The 10 Best PlayStation 4 Games to Buy in 2021

These are the best fighting, RPG, action, and adventure games for the PS4

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The Rundown
This game features high-octane combat with the same fluid and dynamic mechanics that the God of War titles are known for.
It’s tough, and you will die a lot, but if you power through, you'll be rewarded for your perseverance.
A unique navigation system, which uses wind and visual cues, encourages players to explore the world more naturally.
It’s a wonderful, weird, and unique experience that’s unlike anything ever created before.
It’s set in a post-apocalyptic world where flesh-eating zombies, born from a fungus, roam the landscape.
There are many paths to take, whether that’s through unique dialogue, story choices, or in-game actions.
The same fluid combat system from the previous games returns, albeit with different skill and customization options.
There’s a lot more combat in this one compared to Resident Evil 7, which is welcome.
The developers have fixed a lot of the latent issues with the original games, and you can now skip certain events or cutscenes.
You can go head-to-head with other players online or with friends and family thanks to the local co-op.

Whether you’re new to the console, looking to grow your library, or you’re just in the market for a fresh experience, the PlayStation 4 has some amazing titles. From open-world games and shoot-em-ups to action-packed AAA titles, the PS4 is casual and hardcore-gamer friendly. Some of the best titles are Sony PS4 exclusives that you cannot play anywhere else.

You may believe that since the PS5 is here, the PS4 is no longer being supported and there’s no reason to look for new games. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Sony will continue to support the console for years to come, and there are still a lot of amazing games available on the platform, and that will remain true even when no more are released. Not to mention, the PS5 is backward-compatible so any PS4 games you buy now will be playable on the next-gen console.

There’s something for everyone on the PS4, including family titles, couch co-ops, and party games. You can explore a new fantasy realm, blaze down a track in a race car, take a trip to an uncharted area of the world, or fend off a ravenous horde of zombies. Whatever you’re in the mood for, you’ll find it. You certainly won't want to miss checking out some of the best PS4 games.

Best Overall: Sony God of War (PS4)

What We Like
  • Beautiful graphics and art style

  • Compelling story with Norse themes

  • Welcome RPG mechanics

What We Don't Like
  • Lots of backtracking

  • Non-linear story isn't everyone's cup of tea

Rightfully crowned the King, 2018’s God of War will soon be followed by a (hopefully) just as awesome sequel in Ragnarok. It’s a gritty, gruesome, and more realistic depiction of the infamous Kratos, as well as his son Atreus. Don’t worry, though. The roots are still there if you’re a fan of the older titles.

Taking the series into Norse mythology, this game features high-octane combat with the same fluid and dynamic mechanics that the God of War titles are known for. This time around, Kratos has an ax but he’s bashing in loads of mythological creatures, and then some. The game is also incredibly immersive and cinematic, and it’s presented as a single, uncut, and unbroken shot from start to finish.

It mixes RPG, action, and arcade-style gameplay. Namely, you can improve Kratos’ stats and level up his gear, while the combo-based attacks let you add some flair to every fight.

ESRB: M (Mature) | Install Size: Around 45GB

"God of War mixes brutal action and challenging puzzles against the backdrop of Norse mythology and the relationship between Kratos and his son. It makes for an incredibly compelling game." — Ajay Kumar, Tech Editor

Most Challenging: FromSoftware Bloodborne (PS4)

Bloodborne
What We Like
  • Challenging yet rewarding

  • Lovecraftian themes

  • Multi-use weapon system

What We Don't Like
  • Not accessible for everyone

  • Micolash is annoying

If you like it brutal, brooding, bloody, and rewarding, then Bloodborne is the game for you—especially if you’re a fan of the Dark Souls series. Although it was released in 2015, the game remains one of the best exclusives on PS4. It was also given away as part of a past PlayStation Plus lineup, so if you’re a subscriber you may already own it.

It’s tough, and you will die a lot, but if you power through, you'll be rewarded for your perseverance. Plus, the game has some of the wildest non-player characters (NPCs) of the entire series, and a lot of them give zany side quests, too.

