The 20 best PS4 games to play in 2021

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The PlayStation 4 generation is gradually approaching its end, but the good news is that means there’s now a massive library of PS4 games to choose. We’ve reworked our list here as new favourites have arrived (meaning mini-hits like Ground Zeroes and the gorgeous VR blaster Polybius have had to make way over time), but it truly is the breadth of the console’s back catalogue as much as the big, shiny exclusives that gives it its personality.

Plenty to argue about, then! But we also hope there’s something for everyone in the games we’ve eventually settled on. Here are Eurogamer’s picks for the best PS4 games you can play right now.

A State of Play looking at the year ahead in PlayStation

Bloodborne

A delicious nightmare of a game, Bloodborne sees FromSoft transpose its formula to a richly dark Lovecraftian world, full of horror and splendour in equal measure. It’s a close cousin of the Dark Souls series, but with its own flavour; action is more aggressive, doing away with the turtling that many players relied on, while the story it spins is more explicit.

It’s a heady mix, and arguably director Hidetaka Miyazaki’s strongest game yet; come the end of the generation, it’s really between this and Breath of the Wild as to which was the greatest game of the era.

Want to read more? See our full Bloodborne review and buy now from Amazon.

The Last Guardian

So long in development and so rarely breaking cover, The Last Guardian became a mythical beast in its own right. In truth, though, this game turned out to be everything we might have hoped – and while it’s filled with bright mysteries, there’s something wonderfully familiar to the way the story unfolds.

A boy nurses an injured beast back to health, and then boy and beast make their way through a vast, almost deserted kingdom. From dank grottos to spindly peaks of sun-bleached stone, this is a journey as much as it’s a game. And as much as it’s a journey it’s also a rumination – on companionship and complicity and the kindness we owe the living things around us.

Want to read more? See our full The Last Guardian review and buy now from Amazon.

Spider-Man

Marvel’s Spider-Man is also Insomniac’s Spider-Man, and while players weren’t suffering for luxuriously tooled action games in the summer of 2018, Peter Parker just edges out Kratos as far as we’re concerned. The sheer freedom and sense of fun that this game conjures is palpable.

Spidey’s Manhattan is a wonderful playground, and also a site of some lovingly crafted fan-service. Cameos and collectibles abound, while the heart of the game blends combat and traversal – and characterisation – in a way that has never been better. What a glorious game.

Spider-Man sat on a rooftop using his phone while drinking coffee

Want to read more? See our full Spider-Man review and buy now from Amazon.

Yakuza 0

Thanks to Sega’s more enthusiastic approach to localisation these past few years, there are now plenty of Yakuza games to choose from, and Zero emerges as the pick of the bunch. A prequel set across Tokyo and Osaka, it’s the perfect introduction to this most brilliant of series – and as it’s a prequel it excuses some of the excesses that Yakuza is known for, which are here exaggerated to great effect.

Showers of cash flutter across the screen when you successfully complete a fight, and there’s an extra seediness to Yakuza’s already tawdry world. It’s outstanding, and a welcome reminder that the Sega you once loved never really went away.

Yakuza 0's Kazuma Kiryu running through a street in Japan

Want to read more? See our full Yakuza 0 review and buy now from Amazon.

God of War

It’s a shame to lose a little of the Harryhausen silliness with this much more sober installment, but beneath the slightly threadbare father-and-son angst lies a game that hasn’t forgotten how to yoke ancient spectacle together with smacking people around with nasty weapons. The axe is a proper Thor-styled delight and Kratos himself is a marvel of this generation of games, all sinew and sorrow, dominating the screen and owning the adventure.

Kratos and BOY hiking along a snowy mountaintop

Want to read more? See our full God of War review and buy now from Amazon.

GTA 5

Rockstar’s open-worlds are made for the West Coast, with its range of terrain, its dangerously free spirits and its reality that is already several clicks past satire.

But GTA 5 is still an astonishing piece of work, offering an island that feels hand-crafted down to each metre of tarmac and three protagonists who are going to be very hard for the series to top or even move beyond. In 2019 we know that all of this comes at a steep human cost.

GTA 5 is a deeply problematic masterpiece, an example of the staggering highs and extreme lows of modern video games

GTA 5's Trevor jumps a quad-bike in a desert town.

Want to read more? See our full GTA 5 review and buy now from Amazon.

Tetris Effect

Can you improve upon the perfect game? Well, maybe not, but you can certainly push it in new and interesting directions, and that’s an exercise that Enhance excelled at in Tetris Effect.

It’s an easy enough proposition to grasp – on the one side you’ve got the classic puzzler in all its glory, and on the other there’s the rhythm action chops of the people that brought you Rez, Child of Eden and Lumines. Yet in that mix Tetris Effect manages to become so much more; a meditation on life and love, or simply the ultimate chill-out experience.

