clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
PlayStation 4 Pro

Filed under:

The 28 best PlayStation 4 games

Still can’t get your hands on a PS5? We’ve got you covered

Photo: Sony Interactive Entertainment

The PlayStation 5 has had a tough launch due to a wide variety of issues, and getting your hands on one is still difficult nearly two years after launch thanks to supply chain problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. What’s more, Sony hasn’t rolled out all that many PS5-exclusive titles. As a result, there are plenty of folks who haven’t had the cash, impetus, or opportunity to upgrade to the latest generation.

If you’re one of those people with PlayStation 5 out of reach, let us draw your attention to another console whose library has already proven itself 100 times over: the PlayStation 4.

Sony’s previous console offers an impressive library of games that range from first-party exclusives to third-party titles. And in that library are a handful of games that will enter the video game hall of fame as some of the greatest of all time.

Whether you’re lucky enough to already have a PS5 with backward compatibility, pulling your dusty old PS4 out of your closet for a nostalgia session, or booting up one of Sony’s consoles for the first time, we’re here to help guide you through a wide variety of titles. Here are the 28 best PlayStation 4 games of all time.

Bloodborne

A hunter faces a werewolf in a screenshot from Bloodborne Image: FromSoftware

Bloodborne trades out the fantasy castles of Dark Souls for Gothic, Victorian-era towns, streets, and clock towers. And it’s all the better for it.

Bloodborne marries the challenge and precision of other FromSoftware games with incredible vibes and visuals — even shifting, in the latter half, to Lovecraftian creatures. The world is as foreboding as it is intriguing, as you battle your way — often repeatedly — through grotesque creatures and mysterious alleyways.

It has excellent boss fights, some of the coolest melee weapons out there, and a world that draws you in deeper and deeper the more you play.

Death Stranding

Death Stranding Image: Kojima Productions/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

Death Stranding is unlike any other game on this list, the PlayStation 4, or, generally speaking, video games. It’s a truly unique game in its own “Strand” genre, a game about both loneliness and unexpected human connection.

You play as Sam Bridges, a porter making his way across a post-apocalyptic America. In its early hours, it’s a simple matter of delivering packages to estranged citizens at lonely outposts. As the game proceeds, however, it introduces new wrinkles to that formula and constantly shifts the cogs of its interlocking systems, all in the pursuit of keeping things fresh.

What makes Death Stranding truly special, though, is that everyone else around the world playing Death Stranding is helping each other complete their work. Ladders you place may appear in the game of a friend or a total stranger. And a river that took you 10 minutes to get across the first time might have mysteriously gained a handy bridge to give you safe passage on your return.

Destiny 2

Destiny 2: The Witch Queen Guardians all fighting in Savathun’s Throne World Image: Bungie

Destiny 2 is a first-person shooter MMO from the team that made Halo. It’s got years’ worth of content for new players, and has one of the more aggressive content pipelines out there. Even better, Destiny 2 is still topping itself five years into its life cycle. Its most recent expansion at the time of this writing, The Witch Queen, is not only the best content in the Destiny series, but one of the best projects Bungie has ever worked on.

Beyond its loads of systems and engaging endgame, Destiny also just feels better to play than any other shooter. It’s smooth and precise, with resounding impact to boot. Although the quality of expansions and seasons has varied throughout the years, it’s always satisfying to log on for a few hours, pick up some new loot, and shoot some aliens — with friends or without.

Diablo 3: Eternal Collection

Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls screenshot 1138 Image: Blizzard Entertainment

Diablo 3 is an excellent action-RPG filled with demons, heroes, and loot. And the console editions are all the more impressive for how they adapted the mouse-and-keyboard controls of the original version to be viable on controllers.

In Diablo 3 you’ll go through the campaign, or a variety of endless activities, to destroy hordes of enemies with your abilities. Your reward is incrementally better loot drops, which enhance your demon-killing prowess. The farther you go, the harder the game gets, and the more enemies it throws at you. Diablo 3 becomes an endless pendulum of power balance as you mow through monsters, only for the monsters to eventually start mowing through you. At this point, you grind for better loot, return to said monsters, and enact revenge.

