10 - Persona 5
Persona 5 is a role-playing video game developed by Atlus. It is the sixth installment in the Persona series, which is part of the larger Megami Tensei franchise. The game was released for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 in Japan in September 2016, and worldwide in April 2017. It was published by Atlus in Japan and North America and by Deep Silver in Europe and Australia. An expanded version featuring new content, Persona 5 Royal,[b] was released for PlayStation 4 in Japan in October 2019 and worldwide in March 2020.
Persona 5 takes place in modern-day Tokyo and follows a high school student known by the pseudonym Joker who transfers to a new school after being falsely accused of assault and put on probation. Over the course of a school year, he and other students awaken to a special power, becoming a group of secret vigilantes known as the Phantom Thieves of Hearts. They explore the Metaverse, a supernatural realm born from humanity’s subconscious desires, to steal malevolent intent from the hearts of adults. As with previous games in the series, the party battles enemies known as Shadows using physical manifestations of their psyche known as their Personas. The game incorporates role-playing and dungeon crawling elements alongside social simulation scenarios.
Persona 5 was developed by P-Studio, an internal development studio within Atlus led by game director and producer Katsura Hashino. Along with Hashino, returning staff from earlier Persona games included character designer Shigenori Soejima and music composer Shoji Meguro. Preparatory work began during the development of Persona 4, with full development beginning after the release of Catherine in 2011. First announced in 2013, Persona 5 was delayed from its original late 2014 release date due to the game not being fully finished. The game’s themes revolve around attaining freedom from the limitations of modern society, while its story was strongly inspired by picaresque fiction, the party’s Personas being based on outlaws and rebels from literature.
9 - Overwatch
Overwatch isn’t just a PC gaming sensation; it’s also available on PS4. Just in case you’ve missed the massive hype: Overwatch is a multiplayer FPS, with a huge, colorful cast of characters. Whether you like diving headfirst into a firefight, setting up traps to confound your enemies, or keeping your allies alive and healthy, there’s a character to suit your tastes perfectly. Maps are large, and each one gives you a different objective, whether it’s escorting a moving payload, capturing a flag, or conquering enemy territory.
Join the fight for the future in the Game Awards’ winner of “Best Ongoing Game.” Take your place in the world of Overwatch and choose your hero from a diverse cast of soldiers, scientists, adventurers, and oddities. Bend time, defy physics and unleash a dizzying array of extraordinary powers and weapons. Engage your enemies in iconic locations from around the globe in the ultimate team-based shooter.
Overwatch is quite remarkable in that it appeals to the hardcore esports crowd, the everyday multiplayer crowd, and the Tumblr fanfic/fan art crowd in equal measure. If you haven’t tried it yet, the PS4 version has a vibrant and active community — although you’ll need a PS Plus subscription to play.
8 - The Outer Worlds
The Outer Worlds is an action role-playing game developed by Obsidian Entertainment and published by Private Division. The game was released for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows in October 2019, with a Nintendo Switch version released in June 2020. The game received generally favorable reviews from critics.
For those who pine for the days of Fallout: New Vegas and the Mass Effect trilogy, there’s The Outer Worlds. This first-person RPG casts you as a colonist in the Halcyon solar system, pitted against a handful of powerful corporations that will do absolutely anything to maximize profits, no matter who suffers along the way. With action-packed gameplay, tons of options to resolve quests non-violently, an affable cast of party members, and a story that reacts profoundly to the choices you make, The Outer Worlds is one of the best games of its type in years.
7 - Mortal Kombat 11
Mortal Kombat 11 is a fighting game developed by NetherRealm Studios and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. Running on a heavily modified version of Unreal Engine 3, it is the eleventh main installment in the Mortal Kombat series and a sequel to 2015’s Mortal Kombat X. Announced at The Game Awards 2018, the game was released in North America and Europe on April 23, 2019, for Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One — with the exception of Europe’s Switch version which was released on May 10, 2019. The game was released on the Stadia on November 19, 2019.
Mortal Kombat has had its ups and downs over the years, but Mortal Kombat 11 demonstrates that the series still has plenty of surprises to offer. In addition to a solid story mode and tons of unlockable single-player content, Mortal Kombat 11 offers refined, strategic one-on-one fights. Instead of testing who’s memorized the most super-moves or how quickly players can mash an attack button, this game prioritizes distance, variety, and judicious application of limited super-moves.
