The top ten PlayStation 4
games of 2017

The cream of the crop to hit Sony's console in 2017.

By Adam Mathew

Sony's PlayStation 4 has had an absolutely cracking year for video game releases. Over 200 major releases by my reckoning, and that's not even including games specifically built for Sony's first foray into the virtual reality space, PlayStation VR. Clearly we're spoiled for choice here, friends, which obviously begs the question: What should be our purchase priorities? How do we sort the wheat from the chaff?

It occurs to me that the average, uninformed consumer will simply look to whatever games are on shelves right before Christmas, while ignoring most things released outside of the month of November. The thinking is that the most cash-laden game studios out there deploy their biggest games during this month to capitalise on the Christmas sales. Big budgets plus long-running franchises must surely equal assured quality. If only it were that simple.

Sadly, AAA titles aren't the sure-bets they once were. Just ask the fans of Star Wars Battlefront II, who paid full-price only to be further nickel-and-dimed with microtransactions and a punishing progression system. They're standing right over there, next to the petrolheads who bought the slot machine on a disc that was Need For Speed Payback. Lastly, you'd do well to chat with the cultish player base of Destiny 2, who only recently realised that their XP gains were being misrepresented and their beloved sequel was seriously lacking in post-credits content. Trust me, the lofty moniker of AAA isn't an ironclad guarantee of quality. You really need to broaden your horizons beyond November. Take it from somebody who used to see the phenomenon, year after year, from the hellish front-lines of brick-and-mortar games shop retail.

Our justification

Speaking of, it's always worth knowing the credentials of any list curator. Basically, I've been gaming for 30 years, ever since I was old enough to know how to tune in the RF signal to play Pong on my parent's spare, black-and-white CRT television. I've owned (and still own) every console since the late 70s and I've been extremely lucky enough to have spent 15 years in the games industry (five in the retail space, ten editing full-time for major websites and nationally-produced games mags).

At a minimum, I've played every single game that was eligible to make this list. In many cases, I've clocked them on Stupid-Hard difficulty. My thumbs are down to nubs is what I'm trying to tell you. Hitchhiking's all but impossible at this point.

You know what? We've got a lot to get through, and this is turning into a LinkedIn profile. Let's just cut to the chase and get started.

10. Pyre

Pyre

  • RELEASE DATE: 25/7/17
  • DEVELOPER: Supergiant Games
  • PUBLISHER: Supergiant Games

If you're sick of playing the norm and are craving something fresh, you really need to go to indie devs. Case in point: Pyre, the action role-playing sports game developed by Supergiant, the talented folks behind Bastion and Transistor. You need to lead a band of exiles to freedom through an ancient competition spread across a vast, mystical purgatory. The gameplay is a mix of basketball, fantasy RPGing, MOBAing and a visual novel. That probably sounds like a mutant hybrid that needs to be burned with fire, lest it breed – totally isn't, though.

Fear not, because learning the ropes of this weird 3v3 magical sportsball is a cinch. And, by the time the tactics begin layering in as you studiously start to unlock character types and skills, the addictiveness of this unique game will engulf you completely. Marry this space jam to top-notch audio/visual presentation, plus a heart-string-tugger tale that branches in weird ways, and Pyre is, as the kids say, lit.

9. Yakuza 0

Yakuza-0

  • RELEASE DATE: 24/1/17
  • DEVELOPER: Sega
  • PUBLISHER: Five Star Games

Look, I get it. Games built specifically for Japanese audiences are received by Western consumers like a dish of fugu (adored by diehards, an acquired taste to some and outright poison to others). I'd be very surprised if you couldn't learn to love the cultural exchange that is Yakuza 0, though. It's the hard-boiled crime drama where you bust heads with stolen bicycles, smash out hilaribad karaoke and nail high-scores in Space Harrier during the hedonistic 80s.

Also, being a prequel, this is the perfect hopping on point for newcomers. In no time, you'll be brought up to speed on mainstay protagonist Kazuma Kiryu and series regular Goro Majima as they fight like hell through Tokyo and Osaka to climb the underworld ladder (typically by buying skills, 3D brawling and chugging enough caffeine drinks to kill a small horse). Do yourself a favour and order this unique cocktail of drama, humour and a shotgun approach to quirky, distracting mini-games.

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Let's take a part of the power struggle for all the dark organizations across Japan!

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8. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

Resident-Evil-7-Biohazard

  • RELEASE DATE: 24/1/17
  • DEVELOPER: Capcom
  • PUBLISHER: Capcom

Capcom’s greatest series returns to terrifying form thanks to a trip to Louisiana to meet the Baker family, who stalk you around their fixer-upper mansion. Though it modernises the formula by being played directly from the first-person perspective, Resi 7 is still very much about ye olde school survival-horror values. Tense exploration, piddly personal inventory space, limited save opportunities and the state of available ammunition frequently diminishes your options to either bludgeoning or harsh language. It's all the fun of yesteryear!

Admittedly, the third act changes all that by shifting gears into some guns-blazing action that's reminiscent of more modern Resi titles. Not a deal-breaker, but the lovely stealth intensity is sorely missed. (Note: if you're after that kind of kick-ass, punch-zombies-in-the-face action, there's some free Chris Redfield DLC worth equipping.) Whatever your preferred approach to awful situations may be, Resident Evil 7 delivers. It reanimates a dead series and is a must for any horror fan.

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7. Injustice 2

Injustice-2

  • RELEASE DATE: 17/5/17
  • DEVELOPER: NetherRealm Studios
  • PUBLISHER: Warner Bros.

It's a rare thing for me to even try to recommend a fighting game to mates who aren't into fisticuffs. That said, Injustice 2 compelled me to send out a Bat Signal of Quality, and everybody who responded came back a convert. This was mostly because NetherRealm treated its single-player component as an equal partner of the multiplayer (which, typically, becomes dominated by a dedicated cadre of competition-level pros in no time).