Oh, and if you try it in PlayStation VR then it’s something else entirely…

Tetris Effect screenshot

Want to read more? See our full Tetris Effect review and buy now from Amazon.

Gran Turismo Sport

The omens weren’t great for Polyphony Digital’s PlayStation 4 debut. Coming well into the system’s life-cycle and after the gloriously maximalist Gran Turismo 6 – a game that had you racing from the Mulsanne to the moon and seemingly everywhere in-between – its slim vehicle and track list felt seriously lacking.

For all that Gran Turismo lost, though, it gained an awful lot more; a sense of focus, as driving experts Polyphony set about creating a serious racing game for arguably the first time. It’s an approachable iRacing for console, basically, and it works brilliantly.

The PlayStation 4 isn’t short of great racing games – and a shout-out, in particular, to Codemasters’ excellent F1 games and Dirt Rally 2.0 – but Gran Turismo Sport sees Polyphony reclaim its position at the head of the pack.

Two racing cars speeding along a track in Gran Turismo Sport

Want to read more? See our full Gran Turismo Sport review and buy now from Amazon.

Nex Machina

Housemarque stepped beyond aping the arcade work of Eugene Jarvis and brought him on board for this twin-stick shooter which is so exuberant and explosive that it could serve as a send-off for the entire genre. Warp and dash through brain-melting levels as mechanical beasties swarm and multiply around you. No game since Robotron 2084 wrings so much joy from the simple pleasures of moving and shooting.

Arcade isn’t dead, of course, regardless of what Housemarque has said of late. And Nex Machina, the death machine, is a brilliant argument for why arcade games will live forever.

Chaotic gameplay from Nex Machina

Want to read more? See our full Nex Machina review.

What Remains of Edith Finch

Death in games is so commonplace that it’s rarely much more than a nuisance – a blip on your journey, a small stumble on the way. How refreshing, then, to have a game that offers a playful, touching meditation on the ways death has touched the myriad branches of one comically unfortunate family.

What Remains of Edith Finch is at once fantastical and far-fetched but never anything other than utterly, winningly human – and it pushes at the boundaries of video game storytelling in a way that anyone with even a passing interest in the medium simply has to experience for themselves.

A foreboding chain fence in the forest from What Remains of Edith Finch

Want to read more? See our full What Remains of Edith Finch review or buy it from PSN.

Hohokum

Hohokum says that video games are art and movement, sound and colour, action and reaction. They can be solved, but they can also be played with, and there should always be a mystery that lingers: what remains, what has been said, and how on earth the entire thing came into being.

On the surface of Hohokum you guide a snake around bright, shifting 2D environments. But the surfaces are always deceptive and the connections between one place and another are always surprising. Hohokum is a puzzle, a toy and an adventure. In other words, it’s a video game, and an absolute blinder too.

Two strange and colourful creatures facing each other in Hohokum

Want to read more? See our full Hohokum review, and buy it from PSN.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Egypt should have been the big deal – and Origin was a great game with a fantastic lead. But with hind-sight there’s something about Ancient Greece that makes it perfect for Assassin’s and perfect for Ubisoft. Endless sprawling legends, retold, stolen and repurposed, sometimes vivid, sometimes slightly tedious but all alive with generosity and enormous charm. A huge chunk of beautiful Med and a series best protagonist – depending on your pick – doesn’t hurt. If any game had the breadth and deep pockets of a single-player MMO it’s the one. Hopefully it will never end.

Kassandra perches on a branch overlooking sweeping views of Greece in AC: Odyssey

Want to read more? See our full Assassin’s Creed Odyssey review and buy now from Amazon.

Monster Hunter World

Monster Hunter’s been slowly evolving over the years, but this marked its most radical change yet, introducing a living, breathing world stalked by impossibly grand, arrestingly characterful beasts.

They’re so beautiful you almost don’t want to spend 30 minutes chasing around, bonking them on the nose with a switch axe so that you might make a fancy pair of trousers out of them. Almost. It’s for the best, though, that the pull of Monster Hunter’s core loop has never been stronger, and at long last the world beyond Japan seems to have opened its eyes to the majesty of Capcom’s series.

The player character in a rocky climate from Monster Hunter: World

Want to read more? See our full Monster Hunter World review and buy now from Amazon.

Fortnite

Now that there are plenty of Battle Royales to compare it to, it’s becoming easier and easier to see what makes Fortnite special. Sure, it popularised the Battle Pass and now it has all the money in the world it can beat any competitor for speed of updates and the richness of its detailing.

