It’s been nearly four years since the PlayStation 4 was first released, and what a successful several years it has been for Sony’s fourth home console. The Japanese behemoth made a mistake with the way it launched the PlayStation 3, as the system only started to gain momentum later on its life cycle. It was overpriced, but the company felt it could do no wrong since the PlayStation 2 was such a huge success. Well, Sony was wrong and it had to make things right again with hardcore gamers. Forget about the rise of TV, and the ability to use Skype and watch live sports on a gaming console, Sony knew it would only find success if it just focused on software. And it did just that.
Right off the gate, PS4 was marketed as a machine for gamers first and foremost. With over 50 million units sold, it seems that was definitely the right approach from Sony. In its four years on the market, PS4 has amassed an impressive library of exclusive games, from Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, to one of this year’s best games in Horizon Zero Dawn. In no particular ranking, here’s the 15 Best PS4 Exclusives... So Far.
While it may be difficult to believe now, PlayStation 4 lacked exclusives in its first two years of release. As Sony’s first-party developers were still trying to familiar themselves with the new hardware and put the finishing touches on their games, renowned Finnish developer Housemarque released its excellent arcade shooter Resogun as a PS4 launch game. For quite some time, Resogun was easily the best exclusive you could buy on the console.
This voxel-based side-scrolling shoot ‘em up sports enjoyable, fast-paced gameplay that Housemarque is known for. There is simply no better developer out there that can pull off outstanding moment-to-moment action-packed arcade gameplay. Resogun, to this day, remains one of the most technically impressive and prettiest PS4 games, and it’s an experience anyone can pick up and play without missing a beat. Not to mention, Resogun’s cylindrical, voxel-based world sports a stunning aesthetic and fantastic level design that’ll keep you coming back for more.
14 The Order 1886
Now, it may seem ridiculous to include The Order 1886 on this list considering the game, ultimately, failed to live up to its lofty expectations. But, this third-person action-adventure from Ready at Dawn did nail a few things. For one, The Order 1886 was, and still is, an impressive technological achievement in gaming. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better looking game on any platform from any studio; this is even including gorgeous experiences like Uncharted 4 and Horizon.
The Order 1886 takes place in an alternate history 1886 London, where an old order of knights battle against half-breed monsters, like vampires and werewolves. The game explores the stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and puts a fascinating twist to these old tales. Ready at Dawn shot for the moon on this one. The studio was overly ambitious, and even though The Order 1886 could’ve been better, Ready at Dawn tried to create a well realized and original world and mythology, and it most certainly succeeded on that front.
13 Infamous Second Son
Developer Sucker Punch was a small studio when it was making the Sly Cooper trilogy on the PlayStation 2. While Sly is a beloved PlayStation mascot who’s just as recognizable as Crash and Jak and Daxter, the Sly Cooper games weren’t as well known when they were first released. Sucker Punch really starting to make a name for itself with the Infamous series. The first game, which was released in 2009, took the gaming industry by storm with its fantastic platforming and climbing mechanics, along with an intriguing comic book story.
Fast-forward five years, and you’ve the third game in the franchise and the first on PS4 - Infamous Second Son. While the story’s nowhere near as compelling as what’s been told in the previous two installments, Second Son’s gameplay is the best in the series. Delsin Rowe is a different type of protagonist than Cole MacGrath (which is a great thing), and having an underused setting like Seattle is refreshing.
12 Killzone Shadow Fall
Before Guerrilla Games showed the world it could make a compelling open-world RPG, the studio was stuck churning out Killzone games for over a decade. Up until the latest entry in the series, Shadow Fall, Killzone was viewed as a drab and depressing franchise whose potential was yet to be discovered. Sony clearly wanted Killzone to be its Halo, but that never panned out and for the longest time, PlayStation’s other exclusive shooter franchise Resistance was a lot more interesting and successful.
However, Shadow Fall abandons the dark aesthetic Killzone was known for up to the point. Guerrilla instead opts for a more colorful art design and methodical pace for the campaign, resulting in an experience that’s both enjoyable and compelling. As a launch game, Shadow Fall is a fantastic first-person shooter that perfectly showcased the PS4’s technical prowess.
