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25. Nier: Automata
Nier: Automata delivers a ridiculously entertaining journey full of awesome ideas that is equal parts strange and beautiful. There are few games like Automata, which bounces between game genres and styles with aplomb. Taking place in a futuristic dystopia, this “action-RPG” offers a roller coaster of different gameplay opportunities, wrapped up in a fascinating story that has many multiple endings that encourage poking into every corner of this engrossing world. There are few games that attempt what Nier: Automata does, and it’s absolutely worth checking out this Yoko Taro-directed adventure.
24. Monster Hunter World
The long-running Monster Hunter series broke through with the 2018 hit Monster Hunter World, which not only impressed us with its rewarding gameplay but also with how accessible the game proved to be. For a series that can take some learning to get the hang of, Monster Hunter World produced a fully realized, expansive world.
Capcom released a massive expansion, Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, in 2019, adding loads of impressive monsters, quality-of-life improvements, and a new 40-hour campaign.
23. Apex Legends
Amid the rise of the battle royale genre, Apex Legends manages to stand out, even as a later addition to the fray. Set in the universe of Respawn's Titanfall series, Apex utilizes similar gameplay mechanics which give it a unique edge over other battle royale games. In addition to its faster pace, Apex incorporates the use of specific "Legends" who all have different skills and abilities that create the need for teams to work together and synergize between the different characters. Similar to how Overwatch operates, the roster of different heroes allows players to constantly change their playstyles in order to secure the win. With constant updates and new limited-time game modes being switched in and out, Apex Legends is a high-octane game that constantly leaves you wanting to go for "just one more match.”
22. Yakuza 0
Yakuza 0 is the high bar for SEGA's long-running open-world series, packed with an extraordinary amount of things to do and centered around a genuinely compelling crime story.
Since it’s a prequel, it’s also unburdened by the series’ increasingly intricate backstory and thus supremely approachable for newcomers. While its melee combat may lag slightly behind modern genre standards, Yakuza 0 still hits far more than it misses and is a big, bold and bruising tour through the Japanese underworld.
The series' latest entry, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, was released on PS4 in November.
21. Tetris Effect
How do you make Tetris, one of the best-selling and arguably perfect games, even better? You add in dazzling light shows, music that reacts to your moves, and one of the most blissfully zen gaming experiences of the generation. Tetris Effect, even without its PSVR component, is a transcendent experience, making a stalwart of the video gaming medium fresh.
Its Journey mode includes a couple dozen stages of memorable music, which melds to the blocks you move and place, with backgrounds that, quite literally, take you on a journey from the ocean depths to jungle and desert terrain to the reaches of space. There’s something almost spiritual to the experience, which doesn’t do anything to majorly twist the Tetris formula, but enhances it in a memorably powerful way.
he Tetris Effect: Connected multiplayer expansion will be released on PS4 in summer 2021 as a free update for Tetris Effect owners.
Dreams is unlike anything else: an ambitious project that has been expertly brought to life by Media Molecule, and an audacious experiment in game design that gives you endless ways to enjoy your time with it. An incredible creative suite made up of tools that allow for and encourage ultimate expression, all inside of your PS4. The vast range of experiences on offer via Dream Surfing means that no two sessions playing it are ever the same, offering fresh ways to have fun every time you start it up and see what community creations have popped up while you’ve been away. Whether you just want to create, purely play, or get involved in a bit of everything, Dreams offers it all to you.
19. Final Fantasy 7 Remake
After a long wait, the 2020 remake of Final Fantasy 7 revitalizes one of the most beloved JRPGs of all time in a (mostly) successful and engaging way. This new version of Midgard probably isn't just how your brain remembers it looking – it's much better, with a stunning, detailed, and immersive exploration of the steampunk city.
Since part one of 'Remake' (subsequent releases will cover the rest of the original story) takes place entirely within Midgard, Square Enix is able to really spend time with the city's ensemble cast, giving them more nuance and screentime to round out the adventure. And that's on top of its stellar combat system, a marriage of real-time and more tactical, turn-based systems to create something that's wholly unique and a joy to master. Part 2 can't come soon enough.
