It’s safe to say Sony has unequivocally won over this console generation. Just last month, the company announced that the PlayStation 4 had sold more than 86 million units in its lifetime, surpassing the PlayStation 3 and far outpacing Microsoft’s Xbox One.
Part of the success involved Sony’s early lead back in 2013, when the device came out with a price tag $100 lower than Microsoft’s competing console and a honed focus on a core game-playing audience. Then Sony kept the momentum up by releasing a string of excellent exclusives. For the last half-decade or so, the PS4 has been home to some of the best games ever made, a majority of which can’t be played on any other console out there.
If you’re just getting your first PS4 ever, it couldn’t be a better time to start building out your library. As Sony gears up to release its next-generation device sometime in the next few years — rumor has it the PS5, or whatever it’ll be called, is coming out in 2020 at the earliest — many of the current generation’s best games are getting fiercely discounted. And if you’re upgrading from an old PS4 to a PS4 Pro, a number of recent releases, as well as some older titles, have been optimized to take advantage of the speedier hardware.
So here’s where to start if you’re looking for a guaranteed good game to download on your new Sony console.
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No “best of” PlayStation list would be complete without mentioning FromSoftware’s masterpiece Bloodborne. The game is a more stylish and gothic horror-themed take on the game studio’s legendary Dark Souls titles, and that aesthetic statement and its much more approachable design ended up making Bloodborne an instant classic. Don’t get me wrong, the game is still incredibly difficult. But as an entryway into FromSoftware’s more brutal catalog, you cannot find a more rewarding experience, so long as you push through the pain.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Whatever your opinion on the merits of Naughty Dog’s cinematic and visually stunning Indiana Jones simulator, there’s no denying that Uncharted 4 is a pinnacle of the franchise’s signature style of interactive storytelling.
As the conclusion to the Nathan Drake saga, A Thief’s End offers everything fans came to love about the series: giant and eye-popping set pieces, incredibly lush and detailed environments, and a compelling and well-written story. It may be no more sophisticated than your standard big-budget action movie, but Uncharted set the bar for how those types of experiences can be translated into a gaming medium, and the fourth entry is still a sight to behold.
Few games manage to deliver an experience that would be completely untranslatable to another medium quite like Nier: Automata, created by the enigmatic Japanese game designer Yoko Taro of Drakengard fame. Technically a sequel to a 2010 Drakengard spinoff, Nier: Automata mixes the best-in-class action game chops of developer Platinum Games with an off-the-wall, post-apocalyptic narrative featuring killer robots, super-powered androids, and an overall sci-fi tone that would feel familiar only to the most diehard of anime fans.
The game technically has 26 endings and is chock-full of cheeky references to the act of playing video games, making it as much a cerebral meta exercise in storytelling as it is a demanding action-adventure game in the vein of classics like Devil May Cry.
Beloved role-playing game series Persona can be best described as “anime the video game.” You typically inhabit a Japanese high school student who, you guessed it, has secret powers that involve fighting spirits in a mystical netherworld at night, after they’re done studying for exams and working at the local grocery store. What makes Persona work, and in particular 2017’s Persona 5, is how it blends those fantastical, dungeon-crawler elements with the day-to-day life simulator activities normally used as a way to relate to the teenage viewing demographic of your standard anime. (Like Japanese culture itself, a central theme of most anime is the balance of one’s school, social, and family life.)
Because your relationship with other characters influences the way you fight, progress, and grow your small army of “personas,” which fight alongside you, the game demands investment into areas that would otherwise be simple side quests or mini-games in more traditional RPGs, like your standard Final Fantasy game. Persona 5, while not a big departure, is the most refined game in the series and an instant classic for PlayStation owners.