The best PlayStation 4 exclusives of all time

The ones that make non-PS-folk green-eyed.

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Though the PS3 struggled at times to catch the eye of third-party publishers and secure monogamous deals in the last generation, the PlayStation 4 has enjoyed the lion's share of exclusive deals since its launch in 2013.

Looking at the numbers, one can easily see that the PS4 benefits from nearly twice as many announced exclusives than its closest competitor, the Xbox One. The landscape of exclusives will look quite different as the years roll on, but, for now, PS4 is the way to go if you want to play something that's unique to one console.

God of War

God of War
  • RELEASE DATE:20/04/18
  • DEVELOPER: SIE Santa Monica Studio
  • PUBLISHER: Sony
Amazon Price: From $9.00
Buy at Amazon

If you ever dismissed the God of War series as "just an action game, starring gaming's angriest jerk, with over-the-top boss battles and the occasional quick-time orgy" then it's really time you reconsidered things.

For starters, this reboot whisks our titular deity away from Olympus and into the frigid wastes of Norse mythology. It's also ditched the linear and constricting fixed-camera approach in order to embrace a much more open-ended 'Metroidvanaia' world to explore as you see fit.

Most important of all, however, it saddles Kratos with fatherhood. Every scrap you get into will involve your fledgling God-kid, Atreus.

As you can imagine, that brings a new sense of vulnerability to the ordinarily unflappable Kratos. Santa Monica Studios manages to weave a father-son tale which (very surprisingly) will move all but the hardest of hearts.

Couple that with a sick, Mjölnir-like axe that boomerangs baddies into chunks, and an addictive new RPG-lite grind, and GoW is just about the best franchise reboot in recent memory.

Marvel's Spider-Man

Spider-Man
  • RELEASE DATE:07/09/18
  • DEVELOPER: Insomniac Games
  • PUBLISHER: Sony
Amazon Price: From $23.00
Buy at Amazon

I've played every open-world super hero game ever made, and this is without a doubt the king of the sub-genre. Whereas Rocksteady Studios was restricted by the non-super capabilities of The Bat in its Arkham series, webslinging has allowed Insomniac Games to create the most sublime traversal system I've ever experienced.

Zipping about Manhattan is a joy in this completely original spider-tale that ignores the existing MCU (but also sprinkles in a ludicrous amount of comic book easter eggs).

Likewise, you can forget about the rhythmic, man-tank combat stylings of The Batman; brawling here is a dizzying display of tactical webshooting and "Peter Parkour" martial arts moves.

As if that isn't enough, Insomniac has seeded this virtual New York with tons of collectables, a slew of unique Spidey suits and randomised crimes to take on. Seriously though, don't even think about passing on a purchase of this. I say thwip it. Thwip it good.

Dreams

Dreams
  • RELEASE DATE:14/2/20
  • DEVELOPER: MediaMolecule
  • PUBLISHER: Sony
Amazon Price: From $19.00
Buy at Amazon

What's better than paying a hundred off bucks for a game you can finish within a few days? Buying Dreams, a game that is basically a game making factory that's constantly replenished with content spewed forth from either your own brain or a buzzing online community.

MediaMolecule is well known in this field already, thanks to their LittleBigPlanet series that incorporated 2.5D platformer adventures with DIY tools. That said, while those titles were (largely) constrained to that side-scroller format, Dreams offers a wider scope to realise your, well, dreams.

What kind of user-generated content can you whip up with a bit of time and inspiration? Basically anything from fully-fledged games, mechanics, assets, sculptures, music, and art. Anything you cobble together can then be posted to the community, at which point it'll be shared or remixed into others' creations.

For the soloists among you wondering, there is some campaign-esque content called Art's Dream to chew on. That's well made and definitely worth finishing to acquire "assets" from, but it comes and goes quickly. Expect to do way more "dream surfing" through the constantly shifting, ever surprising user-generated content.

The Last of Us Part 2

The Last of Us Part 2
  • RELEASE DATE:19/6/20
  • DEVELOPER: Naughty Dog
  • PUBLISHER: Sony
Amazon Price: From $50.55
Buy at Amazon

Fair warning to those of you coming into this after playing the first game. The Last of Us was a post-pandemic, ex-father/surrogate daughter road-trip centred on the question "how far would you go to protect a loved one?" Part 2 is a far more harrowing tale that asks "ok, now how far would you go to avenge a love lost?"

That's all I'm going to say about an incredibly dark and shocking narrative that will both challenge your perceptions of right and wrong, and keep you perched on the absolute edge of your fancy gaming chair.