ESRB: M (Mature) | Install Size: Around 41GB

"The beginning sequence is short, and it’s refreshing to not have an hour-long tutorial with cut scene after cutscene." — Kelsey Simon, Product Tester

Bloodborne

Lifewire / Kelsey Simon

Best Open-World Game: Sucker Punch Productions Ghost of Tsushima (PS4)

Sucker Punch Productions Ghost of Tsushima
What We Like
  • A beautiful and immersive open world

  • Encourages natural exploration and curiosity

  • Incredible player customization

What We Don't Like
  • The repetition is still there

  • Can be quite difficult

2020’s Ghost of Tsushima not only blends a smorgasbord of game mechanics and themes, but a variety of visual styles as well. It features one of the most beautiful, captivating, and immersive open worlds in years, second only to Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2.

A unique navigation system, which uses wind and visual cues, encourages players to explore the world more naturally, instead of running from map checkpoint to map checkpoint. The result is a uniquely flowing experience that often takes you off the beaten path to discover new quests, items, and events.

The game follows a single character named Jin, but the player customization and upgrade opportunities are incredible. Not only can you adjust various gear and weapon sets, but you can also equip charms, customize colors (dyes), and much more. Each weapon set comes with a its own series of attributes, adding a little more nuance to the combat.

Above all, stealth is also encouraged, as players can slink through the grass to hunt their prey a la Assassin’s Creed. It’s a solid mix of action, RPG, and stealth, with a hint of exploration sprinkled in for maximum effect.

ESRB: M (Mature) | Install Size: Around 35GB

Most Unique: Hideo Kojima Death Stranding (PS4)

What We Like
  • There's nothing like it

  • Gorgeous graphics and world

  • Interesting characters

What We Don't Like
  • There's a steep learning curve

  • The storyline gets a bit pretentious

Hideo Kojima is the major name attached to Death Stranding, and it shows. It’s a wonderful, weird, and unique experience that’s unlike anything ever created before. Boiled down to its simplest form, the game mechanics involve walking, riding, or trekking—however you can—between locations to make important deliveries. It’s everything that happens during those journeys that makes the game so fresh.

Death Stranding is backed by one of the more cinematic and complex storylines this side of the Pacific. As you might expect, it also features some lovable, and deplorable, characters with plenty of backstory, nuance, and personality. Plus, you can collect your blood and feces to use them in grenades. What more could you ask for?

ESRB: M (Mature) | Install Size: Around 55GB

The absolute best way to describe Death Stranding, is not to say anything at all. Some will like it, and some won’t, but either way, it’s best to go in blind.” — Briley Kenney, Tech Writer

Best Survival Game: Naughty Dog The Last of Us Part II (PS4)

Sony The Last of Us Part II
What We Like
  • Gritty, dark, and everything we loved about Part I

  • Compelling story

  • Diverse cast of characters and gameplay experiences

What We Don't Like
  • Very linear story

  • Can be incredibly difficult

Some love it, some hate it, but there’s no denying that the Last of Us Part II is an excellent game littered with some remarkably immersive experiences and mechanics. It's a direct continuation of the first game, taking place years later as both Ellie and Joel have considerably matured.

It’s set in a post-apocalyptic world where flesh-eating zombies, born from a fungus, roam the landscape. Just like the first game, however, the focus is on its characters—namely Ellie and Abby, who could be described as a new antagonist.

Without spoiling anything, the story culminates in one anxiety-fueled but cathartic climax that is part of the reason the game is so divisive, among some unexpected story beats. Whether you’re here for the story, the gameplay, or the zombies, you’re in for quite the journey.

ESRB: M (Mature) | Install Size: Around 80GB

Best Role-Playing Game: ZA/UM Disco Elysium - The Final Cut (PS4)

ZA/UM Disco Elysium
What We Like
  • What a story

  • Stunning visuals, voice-acting, and environments

  • Investigation-driven gameplay

What We Don't Like
  • Bugs (most are fixed now)

  • Not as much freedom as other RPGs

Some might call Disco Elysium a point-and-click adventure title, and while that could be an accurate description, there’s a lot more to it. The game is best described as an investigative RPG, but its strengths lie within the story, characters, and world-building.

While the player character remains relatively fixed, there’s a huge amount of customization available in attribute, skill, and personality upgrades. Every change you make affects how the NPCs and world-at-large perceive you. There are also many paths to take, whether that’s through unique dialogue, story choices, or in-game actions.

