The PlayStation 4 has had a great life, and it’s not over yet, despite the the launch of the PlayStation 5.
But don’t worry if you’re just now getting a PS4, or if you’re sticking with the system for a bit longer. Or maybe you just can’t find a PlayStation 5, which is a very relatable problem.
Here are 22 of the best games for the PS4. If you don’t know where to start with your nascent PS4 game collection, or if you want to keep your interest in the system going, start here. We have you covered.
Why 22 games, though? Why not?! It’s a good amount of titles, spread across a variety of genres, with selections for families, children, and adults. But 22 isn’t an overwhelming number, and we wanted to focus on the best of the best for this guide to the essential releases on the platform. Find something you like, and see what you think. And heck, when possible, we’ve included a link to our guide for each game, just in case you need a little help.
And if the list of 22 games up top isn’t enough for you, check out a few extra recommendations we threw in at the bottom. So dig in, find something to play, and enjoy; the PlayStation 4 is currently wrapping up one of the most impressive runs of software we’ve ever seen in gaming, with plenty of classics to go around. No list is going to be perfect, and they are always going to be arguable, but we stand behind every selection on this list: Each one is a great time, depending on what you’re in the mood to play.
Kentucky Route Zero
Kentucky Route Zero is a narrative game about a journey, but it’s also about debt, academia, gentrification, alcoholism, and joy. Crickets chirp in the distance as the sun slowly sets over a nearby hillside. Occasionally a car will motor by, the rolling sound of asphalt on pavement slowly fading away. Kentucky Route Zero is filled with scenes like this, handcrafted to create a sense of quiet contemplation, like wind rushing across a cliffside.
The game leaves it to you to uncover the way of this world and its people. The bizarre otherworldliness — D&D-playing ghosts and omnipresent bluegrass bands — is never fully explained. Kentucky Route Zero rarely gives a clear answer about what’s going on, or why, even after you try to pry into these matters. The people who inhabit this world seem to be guessing about what it all means, just as you are.
On its surface, Kentucky Route Zero appears to be hyper-traditional. The game begins; it gives you a clear objective; you’re going to see this through. Along the way, you meet people who can help you on this quest. But the truth is that the quest is not the point. It’s the people, the world, the journey itself that all make this game tick.
Get it here: PlayStation Store
Persona 5 Royal
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.
Released in March 2020, three years after the original game, Persona 5 Royal is a remastered and reworked version of Persona 5 with a chunk of new story material courtesy of a third semester tacked onto the end. While the plot is perhaps a little predictable, it’s well presented, and Royal’s quality-of-life tweaks make it worth replaying the first 100-ish hours to get there. The conclusion to the third semester provides better closure than the game’s original ending, and this extra chapter offers rewarding combat for those seeking a challenge. And if you’ve never played Persona 5, this is the definitive way to experience what was already one of the best Japanese role-playing games in recent memory.
—Laura Kate Dale
Control offers a world that is seductive, powerful, and internally consistent, but developer Remedy Entertainment is able to stretch the tension of entering that world — without any kind of instruction or illumination — to its breaking point.
By the end of Control, you will be an expert on this strange existence. There’s no “weird for the sake of weird” here. It all makes sense, once you learn the language of the world. That’s a true rarity in video game storytelling, where complex plots are often burdened by so much excess exposition and so many complications that it all turns into a meaningless soup by the end. Control, instead, feels like a carefully prepared meal being fed to you methodically, until you develop a taste for it.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Developer FromSoftware spent the last decade making games so absurdly difficult that its popularity is a bit difficult to explain. Demon’s Souls begat the Dark Souls trilogy, which spawned Bloodborne. Every game was a riff on a formula that brought the quirky Japanese developer closer to mainstream success.
In 2019, with Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, FromSoftware took a hard turn, replacing medieval European fantasy and Gothic horror with feudal Japanese fantasy.