Of course, Mortal Kombat’s hallmark gore is back in full-force, with some extremely over-the-top fatalities, sure to test even the most hardened stomachs. This may be a selling point or a deal-breaker, depending on your tolerance, but it’s good to know that the series hasn’t toned itself down over the years. Overall, MK11 is simply an excellent fighting game, with a little something for everyone.
6 - Horizon Zero Dawn
Horizon Zero Dawn is an action role-playing game developed by Guerrilla Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. The plot follows Aloy, a hunter in a world overrun by machines, who sets out to uncover her past. The player uses ranged weapons, a spear, and stealth to combat mechanical creatures and other enemy forces. A skill tree provides the player with new abilities and bonuses. The player can explore the open world to discover locations and take on side quests. It was released for the PlayStation 4 in 2017 and will be released for Microsoft Windows in 2020.
Horizon Zero Dawn has it all: an interesting open world, a creative story, a relatable protagonist, a variety of challenges, and, of course, a whole host of giant robot dinosaurs. You’ll be able to topple these massive beasts, as well as a variety of human enemies, with a bow and arrow and plenty of other melees and ranged weapons.
Horizon Zero Dawn is Guerrilla Games’ first intellectual property since Killzone in 2004 and its first role-playing game. Development began in 2011 after the completion of Killzone 3, with director Mathijs de Jonge considering it the riskiest idea pitched at the time. The game engine, Decima, was developed for Killzone Shadow Fall and altered for Horizon Zero Dawn. Being set in a post-apocalyptic setting, anthropologists were consulted to authenticate the world’s decay over a millennium. The soundtrack was led by composer Joris de Man, featuring contributions from The Flight.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world that has had time to become lush once again, Horizon Zero Dawn tells the story of Aloy: a pariah from her tribe, who nevertheless becomes a master of the bow and spear. As she explores the dangerous world around her, she learns that she may play a pivotal role in changing it for the better. It’s one of the best PS4 games that’s exclusive to the system, although the title will also get a PC release a little further down the road.
5 - God of War
God of War is an action-adventure game developed by Santa Monica Studio and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE). Released on April 20, 2018, for the PlayStation 4 (PS4), it is the eighth installment in the God of War series, the eighth chronologically, and the sequel to 2010’s God of War III. Unlike previous games, which were loosely based on Greek mythology, this installment is rooted in Norse mythology, with the majority of it set in ancient Norway in the realm of Midgard. For the first time in the series, there are two protagonists: Kratos, the former Greek God of War who remains the only playable character, and his young son Atreus. Following the death of Kratos’ second wife and Atreus’ mother, they journey to fulfill her request that her ashes be spread at the highest peak of the nine realms. Kratos keeps his troubled past a secret from Atreus, who is unaware of his divine nature. Along their journey, they encounter monsters and gods of the Norse world.
Described by creative director Cory Barlog as a reimagining of the franchise, a major gameplay change is that Kratos makes prominent use of a magical battle ax instead of his signature double-chained blades. God of War also uses an over-the-shoulder free camera, with the game in one shot, as opposed to the fixed cinematic camera of the previous entries. It was the first 3D AAA game to use a one-shot camera. The game also includes role-playing video game elements, and Kratos’ son Atreus provides assistance in combat. The majority of the original game’s development team worked on the God of War and designed it to be accessible and grounded. A separate short text-based game, A Call from the Wilds, was released in February 2018 and follows Atreus on his first adventure.
God of War was awarded Game of the Year by numerous media outlets and award shows. The game performed well commercially, selling over five million copies within a month of its release and over 10 million by May 2019, making it one of the best-selling PlayStation 4 games as well as the best-selling game in the series. A novelization was released in August 2018, followed by a prequel comic series published from November 2018 to February 2019.
4 - Ghost of Tsushima
Ghost of Tsushima is an action-adventure game developed by Sucker Punch Productions and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment for PlayStation 4. Featuring an open world for players to explore, it revolves around Jin Sakai, one of the last samurai on Tsushima Island during the first Mongol invasion of Japan.