Driveclub’s nightmarish development history ultimately led to its developer’s (Evolution Studios) demise. The game was unveiled during Sony’s first media briefing showcasing the PS4 in early 2013. Driveclub was supposed to be a launch title and the next big racing franchise for Sony. However, with multiple delays -- the game came out in October 2014 -- and an awful launch, it seemed Driveclub was doomed to fail. But, Evolution Studios eventually turned it around and fixed plenty of issues that plagued the game.
Underneath all of the problems lies a well made experience that racing sim enthusiasts can get behind. Driveclub contains environments and tracks inspired by real, diverse places around the world like India and Norway. Not to mention, the game’s online features are robust and there’s even a PlayStation VR version of the game, which makes you feel like you’re actually driving some of the most exotic cars around.
Another Housemarque game is on the list, and this time it’s the twin-stick shooter Alienation. Unlike Resogun, which has players shoot baddies in cylindrical levels, Alienation is an isometric shooter that takes place in fully-realized worlds. It’s more akin to Housemarque’s other twin-stick shooter Dead Nation. What sets Alienation apart is its excellent multiplayer gameplay, which has been praised by critics for its fast-paced action.
The three classes players get to try out all come with their own weaknesses and strengths, and for the first time in a Housemarque game, players have a lot more customization options. While Alienation might not have set the world on fire the same way Housemaqrue’s previous games have, like the aforementioned Resogun and Dead Nation, Alienation is still yet another fine effort from the studio, and is easily one of the funnest games you can play on the PS4 right now.
9 Infamous First Light
Sucker Punch has a knack for producing great add-on content that feels different enough from the studio’s core games while also retaining what makes those original titles so fun. For Infamous 2, Sucker Punch released the critically-acclaimed Festival of Blood, the game’s only expansion. The studio was right at it again with Second Son, this time churning out the excellent First Light, where players take control of a fan-favorite character from the original game, Abigail 'Fetch' Walker.
Neon powers are the best set of abilities you can wield in Second Son, and Sucker Punch paid close attention to all that positive feedback by creating side content solely based around these powers. Most people agree that Abigail is a more relatable character than Desmond, and her story of being abused and struggling to survive on the streets is poignant. First Light’s challenge arenas, which have players fight against hordes of holographic enemies, are a blast to play.
8 Gravity Rush 2
The PlayStation Vita’s biggest issue has been the lack of compelling software. The handheld itself is an impressive piece of technology, but there just isn’t enough games to play on it. However, one of Vita’s saving graces early on was Gravity Rush, a quirky adventure about an amnesiac woman named Kat who can manipulate gravity. The game’s cel-shaded aesthetic and the gravity-controlling mechanics quickly made Gravity Rush one of the top three best games on the Vita. Its sequel, Gravity Rush 2, retains what made the original so beloved while also fixing a few issues.
The core story is much improved this second time around, with the tone feeling more consistent to Gravity Rush’s colorful and zany world. Main character Kat’s relationship with Raven is a highlight, and the overall variety and scope of the world makes Gravity Rush 2 a prime example of what a proper sequel should and can be.
Nioh was first being developed all the way back in 2004, when it was a multimedia project based on an unfinished Akira Kurosawa script. Eventually, the game went to Team Ninja, who then went on to develop Nioh for four years. The best way to describe Nioh is that it’s a fast-paced version of Dark Souls; a challenging role-playing game that punishes players for making even the smallest of mistakes.
But despite the high difficulty level, players keep coming back for more because of Nioh’s tight and responsive controls and an engaging story set in Japan during the year 1600. You assume the role of an Irish samurai named William, who goes on an adventure fighting supernatural beings called yokai. Nioh is a rewarding experience with a stunning art design and intense boss battles that are difficult to forget.
6 The Last Guardian
For the longest time, The Last Guardian was a running joke among PlayStation fans. Sony first revealed the game in 2009 and the announcement was met with plenty of excitement, and understandably so. Up to that point, developer Team ICO could do no wrong. This small team from Japan only released two games - Ico and Shadow of the Colossus - and both were viewed as some of the best experiences on the PlayStation 2. Shadow of the Colossus in particular is often cited as the best PS2 game and a beautiful example of why games are art.
With such a long wait, The Last Guardian could never fully meet its expectations, and that turned out to be true. However, this latest from creative director Fumito Ueda is a poignant and emotional tale of a young boy and his growing relationship with a furry, mysterious animal named Trico. Finding out the origins of Trico and what his true purpose is in life is heart wrenching, and the way this somber tale ends perfectly showcases that Team ICO and Ueda are still some of the best developers around.
