It’s been almost a year since we last updated our comprehensive rankings of the best games you can play on the PlayStation 4. A lot has happened in that time, both in the world of games, and the larger, realer world in which we play them. We’re not going to get into the latter here (we’re not the politics section! Also, flip through a newspaper some time, why don’t you? Then you won’t have to beg videogame editors for the hard news about the world.). It’s entirely within our remit to discuss all those games, though, so let’s get shakin’.
The PS4 turns five in 2018, which is almost unbelievable. In any console cycle before the previous one we’d already be fixating on the PlayStation 5, which would only be a few months away at this point. But we’re now living in a world where videogame companies crank out slightly updated reiterations of their current consoles every couple of years instead of waiting for a whole new system. My PlayStation 4 Plus and Xbox One X are happily plugged into my absurdly huge Ultra 4K TV with HDR, while the standard models I got back in the fall of 2013 are now propping up stacks of books in a closet somewhere. There’s no reason to expect a new numbered PlayStationF any time soon. The PS4 is what we’ll be sticking to for years still, and if you’re not sure what to play, just check out this list.
These aren’t the best games you can only play on a PlayStation 4, although there are many exclusives on this list. This is an all-encompassing look at the system’s entire game library. These are the games you need to play, at some point, if you own a PlayStation 4.
30. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin’s Creed IV is delightfully earnest. It takes itself very seriously without ever devolving into tired grimness or cynicism. At its best it captures the tone of the Flynn-de Havilland classic Captain Blood and other old Hollywood swashbucklers, presenting light-hearted adventure without any winking irony. It also gets the most out of its open world design by dropping us in an enthralling real-world setting with a generous freedom of motion. It’s one of the few open world games where the buildings that make up that world actually seem to matter, even if you still mostly can’t go inside them.—Garrett Martin
[This is] the essence of Transistor: In the face of power, unique human qualities become valuable, hand-picked functions that operate in the service of an agenda. To a degree, we all lose our voice. In the wreckage of a fallen world, the only choice left to make is whose side we’re on, and what we’re willing to give up for the sake of the cause.—Richard Clark
28. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
The Lost Legacy isn’t the best Uncharted since Uncharted 2 (and the second best overall) just because it replaces the increasingly annoying Nathan Drake with two strong women of color who don’t maintain a constant stream of sitcom-level chatter. That certainly doesn’t hurt, though. The game takes its subtitle seriously. Yeah, it’s another would-be action film full of bullets and improbable parkour, but it has greater depth because it explores the lives of its co-leads, Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross, and shows how they’re both grappling with the legacies of their fathers and the decisions of their youth. By shifting the focus to these two characters the Uncharted series has struck a narrative vein richer than anything it’s explored in the past.—Garrett Martin
Resogun could have existed at any point in the last 30 years. It feels like a classic old arcade game, a dual-joystick version of Defender, but upgraded with modern day graphics and sound. It’s an exciting, tension-filled shooter with multiple goals that often seem to work at cross-purposes. Beyond surviving each wave of each level, you have to save ten humans from death or abduction while increasing your score multiplier and driving up your points total as high as possible. That means precise dodging, quick reaction times to rescue humans, and canny juggling of the game’s three special power-ups, bombs, overdriven weapons and a lightning-fast blitz maneuver. And it all feels like you’re in a rave, with pulsing lights and overpowering dance music both distracting you and spurring you on. Resogun was the best launch game on the PlayStation 4, and it still remains one of the best, almost four years later.—Garrett Martin
26. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
The Phantom Pain might be the only open-world game I’ve ever played where I can say I feel like I wasn’t wasting my time on some activity that was dull or poorly designed. Even my favorite games in the genre all have at least one or two clunky activities that they force you to do over and over again for the sake of progression, tainting the experience. However, nothing feels like a chore in The Phantom Pain. It’;s a game made by people who know the pieces of its construction intimately and how those pieces should connect to one another, who understand that making the small moments matter is just as important as the big picture.—Javy Gwaltney
25. Resident Evil 7
It’s almost too on the nose, really. Did Capcom know what horrors we would all face, this coming year? Because, now, more than ever, we feel the pressure to escape this horrifying house—to tear the boards from the windows and let the sunlight stream in, and to show the world the horrors hiding inside. We don’t have government-funded special forces to help us; their funding probably got cut, years ago. We’re just going to have to escape this plantation on our own … and, on our way out the door, burn it all to the ground. Salt the earth, and never look back.—Maddy Myers
24. Wolfenstein: The New Order
I don’t get into arguments often. I’m mostly content to let people shout whatever they want no matter how silly it is or how much I disagree with it. Except when it comes to Wolfenstein: The New Order, a game I’m downright belligerent and obnoxious about. I will yell at you if you don’t like it. I will drown you in a hundred copies of the game until you swear your allegiance to it. It’s the best shooter since Half-Life 2 and I’ll take on anyone who says differently. The game’s combination of powerful gunplay and a thematically rich narrative about a man dragging himself into the arena for one last fight against fate is equal parts exhilaration and tragedy. An absolute must-play for anyone who likes games that involve shootin’ dudes.—Javy Gwaltney
23. Yakuza 0
Yakuza 0’s overarching faithfulness to its era and place in history provides fascinating insight into the time, and its over-the-top cutscenes and climactic fights quickly endeared me to the series. A hefty batch of side-games and engaging, well-paced combat roped me in and sold me on my first ever Yakuza experience, but the vibrancy of its semi-fictional Japan will be what I remember most. Yakuza 0 doubles-down on the series’ signature combination of hyperbolic action and self-aware comedy, while providing an honest window into a major period in recent Japanese history, and does so flawlessly.—Eric Van Allen
Like Limbo before it, Inside is a dark puzzle game set in a deadly and oppressive world. The boy you control will die suddenly and frequently in violently graphic ways, and the world he explores is almost entirely cast in shadow. Inside is a bit more defined than Limbo, though, replacing that game’s more nature-based fears with Orwellian overtones and a dystopia run by man, and then making your own character complicit in the same kind of mind control that’s ruined his town.—Garrett Martin
Oxenfree captures the vicissitudes of friendship, especially the heightened passions of teenage friendship. No matter how believable these characters and their relationships can be, though, you might find yourself wanting to get away from them altogether, especially early in the game. Even Alex, the character you control, can occasionally rankle with her petty reactions and annoying humor. In that way, Oxenfree recreates that sense of self-mortification that should be most acute during your teenaged years, and how we’re not always capable of saying what we want to say.—Garrett Martin