After one of the longest console generations of all time (seriously, that went on for-ev-er), a new era of console gaming has arrived. You’ve likely already read our PS4 review and made up your mind about the system; now it’s time to decide which games are worth buying. Do you pick up the exclusive AAA titles, focus on downloadable indie releases, or just snag the year’s biggest shooters? Well, we have some answers.
This list is currently a bit light, to be sure–but we’ll continue to update it as new games come out (and, more importantly, as embargos lift). Want to know which games to buy on day one? Well, look no further…
Knack - Knack is so close to being the game you want it to be. When the camera's pulled in tight the graphics looks fantastic, and when the combat is at its best, it's surprisingly clever. The end result is something of a muddled experience, with gameplay that seems stuck between the past and the present, and characters you'll forget the moment they're off-screen. That said, there's definitely an audience (see: kids) for the game, as we discussed in our Knack review. It has a ton of content, with a meaty, 10+ hours of story and plenty of replay value with its unlockable skins and gadgets. There's even a downloadable companion app that'll help you along the way, giving you access to new items that help keep the combat varied. Sony might not have a new mascot in Knack, but it definitely has a serviceable brawler.
Skylanders: Swap Force - With Skylanders: Swap Force, you have yet another chance to feed your obsession and collect even more Skylanders figures. Just drop them on the power portal, level them up, and get absurdly addicted to the beat-em-up, co-op adventure. The new Swap Force figures take center stage, adding more variety to the gameplay with their ability to take on other character's powers by switching out the figures' lower half. On the PS4, the visuals get kicked up a notch. The environments are exquisitely detailed, CGI cutscenes look like they came straight out a Pixar movie, and your characters are even more lifelike than before. There's more in our Skylanders: Swap Force review, but if you haven't already committed to purchasing Swap Force on current-gen, you won't be disappointed by the look of your characters on the next-gen hardware.
Need for Speed: Rivals - Fans of Criterion's recent run of arcade racers will be happy to know that Ghost Games' first Need For Speed continues in the Burnout developer's path of fast, fun racing. Set in an awesome world full of things to do (our Need for Speed: Rivals review called it the Skyrim of racers), the game features brilliant driving that looks downright fantastic on the PS4. Those interested in changing engine parts and simulating driving in circles need not apply--Rivals is made for those more comfortable running opponents (or, let's just say it: rivals) off the roads. With a suite of online multiplayer options, NFS: Rivals has plenty to offer.
DC Universe Online - DC Universe Online isn't a new game by any means--it's been alive and well on the PC and the PS3 for some time now. The free-to-play MMO gives you the ability to customize and create your very own hero or villain and fight through you all your favorite DC locations, with powerful, physical combat that makes the game feel more like a brawler than a traditional MMO. It's ranked pretty high on our list of the best free MMORPGs, too, and it stands the test of time. The changes to DCUO on the PS4 are pretty minimal when you put them side-by-side. A few new environmental effects pop up from time to time, and overall things are a little less jaggy. When you're flying high above the city you will still get substantial pop-in, but it's hardly a deal breaker. Instead of a leap forward to next-gen, DCUO on PS4 is more for people to continue their current experience onto their new console.
NBA 2K14 - It’s not just about shiny basketball men with wavy shorts (although the player models and cloth physics are amazing). NBA 2K14 on next-gen plays slicker thanks to improved on-court animations and smoother flow in between them. It also adds more immediate tactical options, and refreshes the presentation with mid and post-game interviews. Big changes abound in the modes too. My Career is now a proper story, with cut-scenes, characters and interesting scenarios to smash through. It’s a fantastic way to revamp the stale career mode. Meanwhile My GM makes franchise-management easier on the eye, and My Team gets online tournaments. Only rough edges and some reused presentation content spoil an otherwise superb next-gen sports experience.