One downside is that, unlike similar RPGs, there’s not as much freedom to interact with the world. You can’t, for instance, go around stealing items, or attacking NPCs. The combat system isn’t traditional, either, and takes some getting used to. All combat encounters are filtered through dialogue, skill, and personality checks.

Still, it’s one of the best RPGs on any system, including PS4. The title did have some bugs and major issues at launch, which have since been fixed through updates and a “Final Cut” re-release.

ESRB: M (Mature) | Install Size: Around 12GB

Best Action: Ubisoft Assassin's Creed: Valhalla (PS4)

What We Like
  • Main character is an assassin-Viking-badass

  • A beautiful yet brutal open world

  • The player home is back with the settlement

What We Don't Like
  • Missing some iconic AC themes

  • New skills unlocked through collectibles

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla takes most gameplay mechanics and experiences from the previous titles (Origins and Odyssey) and cranks them up to 11. This time around, you’re a deadly Viking assassin, roaming around the shores in Anglo-Saxon England. You can raid, explore, build up a player settlement, and much more.

The same fluid combat system from the previous games returns, albeit with different skill and customization options. Skills must first be unlocked by finding collectibles in the world, called Books of Knowledge. Sadly, it means that some skills won’t be discovered until much later in the game, especially if you’re not exploring as much as possible.

It also introduces a unique node-like navigation system where things to do and see in the world are presented as a colorful notification on the compass. Just follow the mysterious nodes to discover new gear, quests, side activities, and much more. Overall, the game is a blend of classic RPG, action, stealth, and open-world genres.

ESRB: M (Mature) | Install Size: Around 47GB

Best Horror: Capcom Resident Evil Village (PS4)

What We Like
  • More combat than the previous title

  • Unique environments

  • Incredible audio

What We Don't Like
  • Sometimes too easy

  • Underwhelming boss fights

The new kid on the block is Resident Evil 8 Village, and it’s a direct continuation of Resident Evil 7 Biohazard. You don’t have to play the previous game to get into this one, but it is recommended. Taking place a few years after RE7, the game puts players back into the shoes of Ethan Winters. His baby daughter has been kidnapped and you’re off to get her back.

If you’ve paid attention to any of the marketing for the game, and have a fondness for Alcina Demetrescu, well, you’ll just have to play the game. One of the more profound themes is unpredictability, and this game will keep you in suspense. There’s a lot more combat in this one compared to RE7, which is welcome. The same item collecting and puzzle mechanics are here, and you’ll have a much larger world to explore in Village. 

It’s a survival-horror with action-arcade elements, especially on subsequent playthroughs. And there’s a ton of replayability, which is good because the story is relatively short.

ESRB: M (Mature) | Install Size: Around 30GB

It’s short and sweet, but there’s a lot of replayability here, and Village gets really fun on the higher difficulties. Do yourself a favor and play it after RE7 though.” — Briley Kenney, Tech Writer

Best Remake: Electronic Arts Mass Effect Legendary Edition (PS4)

What We Like
  • It's Mass Effect, but better

  • Overhauled visuals

  • Includes most DLC for all three games

What We Don't Like
  • Missing the pinnacle station DLC

  • No multiplayer modes

Many fans have been waiting a long time for the Mass Effect series to re-launch with updated visuals and streamlined mechanics, and that’s precisely what has happened with Mass Effect: Legendary Edition.

It includes all three games in the series, and almost all downloadable content, except for Pinnacle Station from the first game. Multiplayer has also been left out of Mass Effect 3, so this is a single-player-only experience.

If you’ve never played the Mass Effect games before, you’re in for a treat. It’s a sci-fi, dystopic RPG with some incredible characters, an excellent story, and some fun, albeit quirky, real-time combat. The developers have fixed a lot of the latent issues with the original games, and you can now skip certain events or cutscenes, and the games are much more fluid. Not to mention the combat from the earlier titles has been updated to be more like the newer games.