Overwatch is a brilliant multiplayer shooter brimming with Blizzard’s charm and detail, and it’s one that Blizzard has impressively continued to support with new heroes and updates since its launch in 2016. Overwatch earned Game of the Year from IGN in its launch year, sweeping the IGN offices with multiplayer matches after work and at lunches (and sometimes during the workday) that have continued in the months and years since.
Blizzard’s rock-solid gameplay allows players in whatever role they play on a team to matter. And Blizzard’s impressive attention to detail has created a rich world of lore that permeates the experience, allowing those who just want a fun multiplayer experience to enjoy the action but offering those who want something more a wealth of character and location information to delve into.
Overwatch 2 is currently in the works at Blizzard. The sequel will add new maps, new heroes, and new ways to play, including a full-fledged story mode.
17. Ratchet & Clank
The iconic PlayStation franchise Ratchet and Clank only got better on PS4 with a beautiful, funny update of the duo’s first adventure. More a remix of the original PS2 game than a straight remaster, there is a gorgeous level of detail to the lombax and robot’s adventure, which also makes some noted story improvements.
The titular duo’s initial meeting and budding friendship feels more fully formed and smartly written, while the series’ signature humor is in full force throughout. Veldin, Rilgar, and other worlds are beautiful, Pixar-like environments with plenty to explore, and modernizations made to the gameplay make the adventure as fresh as ever. And of course, Insomniac’s signature knack for wacky weapons is on full display in HD, from Mr. Zurkon to the Groovitron. Insomniac has obviously put its recent focus on VR and Spider-Man, but this latest iteration proves Ratchet and Clank has plenty of life left in it.
The duo's next adventure, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, is coming exclusively to PS5 in the first half of 2021.
16. What Remains of Edith Finch
One of the most heart-wrenching and visually dynamic adventure games of the generation, What Remains of Edith Finch is a must-play. While a game about recounting the death of each of Edith’s family members by exploring their bedrooms (turned memorial shrines) may sound like a bummer, the creative ways each memory gets explored keeps you entertained while the mystery of how this person died creates eerie suspense that will entice you to keep going. Each remembrance transports you to their stories and subsequent deaths, with moments ranging from playing on swingsets to, quite literally, bouncing between comic book panels. Striking, stylish, and hauntingly beautiful, What Remains of Edith Finch is one of the best experiences to be had on PS4.
15. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
Uncharted 4 is Uncharted all grown up; an examination of what happens when Nathan Drake’s Indiana-Jones-style antics come face to face with his adult responsibilities. It manages to reckon with this and then some, juggling delicate relationship dynamics with ridiculously fun action sequences and breathtaking vistas ripe for exploring and pillaging. Though it gets a little bogged down by an overly long final act, Uncharted 4 is still one of the best action-adventure games of all time, and one of the best PlayStation 4
14. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is without question the most ambitious entry in the Metal Gear series. So ambitious, in fact, that it’s something of an unfinished masterpiece. While a lot of hardcore fans of the series were disappointed by the game’s scattered story, it’s hard to deny that the moment-to-moment gameplay is absolutely phenomenal. On top of rock-solid movement and a huge, sometimes literal, sandbox to explore, The Phantom Pain gives players a huge arsenal of weapons, vehicles, gadgets, and AI companions to approach missions creatively. As always, stealthy tactical gameplay is rewarded heavily, but if a mission goes sideways (or if you’re feeling squirrelly) the game doesn’t punish you too hard for getting get loud and messy. Even if you’ve never played another Metal Gear game, this is a hell of an experience. If the plot leaves you with a big question mark over your head, don’t feel left out. That’s part of the fun.
13. Resident Evil 2
Resident Evil fans were begging for a remake of the much-beloved Resident Evil 2 for over two decades. After the original RE1 received its stellar GameCube REmake all the way back in 2002, fans waited, and waited… and waited. When it eventually came, it was everything they dreamed of and more. The Resident Evil 7's RE Engine was reworked into a third-person tour de force, showcasing intensely realistic gore with blood dripping from mangled zombies. Mr. X returned as a force to be reckoned with, its shooting mechanics were pitch-perfect, and terror was palpable throughout.
