It's hard to believe it's already been two years since Sony launched its newest home console. The system has really begun to hit its stride in its second year, and its record-breaking sales pace continues to trend ahead of even the mighty PS2. Two years into its life-cycle, there's never been a better time to own a PlayStation 4 as the game library continues to grow with quality titles. To celebrate this momentous occasion, in an anniversary tradition we started a few years ago with our ten favorite Vita games, we here at Short Pause have decided to bring you — our faithful reader — our list of our ten favorite gaming experiences on the platform so far. We haven't played everything, but we've played a lot, and these are the ten games we've had the best time with. Let's get on with the list!
**Note: This list is in no particular order**
The Last of Us Remastered
Developer: Naughty Dog
Let me get this out of the way right now: The Last of Us Remastered is — unquestionably — the best game on the PlayStation 4. Honestly, gun to head, it's the best game available on any system. Period. The reason it's listed here as an honorable mention is because, at the end of the day, it's still a PS3 game first and foremost. It's the defining game on that platform, and the culmination of developer Naughty Dog's tremendous work on the system. The game's won an innumerable amount of awards and "Game of the Year" trophies, and we'd like to showcase some of the other experiences available on the PS4 here. That said, it goes without saying that if you have yet to experience this game, you are doing yourself a severe disservice as a gamer. It's a watershed title for the video game industry, and it's the defining mixture of story, performance, emotion, and gameplay we have in the medium today. This game will have a spot forever reserved at the top of this list.
Now, let's get on with the top ten!
1) inFAMOUS: Second Son
Developer: Sucker Punch
There was plenty of hype surrounding the release of Sucker Punch’s inFAMOUS: Second Son, and rightfully so. The inFAMOUS series was integral to the success of the PlayStation 3 last-gen, featuring an open world sandbox with comic book DNA running through its veins. Although series stalwart Cole McGrath isn’t our protagonist this time around, Delsin Rowe provides us with a more personable protagonist who adopts super powers which he must choose to use for good, or for evil. Highlighted by gorgeous visuals, an impressive recreation of Seattle, excellent combat and traversal, and an engaging story, inFAMOUS: Second Son is one of the best games to showcase the power of the PlayStation 4, and a worthy addition to the inFAMOUS franchise.
2) Fallout 4 (New Entry)
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
There have been some brilliant RPGs released on the PlayStation 4 since its launch in 2013. Games like Dragon Age: Inquisition, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Bloodborne and Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition are just a few of the games that will demand days, if not months, of your time to see them through to their completion. With that said, if you were to ask me which RPG I’d recommend above all others on the PlayStation 4? My answer is Fallout 4. While my choice may have a degree of bias behind it (I absolutely love the Fallout series), there’s no denying the incredible gaming experience Bethesda has built with Fallout 4. Fallout 3 was one of my top five games last gen, and Fallout 4 is well on its way to securing a top five spot for this gen. I’ve spent close to 25 hours making my way across the Wasteland, and it doesn’t appear Bethesda has lost their touch when it comes to crafting immersive worlds filled to the brim with unique — and at times disturbing — stories just waiting to be experienced. Instead of resting on their laurels, Bethesda has added a deep weapon and armor crafting system, in addition to a build-your-own-settlement mechanic, to a formula that wasn’t lacking any depth to begin with. If you have a PlayStation 4, you can’t go wrong with any of the other RPGs I mentioned above, but Fallout 4 is the one I’d recommend first and foremost to anyone.
It's telling that in a launch lineup that included stellar titles such as Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Need for Speed: Rivals, Killzone: Shadow Fall, and Battlefield 4, PlayStation Plus' first free PS4 game, Resogun, is the one that I just couldn't stop playing. In fact, outside of a limited run with Battlefield 4, I didn't have a chance to experience any of the other PS4 launch titles because I was too busy trying to save all of the humans in Resogun! Developer Housemarque made a name for themselves with PS3 twin-stick gems Super Stardust HD and Dead Nation (two personal favorites of mine), and they picked up right where they left off with their debut PS4 title. Featuring a new cylindrical playing field, Resogun offered an exciting new take on the twin-stick space shooter that Housemarque originally popularized with Super Stardust HD. Gorgeous, voxel-rich visuals, non-stop action, and a novel human rescuing mechanic mix together to offer an extremely addicting score-chasing experience that I still look forward to firing up one year after its initial launch.
4) The Swapper
Developer: Facepalm Games/Curve Studios
Thankfully, the silly notion of “Indie games aren’t really games” is dying down now that there are more AAA games releasing, but it was those very indie games that provided us with memorable gaming experiences during the PlayStation 4’s inaugural year. Combining the eerie sense of solitude found in Dead Space, with puzzling elements from Portal 2 and Stealth Inc., The Swapper creates the perfect atmosphere to complement the thought provoking puzzles that will challenge just about any fan of the genre. Despite the impressive gameplay premise and immersive presentation, it’s the narrative of The Swapper that will linger with you long after you've solved its mystery.
5) Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor
Developer: Monolith Productions
One part Batman: Arkham City, one part Assassin's Creed, one part Lord of the Rings, and all parts awesome, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor is one of the standout titles early in this new generation. Deftly mixing fluid combat, open world exploration, and high production values, Shadow of Mordor is a game third-person action/adventure fans should eat up in droves. Where the narrative fails, the unique Nemesis system — which adds a more strategic element to the game's moment-to-moment action — more than makes up for its shortcomings. Plotting how you plan to take over and control the orc army is a ton of fun, and a rewarding set of upgrades make the terrific combat even more satisfying. Oh, and Troy Baker kills it as lead character, Talion.
6) Grim Fandango Remastered (New Entry)
Developer: Double Fine Productions
For years, I'd been told Tim Schaffer and Double Fine were the masters of adventure games. Several friends have always spoken highly of titles like Grim Fandango and Day of the Tentacle, but many of those games seemed lost to time...until now! Grim Fandango Remastered was a passion project for Double Fine that finally saw a release on not only the PC, but the PlayStation 4 (and Vita!) as well. Very few games today are both as challenging and as touching as Manny's story in Grim Fandango. Once I had a chance to start it, I spent all week working my way through the game and its difficult puzzles — refusing to look online for any help. With a wonderful cast of characters and a swanky soundtrack, Grim Fandango's return was one that not only impressed me, but ignited an interest in giving other adventure games like Broken Age a chance. Simply put, Grim Fandango Remastered is a timeless classic that gamers who enjoy a good story — and don't mind busting out pen and paper to help tackle some of the game's more elaborate challenges — absolutely need to experience.
7) Rocket League (New Entry)
When I first booted up Rocket League, I wasn't sure what to expect. I'm not really a sports fan, so I didn't know if I would like a game that so closely resembles soccer. However, within minutes of playing my first match, there was a big smile on my face. Rocket League is a game that is easy to pick up and play, and it's incredibly fun. Nothing beats the thrill of nailing that perfect shot into the opposing goal, or getting an epic save to defend your own. From the tight controls and frantic gameplay, to the colorful graphics and pumping soundtrack, Rocket League definitely deserves to be mentioned among the best games on PS4.
8) Batman: Arkham Knight (New Entry)
Developer: Rocksteady Studios
Batman: Arkham Knight is a suitably epic finale to Rocksteady's grand Arkham storyline. A tense, psychologically arresting journey through the mind of the Dark Knight, Arkham Knight is a game that will challenge you as much mentally and emotionally as it does physically. Best-in-class vocal performances (especially from a certain surprise someone) propel the narrative heavy affair, and free-roaming around a spectacularly realized next-gen version of Gotham City is a Batman fan's dream-come-true. While the Batmobile has proved to be polarizing among some, there's no denying that its implementation here is the culmination of the "Be the Batman" vision that Rocksteady began all of those years ago with Batman: Arkham Asylum. Despite issues with the PC port, the game performs like a dream on the PS4, and the fantastic, visceral free-flow combat system has never felt better. It's a game I'll be returning to in the months ahead as there is always something else to do, and the quest for the game's true ending will keep even the best of detectives busy for some time. While it's unclear where the series goes from here, sans the guiding hand of Rocksteady, the question on the forefront of my mind as I look to the future is this:
Rocksteady, when are you going to take on Superman and make the Man of Steel game I've always wanted?!
9) Wolfenstein: The New Order
Developer: Machine Games
What happens when you take one of the 90’s most badass (and most iconic) video game protagonists and flesh him out to be more than just a brutal killing machine? Well, you get one of the most unexpected pleasures of 2014! BJ Blazkowicz returns in The New Order, and this time he’s almost as three-dimensional as the game itself. But don’t worry, you will still kill many, many Nazi’s in brutal Blazkowicz fashion. Developer Machine Games decided to forego adding multiplayer in favor of creating a more polished story, and that risk resulted in one of the best single-player experiences this year. The New Order’s lengthy campaign features an excellent story, emotional moments, and fleshed out and memorable characters. It proves that not every game needs multiplayer tacked on for the sake of it, and that BJ Blazkowicz can be more than just a brutal killing machine…he’s now a likeable brutal killing machine!
Despite all of the other games that have come along since its launch last year, Destiny is still the game that keeps me coming back again and again. And with the release of The Taken King, it's better than ever. With the most recent expansion, Bungie demonstrated that they are listening to fans by adding a more robust story, as well as exotic weapons that can be attained via quests rather than random drops. Also, there's a multitude of new story quests culminating in Destiny's best raid to date, King's Fall. If you haven't hopped on the Destiny train yet, there's no better time than now.
There you have it! The second edition of our Top Ten PlayStation 4 games is in the books! This list is becoming increasingly harder to narrow down, and we can only imagine how difficult next year's iteration will be. Do you agree with our list? Disagree? Did your favorite make the cut? Sound off in the comments below and join us in wishing the PlayStation 4 a very happy second birthday!
Here's to another great year in 2016!
2015 Update: In the second iteration of our list, newcomers Fallout 4, Rocket League, Grim Fandango Remastered, and Batman: Arkham Knight join the party, as Diablo III: Reaper of Souls - Ultimate Evil Edition, Velocity 2x, Outlast, and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn are out.
The Short Pause staff eats, breathes, and sleeps gaming. You should totally listen to their podcast, because it's kind of the best.