosseum. If the recent move in gaming was to show everyone it’s a viable platform for storytelling and philosophy, DOOM was the appropriately timed rebuttal, “Remember when gaming meant you could punch through six demons in a row?” All Platforms – $20


Wolfenstein: The New Order

Chalk it up to franchise fatigue, but it’s been awhile since anyone set an FPS in World War 2. We went from Medal of Honor, Call of Duty, and Battlefield, along with a half dozen other smaller franchises, down to almost nothing in only a few years. The one major release in the genre since the decline was Wolfenstein: The New Order. Though, come to think of it, it was good enough that we don’t really need a World War 2 gaming renaissance if Wolfenstein keeps putting out quality entries every few years. It took the same approach as DOOM, blending new and old gameplay mechanics into one excellent modern shooter, but went a step beyond by crafting a surprisingly good story. BJ Blaskowitz isn’t a character we thought would be the protagonist of an affecting story. For a game about mowing down as many future Nazis as possible, the well-rounded characters and emotional story moments were a nice surprise. All Platforms – $20


The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The side quest is inevitably where most of the content of a game is, but they always come at the cost of the main storyline, which usually has some kind of righteous or moral goal and almost always involves a lost family member, the end of the world, or both. Only a few games find a way to share focus between a solid main quest and a plethora of optional missions. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is one of those. There are literally hundreds of hours of intriguing side quests to distract you from finding your daughter and significant other, because searching for family apparently isn’t time sensitive. The side quests showcase most of the unique, flavorful characters of the game too, so expect some extra entertainment there. Plus, you get to kill all sorts of monsters. All Platforms – $30+


Destiny

We talked about replayability a bit already with Until Dawn, so what we should mention here is the difference between it and Destiny, besides the genre. For Until Dawn, replayability is found in variation in choice. The game changes based on how you play it. For Destiny, replayability is found in dynamic level design, the RPG looting system, co-op gaming, and beyond refined gunplay. Destiny is meant to keep players grinding, not in the chore kind of way of old-school games, but in a creative, rewarding way. There are new guns and armor to find, new skills to unlock, and friends to do it all with. Destiny fans can be found bragging about the hundreds to thousands of hours they’ve poured into the game, meaning all that grinding and repetition are far from bad. Console – $36+


Rocket League

Rocket League is the kind of game that happens when two technically inclined friends can’t agree on what they’d like to play. It’s half battle racing game and half soccer, with various cars, vans, and trucks speeding around tricked out soccer pitches trying to slam a giant soccer ball into the other team’s goal. Most players find themselves boosting around on the ground, but the truly dedicated have found ways to sustain flight. They calculate angles, velocities, jumps, dodges, and saves faster than supercomputers. We’d think they were cheating if we didn’t know the level of devotion some players feel to this game. It’s a ton of fun, but we suggest limiting yourself to private matches with friends (cross console support, by the way, so feel free to play with your friends on Xbox and PC) and matches with evenly skilled online competitors. All Platforms – $17+


Bastion

We’ve probably said this before, but there are certain aspects of indie gaming we find alienating. Quirks for quirks’ sake don’t make a game good, they make it annoying, and 8-bit graphics should’ve been left behind long ago, except by a select few games. That’s why Bastion is so refreshing. It’s a game made by a small developer who had a singular vision for their game, one that was unique without being contrived, with a solid story, a varied and vibrant color palette, nuanced weapons system, and excellent level design. And then we get to the soothing voice of the omnipresent narrator and the futuristic Western soundtrack. PS4 – $15 | PC – $15 | Xbox – $15 | Soundtrack


INSIDE

We’ve written about INSIDE twice before now, so it should be clear that we’re fans of it. It also means we’re running out of ways to say nice things about it, so let’s do a sort of greatest hits wrap up (though, we’ll be honest, this probably isn’t the last time we talk about INSIDE). It’s dark, haunting, challenging, and tells a great story, making it a more than fitting followup to Limbo. Whenever we play it, we’re reminded that our problem with sidescrollers isn’t the format, it’s the game, because INSIDE is so well realized that we forget we mainly only move in two directions. Any and every indie developer should take a cue from developer PlayDead, because this is how you’re supposed to disrupt a stagnant entertainment market. With heart, storytelling, tight mechanics, and originality. PS4 – $20 | Xbox – $20 | PC – $20


FIFA 14

Sports video games can be the hardest to talk about, since so many people use “sports” to generically mock the thing itself, making the word sound disingenuous when you want to actually talk about sports. Add gaming on top of it and it’s easy to make fun of annual franchises that don’t aim to mix things up a lot. It’s why we like to pick a single year and buy a bunch of sports games, then hold off for awhile to let something come in and shake things up. For soccer, we landed on FIFA 14. It came at a time when the FIFA gaming franchise was at peak quality and brought that quality to a new engine and a new generation of consoles. It was sharper with better animations and gameplay, without sacrificing the complexity the previous entries built up. This was one of the first games to take full advantage of the power of next-gen consoles, so it holds a special place for welcoming us to this era of gaming. Console – $10+


DiRT Rally

Racing games are a ton of fun if you can find the right ones and hugely disappointing if you can’t (luckily, we’ll help you find the right ones). DiRT Rally is definitely one of the right ones, as it puts a lot of emphasis on realistic driving, both in the performance of the car and the faithfulness of the track. Each car drives differently, meaning you’re going to need exhibition practice with any car you plan on using in bigger races. And car guys who love engine sounds the most are going to love it too, as the audio in DiRT Rally has few rivals. The pops and crackles of the exhaust and the revving of the engine sounds nearly true to life, so if you can’t get your rally car out on the track today, you can still indulge in its personal siren song. Console – $54 | PC – $60


The Witness

We’re never really sure how popular puzzle games actually are. Their names are always thrown around when people get talking about how much they like them, but no one ever seems to own a copy when we ask. That said, there’s no doubt they have a place in modern gaming, and that place owes a lot to games like The Witness. It’s a game that links excellent puzzles with rewarding progress and encourages exploration. In fact, it’s more of a friendly demand for exploration, since there are often puzzles that you can’t solve unless you go wandering for awhile, and by awhile, we mean at least 50 hours of gameplay. That’s a demand we wholeheartedly agree to. PS4 – $40 | Xbox – $40 | PC – $40

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