12. Ghost of Tsushima
Sucker Punch's latest adventure is dense with moving stories and striking visuals that make exploring its expansive take on 13th century japan a joy. Its cast – across the English and Japanese languages – does an excellent job bringing Ghost's complex tale of honor and loss to life, both in its 30+ hour main campaign and all the side quests that eloquently mirror thematic aspects of your main journey.
While the stealth may be simple (and enemy AI less than stellar), combat is spectacular – a simple but nuanced exploration of Japanese swordplay that is still fun right up to your very last duel. Add all of this on top of one of the best (and most addictive) photo modes we've seen, and Ghost of Tsushima more than makes up for its late addition to the PS4's library by being one of its best games.
Ghost of Tsushima won IGN’s Best Video Game Art Design of 2020 award.
11. Red Dead Redemption 2
Both a stunning technical achievement and a gold standard for video game storytelling in an open-world setting, Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of the greatest games Rockstar Games has ever made, and one of the greatest games ever, period. Red Dead Redemption 2’s world is a sprawling and stunning recreation of the wild west, packed so full of detail and activity it’s almost daunting; getting from A to B is virtually impossible without going off the beaten path to some other distraction. Said distractions are incredibly accomplished, too – side quests, mini-games, hunting, and gathering are all deeply considered parts of Red Dead 2 in their own right.
But of course, it’s Red Dead 2’s characters that stick in the memory most: Arthur Morgan, John Marsten, Sadie, Dutch, et. al. are vibrant, multi-faceted characters, their complex dynamics always shifting and changing, even if their trajectories are set in stone. Red Dead Redemption 2 is nothing short of a masterpiece.
10. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
While Nathan Drake established himself as a compelling lead over the course of the four core Uncharted games, 2017’s Uncharted: The Lost Legacy proved that the same was true for Drake's supporting cast.
Lost Legacy moved the spotlight to the unexpected duo of treasure hunter Chloe Frazer and mercenary Nadine Ross, and discovered there is a verve and chemistry in the cast even without Nate. Not only does Lost Legacy open the door for any number of spinoffs that focus on other characters in the Uncharted universe, it features some of the best gameplay sequences the series has to offer.
An exceptional third-person shooter with a trippy supernatural twist, Control is not only our Game of the Year for 2019 but stands out as one of the most unique adventures of the generation. The seasoned team at Remedy Entertainment brought their years of experience to bear on one of the coolest ability/weapon sets in recent memory, which made for some of the most satisfying and frenetic telekinetic combat ever put to pixels. On top of its excellent super-powered gunplay, Control features some truly inspired environmental design, its Oldest House a shape-shifting labyrinth-like something from a fever dream shared by Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch. Throughout its monster-filled halls, you'll undertake memorable side quests, hunt for upgrades to your abilities and gear, and hunt down a litany of collectibles that all help flesh out the eerie bureaucracy that's at the center of Control's impossibly unique experience.
8. Marvel's Spider-Man
Marvel’s Spider-Man is a masterclass in comic book joy, an expertly built world that perfectly encapsulates the child-like wonder of looking up at the looming, inspiring skylines of New York City and the superhero-like triumph of effortlessly scaling the tallest buildings in the Big Apple. It’s a game about Spider-Man made by people who deeply, truly, genuinely adore Spider-Man, from his costumes to his friends, foes, and family.
The simple act of soaring and flipping through the city is so satisfying and addictive that you’ll likely want to explore every corner of it and nab every collectible before even finishing the story. Once you do decide to settle down and move the narrative forward, you’ll find a heartwarming story of love and loss, awkward adolescence, and tons and tons of ass kicking. Along the way, you’ll unlock iconic Spider-Man suits, take down nefarious villains in gigantic, explosive setpieces, and bask in the realization that the modern comic book movie renaissance that we’re all so gleefully enjoying has finally, finally made its way back to video games.
7. Horizon Zero Dawn
Horizon: Zero Dawn is one of the most beautiful open-world games ever crafted. Grass sways in the wind beneath blooming sunrises while towering cities formed from the ashes of a once prosperous society loom in the distance. And, most importantly, giant, awe-inspiring mechanical dinosaurs outfitted with a terrifying array of pseudo-natural weaponry roam the land, roaring, gnashing, and trampling their prey. When iconic PlayStation developer Guerrilla Games revealed they were pivoting away from the Killzone franchise to make an open world robot dinosaur hunting game starring a warrior redhead outfitted like a space cake dealer at Burning Man, the world was cautiously optimistic.