What marks Fortnite out, though, is that it supports so many different play styles, from people who want to shoot to people who want to build and – brilliantly – people who just want to ramble around one of the most engaging video game settings yet made.

Fortnite’s world changes, which makes the density of memories it holds feel that much more special. Other games are better shooters, but none can match this one for its sheer power of place.

Fortnite characters battling from a fort.

Want to read more? See our Digital Foundry’s appraisal of Fortnite on Android, iOS and Switch.

Alien: Isolation

It might have taken nearly 40 years, but one of sci-fi cinema’s great texts finally got a game worthy of its legacy in this slow-burn horror from Creative Assembly and Sega. It’s thick with atmosphere, conjuring a world of soft lights and whirring disk drives with a vivid authenticity.

As a piece of digital tourism it’s peerless – so what a bonus to have a well-crafted story thrown into the mix, alongside the constant threat of the lone xenomorph that hunts you down. Alien: Isolation sadly never got the success it deserved, but that doesn’t stop it being an outstanding adventure and one of the PS4’s very best.

A Xenomorph walking down a dark corridor

Want to read more? See our full Alien: Isolation review and buy now from Amazon.

Titanfall 2

This is still the single-player FPS campaign to beat in terms of invention and the thrill of movement. Either on foot or in a mech, Respawn zips you along from one ingenious set-piece to the next, and even finds time to welcome an old friend back for what may be the greatest middle-eight in all of video games. Crucially, beneath Titanfall’s rather bland art style, the developers have found the heart and soul of the whole thing. What an absolute delight this game is.

Seven titans lined up with their pilots in Titanfall 2

Want to read more? See our full Titanfall 2 review and buy now from Amazon.

Resident Evil 2 Remake

This wonderful remake took the iconic setting, characters and enemies of the PSone classic, threw in a terrifying stalker in Mr. X and created something truly special. As tense as it is gorgeous, the Resident Evil 2 remake leans on the horror of the series’ early entries to bring the creepy Raccoon Police Station into the modern era – complete with hammy voice acting and over-the-top gore. But Mr. X really is the star here. This stompy, trenchcoat-wearing beefcake is up there with the best villains of this generation. Just make sure you know where your nearest safe room is.

Leon S Kennedy by a smashed police car on a dark rainy night

Want to read more? See our full Resident Evil 2 Remake review and buy now from Amazon.

Call of Duty: Warzone

The Modern Warfare reboot is, predictably, a very competent first-person shooter with all the usual, snappy CoD trappings – but Warzone is the showstopper. It soon became the main reason to play, and as something available on its own for free, and holding popularity even after Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War launched in late 2020, it’s one of the very best battle royales around. A breezy, social shooter that also has an ultra-high skill ceiling, you can dip your toes in or go all out trying to master it. Ideal for hanging out and whiling away the hours.

An aerial view of Verdansk's prison

Want to read more? See our full Call of Duty: Warzone tech interview.

Death Stranding

Kojima takes the sparse Icelandic landscape and builds upon it the ultimate walking simulator – a game that literally simulates the pleasures and challenges of crossing huge tracts of land. The idea of reconnecting a shattered civilization with an Uber-job might not hold up to much scrutiny, but the pseudo-weirdness is perfectly matched with an atmosphere of glorious solitude. This is unmissable.

Want to read more? See our full Death Stranding review and buy now from Amazon.

The Last of Us Part 2

Coming up to a year after its release and fans still seem divided over The Last of Us Part 2, though I think everyone who’s played through Naughty Dog’s lengthy opus is in agreement about one thing: blockbuster gaming doesn’t come much bolder or braver than this. Given its relentless bleakness, its gut-wrenching plot turns and a no-holds-barred attitude to some truly beloved characters, it’s small wonder The Last of Us Part 2 left players split on its merits, but the results are undeniably powerful, technically striking and often breathtaking. There are certainly more straight-up entertaining ways to spend 30 hours of your time, but if you want to see video game narratives being pushed to the boundaries and beyond then The Last of Us Part 2 is pretty much essential.

The Last of Us 2's Ellie sitting on a bed playing guitar

Want to read more? See our full The Last of Us Part 2 review and buy now from Amazon.

For more curated best-of lists like this, meanwhile, feel free to argue in the comments section of the following, too:

  • The 20 best Xbox One games
  • The 20 best Nintendo Switch games
  • The 20 best Game Pass games
  • The 25 best VR games

We’ve also got the latest updates on PS5 stock and where to buy it, if you’re still hunting down a next-gen upgrade!

Article

by Martin Robinson & Chris Tapsell & Christian Donlan & Matthew Reynolds & Oli Welsh & Wesley Yin-Poole

Source : Eurogamer

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