There's a utility belt full of content packed in here, including a lengthy, branching story mode and tons of customisation options as well as an addictive and ever-changing Multiverse challenge mode. Combine the irresistible loot-earning of that latter diversion, with an all-time character roster featuring 30+ of DC's best (plus some paid DLC Ninja Turtles for some reason) and Injustice 2 delivers a package tighter than Adam West's bat-undies.

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Play and enjoy this game with all your favourite superheroes, today!

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6. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

wolfenstein-2-the-new-colossus-best-price

  • RELEASE DATE: 27/10/17
  • DEVELOPER: MachineGames
  • PUBLISHER: Bethesda

Seems stupid to say it, but 70 odd years after WWII ended, we all needed a reminder of how bloody awful the Nazis were (and how fun it is to kill them). Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus was that nudge, thanks to the ultra-violent first-person shooting – and gratuitous hatcheting – of one William “BJ” Blazkowicz. MachineGames' 2014 series reboot skilfully established a disturbing "what-if" universe where fascists rose to power via forgotten and advanced technology. The New Colossus then turned everything I loved about that template up to 11.

The frenetic gunplay that allows you to engage and grow your skills however you please has been enhanced, but The New Colossus offers more than just Kraut-killing catharsis. The Tarantino-esque story threaded through all the ultraviolence is extremely well-written and voiced, often deftly changing gears from horror, humour and pathos. Also, MachineGames has managed to take the genre's most well-known jarhead and equip him with not only twin shotguns (that could reasonably be classified as an anti-aircraft weapon) but also compassion and vulnerability. In short, this is the best BJ in years.

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Amazed yourself with Wolfenstein 2’s shocking opening scenes drive home the cruelty of its characters! Get it today!

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5. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

Uncharted-The-Lost-Legacy

  • RELEASE DATE: 23/8/17
  • DEVELOPER: Naughty Dog
  • PUBLISHER: Sony

When the credits rolled after Uncharted 4: A Thief's End's bitter-sweet epilogue, I found myself wanting more. However, never in my wildest dreams did I think Naughty Dog would deliver just that, but with the fan-favourite character – and consummate kick-arse Aussie sheila – Chloe Frazer. Forget DLC though, mate, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is a lengthy, standalone chapter that covers the unseen aspects of this saga while whisking us off on a quest to snatch an ancient Indian artifact that belongs in a museum (or on eBay, knowing Chloe). The only things standing in the way of that are Indy-esque traps, one ruthless war profiteer and his army of mercs plus the jagged alliance you've formed with Nadine Ross, the secondary antagonist of the last game.

Despite its shorter run time of eight or so hours, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is a production that's very much of the ND pedigree – sumptuous visuals, a strong narrative, well-constructed puzzles and some of the best third-person gunplay you can poke a stick at. You really don't need to look before you leap into this Hindu-themed high-adventure. Just go and get it India.

Purchase Uncharted: The Lost Legacy PS4

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Take Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross on a journey through the Western Ghats in search of a priceless artefact.

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4. Nioh

nioh

  • RELEASE DATE: 8/2/17
  • DEVELOPER: Team Ninja
  • PUBLISHER: Sony

When FromSoftware delivered Dark Souls III: The Ringed City, the effective end of its best-known series, gaming masochists everywhere began wringing their hands nervously. “Where shall we go now for our medicine?” they shrieked, much as they could with ball gags on. The worry was unfounded, though. Team Ninja was more than happy to step in to dominate us all over again with Nioh, an unabashed love letter to the hellish difficulty of Dark Souls.

However, to label it a clone is a serious injustice as Nioh enhances the formula with refined hack 'n' slash combat, the best loot-farming this side of Diablo and the most endearing demon-samurai art-style since the Onimusha series. This is bloody, and bloody long, too. Mastering every weapon style, meticulously learning enemy weaknesses and exploring a plethora of side content will steal a hundred hours away if you let it. Nioh may look derivative on paper, but in practice, it's an extremely well-made game, a supremely rewarding challenge and a worthy inheritor to the currently vacant throne of a sub-genre.

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Attention action seekers, Nioh is available for order today.

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3. NieR: Automata

nier-automata-review-2

  • RELEASE DATE: 10/3/17
  • DEVELOPER: Platinum Games
  • PUBLISHER: Bandai Namco

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 shmup 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 get 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”.

2. Horizon Zero Dawn

Horizon-Zero-Dawn

  • RELEASE DATE: 1/3/17
  • DEVELOPER: Guerrilla Games
  • PUBLISHER: Sony

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, levelling 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. It may crib from the genre's greats, but the moment-to-moment action HZD stylishly weaves feels fresh, frenetic and often superior to the source of influence.

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1. Persona 5

persona_5

  • RELEASE DATE: 4/4/17
  • DEVELOPER: Atlus
  • PUBLISHER: Five Star Games

What a masterpiece. Persona 5's claws will sink in early and deep, what with its tale of a group of troubled high school students who live dual lives as Phantom Thieves. They must navigate the day-to-day drama of being a Tokyo high school student as well as undertake fantastical adventures by using otherworldly powers to enter people's hearts. Needless to say, when this story starts to delve into the dark nature of humanity (while delivering a series of masterful plot-twists that genuinely play upon your emotions), expect your own heart to be seized in short order.

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 is that neophytes may not put enough of their calendar aside before becoming hopelessly captivated by this glorious fast-paced battle system, vibrant world and lovable rogues which demand triple-digit hours of your attention. Upside: you'll love every single second spent.

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Take yourself on a tour in modern-day Tokyo and enjoy every step of the game with Persona 5, today!

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