The end result, thankfully, was a vast, wondrous, and unique open-world action game with just the right amount of RPG elements that come together to create a brilliant first entry into what we hope will become a pillar franchise for PlayStation Studios. Taking down a gigantic boss with an active strategy of well-placed melee strikes and projectiles is one of the most thrilling experiences on PlayStation 4, and looting the shrapnel of a downed robot for much-needed upgrade parts afterwards is equally satisfying. Horizon takes some of the best elements of existing open world games and weaves them together to make something wholly original, wonderfully refreshing and wildly fun.
Aloy will return in Horizon Forbidden West for a journey across the western United States. The sequel will be released on PS5 and PS4 in the second half of 2021.
6. Grand Theft Auto 5 / GTA Online
Rockstar’s latest and greatest open-world felony simulator made its debut at the tail end of the last console generation, handily breaking records as the fastest-selling entertainment product in history, so it’s no surprise that it got ported to current-gen. What is surprising, perhaps, is just how much of an upgrade it got in the process. Uprezzed textures, totally overhauled lighting effects and a fully-functional first-person option were just some of the litany of updates and tweaks to the series’ biggest and best game yet.
Whether you’re after a sprawling single-player campaign that provides a ruthless skewering of 21st century American life, or a multiplayer component with years of big free updates and an extremely active community, or just a sandbox where you can do crimes either alone or with friends, Grand Theft Auto V and GTA Online really does offer something for everyone. Seriously, is there any other game where you can play the stock market, jump in a Mad Max death card and then trip on peyote so hard you turn into a bird?
GTA V's legacy will continue on PS5 in the second half of 2021. This latest version of Rockstar's masterpiece "will feature a range of technical improvements, visual upgrades and performance enhancements to take full advantage of the latest hardware, making the game more beautiful and more responsive than ever."
5. Persona 5 Royal
A massive, gorgeous JRPG, Persona 5 set a high bar for the genre, and 2020’s Persona 5 Royal re-release pushes that bar even higher. An engrossing adventure brimming with style and flair, Persona 5 sees you navigating school life by day and descending into the corrupted minds of Tokyo’s more villainous citizens by night in order to coerce them away from their corrupt endeavors.
The students who make up Persona 5’s ensemble cast leave an indelible mark as they are introduced and further become embroiled in the exploits of the Phantom Thieves. Persona 5 does a great job of balancing the two facets of its gameplay, letting players really dive into the social connections in the real world and allowing those to influence the dungeon exploration and turn-based action of its massive and varied mind palaces. Coupled with a continually engaging combat system, a soundtrack full of earworms, its twisty, wild story, and plenty of additional content on top of the base game, Persona 5 Royal delivers one of the deepest JRPGs of the generation, if not of all time.
4. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
CD Projekt Red's sprawling fantasy epic has become one of the most noteworthy games of all time, one that set a new standard for open-world RPGs. With a grim-yet-gorgeous world that stretches across the better part of an entire continent, every corner, cave, swamp or city street of The Witcher 3 has something to discover.
It's 60+ hour main story is a great adventure, full of mystery and intrigue that draws from the deep lore of author Andrzej Sapkowski's books, but its Geralt's expertly-crafted side stories, monster hunts and off-beat adventures that really make The Witcher 3 and its two huge expansions truly exceptional. It's a game where you can easily get lost for hundreds of hours and still not see everything it has to offer – but every one of those hours will be absolutely worth it.
A "visually and technically enhanced" version of The Witcher 3 is coming to PS5 (as well as PC and Xbox Series X) in 2021. It'll be released as a free update for existing owners.
Bloodborne is a brutally difficult, immensely terrifying action horror game that will immediately kick your ass. You’ll spawn, die, and repeat until you throw your controller, swear at your television, and vow to walk away forever. Once outside the dim confines of Bloodborne’s dense, evil, snarling network of contorted beasts, wretched howls, and stark-raving murderous lunatics, you’ll enjoy a quiet, cheerful walk amidst the sunshine in the real world, free from Bloodborne’s punishing ways.
