I’ve been a diehard PlayStation fan since the launch of the PS1 in the mid-nineties. Games like Resident Evil 2, Final Fantasy VII, and Metal Gear Solid showed me that video games could be so much more than the sugar-coated platformers that dominate my earliest gaming memories. The medium has matured and evolved almost unrecognisably since those simpler days, but one thing hasn’t changed – PlayStation is still a great way to experience almost everything that gaming has to offer. Well over three years since the release of Sony’s latest console – here’s my top 10 list of games that I think any new PS4 owner should try.
Multi-platform, cross-generational, in bed with Activision, no Master Chief, and persistently online – Bungie’s first stab at a post-Halo shooter was always going to be a challenge. As to how well they delivered on that challenge has been a constant topic of debate for the best part of three years. What isn’t up for debate is that Destiny’s delectable FPS combat is unparalleled. It’s this core competency that has kept the troubled platform afloat and allowed Bungie the time and goodwill to build upon the base game and address some sizeable concerns. Three major expansions later, and with a full-fledged sequel on the Horizon – Destiny is still one of the most populated games on PlayStation Network, displaying a kind of longevity that is rarely (if ever) seen within the console space. Still – it’s hard not to assume that Destiny was just a warm-up for what Bungie is lining up next, and I for one cannot wait to find out what that is.
9. Alien: Isolation
My two favourite films of all time are Alien and Aliens, so it stands to reason that I’ve always longed for a worthy video game adaptation that truly captured the strange, sexual terror of HR Giger’s cosmic beast. Prior to 2014, the closest I had gotten to this was Alien versus Predator on PC (1999), but the technical limitations of the time meant that despite the game being great – my majestic, murderous Alien was rendered as a clumsy husk of pixels. Fast forward to 2014 and finally the hardware had caught up with the vision. Alien: Isolation recreates the xenomorph in all its horrific glory. And what’s even more impressive is that Creative Assembly didn’t overuse the monster – in fact, it doesn’t even make an appearance until multiple hours into the game. Oh, but when it does…
8. Rocket League
‘Rocket League is the best football game ever made…’ – I like to throw that trinket into video game related conversations now and again, and then watch the fireworks. People tend to counter with some long-forgotten version of FIFA or Pro Evolution Soccer (zzZZzzZZZzz), but then I ask – what’s closer to the soul of football? Tapping the shoot button and hoping the AI goalkeeper lets the ball hit the net? Or taking advantage of a robust physics engine by shunting the ball at just the right angle for it to bounce off a wall and run perfectly inline with the goal as your teammate screams through the air and knocks it in with a reverse backflip which also happens to hit an opposing player with such velocity that they instantly combust into a metallic bonfire? I rest my case.
Transistor seems to perpetually live in the shadow of its spiritual predecessor, Bastion. This drives me crazy. Bastion is great, sure – but what really gets me is that the hordes of gamers who fawned over Bastion seem to, without fail, cast Transistor aside with an apathetic shrug. I can only assume that there’s something about Transistor that speaks very specifically to my tastes and doesn’t carry as well with most others. Maybe it’s the gorgeous, neon visuals. Maybe it’s the odd yet compelling narrative. Maybe it’s how the protagonist’s sword speaks moody nothings though the DualShock controller. Or maybe it’s the unique, customisable, cerebral combat. Whatever it is – you should try it.
5. Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Unless you’ve been residing in deep space for the past couple of years, you shouldn’t need me to tell you how good Witcher 3 is. It’s not exaggerating to say that it has revolutionised the Western RPG genre, and also set the bar sky-high for the scope and presentational value of all AAA releases going forwards. Masterful writing meets sumptuous visuals along with deep mechanics to deliver an instant classic. If you have the means – play this on a decently powered PC. If not – PS4 will more than get the job done. However you do it – you owe it to yourself to play this game.
4. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
I’m a colossal Metal Gear fan. Metal Gear Solid on PS1 was an awakening for me in terms of what video games can and should be. It quite literally changed my life. MGS2 was the perfect sequel. MGS3 was a clever riff on the formula that was brimming with soul. MGS4 was a technical powerhouse that elevated Hideo Kojima to true auteur status. MGS5/V? Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is the best Metal Gear game. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is also the worst Metal Gear game. The best gameplay, mechanics, and visuals. The worst story, characterisation, and addition to the encyclopedic lore. That said – if I can cast off the baggage and enjoy one of the best open-world action games ever made, so can you.
3. Uncharted 4
As Uncharted 4’s credits rolled, I was in awe. Naughty Dog had made me really care about characters who, for three previous games totalling around 30 hours, I didn’t actually give a toss about. It was an absolute delight, not to mention a technical marvel. Something that gamers across the globe could hold up to sceptical friends and relatives as an example of what this misunderstood art form can be. And by far the most exciting thing about Naughty Dog’s triumph in 2016 is this – what the hell are they going to be capable of when it comes to The Last of Us Part II?…
2. Horizon Zero Dawn
If you’ve listened to me babble on podcasts or follow me on social media then you’ve probably also heard me gush about FromSoftware’s PS4 exclusive. Take the deep combat and rogue-like gameplay loop of Dark Souls, add a triple helping of Lovecraftian eldritch horror, and wrap it all up in the latest console hardware. Bloodborne took me from being a distant admirer of Hidetaka Miyazaki’s work to being a true believer. What I really appreciate about Bloodborne is the bait and switch marketing that prepped me for a werewolves in Victorian London scenario despite the game gradually pulling the curtains open to reveal one of the deepest, most haunting narratives to be found in gaming. Nerds of my ilk will dissect and analyse this game for years to come, and I stand firm in my repeated proclamation that Bloodborne is not only the best PS4 game, but one of the best games of all time.