Resogun - Nothing quickens the pulse like a wall of incoming fireballs, speeding at you amidst an eye-popping chaotic neon light show. And wouldn't you know it--that feeling encompasses every moment of Resogun, an arcade shooter that's traditional in its gameplay and stunningly advanced in its presentation. This PS4 downloadable is just the kind of experience you're looking for at launch: a score-driven good time that'll have you chasing your friends' records for weeks. When you're not engrossed by the frenetic shmup action, you'll be in awe of Resogun's particle effects, which fly around the screen at a furious pace. Your reward for completing levels is actual Armageddon, as the whole mother-loving cityscape explodes around you into itty-bitty fragments. It's glorious destruction at its best, and serves as a fitting incentive for saving the last remnants of humanity.
Call of Duty: Ghosts - So, you're looking for a shooter and you don't feel like playing Killzone: Shadow Fall or Battlefield 4? Good news! As our Call of Duty: Ghosts review explains, the latest COD has everything you're looking for. Want to blow up a nuclear-missile-launching space station while floating around in zero gravity? Yeah, that happens. Like, right away. Oh, you're a multiplayer gamer? CoD: Ghosts has one of the most polished and robust multiplayer offerings on the market. How robust? Dude, you can be a female soldier, customize your loadout with 30 perks, and play in a bunch of multiplayer modes. Not a multiplayer gamer? What else is there? Oh wait! Aliens. Extinction mode. Co-op. Boom!
Killzone: Shadow Fall - Easily the better of the PlayStation 4's two AAA launch titles (as you likely read in our Killzone: Shadow Fall review), the latest entry in the Killzone franchise is an immensely enjoyable first-person shooter, with decent multiplayer and a single-player campaign that's wrapped in a surprisingly tense Cold War narrative. Its main characters are a bit bland at times, but the campaign more than makes up for their shortcomings with powerful vignettes that depict the effects of its fictional sci-fi war. And even if you can't be bothered to care about its story, the gunplay here is great, thanks to open-ended levels and really awesome equipment that lets you apply some strategy to your next-gen firefights. On the multiplayer side, Shadow Fall features a suite of standard modes, including variants of team deathmatch and capture the flag, among others. The series' trademark Warzone mode, which randomly rotates through various objectives on the fly during a single match, makes a triumphant return, and the ability to customize your own rulesets means players can create a variety of unique modes separate from the official offerings. As a complete package, Shadow Fall is definitely a PS4 game worth getting excited about.
Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag - We weren't too sure what to think when we heard that the Assassin's Creed franchise would be heading to the high seas in a pirate-filled adventure. What we definitely didn't expect, though, was for our Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag review to call it the best AC yet. Seriously, it's that good. The land combat is as strong as ever, and features some of the most interesting outdoor locations we've explored in the series--but it's really the open ocean where AC4 is at its best. When you're sailing through a massive storm, raiding enemy ships for rum and harpooning whales for crafting materials, it's easy to forget how mediocre AC3 was. Blasting apart enemies is rewarding thanks to refinements to the ship combat, and boarding vessels provides a non-stop source of entertainment. Turns out, Assassin's Creed's combat works really well within the bounds of a pirate game--who knew?
Battlefield 4 - No doubt about it, Battlefield 4 on the PS4 is hands-down one of the best ways to experience this absolutely thrilling multiplayer shooter. The difference between playing it on your PS3 and a shiny new machine packing seven years of technological advancement is nothing short of astonishing. The visuals look roughly a billion times cleaner, which has a direct effect on the amount of enjoyment you'll derive from playing it. Few things are as exhilarating as fighting in massive battles with a total of 64 players, watching soldiers duke it out in the streets while tanks hurl shells at anything that moves. You'll instantly understand why we fell in love with this game the second a humongous battleship comes plowing through the shoreline, while player-controlled fighter jets dogfight in the sky overhead. The environmental destruction is more impressive than ever, the battles are tense, and even the single-player campaign has been greatly improved in comparison to the tragedy that was Battlefield 3's solo offering. If you're planning on playing Battlefield 4 on consoles, go PS4 or bust.