The best PlayStation 4 exclusives of all time
The ones that make non-PS-folk green-eyed.
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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
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.
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.
Ratchet and Clank
Not content with bringing this beloved Sony mascot to the big screen in cinemas, Insomniac Games decided to treat a new generation of gamers to a reboot of this all-time franchise.
We're talking old school platforming here – jumpy jumping, nuts 'n' bolts kleptomania, etc – delivered in Pixar-levels of 4K animation.
Sumptuous visuals aside, this new refresh of the Ratchet series is still a wonderfully unique fusing of classic 3D platforming and gunplay. I'm talking satisfyingly brutal gats, like a Predator launcher that fires four homing missiles at anything unfortunate enough to be in your sights.
But also joke weapons like the Groovitron (lob a disco ball that forces enemies to dance) and a Pixelizer (turns baddies into wafer thin 16-bit versions of themselves).
3D platformers weirdly disappeared from store shelves by 2010, this game single-handedly made the argument for the genre to return (and thankfully it has).
- RELEASE DATE:21/07/15
- DEVELOPER: thatgamecompany
- PUBLISHER: thagamecompany
Fair warning: at maybe two hours of runtime, Journey is a fleeting experience, but I guarantee you: it's not one you'll forget in a hurry.
Being an exotic and minimalist adventure with a more serious tone, Journey presents a unique online adventure that's filled with mysterious characters, sumptuous visuals, one of the most majestic soundtracks in gaming and... cloth-sky-dolphins. Don't ask, mate. Just go with it.
Few games – or indeed any piece of art from any medium – can deliver an experience as magical and emotionally-engaging as this. From the moment you awaken in an unknown desert-scape and glide over your first dune to spy an awe-inspiring landscape, you'll be hooked.
This ethereal platformer soars to even greater heights when it seamlessly layers in anonymous co-op with other travelers on their own life's journey (so you'd best make absolutely sure to play this online).
Sure, Journey is unorthodox and "artsy" from the outside looking in, but make that leap of faith. You'd need a heart of titanium to dislike this.
Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection
You'd be mad not to swing right into this offer, because it's three of the finest games ever made, lovingly remastered, retuned and delivered on one disc.
Naughty Dog's take on Indiana Jones-style action-adventuring – which is a heady mix of gunplay, fisticuffs, light puzzling and platforming – proves to be as timeless as the ancient treasures it depicts.
The secret sauce here is whip-crack dialogue written by one Amy Hennig and a memorable, talented cast led by Nolan North. Basically, Nathan Drake is the most affable mass-murderer in all of gaming (but hey, they're all mercs and pirates, so screw them).
Without a doubt, the unblemished diamond in the centre of this headpiece is Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, one of the most highly acclaimed titles in all of gaming. You owe it to yourself to experience it at least once.
That said, there's no Kingdom of the Crystal Skull here – Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection offers nothing but fortune and glory. It's the holy grail of compilations.
What's not to like about an action role-playing game like NieR: Automata? It asks you to hew through murderous robots using YoRHa 2B, a super-powered android in a maid's outfit who wields a sword big enough to be mistaken for God's own letter-opener.
And that affection will turn to love when you reach the wonderful genre and perspective switches. Because, while the bulk of fighting is done as a lightning-paced open-world 3D brawler, you'll experience inexplicable shifts to 2.5D platforming, and even the odd Raiden-esque sh'mup level.
Automata nails every discipline it attempts and manages to be as engrossing as it is unorthodox.
This gameplay design attitude of "you'll never know what's coming next, but you'll love it when it arrives" is mirrored in Automata's eclectic soundtrack and Yoko Taro's delightfully bizarre script.
Expect off-the-wall moments and well-written characters who explore everything from existentialism, the complications inherent in artificial intelligence and what would happen if you got foul-mouthed robots to put on a Shakespeare production with 3 Romeos and 3 Juliets.
The answer, like a larger metaphor for what NieR: Automata delivers, is: absurdly fun ultra-violence that'll entertain "the shit out of thee".
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.
What a masterpiece. Persona 5's claws will sink into you early and deep, thanks to its tale of a group of troubled high school students who live dual lives as Phantom Thieves.
The day-to-day drama of being a Tokyo high-schooler must still be navigated, but there's also the need for the Phantoms to undertake fantastical adventures by using otherworldly powers to enter the hearts of people.
Needless to say, when their stories start to delve into the dark nature of humanity (while delivering a series of masterful plot-twists that genuinely play upon your emotions) expect Persona 5 to enter your own heart and take up permanent residence.
Oozing with a slick, psychedelic visual style, and a face-melting acid jazz soundtrack, Persona 5 is the most polished JRPGs in years; an impossibly high benchmark set for the genre.
The only potential pitfall: neophytes may not set aside enough of their calendar before becoming hopelessly captivated by this game's fast-paced battle system, vibrant world and loveable rogues who demand triple-digit hours of your attention.
Upside: you'll love every single second you spend here.
Horizon Zero Dawn
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
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
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.
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