It’s a riff on the formula that the studio created and popularized, but it’s also something new — a fast-paced, action-focused departure from its more deliberate and esoteric forebears. It eschews role-playing classes, so everyone plays as the same titular character. Skills for your constant blade replace the bloated menagerie of weapons and armor in previous titles. The story is straightforward, not something that requires reading vague item descriptions and then watching YouTube videos just to almost kind of understand it.
Sekiro is FromSoftware’s sensibilities refined and focused. It’s as beautiful as it is brutal, and the sweetness of victory is still strong enough to make the frustration of frequent failure worthwhile. It is also unambiguous proof that FromSoftware isn’t a one-trick pony.
Outer Wilds is a nonviolent first-person exploration game set in a solar system sprinkled with delightful mysteries. Its secrets are scattered among a whirling orrery of planets. Its many marvels are like disparate fragments, difficult to comprehend in the whole, but undoubtedly greater than the sum of their parts.
Outer Wilds’ narrative centers on an alien space explorer who sets out to solve the riddle of a lost civilization. The twist is that players have just 22 minutes to explore before the sun goes supernova, destroying everything. Then, the clock resets, and with each expedition, players search further and deeper, gradually piecing together a picture of a lost species that came before — one that held the secrets of the universe.
At its core, Outer Wilds is an adventure game, but it defies so simple a classification, mixing itself up with a powerful narrative, satisfying physical challenges, and fantastical meta-puzzles. It eschews cheap violence and sprawling systems such as upgrade trees and stats-based progress. It’s a genuine original.
Get it here: PlayStation Store
Spelunky 2 isn’t a sequel — or, at least, I wouldn’t use that term. It’s something different, like so many modern games that blur the lines between remaster, reboot, remake, and reimagining. It warrants new words.
Spelunky 2’s early stages resemble the original Spelunky, just a little prettier. Imagine someone using tracing paper to re-create a favorite painting, adding their own flourishes and revisions. Once again, you begin in a cave full of spiders, skeletons, bats, and golden idols that egg you on to set to set off their lethal traps. Except now, things are ever so different.
Yellow lizards roll across the room like that big ball chasing Indy, and agitated moles cut through the ground like the graboids in Tremors. Step on a dirt surface containing a pack of moles, and the sharp-toothed critters pop up for a bite, turning the familiar terrain into something reminiscent of “the floor is lava,” with our hero leaping from one floating platform to another.
The opening stages (and, in time, the entire game) feel familiar but deadlier — like game director Derek Yu redesigned Spelunky specifically to punish those of us who’d grown complacent after eight years of speedruns, accustomed to shredding through them like Bill Murray skipping through the back half of Groundhog Day. Your muscle memory is weaponized against you.
Like its predecessor, Spelunky 2 operates like a miniature clockwork universe, with every creature, trap, and object serving a purpose, and every action on screen causing an appropriate reaction. For newcomers, it is daunting and difficult. This isn’t a game you beat on your first try. Or your hundredth.
Get it here: PlayStation Store
Resident Evil 2
Resident Evil was born on the PlayStation, and Capcom’s latest entry in the venerable survival horror franchise is one part classic, one part modern horror-action video game.
Capcom has taken Resident Evil 7’s brilliant design decisions to heart in its remake of Resident Evil 2, which has not simply been polished with slick graphics for current-generation consoles, but has been completely remade inside and out.
The developers of the Resident Evil 2 remake have carefully threaded a needle with their new version of a very old thing. Capcom infused modern mechanics into its groundbreaking sequel, while never abandoning what is truly great about the original Resident Evil 2. The result is a fresh, expensive-looking game that evokes the best memories of the PlayStation title, while also being something altogether new.