ESRB: M (Mature) | Install Size: Around 80GB

Best Fighting: WB Games Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate (PS4)

What We Like
  • Brutal, gory, but beautiful graphics

  • Lots to do

  • Satisfying combat and combos

What We Don't Like
  • Lots of piecemeal DLC

  • Sluggish controls

Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate is the latest game from NetherRealm Studios, and it’s one of the most renowned fighting series ever created. It has a compelling story with a deep progression system and a rewarding single-player experience, but that’s not why most people get into it. You can go head-to-head with other players online or with friends and family thanks to the local co-op. You can also set up private lobbies to play with peers online in a dedicated game.

The graphics are fantastic, albeit gory, gritty, and brutal—as to be expected from a Mortal Kombat game. There's a lot to do, with varying game modes and plenty of replayability. You can also just start up an arcade fight to beat up NPCs and other players. The combos are satisfying and there are a lot of exciting moves, but the controls can sometimes feel sluggish, especially when you first dive in. Altogether, it’s an excellent fighting game that offers a lot of value.

ESRB: M (Mature) | Install Size: Around 44GB

Final Verdict

The best game overall, and one you must play if you own a PlayStation 4, is God of War (view at Amazon). It has a compelling story, deep characters, and it’s a ton of fun thanks to the fluid, combo-driven combat. Other than that, it depends on what you want to play, and there are games from almost every category and genre on the list.

Grab Bloodborne (view at Amazon) for a great challenge, or Ghost of Tsushima (view at Amazon) for a beautiful and engrossing open-world experience. You can’t go wrong with any of the games you see here.

About Our Trusted Experts

Briley Kenney has been writing for over a decade about tech, gaming, and consumer electronics. He spends most of his free time fighting, exploring, and leveling in RPGs. He currently writes for Lifewire, Digital Trends, Ideaing, and many more.

Ajay Kumar is Tech Editor for Lifewire. With over seven years of experience in the industry, he's reviewed everything from phones and laptops, to games and gaming accessories. He built his own gaming rig and owns all the major conoles. He loved God of War and Horizon Zero Dawn for their mix of open world RPG elements with character-driven stories.

Kelsey Simon has been writing for Lifewire since 2019 and she's been a gamer even longer. She owns several consoles, two Nintendo Switches, and even built her own gaming rig.

FAQs

Are PS4 games compatible with the PS5?

Yes, almost all games are compatible with the PS5. Many will benefit from performance and visual updates, now or in the future, that take advantage of the PS5’s more powerful hardware.

What kind of game should you play next?

Truthfully, this is a difficult question to answer without knowing more about you. Consider what you’re looking for, how much time you want to sink into a new game, and what you love most. If you want a deep story, go with something like The Last of Us Part II, God of War, or Death Stranding. If you want to explore an open world, then check out Ghost of Tsushima or Red Dead Redemption 2. If you want some couch co-op and family fun, definitely give Overcooked 2! a try. You might also have a fight or two in Mortal Kombat 11 if you can stomach the gore.

What is the difference between a remake and a remaster?

In recent years, there’s been an influx in games ported to non-native systems, most often adding slightly spruced-up graphics. But what constitutes a remaster vs. a remake? The key distinction here is whether a studio rebuilt a game from the ground up. Doom (2016), for instance, is a true remake because it was completely reimagined for modern hardware. Something like the Bioshock Collection, on the other hand, is just a polished version of the same game originally released for the Xbox that now exists on Nintendo Switch, PS4, and more.

What to Look For in a PS4 Game

Gameplay / Story

Games often include a mixture of story-based experiences such as cutscenes and linear play, alongside various mechanics like combat, crafting, and exploration. Both of these elements are tied for the most important factor when choosing a new game. Think about what kind of experience you’d like to have, whether that’s a rich, story-driven single-player title or a combat-heavy action game with online multiplayer.

Graphics

The visuals provide immersion, second only to the audio. The more realistic and gritty the graphics, the more surreal the experience will be. That’s not to say lighthearted and vibrant graphics can’t be beautiful. They absolutely can be. Check out Hades, Cuphead, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Spiritfarer, Okami, and much more.

Rating

Just like movie ratings, ESRB game ratings tell you what maturity level the content is suited for. “Rated T for Teen,” “Rated E for Everyone,” and “Rated M for Mature,” are just a few common examples. There is a letter rating, distributed by the ERSB, for every game, and it’s included on both the physical packaging and digital store listings. Be sure to check the rating if the game is going to be played by younger audiences. Mature games are best for players ages 17 and up.

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