5 Until Dawn
Until Dawn is one the biggest surprises so far in the PS4’s life cycle. This horror thriller from Supermassive Games was set to be a PS3 game that can only be played using the PlayStation Move. However, after the Move’s failure and the PS4’s meteoric rise, Sony decided to shift the game’s development toward the new system. That move was definitely for the better, as Until Dawn is a tense, smartly written, and even humorous horror experience.
The game centers around several teenagers who get invited to one of their friend’s large estate called the Blackwood Pines lodge. As you’d expect, weird things start to happen and the tenneragers get killed off one by one by a mass serial killer. Until Dawn is filled with twists and turns, well-written characters you can relate to, and gameplay that has players examine their surroundings and search for clues. It’s the complete package that even outshines some of the best work from Quantic Dream.
4 Ratchet & Clank
After 2009’s A Crack in Time, Ratchet & Clank fell off considerably. The co-op game All 4 One and a few other mediocre entries made people question whether this long-running PlayStation platforming series was still relevant. However, Insomniac came back strong with last year’s semi-reboot of the franchise’s first game. The original Ratchet & Clank is a well-paced, thrilling action platformer that took the PlayStation world by storm in the early 2000s. That first game’s quality shows in the reboot.
Insomniac expertly kept what made Ratchet & Clank so beloved and fun to play throughout all these several years. But, the studio also included a new card collecting mini-game that adds a few new dimensions to the already excellent gameplay, and also put new touches on the story which corrected the weirdly tenuous relationship between the two titular heroes. Simply put, 2016’s Ratchet & Clank is the best triple-A platformer you can play on the PS4.
Nobody thought the Souls would be such a hit when the first entry in the series, Demon’s Souls, was released in 2009. Sony gave up its exclusive rights to Souls right after, and it’s one of the worst PlayStation decisions the company has made. Not only is Souls a critical darling, with all five entries winning countless of awards, it’s a commercial juggernaut as well. Sony wanted to make up for its mistake by exclusively releasing a slightly similar game called Bloodborne from Souls creator Hidetaka Miyazaki.
Not as fast as Nioh and not as slow and tactical as Souls, Bloodborne’s gameplay is somewhere right in the middle. There’s an arcadey feel to combat, allowing players to quickly dodge attacks and pull off swift strikes, but Bloodborne doesn’t lose Souls’ high difficulty level and focus on strategy. The game’s gorgeous Gothic stunning and world design makes Bloodborne look like a proper Castlevania title. It’s been two years since Bloodborne launched, and fans are already craving for a sequel.
2 Horizon Zero Dawn
Horizon Zero Dawn, the second game on this list from Guerrilla Games, is without a doubt the studio’s best work in its 17-year history. Guerrilla was stuck making first-person shooters, and was failing to turn Killzone into the blockbuster franchise Sony wanted and needed it to be. After releasing Shadowfall in 2013, Guerrilla went quiet and started full production on its biggest and most ambitious project yet. Horizon marks a huge departure for the studio. But despite Guerrilla’s lack of experience making role-playing games, it surprised everyone with just how excellent its first effort would be.
Horizon’s intriguing mythology, post-apocalyptic setting, strong female protagonist, and deep combat that force players to plan and strategize ahead of every fight makes this open-world RPG not only one of the best games of 2017, but the best in its genre since 2015’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
1 Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
After working on a such a dark and somber game like The Last of Us, which has been heralded as one of the greatest titles ever made, many people worried whether or not the Naughty Dog developers had it in them to work on yet another Uncharted game. Unlike The Last of Us, Uncharted has a brighter and more humorous tone, and fans of the series did not want to see that lost in the final entry. However, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End turned out to be the finale everyone wanted; a satisfying and emotional conclusion to a beloved franchise.
While A Thief’s End doesn’t contain as many set pieces as the previous three games, Naughty Dog opted instead to focus more on the relationships between Nathan Drake, Ellen, Sully, and Nathan’s long-long brother Sam. Seeing Nathan question his life decisions and whether or not he still has it in him to go hunt for mythical treasures around the world makes for a poignant finale. The game’s prologue is a also a surprising and superb end cap to PlayStation’s most popular franchise.