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim
Here is a video game about our memory and the fiction we consume, and how they intertwine. How our favorite movies, books, songs, and yes, games, influence our dreams and recollection. A game about how entertainment can be a distraction from the world outside our home and our bubble of a town. But also about how those same games and movies can train us how to engage with reality, providing safe spaces in which to learn. Our entertainment can enrich our lives and make us better friends and citizens, so long as we don’t mistake the world of fiction for our own deeply flawed reality in which change is hard-fought and rarely earned.
That’s precisely the conflict at the heart of 13 Sentinels. As the game hits its final act, the sci-fi tropes are revealed to be crutches for the characters themselves, not the narrative. To survive, they will need to take the good from those stories, learn from the bad, and chart a new path.
In the end, 13 Sentinels is audaciously optimistic. Despite all the conflicting messages of the stories we tell ourselves, it makes a precious case that we eventually can get on the same page and come together. We’ll need to put away our toys and do the work.
Get it here: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop | Walmart | PlayStation Store
What if Tetris, the classic 35-year-old puzzle game, could make you feel blissful? Tetris Effect, named for the phenomenon in which repetitive tasks infest our dreams and memories, takes the game’s original concepts and adds joy, connection, and audiovisual euphoria. It’s Tetris, but beautiful, and it’s made even better if you have PlayStation VR hardware.
Tetris Effect’s emotional trek weaves through a campaign known as the Journey, where games of Tetris are set against a variety of gorgeous backdrops, songs, and sound effects. The Journey ventures from the deep sea, where blue whales and schools of fish made of glittering particles orbit the Tetris play field, to deserts to deep space and beyond. The music throbs in time with the movement of play, with every twist or drop of a piece adding to the song.
Beyond the stylish Journey mode lies the Effect mode, a series of puzzle game types that vary from more traditional scoring modes to more experimental ones. The oddest is a series of elaborate rule-breaking gimmicks known as Mystery mode, during which the play field can flip upside down or puzzle pieces become comically gigantic.
Like other Tetris games, Tetris Effect is infinitely replayable, as you seek higher scores and better combos. But it’s also a great way to relax, setting aside the chase for better play to simply be in the moment.
God of War
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 busywork that remain fun, even dozens of hours in.
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.
Marvel’s 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.
The Last of Us Remastered
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 PlayStation 3 game ups the detail and includes a separate expansion, Left Behind, that fleshes out Ellie’s backstory.
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 its 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.
Horizon Zero Dawn
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 robotlike 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.
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.
Ratchet & Clank
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.
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: PlayStation Store
When I’m not playing Fall Guys, I’m watching other people play Fall Guys. I can’t seem to get enough of these rotund guys bouncing and flopping around. There’s something about hearing somebody confidently declare, “I’m going to win this round,” then seeing them immediately flop off the stage into a pool of pink death lava that is amusing every single time.
With rounds only lasting 15 minutes at most — and that’s if you make it to the final round — Fall Guys is a delightful bite of fun that soothes the itch for a battle royale, without forcing you to think too hard. There is a bit of a random element to the game, especially since you never know how your competitors will react to giant falling fruit or huge hammers knocking your guys around, so the ultra competitive players who just want to win at any cost may get frustrated, but don’t let that stop you.
With new stages to be added in coming updates, Fall Guys is already cementing itself in the “favorites” section of my Steam and PlayStation 4 libraries.
Get it here: PlayStation Store
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 joins a proud tradition of Activision selling us the same game in the same series multiple times; it’s the third attempt at remixing and re-releasing some version of this content, after Tony Hawk 2X on the original Xbox in 2001 and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD in 2012. But this is the first time anyone has been able to do it right in the past decade or so.
The controls and feel of the first two Tony Hawk games have been left intact, with a beautiful visual upgrade and a selection of modern improvements and sly edits of the original content. I think I feel a slight difference in keeping vert runs going, and things can get a little goofy — pardon the pun — after you level up your skater to jump much higher and spin for much longer than any human conceivably could, but these are also areas where I’ve always struggled with the series. I’m curious to read more from the ultra-hardcore players, but as a moderately serious player, I’m satisfied with the solid, if sometimes unpredictable, re-creation of the original skating engine.
