The time has finally come: You bought a PlayStation 4. Congratulations!
Unbelievably, the PlayStation 4 launched over five years ago at this point. Still feels like a pretty modern, swanky little box, doesn't it?
The good news is there are five full years of major games available to play on the PS4. But that means there's a lot of titles out there to sift through. Where to begin?!
What we've put together below is a bit of a cheat sheet - a look through 10 excellent games across a variety of genres that either can only be played on the PlayStation 4 or are best on PlayStation 4.
In 10 years, people will still be talking about innovative things that "Horizon Zero Dawn" does. They'll still be talking about how gorgeous it is, how smart and funny its main character is, how it succeeded commercially in the shadow of a new Nintendo console and a new "Legend of Zelda" game.
While playing games, I often experience a small handful of emotions: frustration, accomplishment, fear. While playing "Horizon Zero Dawn," that list expanded dramatically - outside of delighting in the graceful, smart gameplay systems that underlie the game's narrative focus, I often laughed out loud at Aloy's smart quips (she's the protagonist you see above).
I found myself endlessly curious about the surprisingly deep lore of the game's world, its people and religions, and the main character's story arc. Perhaps most important, I actually cared about the main character, believed her motivations, and wanted her to succeed.
"Horizon Zero Dawn" is a magnificent accomplishment of a game that stands out among standouts. And I didn't even mention the giant metal dinosaurs.
Listen, "Bloodborne" is not for the faint of heart.
In "Bloodborne," you're a hunter taking on a world that wants you dead. In practice that means you're playing a third-person action game where constant death is pretty much an expectation. It's only through careful attrition that you'll learn to survive and progress. Like the "Souls" series it comes from, "Bloodborne" is a game that demands focus and mastery.
For some people, that will be a massive turnoff. For others, "Bloodborne" is an obsession.
That said: "Bloodborne" is gorgeous/gruesome, tremendously challenging, and easily one of the best games on PlayStation 4. Here's a review-y thing my colleague Dave Smith wrote about the game - it goes into far more depth on why "Bloodborne" is so fantastic.
It's hard to overstate how much fun basic movement is in "Spider-Man."
Even after devoting more than 30 hours of my life to the game, I never tired of high-velocity traversal. If you've seen any of the "Spider-Man" movies, you're already familiar with how swinging around Manhattan works - it's nearly identical in the PS4 game, but you're in control.
And the version of Manhattan that "Spider-Man" lives in is almost as beautiful as the real thing. It's not quite as large, or as detailed, but it's got all the familiar landmarks you'd expect to see: Union Square, Central Park, and much more.
As a NYC resident, I found it shockingly easy to navigate the Manhattan of "Spider-man" without using the in-game map. That it's possible to navigate solely based on my knowledge of the actual Manhattan is incredibly impressive, and a testament to the level of detail in "Spider-Man."
But what's most impressive about the game is that it manages to tell a story and evoke the feeling of a high-budget Marvel superhero film - except you get to play it.
I want to be all the way clear here: I don't even like "Spider-Man" as a character. I never read the comics growing up, and I don't like the few films I saw. I love "Spider-Man" on PlayStation 4.
On paper, the "God of War" reboot is very similar to the original series: It's a third-person action-adventure game that is focused on stylish combat.
But in reality, there are some huge changes right off the bat. For one, Kratos now has a son he's taking care of (seen above). His name is Atreus and he's with you for the entire journey.
And the journey, rather than a tale of revenge, is one of grief: Kratos' wife (and Atreus' mother) has died, and her last request was to have her ashes released at the tallest peak in the land. It's a subtle refocus that, unbelievably, turns Kratos into a complex, interesting character for the first time.
How he handles grieving while teaching his son valuable lessons - all while dealing with the tremendous psychological baggage from his previous life as a Greek god - is what elevates "God of War" from an impressive, gorgeous action game to a memorable, meaningful game.
