While it’s hard to believe we’re nearing the PlayStation 5’s one year anniversary, it’s somehow even harder to believe it’s still next to impossible to find one in stores. If you’re among the many still queuing up in digital lines, checking Amazon weekly, and calling GameStop way too often, we understand your suffering and are here to reassure you that you’re not alone. We’re also here to point out a lovely silver lining: with all the great games already on the PlayStation 4, chances are you don’t yet need that PS5 to experience one of the many compelling stories exclusive to PlayStation.
While just about all of the games on this list are your big name, AAA “blockbusters,” it doesn’t stop them from being quintessential PlayStation titles that kind of earned their fantastic reputations. So, even if ten folks have already told you, “you’ve just gotta play (insert game here),” here’s hoping this list puts on just a biiiit more pressure and finally convinces you to give one of these great games you haven’t played a shot.
1. The Last of Us Remastered
While technically a PlayStation 3 title, The Last of Us came so late in the console’s life cycle it basically feels like a PlayStation 4 title, and all the touch-ups in the remastered edition, as well as the addition of the Left Behind DLC, make this version the definitive way to experience Joel and Ellie’s first story. So, why should you play it? Well, when it comes to what game is considered the quintessential, prestige narrative game exclusive to Sony — of which there are now oh-so many — The Last of Us is perhaps the most celebrated entry, and for good reason. With incredible performances, a heartbreaking story, and a criminally underrated multiplayer mode, this game deserves the heaps of praise it gets. Oh, and bonus: with the HBO television show based on the game just around the corner, there’s never been a better time to play.
2. God Of War
While the original God of War series was, uh, a bit bruitish, 2018’s God of War succeeded in the difficult task of redefining the franchise for a modern audience while retaining its roots. While the game is still combat-driven, packed with mythos, and doesn’t shy away from Kratos’ frequent dismemberment of anyone who stands in his way, this God of War tells a more emotional story and grounds the brooding, bulky deity. With the addition of a new pantheon, new world, colorful cast of characters, and the frankly incredible feeling Leviathan axe, this first entry in Kratos’ new saga creates a world that feels vibrant and mythical to an extent never before seen in the series.
3. Horizon Zero Dawn
While fans weren’t sure what to make of Killzone developer Guerrilla Games’ pivot away from the first-person shooter genre when they first saw footage of Horizon Zero Dawn, we know now that the team’s drastic departure definitely paid off. When Horizon Zero Dawn hit shelves in 2017, players were immediately taken aback by how incredibly fun and fluid the action role-playing game was, as well as by the lush and beautiful post-apocalyptic world of machines Guerrilla created. On top of earning heaps of praise from both fans and critics, the game’s success ultimately led to some other pretty wild things happening for the team as well. I mean, for one thing, Sony was so impressed by what the studio accomplished, co-founder and managing director Hermen Hulst was offered the position of PlayStation’s head of Worldwide Studios after the legendary Shuhei Yoshida stepped down back in 2019. Furthermore, when developer Hideo Kojima was debating what engine he would use to create Death Stranding, he ultimately settled on Horizon Zero Dawn‘s Decima Engine after being so impressed by how phenomenal the game looked. Suffice to say, people really like this game. And with its sequel coming in just a few months, now is a great time to play it.
4. Marvel’s Spider-Man
It’s been an amazing decade to be a Spider-Man fan and Marvel’s Spider-Man for PlayStation 4 is one of the many reasons why. While there have been quite a few Spidey games over the years, Insomniac Games used their studio’s great power with great responsibility and managed to create what is largely considered the definitive one. Never before has swinging past the skyscrapers of New York City felt so hair-raising, and the Arkham series-esque combat system feels perfectly at home in the comic book-inspired title. Combine that with an emotional story that’s sure to appeal to old web-heads, new fans, and folks of all ages, and you’ve got a universally beloved game centered around one of the world’s most adored arachnids. If not the only adored arachnid.