Which is just what the series needs. Pro Skater was never just about learning how to land signature tricks; it was about how to make your path through each level flow like water, creating something that looked and felt both effortless and beautiful. There was nothing realistic about it, but it matched how I felt skateboarding should be, based on my pop culture understanding of it.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 keeps that feeling, while adding to the fantasy through the rebuilt character models and levels. The updated visual fidelity isn’t a distraction; it adds to the fantasy of actually skating in these places, which is an important distinction when it comes to what “realistic” graphics do for a game. War games, on one hand, can get more disturbing as they approach photorealism. With more detail, the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games deliver a better fantasy of skating through these places.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
I bounced off Assassin’s Creed Odyssey after 10 or so hours. Its spin on Ancient Greece felt both too big and too familiar, a Frankenstein’s monster of Breath of the Wild’s climbing, Black Flag’s sailing, and every Mass Effect’s dialogue trees spread across an exhaustingly grand world of nearly identical islands. Alongside Red Dead Redemption 2, I mistook it, at the time, as a less ambitious relic from the last generation.
A few months later, with the announcement of an expansion set in Atlantis, and at the urging of my coworkers, I revisited the game. I haven’t stopped playing since. Yes, Odyssey borrows liberally from many of its contemporaries, but it’s neither too big, too rote, or too repetitive. The game rewards investment, gradually revealing its many interlocking parts, from the masked cult running its world to dramas of the great philosophers to the meddling of mythological gods and monsters.
70 hours into the adventure — finally beginning that Atlantis expansion that had reignited my interest — I’m shocked I ever thought of the islands as identical or that I compared this game unfavorably to its contemporaries. Sure, it might seem less ambitious on paper, but it feels no less special in action. This is a colorful, warm, surprising game with a big world that feels, around nearly every corner, made by humans with creative intent. Many nooks have their own personality and industry: boat builders, theater proprietors, merchants, and mercenaries. But to appreciate them, you must find them. I know it’s a tired phrase, but in Odyssey’s case, it’s true: The journey is more than the destination.
— Chris Plante
Astro Bot Rescue Mission
You can’t play Astro Bot Rescue Mission on a PlayStation 4 alone — you’ll need a PlayStation VR headset in order to enjoy one of the best platformers in years. But if you do own PSVR, Astro Bot is a must-have (along with VR games like Superhot VR, Moss, and Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes), if only for the a-ha moments that this unique action game offers.
It’s rare to play a game with such a clear sense of purpose. Its designers want simply to delight you. Each level is a fountain of new toys, gags, and ideas. The game comes with 20 levels with eight robots to find in each one, six boss encounters, and 26 challenge areas, along with a crane game-style room where you can cash in your coins for play areas and collectibles. There’s a lot to see and do, and the number of interesting, one-off ideas and surprises the game hurls at you is, in a word, generous.
It’s one of those experiences that needs to be, well, experienced.
Get it here: PlayStation Store
Grand Theft Auto 5
There’s a reason that we’re still talking about (and playing) Grand Theft Auto 5 more than six years after it was first released. It’s a rollicking good time of capers, heists, and criminal chaos, a massive and fully realized sandbox of bad behavior.
Grand Theft Auto 5’s multiple protagonists make considerable headway in the series’ struggle to sustain a narrative thread over more than 30 hours of story. The three leads share the central storyline, but also have their own handful of conflicts that, over time, weave in and out of the broader picture. It’s a television-style serial structure, with missions playing out like episodes, the entire game a season.
But beyond GTA 5’s meaty single-player side is the ever-growing Grand Theft Auto Online, a playground where you can race against other players, partake in gunfights, plan and execute heists, build a criminal empire, and do a dozen other activities that are constantly evolving.
Other recommended PS4 games
Get it here: PlayStation Store
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