Naughty Dog pushes the boundaries (and the hardware limits of the PS4) in the gameplay, animation and sound departments as well. Thanks to some fandangle new MotionMatching tech, those hitching "tell" moments which usually betray when one bit of motion-captured data switches to the next are gone. The fluidity on display when you're cover shifting, shooting and clobbering cannibal mutants with a two-by-four is eerily life-like

Combine that uncanny valley detour with a phenomenal audioscape that features your enemies "grieving" for one another after you've killed them in self-defense yourself...and yeah, Part 2's presents a whole new level of intensity and violence. If you have the stomach for that, this is unmissable.

Death Stranding

Death Stranding
  • RELEASE DATE:8/11/19
  • DEVELOPER: Kojima Studios
  • PUBLISHER: Sony
Amazon Price: Check site for current pricing
Buy at Amazon

Welcome to the most divisively reviewed game of the entire PS4 generation. Basic gist: you're Sam Porter Bridges, an on-foot courier who has to leg valuable parcels between the few underground cities that remain in a post-cataclysm America. Sounds like a cushy gig until you factor in violent poltergeist phenomena and rainfall that ages you quicker than a Nazi who's chosen the wrong Holy Grail.

No one could accuse Kojima of not trying new things. That's not in dispute here. The question is: are you open minded enough to slog through an (admittedly beautiful) open-world where your main "enemy" is a balance/trip mechanic?

Fortunately, the experience expands to include limited range motorbikes and other time-saving devices. Unfortunately, they're a grind to acquire, and Death Stranding sure does like to snatch them back off you at inopportune times.

As Kojima fans and Metal Gear alumni would no doubt expect, the plot here is unique at best and a little kooky at worst. Sam's journey to systematically relink the communications line of America brings him into contact with a host of oddball characters. Not the least of which is BB, your ever-present foetus in a bottle who can detect incoming spectral threats.

All this being said, Death Stranding is bold. Its production values are top-notch and there's been no game like it before or since. This in itself warrants a place on our list.

Ghost of Tsushima

Ghost of Tsushima
  • RELEASE DATE:17/7/20
  • DEVELOPER: Sucker Punch
  • PUBLISHER: Sony
Amazon Price: From $58.97
Buy at Amazon

Ghost of Tsushima is more or less the Japanese themed Assassin's Creed that I spent decades petitioning for but never got. You'll slide into the sandals of Jin, a samurai who has run afoul of several thousand mongol invaders on his titular island home. Local, honourable attempts to repel the horde have largely failed, it's now time to consider more unscrupulous strategies.

Yep, you basically become an assassin, but without the fancy eagle vision or ludicrous urge to leap off tall things into hay piles.Jin slowly learns the art of subterfuge from the local villager class that he's largely been ignoring for years. If that's your jam, expect some pretty decent stealth antics that never rise above the likes of Tenchu (most due to a lack of usable grapple hook points).

All that being said, developer Sucker Punch doesn't lean completely into the ninja shenanigans. You can spec Jin's abilities to favour a more brawler / ronin build. In fact, there's even a dedicated StandOff mechanic that allows you to wander up to a bunch of foes and challenge them to a quickdraw showdown.

As you can probably guess, Sucker Punch is big on samurai cinema here, with a notable love of Kurosawa. So go in expecting utterly gorgeous visuals and meticulous attention to era details.

Bloodborne

Picture not described
  • RELEASE DATE:24/03/15
  • DEVELOPER: FromSoftware
  • PUBLISHER: Sony
Amazon Price: Check site for current pricing
Buy at Amazon

Bloodborne is a bonafide exclusive: a Sony / FromSoftware collab that's never going to appear on any platform but a PlayStation.

It's also damned good, too – in many ways (arguably) better than the much-beloved Demon's Souls and Dark Souls games that informed its design.

The major differences this time around: this brutally difficult action-RPG ditches the swords 'n' sorcery shtick for one of the best modern Gothic horror stories in ages, and, in most cases, tactical aggression will trump defensive combat strategies.

Oh, and you'll be asked to "parry" the incoming attacks of Lovecraftian horrors with a gun. What's not to love about that?

Give Bloodborne time to infect and grow on you – like one of the huge scrotal-esque sacs that its NPCs sport as replacement heads – and you'll be rewarded with an intricate, skin-crawling challenge that's unlike any other.

Better yet, Bloodborne continues to expand with a generous side-dungeon system, PvP invasions and New Game Plus difficulties that'll make all but the finest among you bleed profusely.

Gran Turismo Sport

Gran Turismo Sport
  • RELEASE DATE:17/10/21
  • DEVELOPER: Polyphony Digital
  • PUBLISHER: Sony
Amazon Price: From $58.12
Buy at Amazon

Obligatory enthusiasm curb / warning before we begin. If you grew up on Gran Turismos 1 through 6 and you expect to have yourself a solid single-player experience, set your expectations lower. Gran Turismo Sport launched basically without any sort of campaign mode -- that's how unconcerned Polyphony Digital was with the non-multiplayer, eSport-less aspects of this endeavour.