The game was released on July 17, 2020. Ghost of Tsushima received praise for its visuals and combat but was criticized for its open-world activities.
The pitch for Ghost of Tsushima makes it sound like an Assassin’s Creed game. It’s an open-world action/stealth game with a story based on real-world history. You take control of Jin Sakai: a samurai who fights against the Mongols during their 13th-century invasion of Japan. Where Ghost of Tsushima distinguishes itself from similar open-world adventures, though, is in its incredible sword fighting. The combat in the game is simply superlative, with lots of techniques to employ, gadgets to use and strategies to learn.
Admittedly, the game can drag a bit toward the middle, as it leans hard into familiar sandbox tropes: collecting doodads, solving mild platforming puzzles, riding from place to place on a horse, and so forth. But even though the game is broad, it’s still admirably deep, with plenty of ways to customize your character. It’s also got a thoroughly decent story about honor, duty, and sacrifice — all fitting themes for a samurai narrative.
3 - Dreams
Dreams is a game creation system developed by Media Molecule and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment for the PlayStation 4, which released on 14 February 2020. It is pre-loaded with a game developed, in Dreams, by Media Molecule, with access to other games and content created by the players.
Players can create user-generated content in the form of fully-fledged games, mechanics, assets, sculptures, music, and art, which can be shared or remixed to be used in others’ creations.
The game’s rich editing tools are complemented by handy tutorials, whether you’re looking to make a simple platformer or a deep multiplayer role-playing game. And if you’d rather just play, Dreams serves up a nonstop buffet of fresh community experiences, many of which are curated by Media Molecule itself. As with any user-generated content, there’s more chaff than wheat, but the Media Molecule team does a good job highlighting the interesting stuff.
2 - Devil May Cry 5
Devil May Cry 5 is an action-adventure hack and slash video game developed and published by Capcom. It is the sixth installment in the franchise not counting mobile games and the fifth installment of the mainline Devil May Cry series. Capcom released it for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on 8 March 2019.
The game takes place five years after Devil May Cry 4 and follows a trio of warriors with demonic powers: the returning Dante, Nero, and a new protagonist named V as they attempt to stop the Demon King Urizen from destroying the human world. Across the game, the player can use these characters in different missions. Each of them has their own way of fighting and becoming stronger. As this happens, the mystery behind V is revealed along with his connection with Urizen.
The gameplay is particularly satisfying since as you rack up higher combos, the soundtrack will change and become more elaborate to reflect your success. Devil May Cry 5 is a gorgeous, rewarding experience, and well worth a look if you’ve ever had an affinity for the series. And if you’re a newcomer, you can catch up with earlier titles in the Devil May Cry: HD Collection, also on PS4.
1 - Death Stranding
Death Stranding is an action game developed by Kojima Productions. It is the first game from director Hideo Kojima and Kojima Productions after their split from Konami in 2015.
It was released by Sony Interactive Entertainment for the PlayStation 4 on November 8, 2019, and by 505 Games for Windows on July 14th, 2020.
The game is set in the United States following a cataclysmic event which caused destructive creatures to begin roaming the Earth. Players control Sam Porter Bridges (Norman Reedus), a courier tasked with delivering supplies to isolated colonies and reconnecting them via a wireless communications network. Alongside Reedus, the game features actors Mads Mikkelsen, Léa Seydoux, Margaret Qualley, Troy Baker, Tommie Earl Jenkins, and Lindsay Wagner, in addition to the likenesses of film directors Guillermo del Toro and Nicolas Winding Refn as supporting characters.
One of the interesting things about Death Stranding is that the gameplay is extremely understated. A lot of is simply traveling from one place to another, and creating infrastructure to make your trips easier. How well your deliveries go will influence how you can build up to Sam’s abilities, which can help you carry more items and build your reputation with non-player characters.
Death Stranding was nominated for a number of awards and received generally favorable reviews, with critics praising its voice acting, soundtrack, and visuals, but were polarized regarding its gameplay and story. It was nominated nine times at the Game Awards 2019, more than any other game that year. It would go on to win three, including Best Game Direction, Best Score/Music, and Best Performance (awarded to Mads Mikkelsen). In early 2020, numerous commentators noted that elements of the game resembled the COVID-19 pandemic.