But a voice in your head will begin to ring and linger, calling you back, urging you to return, push forward, and conquer. And when you do, you’ll find yourself improved and fueled, patient and energized, ready to tackle it’s gristled, hairy bosses, rotting cathedrals, and wet, corrupt catacombs. Then you’ll die again, but this time you’ll be stronger, wiser, and older and prepared for the foulest of beasts to leap from the shadows and tear you apart all over again. Bloodborne is a horrible, vile world where every reward brings risks and fear is palpable. And while its challenges feel insurmountable and out of reach, your skill and determination will eventually prevail and you’ll press forward through the night. Death is frequent. Frustration is certain. But ultimately, victory is possible, and when achieved, becomes one of the greatest feelings in the world.
2. The Last of Us Part 2
The follow-up to 2013's The Last of Us is the pinnacle of Naughty Dog's storytelling ambitions during the life of the PS3 and PS4. Part 2's ambitious, uncompromising story delivers at nearly every unexpected turn, with character arcs that are poignant, risky, and devastating. Naughty Dog asks you, the player, to do your best to reckon with morally ambiguity in ways that have evoked some of the strongest across the board reactions that we’ve seen from any game, ever.
It's also perhaps Naughty Dog's most mechanically complex game to date, and its stealth and action systems delivers moment after moment that feel like they should be scripted but are instead entirely dynamic. It may be one of the more divisive games of the generation, but it’s also one of the best; an absolute haymaker of a game we still can't stop thinking about.
The Last of Us Part 2 was crowned IGN's Best PlayStation Exclusive of 2020 and People’s Choice for Game of the Year. It earned six additional end-of-year awards, including Best Action-Adventure Game, Best Video Game Story, and Noteworthy Advancement in Accessibility.
1. God of War
2018’s God of War shows an obvious level of care that went into crafting its world, characters, and gameplay, evolving a longstanding PlayStation franchise into a testament to the power of storytelling in games and making it our choice for the best PlayStation 4 game, period. Every aspect of God of War feels intentional, interconnecting with every other major aspect of the game, making exploring every inch of its world a rewarding opportunity. Everything from the main story to side missions and seemingly innocuous collectibles factor into your understanding of this new Aesir-inspired world and its major players.
It somehow never makes any of that feel like a dry history lesson, though, and God of War is constantly making smart, economical use of storytelling. It’s also just such a fun experience, with the new Leviathan axe being one of the most satisfying game weapons we’ve used since we originally picked up the Blades of Chaos back in 2005. Bundled with smart progression, fascinating environments, and an impactful story that offers an insightful exploration of one of gaming’s most notorious antiheroes, God of War is undoubtedly one of the best experiences of the generation as a whole, and a shining example of what the PlayStation 4 has to offer.
Kratos and Atreus' journey will continue in 2021 with God of War: Ragnarok on PS5.
Upcoming PS4 Games
There are dozens of big games coming to PS4 in 2021 — even with PS5 now available, most first- and third-party PlayStation developers will continue to support the previous generation throughout the new year.
The fun begins on January 20 with Hitman 3, IO Interactive's conclusion to its World of Assassination trilogy, and it looks like a banger based on our final preview. The following month, Ubisoft will release its open-world extreme sports game, Riders Republic, on February 25. Q1 also features It Takes Two, the next co-op adventure from Hazelight Studios (A Way Out), on March 26.
People Can Fly, the studio behind Bulletstorm, kicks off Q2 with Outriders on April 1. Mass Effect Legendary Edition and LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga are also expected this spring. Far Cry 6, meanwhile, may be released in Q2, though Ubisoft hasn't confirmed its leaked May release date.
On the first-party front, Sony will release Horizon Forbidden West for both PS4 and PS5 in the second half of the year.
Other big PS4 games scheduled for the back half of 2021 include a new Middle-earth adventure in The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, WB’s next DC Comics game Gotham Knights, an official Evil Dead game based on the iconic horror franchise, and the wizarding world RPG Hogwarts Legacy.
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