That said, do charge in if you're after some of the best competitive online racing on the system, all of it supported by the international governing body of motorsport, the FIA. It's also worth noting that if you bought Sport on launch, witnessed the dearth of content compared to previous GTs and sold it off in a state of disillusionment, best give it another look.

While the game launched with 168 cars and 29 tracks, a decent stream of updates have bolstered those figures to 324 cars and 82 track configurations. Polyphony also saw fit to bolt on a single-player campaign that certainly doesn't eclipse the "caRPGs" of yesteryear, and will give shut-in racers plenty more to do.

What you'll most likely be buying this for is top-notch handling, OCD attention to car detail and a (limited) VR tour mode that justifies the price of a PSVR headset.

Upside: you'll love every single second you spend here.

Horizon Zero Dawn

Horoizon Zero Dawn
  • RELEASE DATE:01/03/17
  • DEVELOPER: Guerrilla Games
  • PUBLISHER: Sony
Amazon Price: From $9.00
Buy at Amazon

An open-world action-RPG where you stalk ludicrously dangerous dinobots and harvest their innards for precious loot: that's essentially what Horizon Zero Dawn is, and of course the formula works.

The icing on the top is Guerrilla Games including a grounded and likeable heroine, a slew of creative weaponry and visuals that consistently put jaws on floors.

Over the course of many centuries, decimated tribes of humanity have clawed their way back to some semblance of civilization, and learning the history of this world and the nature of the aforementioned megafauna machines is a gripping adventure.

Finding out how the robo-pooch got this screwed requires many hours of exploration, leveling and sifting through the old world tech that litters the corpse of this world.

Indeed, Horizon Zero Dawn itself feels like you're digging through the bytes of gaming's greatest mechanics, too – stealth and platforming harken from the Assassin's Creed series, while the hunt-loot-and-craft shenanigans are reminiscent of Far Cry.

While it may crib from the genre greats, though, the moment-to-moment action HZD stylishly weaves feels fresh, frenetic and often superior to the source of influence.

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End

Uncharted 4
  • RELEASE DATE:10/05/16
  • DEVELOPER: Naughty Dog
  • PUBLISHER: Sony
Amazon Price: From $9.00
Buy at Amazon

All good things, even great and beloved gaming franchises, must come to an end – but what a mind-blowing send off Nathan Drake receives in Uncharted 4.

This last hurrah offers everything you'd expect from an adventurer who started life as Indiana Jones's spiritual understudy and grew to be a contemporary of equal-standing – ancient antiquity acquisitions, swashbuckling violence and the biggest set-piece moments this side of Señor Spielbergo.

The only things missing are Nazis and a whip (though, to be fair, the new grapple hook mechanic is arguably superior to the ol' bull-cracker, and South Africa mercs die just as well).

Naughty Dog also pushes the envelope by taking the linear-design blinkers off to offer levels so expansive a jeep (or boat) is required to get around.

That sort of freedom-of approach, combined with a greater emphasis on stealth, makes for a number of tactically-rich encounters.

And, obviously, the strategies you pick up here will serve you well in the teamwork-focused, over-the-top online multiplayer.

Whether it's kick-arse solo adventuring, intense online headshot-hunting, or co-op survival, Uncharted 4 is a priceless treasure that delivers top-shelf gaming. It belongs in any self-respecting gamer's museum.

The Last of Us Remastered

The Last of Us
  • RELEASE DATE:30/74/14
  • DEVELOPER: Naughty Dog
  • PUBLISHER: Sony
Amazon Price: From $10.00
Buy at Amazon

When it comes to richly-painted, emotionally-resonant interactive story-telling, or just pushing Sony's hardware to insane new benchmarks, Naughty Dog are peerless creators. 2013's The Last of Us remains their magnum opus.

It's a survival-horror experience that appeared during the final gasp of the PS3 generation, but this incredibly dark tale (of a grizzled survivor escorting a young ward through a post-pandemic America) has been allowed to shine like never before in this PS4 remastering.

Sneaking through environments and desperately scavenging the resources needed to craft the weapons required to survive an encounter – sometimes against hostile survivors, but also freaky cannibalistic mutants – has absolutely stood the test of time.

No nail-biting encounter ever plays out the same thanks to incredibly reactive AI, and this combat seamlessly interweaves with an incredibly well-directed and acted narrative.

I honestly cannot say enough good things about this title. It's the sort of game you'll wish I could erase my memory for, just so I could experience it with fresh, wide-eyed wonder all over again.

Amazon prices last updated on 24 June, 2021 at 03:02 pm

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