You’d think this loop would get old after a while. But Diablo 3’s implementation of seasons ensures there’s always a reason to return or try out a new class every few months. It’s a game whose satisfying mechanics lay a sturdy foundation for a continually revolving suite of content.

Doom (2016)

Doom (2016) - fighting the Baron of Hell Image: id Software/Bethesda Softworks

Doom is a fast-paced, old-school shooter created for a modern era. As the Doomguy, you’ll battle across Mars (and hell) at incredible speeds, blowing up demons and bashing them into oblivion with your fists. It’s gory, disgusting, and satisfying.

Each level has plenty of secrets and upgrades to discover. However, the real heart of Doom is its cyclical combat where melee kills offer health and chainsaw kills offer ammo, so you’re constantly bashing, slashing, and blasting your way through enemies. It encapsulates the mantra of “always be moving” like few other games ever have.

Final Fantasy 7: Remake

Final Fantasy 7 Remake art Image: Square Enix

Final Fantasy 7 is one of the most famous games of all time, in which Cloud Strife and his band of adventurers must battle to protect the world from Sephiroth, the one-winged angel. In this re-creation of the original game’s first third, Square Enix could’ve just rebuilt it in a modern engine, put it out on modern consoles, and called it a day. But instead the studio decided to build something that feels altogether new.

The world may be the same, and the characters are familiar, but the gameplay manages to diverge into action while still nodding to its turn-based roots. The game’s iconic story is also changed in ways both subtle and momentous, ensuring that it’s fresh for veterans and newcomers alike.

Like Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, it’s taking a singular game and splitting it into three discrete parts. But unlike those films, Square Enix is finding enough depth in the source material to justify the split.

Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn

A raiding party in Final Fantasy 14 Image: Square Enix

Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn has undergone one of the most incredible journeys of any modern game. What started as a complete reboot of the original Final Fantasy 14 has become one of the most popular MMOs out there, with four expansions and a new era on the horizon.

Final Fantasy 14 was originally built with mouse-and-keyboard controls in mind. However, it offers fluid controller support that allows myriad players to enjoy the world, removing a barrier that has plagued console MMOs for more than a decade.

There are hundreds of hours of cooperative content to wade through in Final Fantasy 14, so being able to play it from the comfort of your couch without compromising the MMO experience makes it a standout game in the PlayStation 4’s library.

Fortnite

Fortnite Image: Epic Games

Fortnite has become the de facto “mainstream” game of the last five years, and for good reason. It has constantly evolved, whether by introducing its flagship battle royale mode, hosting augmented-reality concerts, or completely blowing up large portions of its map during spectacular events. It has also added so many licensed skins and emotes that you can do the Dougie over a corpse dressed as Kratos.

It now has a mode where its signature, yet intimidating, building mechanic is disabled, opening it up to new players who couldn’t master the process. It’s one of those games that’s as approachable as it is deep, and we can’t wait to see its next big evolution.

Ghost of Tsushima

A large shrine in Ghost of Tsushima Image: Sucker Punch/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

Ghost of Tsushima is a decidedly traditional open-world adventure from Sucker Punch Productions. Inspired by the first Mongol invasion of Japan, players must fight to defend their homeland.

What makes Ghost of Tsushima interesting — and what sets it apart from other open-world games on this list — is the diverse playstyles it encourages. You can attack a camp like a traditional samurai — calling enemies out to fight you in open combat — or you can sneak through the outpost, assassinating your enemies before they know you’re there.

The game’s story examines the mental effects that shirking tradition can have on a person’s psyche, and it unfolds across a beautiful, often lonely world.

God of War (2018)

God of War - Kratos and Atreus Image: SIE Santa Monica Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment

God of War is the best video game on this list. If you can only try one, make it this one.

This God of War is a soft reboot of the classic hack-and-slash games from the PlayStation 2 and 3 era. It takes Kratos — perhaps the angriest meathead in video game history — and turns him into a tragic character, complete with a new family and set in a completely different mythology.

God of War blends the combo-based combat of its previous titles with a new, over-the-shoulder perspective and a loot system. You take Kratos around several realms from Norse myth, battle Valkyries, and even enter Hel itself.

It’s a game that wonderfully blends combat, exploration, and a surprisingly touching story. It’s a stellar achievement, and worth the price of a used PS4, whether you’re new to gaming or just let this masterpiece pass you by in 2018.

Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix

Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix Image: Square Enix

There’s a lot of game in Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix, and not all of it is good. Thankfully, it does have two of the best games from the PlayStation 2 era as part of the collection: Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts 2.

While this series gets a lot of well-earned guff for its story and general obsession with nonsense, it does have quite a bit of heart (sorry). Both games are a delightful romp through iconic worlds, which is a real treat for fans who grew up watching Disney movies or playing Final Fantasy games. And while it’s simple enough to still be good fun for kids, there’s enough depth in its character progression to keep more focused players hooked.

As a series, Kingdom Hearts is pretty impenetrable. But this collection is the best way to enter a world filled with bizarre characters, adventures, and encounters. And for how goofy (sorry, again) it can be, it’s a series worth falling in love with.

Marvel’s Spider-Man

Spider-Man swinging through New York City with the Empire State Building in the background in Marvel’s Spider-Man Image: Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment

Marvel’s Spider-Man takes the excellent high-flying acrobatics from the famous Spider-Man 2 movie tie-in game and somehow improves upon them. Insomniac Games’ open-world adventure gives you full control of the friendly neighborhood superhero, offering precise movements and attacks that feel like they’re straight out of a comic book panel.

However, the best part of Marvel’s Spider-Man isn’t its exceptional controls or how successfully it lets you embody the web-head — it’s the game’s story. In a pop culture world already dominated by the MCU, Marvel’s Spider-Man is all the more impressive for how well it carves out a space of its own.

Mass Effect Legendary Edition

A Reaper descends during an attack in Mass Effect: Legendary Edition Image: BioWare/Electronic Arts

Mass Effect Legendary Edition houses three of the best RPGs ever made. Mass Effect sets up an incredible universe that’s rich with lore, Mass Effect 2 shrinks that world down to center on a ragtag group of characters, and Mass Effect 3 tells a grand story of destruction and unity. Each game has its own merits, and the Legendary Edition improves them with more modern graphics and some quality-of-life changes. (BioWare took a heavier hand in updating the original Mass Effect than the other two).

The real boon with this collection, and what makes it so great for old-school and new Mass Effect fans alike, is having all three games in one, easy-to-access place. Gone are the days of rounding up each game (possibly on various dusty consoles) and finding all of their DLCs in old storefronts. This is Mass Effect as intended, all in one place, and running on your powerful PS4.

Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain

Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain screenshot 1920 Image: Konami

Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain offers such a wide degree of freedom that it’s almost impossible to imagine two players approaching the same mission in identical ways. It may not be the best script set in Metal Gear universe, as it focuses less on extended cutscenes and cartoonish characters — but that freedom allows for some of the best stories in the franchise.

There are dozens of approaches to each objective, with an in-depth physics system to boot. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain has some of the best video game action of all time. Paired with the game’s crafting system — which allows for weapon development and mid-mission drops — it’s less about the story Kojima wants to tell you and more about dynamic gameplay moments that you can tell your friends about at the water cooler the next morning.

Monster Hunter: World

This screenshot from Monster Hunter: World shows a player character with a bow aiming at a massive monster called an Anjanath. Behind the creature is a massive canyon full of vines and ragged trees. Image: Capcom

Monster Hunter: World took a series that had grown comfortable on handhelds and expanded it onto consoles. The result is a beautiful, expansive game that removed many of the restrictions and loading zones that longtime hunters had grown accustomed to.

Still, the biggest step up for World is in how many barriers it removes for new players. World finally helped Monster Hunter click for many outside of Japan by expanding tutorials and simplifying some unnecessarily complex systems. The result is a smoother, far more approachable Monster Hunter game that’s easy to enjoy solo or with a group of friends.

Nier: Automata

Nier Automata Image: PlatinumGames/Square Enix

Nier: Automata is an action game unlike any other. The bulk of the gameplay focuses on hacking and slashing through a variety of pudgy robots. But the game’s true nature gradually becomes clear (and its story unravels) over the course of multiple playthroughs.

Director Yoko Taro infuses his world and characters with existential dread, and each new playthrough not only morphs the plot, but reexamines some of the trials and tribulations facing the game’s cast. It’s a kaleidoscopic array of philosophical ideas that demands constant reconsideration, even as you fight your way through another hail of dazzling combat encounters.