The culmination of years of work by Sony's all-star studio Naughty Dog, "Uncharted 4: A Thief's End" is a gorgeous thrill ride. You play as Nathan Drake, the long-running protagonist of the "Uncharted" series.
It's essentially the video game version of Indiana Jones, as you trot around the globe avoiding bad guys and stealing long-hidden treasures. The "Uncharted" series is the gem of Sony's PlayStation game line-up for a good reason: it's tremendous.
"Tetris Effect" is the best game I played in 2018.
It takes a foundational game ("Tetris"), executes it perfectly, and crucially evolves the concept of what a "Tetris" game can be. It's one of the only games from 2018 that I'll continue playing into 2019 (and likely beyond).
You might think that a "Tetris" game in 2018 would have a hard time justifying a $40 price tag. "Tetris Effect" does not, and that's mostly due to its endless replayability. It is, after all, "Tetris."
More importantly, though, there are a variety of game modes to switch between. Despite the fact that you're always essentially just playing "Tetris," the different modes feel distinct and unique.
Looking to play something a little more relaxed? That's an option. Want something that will demand your attention? Plenty of choices for that. Maybe you want something a bit more meditative? Sure thing!
When "Tetris Effect" is at its best, which is often, it captures my full attention. It's a blessed respite from the modern world that I'm thankful for on a deeper level than the usual video game.
"Resident Evil 7: Biohazard" is one of the best "Resident Evil" games ever made, and you can play it entirely in virtual reality on the PlayStation 4 (using the PlayStation VR headset). As someone who did just that, I can attest that it's the most unique experience you can have in modern gaming.
Unlike most "Resident Evil" games, "Biohazard" isn't focused on shooting down zombies. Instead, you're being chased relentlessly by a single, horrifying family, through a dishevelled house. There are guns, and you can fire them, but you really should just run. The game is about survival, and it does a great job of keeping that the focus.
Few games are as gorgeous and joyous as "Ratchet & Clank," a beautiful re-mastering of the original game.
The game is essentially a traditional third-person action game, with silly guns and lots of platforming (jumping from platform to platform). What makes "Ratchet & Clank" stand out is its bizarre, goofy world, its iconic characters, and how those pieces interact.
If you're looking for a good game to play with kids, you could do a lot worse than "Ratchet & Clank" - though you're just as likely to have a blast if you're playing exclusively with adults.
In "The Last Guardian" you play as a small boy from the third-person perspective. The game focuses on solving puzzles to progress forward, which you'll do by working with the massive cat-bird creature seen above.
More importantly, it's a subtly-told story of friendship and adventure - more reminiscent of a Miyazaki animated film than a video game. There's no combat, and no dialog. The story is in the puzzles you solve and the world you explore.
Looking for a game to play with young kids? This might be the perfect game for that!
"Journey" is a must-play for people of all ages. It's a beautiful third-person game that's playable, in entirety, in just a few hours.
The "story" of the game isn't so important - what matters is what happens between where the game begins and where you end up. There's not a lot that can be said about "Journey" without potentially ruining the experience. Do yourself a favour and set aside a free morning to enjoy the whole thing in one sitting.
Admittedly, this isn't a game, but it does cost about the same amount for one year of PlayStation Plus, a paid loyalty programme that is a crucial addition to your PlayStation 4
It enables you to play games online with other people! It gives you monthly discounts on games and movies! And, most importantly, it gives you free games every month. Free! For the duration of your subscription!
What types of games? Really great games!
Games like "Bloodborne," that you saw earlier on this list! And "Journey," which was also on this list!
As of this publishing, I have 76 PlayStation Plus games in my PlayStation 4 library. I've missed a few over time, and there are some whiffs, but in general it's a massive benefit that pays for itself almost instantly.
I can't say this strongly enough: If you just bought a PlayStation 4, getting a PlayStation Plus subscription is a no-brainer.
PlayStation Plus is R109 a month, or R899 for a one-year subscription.
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