Alright, it’s officially October which means it’s time to bust out a spooky game, and this year I’m asking you to try out Bloodborne. Made by the same team behind the infamous Souls games and Sekiro, Bloodborne is arguably the greatest entry-point for folks who’ve always wanted to try one of the former out but are worried about their notorious difficulty. While still grim and grueling, it’s markedly easier to get the hang of than the developer’s other titles and is so aesthetically rewarding it will motivate you to power through even the most grating of fights. Furthermore, I simply cannot praise enough the atmosphere created in Bloodborne and the design behind the desolate city of Yarnham, which is every bit as tense and terrifying and it is intricate and beautiful. It is an unforgettable game, and one worthy of the blood, sweat, and tears you’ll put into it.
6. Persona 5 Royal
Back when the original PlayStation launched in North America in 1995, it quickly became the best way for American audiences to discover and play all the countless Japanese role-playing games never before available to them. Since then, the PlayStation family has remained the definitive console for JRPGs, making it only suiting that one of the highest-rated JRPGs from the last generation is a PlayStation 4 exclusive. Persona 5 Royal has just about everything fans of the genre could possible want and then some — charming characters, breathtaking art and music direction, an enjoyable turn-based battle system, time management elements, social links, and of course, a story equal parts tense and fun as hell. It’s the type of game that has something for everyone, and I can guarantee you’ll never play anything quite like it.
7. Ghost of Tsushima
If the idea of playing an extremely good Assassin’s Creed game set in Feudal Japan sounds like a fun time to you, I’d definitely recommend picking up Ghost of Tsushima. While I should point out it’s not actually an Assassin’s Creed game — or even a Ubisoft title, for that matter — it does have the same feel to it, complete with a vast map filled with things to do and jaw-dropping sights. Furthermore, the game gives you quite a bit of liberty in regards to how you explore this land, allowing you choose where you go, whom you help, and if you will ultimately slink in the shadows like a ruthless assassin or meet your foes head-on like a true samurai warrior. With a seemingly endless skill tree, a photo mode you’ll spend literal hours in, and incredible story focused on family, community, honor, and identity, this one (or its shiny new director’s cut) is a must-play.
8. The Last of Us Part II
I’ll be honest, I can’t even imagine how stressful it must have been for Naughty Dog to work on the sequel to the game that ultimately became Sony’s crown jewel. When “award-winning” and “perfect” are what you’re forced to live up to, how do you come up with an entirely new and challenging story that doesn’t fall flat and does justice to what came before it? Turns out, you make The Last of Us Part II. While the game is undoubtedly controversial and received more mixed reactions than the first entry in the series, it’s still one of the system’s highest-rated games and is largely considered a masterclass in storytelling that not only lives up to the first game but expands upon its story in unexpected and a truly meaningful way. Grim, grisly, and honestly gut-wrenching, this one isn’t for the faint of heart, but does have a whole lot of it.
9. Final Fantasy VII Remake
And speaking of the unimaginable stress of following up a perfect game, throw on a twenty-something year legacy and now we’re looking at what Square was tackling with Final Fantasy 7 Remake. When Final Fantasy VII was released back in 1997, it quickly became known as one of the greatest games of all time (as well as my personal favorite of all time but, you know, neither here nor there). When fans heard they were remaking the game, it was met with as much excitement as it was skepticism. When news later came out that the remake would only be covering the original game’s first seven hours — while also adding about 20 hours of new content — excitement and skepticism turned into awe and bewilderment. However, Final Fantasy 7 Remake kind of absolutely nailed it, adding better characterization to fan favorites and injecting so much love and care into the game, old fans got more than a bit misty-eyed. In addition, the game managed to somehow be incredibly accessible to newcomers to the series, while also appeasing fans, while also treading entirely new ground in a way that honored the game that came before it. When it comes to remakes, this is kinda how you do it.
10. Uncharted: Lost Legacy
Following the finale of Nate Drake’s four-part adventure, Naughty Dog made the bold call to continue the story in a fairly unexpected way: a spin-0ff game featuring two of the series’ side characters. Even more unexpected, it completely worked and might even be the title with the most heart in the entire Uncharted series. In Lost Legacy, both Chloe and fresher-face Nadine are given far more characterization and charm than they are ever allowed in the main series and ultimately become two people we are completely invested in. What’s even better is this game is actually a fantastic entry point to the series, as you don’t have to know much to enjoy it and it packs all the same action-packed punches the rest of the Uncharted series does in a short n’ sweet package.