Outer Wilds

An astronaut sites next to a fire in Outer Wilds Image: Mobius/Annapurna Interactive

The less said about Outer Wilds the better, as it’s a game all about discovery. The gist is that you’re a space explorer looking to solve a major mystery in your solar system. Every 22 minutes, the world resets and spawns you back on your home planet of Timber Hearth.

By visiting and revisiting different planets during each cycle, you accrue useful clues and shortcuts to aid your next attempt at solving the overarching puzzle. What’s more, planets evolve in real time. It’s not a game about upgrading equipment; it’s a game about racing to a planet to plumb its depths before it all fills up with sand.

It’s a magnificent game that’s hard to understand before you’ve played it yourself. But we wish we could reset time ourselves, just to play this game for the first time all over again.

Persona 5 Royal

Persona 5 Royal Image: Atlus

Like Persona 4 Golden before it, Persona 5 Royal is an evolution of an already exceptional RPG. It’s the ultimate edition with everything you’d want or need in a Persona 5 playthrough, whether it’s your first time playing or your fifth.

Persona 5 already tells the great story of the Phantom Thieves of Hearts as they work to change wicked individuals at their high school and throughout Tokyo. The Royal edition adds new characters that appear throughout the main story as well as a big chunk of content toward the end of the game, giving the Phantom Thieves a great wrap-up that goes further than the original’s ending.

With thoughtful combat and one of the best vibes of any video game ever made (the game’s acid jazz-infused soundtrack may very well become your playlist of choice), Persona 5 was already a must-play on the PlayStation 4. The Royal edition makes the recommendation even easier.

Ratchet & Clank (2016)

Ratchet looks to the sky in a screenshot from 2016’s Ratchet & Clank for PS4 Image: Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment

Ratchet & Clank (2016) is a reimagining of the original Ratchet & Clank from the PS2 era, and it’s also a tie-in game for the animated Ratchet & Clank movie. With both of those facts in mind, it’s shocking that this may be the best adventure the Lombax and his robot companion have ever embarked upon together.

Its world and art are gorgeous (it has some of the best lighting of any game in the entire PS4 generation), its weapons are wacky and fun, and its bolt-based economy is a blast to max out, especially when combined with the updated weapon perk trees. It’s an exceptional Ratchet & Clank game, despite being burdened by bizarre cutscenes ripped straight from the (mediocre) movie.

Resident Evil 2 remake

Resident Evil 2 (2019) Image: Capcom

Resident Evil 2 is one of the most lauded games of all time. It’s known for its creepy police station opening, its demanding resource management, and the ominous Mr. X. In short: It’s a bona fide classic. So, attempting to remake such a title — especially in a more modern third-person format — could’ve gone horribly wrong. But the remake has become a classic in and of itself.

Everything about the Resident Evil 2 remake holds up. The puzzles are engaging, Mr. X is terrifying (he relentlessly chases you for huge portions of the game), and the combat is smooth. For veterans, it’s an awesome retelling of a memorable game. For everyone else, it rules anyway.

Return of the Obra Dinn

Return of the Obra Dinn - looking at a corpse on the deck Image: Lucas Pope/3909

Return of the Obra Dinn is a mystery game where you play as an insurance broker. But stick with us: It’s significantly more interesting than it sounds.

The game starts with you being sent to investigate a trading vessel called the Obra Dinn. Most of the crew and goods have perished, and it’s your job to discover what happened. Thankfully, you have a magic pocket watch that can let you relive the fates of the people who were on board. By jumping through a series of vignettes, you’ll need to piece together the identity and fates of all the souls aboard in order to close your investigation.

It’s an odd and satisfying puzzle game that drips atmosphere, with its incredible soundtrack and 1-bit art style. The less you know about the story before going in, the better. But like Outer Wilds, it’s a game you’ll wish you could wipe from your memory just to start all over again.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Sekiro sets a monk on fire in a screenshot from Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Image: FromSoftware/Activision

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice isn’t like other FromSoftware games. Instead of a plethora of weapons to choose from, the Wolf only has access to one sword. But what Sekiro lacks in customization, it makes up for in challenge and style.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice has some of the most rhythmic combat we’ve ever seen. Paired with some of the best bosses FromSoftware has ever created, Sekiro’s fights almost become a dance.

