The 5 Best New Franchises of the PS4 Generation

Let’s face it. Even in this surprisingly great year of gaming, we live in an era defined by sequels. While the cinematic ones nobody asked for (I’m looking at you Alice Through the Looking Glass) are bombing, the critical darlings of 2016 are almost exclusively follow-ups or reboots: Doom, Dark Souls III, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Far Cry Primal. What are the new properties that will define the PS4? Has the system really seen a Grand Theft Auto, Assassin’s Creed, or Call of Duty yet—games that changed all of entertainment not just video games? Let’s rank the franchises with the most potential to define this generation.

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Watch Dogs

Watch Dogs #2
Watch Dogs #2. Image © Ubisoft

What We Like

  • Large and diverse map.

  • Lots of side quests and mini-games.

  • Exciting gunplay.

What We Don't Like

  • Awkward car chases.

  • Weak plot.

  • Reputation meter has little value.

While I’m very hesitant about what we’ve seen so far of Watch Dogs 2 (it kind of just looks like more of the same), it’s undeniable that Ubisoft thinks this is an IP with lasting power. They’re essentially going to put all the weight that they usually put behind their holiday season Assassin’s Creed game behind Watch Dogs 2. Why? The first game offered a modern take on the open-world experience that’s really been defined in modern terms by the GTA franchise. Instead of just rampant crime, the developers focused on the increasing importance of technology in our lives and the interconnectivity created by it. That’s not going to change, people. In other words, as we grow increasingly reliant on computers and how they have changed our lives, there’s fertile ground to explore that aspect of society in a video game. At its best, Watch Dogs could be a definitive modern gaming series just because it’s one of the few franchises that takes place in something that resembles present day. Who needs post-apocalyptic visions when there’s so much going on now?

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Until Dawn

Until Dawn
Until Dawn. Sony

What We Like

  • Realistic characters.

  • Interesting story.

  • Wonderfully horrifying.

What We Don't Like

  • Extremely graphic gore.

  • Short and inconsistently paced.

This was one of the biggest surprises of 2015, a game that cleverly blended the history and tropes of the slasher flick (under the steady, brilliant hand of writer/director/actor Larry Fessenden) with the capabilities of the PS4 and the modern art of motion capture. For decades now, there have been games that promised the “interactive movie” experience, but a vast majority of them have fallen incredibly short in terms of creativity and actual authorship. Erring on either side made for some games that felt too simplistic or not cinematic enough. Until Dawn is a beautifully balanced game in that it tells a story while also giving you the feeling of controlling it. I hope for more games like it in the PS4 generation, and I’m curious to see what the VR iteration of this series looks like before we get (a hopeful) proper sequel.

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Bloodborne. SCEA

What We Like

  • Impressive variety of weapons.

  • Amazing graphics.

  • Fast paced fights.

What We Don't Like

  • Poor AI.

  • Few weapon choices.

Still my pick for the #1 game of 2015, FromSoftware’s brutally punishing adventure game often feels like a footnote to the Dark Souls saga, but I’m hopeful that could change with future installments. Miyazaki has stated that he won’t be making a Dark Souls 4 or Bloodborne 2, well, ever, but if I had a nickel for every sequel I was told would never happen that eventually did, I’d be very rich. There’s just so much to the world of Bloodborne that I find it hard to believe that this masterpiece is our last journey to this universe, and I’m hopeful that an inevitable sequel will allow people to reappraise this game. It’s not only an immersive, detailed world into which you are dropped, but the difficulty balance in this game is better, for this player, than any DS game. It’s not that it’s harder or easier, it’s that the developers give you just enough tools to keep going, pushing forward, and feeling like you really have accomplished something as you surmount each new challenge.

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Overwatch. Blizzard


What We Like

  • Solid gameplay and controls.

  • Unique and diverse heroes.

  • Highly addictive.

What We Don't Like

  • Other online players can be negative.

  • Spawn zones are too far from the action.

  • Can't play offline (no solo play).

Is Overwatch too new to claim it’s one of the most important games of the PS4 generation? I don’t think so. Look at the cult that has already sprouted up around this game. I’m not just talking about mere message board lurkers, I’m talking about t-shirts, toys, and even fan fiction. What’s amazing to me is that most of this adoring fan base has sprung up out of gameplay instead of a detailed universe. What I mean is that it’s not like Overwatch is rich with story. It’s got fascinatingly detailed characters and incredibly addictive gameplay. So people spend time with these characters because the team-based combat is so difficult to put down. It’s evidence that a game doesn’t need a lot of bells and whistles (there are actually very few maps on Overwatch compared to most modern multiplayer games) if the gameplay slays us.

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Destiny. Activision

What We Like

  • Lots of side missions with good rewards.

  • Beautiful environments.

  • Fun multiplayer modes.

What We Don't Like

  • Limited weapon options.

  • Lower levels can be boring.

  • Underdeveloped story.

Is there anything about Destiny that feels two years old? What’s so fascinating about Destiny is the way it has reshaped the very timeline of gaming. When I was a youngster, dear readers, a game was over after you bought it and beat the final boss within it. This just not true in the PS4 generation, and not merely through traditional map pack DLC but through games like Destiny that are constantly evolving with new expansion packs. Instead of a traditional sequel, Rise of Iron will merely expand on the Destiny game you already know and love, and it’s one of the most anticipated games of the Fall. And these are not merely new stories, they expand on and change gameplay and strategy. Destiny has been the pioneer in the concept of the evolving game, one that’s always changing to meet gamer needs and desires. Almost three years into the PS4, it’s the definitive game of this generation.

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