It’s a difficult and punishing game, and it forces you to clash with intimidating enemies, but when the battles finally click — and you’re able to attack, deflect, and counterattack flawlessly — it offers the most satisfying victories on this list.

Stardew Valley

A quiet farm in Stardew Valley Image: ConcernedApe/Chucklefish

In Stardew Valley, you play as a character who has just inherited a dilapidated farm. You set up your homestead and grow crops through the seasons while getting to know the people in a nearby town. As you build up your relationships, you’ll uncover a surprising amount of depth in your fellow townsfolk — some of whom you can eventually marry and procreate with.

Stardew Valley is also a story about capitalism. As you grow your crops and forage the land, you can offer items to special spirits who will help you rebuild the community center. Or you can take the easy way out by offering gobs of cash to your local JojaMart (think Wal-Mart run by a guy in a bow tie).

It’s quaint and peaceful, but it still has something to say. And it’s the perfect game to relax with after a long week of work or school.

The Last of Us

Joel and Elli stand on stairs and look down at a dead body Image: Naughty Dog/Sony Interactive Entertainment

The Last of Us is one of the PlayStation 4’s biggest games, and the intro to developer Naughty Dog’s darkest series.

The game takes the action that Naughty Dog is known for (thanks to the Jak and Uncharted games) and slows it down to find the brutality in it. Fights are methodical and violent, resources are scarce, and monsters can be punishing. It’s a trope-filled zombie game, but it handles the “humans are the real monsters” theme better than a lot of other infected fiction. Lastly, it explores the relationship between a father and his proxy daughter as the world crumbles around them and they struggle to find reasons for hope.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Geralt starts a mighty swing of his sword against a foe in the woodlands of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Image: CD Projekt Red/CD Projekt

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a massive RPG filled with fantasy lore, excellent writing, and systems on top of systems. It’s a great game that you can get lost in for hours, embarking on new stories and hunting new beasts.

In 2022, The Witcher 3 is still remarkable. Not just in its fantasy writing, but also because of how well CD Projekt Red smoothed down some of the edges of their first two Witcher games. It’s a fantasy title even for players who don’t traditionally like fantasy. But it can also be a hardcore experience for seasoned RPG veterans who want to balance their potion toxicity levels or scour the land for magical armor.

Titanfall 2

titanfall hero 2 Image: Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts

Titanfall 2 takes classic multiplayer action from Respawn Entertainment — a team built by some of the minds behind Call of Duty’s best entries — and marries it to giant mechs. The result is a fast-paced shooter that takes place on the scales of both human infantry and hulking robots. It’s a game about wall-running and headshots, but also shoulder-mounted mortars and gargantuan Gauss rifles.

What’s more, Titanfall 2’s houses one of the best first-person shooter campaigns in the genre. It offers incredible set-piece moments, a variety of robots to pilot, and a shockingly touching relationship between the lead character and his Titan.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End - Sully and Nate examine documents
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Image: Naughty Dog/Sony Interactive Entertainment

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is both Nathan Drake’s finale and his best adventure. It’s the same swashbuckling gameplay and electric set-pieces seen in the first three Uncharted games, but with stunning vistas and surprising character moments peppered throughout.

In a series that many players claimed didn’t need a fourth game, it’s remarkable for how well it reexamined Drake’s spotty history. It may not make you an Uncharted fan if you’ve never cared for the series to begin with, but it’s one of the most raucous, thrilling, and ultimately remarkable adventures in the medium.

Until Dawn

Until Dawn Image: Supermassive Games

Until Dawn is a schlocky horror masterpiece starring actors like Peter Stormare, Rami Malek, and Hayden Panettiere. It takes place on a snowy mountain in Canada, where a bunch of teens have come together for a party and to mourn some friends who’ve been missing for a year.

Until Dawn’s story is intoxicating, and the opening hours really obscure whether the game is about a serial killer or more supernatural forces. But this is more than just a “sort-of interactive horror movie.” Choices you make will determine whether characters live or die, resulting in a cacophony of possible endings.

Supermassive Games has created a ton of fun, interactive horror stories in the past few years, and it all started with Until Dawn.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon