There is with no doubt that Playstation have dominated the current generation of consoles, outclassing Microsoft (and in some ways Nintendo) in every aspect from beginning to end. The consistent quality of Playstation’s exclusives has an enormous part to play in this domination, releasing masterpiece after masterpiece with barely a forethought. What better way to see in the PS5 than to look back at the games that made the PS4 so special.
Before we get into the list, I’d like to set a few ground rules.Games released on different platforms won’t feature as we’re purely talking about PS4 exclusives. Horizon Zero Dawn and Yakuza 0 are games I adore, but won’t be making the list as both have recently made the move to PC and Xbox. I’m also not including games that didn’t debut on PS4. That means remasters and remakes like The Last of Us Remastered and Shadow of the Colossus won’t feature either. Now all the rules are out of the way, let’s get on with the list!
10. The Last Guardian (2016)
The Last Guardian was one of the more controversial games in back in 2016. Blasted by critics for its archaic control scheme, it’s a game that never recovered from its stint in development hell. Whilst I agree with the criticism, The Last Guardian has that special something that games from Team Ico have. Most of their games have clunky controls, but it’s their unique stories that have mass appeal.
Trico, the giant bird/cat/dog creature, was the highlight in an otherwise flawed game. His innocent face and childlike demeanour couldn’t help but melt your heart. Even when he was frustrating to control, the delight on his face when you fed him a barrel or the way he’d try to follow you through gaps he was clearly too big for made it all worthwhile. That being said, recommending The Last Guardian is tough. It’s very frustrating to play, but has a superb story, looks fantastic, and Trico is the ribbon that ties it all up in a messy bow.
9. Gravity Rush 2 (2017)
Many today argue that the Playstation Vita was an underrated handheld console. After Sony practically stopped supporting the system, they brought a few games exclusive to the Vita over to consoles. Benefiting most from the move was Gravity Rush, cultivating a brand new fanbase. This cult success even convinced Sony to take a chance on a sequel for the franchise, an excellent move in hindsight.
Gravity Rush 2 is a criminally underrated title that few people seem to consider when talking about quality Playstation exclusives. With an entirely overhauled combat system, Gravity Rush 2 improved upon an already terrific set of unique combat mechanics I’ve never seen in a game since. Manipulating gravity and zipping around delivering flying kicks to enemies gives you an unparalleled sense of satisfaction. With a relatable and endearing protagonist in Kat, Gravity Rush 2 is a blast.
8. Until Dawn (2015)
Every Halloween, me and some buddies get together and watch the best slasher movie this planet has produced; Evil Dead. There’s nothing like a good slasher movie to get the blood pumping, and Until Dawn by Supermassive Games is the gaming equivalent, albeit with a much higher production budget. Everything about the game is brilliant, from the stereotypical characters to the ludicrous setting and circumstances. It straddles the line of scary and cheesy perfectly. It may not have been Supermassive’s intention, but I like to believe that it definitely was.
Having you play as eight different teenagers, with complete control over their fate, was a stroke of genius. Players could easily remove characters they didn’t like and keep the ones they did, often forming emotional attachments in the process. It made the game fun to experience in certain segments, but tense in others as you desperately try to keep your favourites from getting killed. It may not be the most polished “walking simulator” out there, but there’s nothing else like it.
7. Infamous: Second Son (2014)
It’s a testament to Playstation’s dominance and commitment to quality games that one of their best exclusives was released within the first six months of the console’s launch. Capitalising on lacklustre offerings from Microsoft, Playstation dominated headlines by releasing a sequel to one of their most popular franchises. Infamous: Second Son still remains one of the best open-world games on the platform.
Moving away from previous protagonist Cole MacGrath, the developers gave us a much more modern and likeable in Delsin Rowe. His wise-cracks, personal goals, and rebellious nature made him easier to relate to. Running around Seattle with a brand new set of abilities was a breath of fresh air for the franchise. It’s one of the very few titles on PS4 that actually makes you feel like a superhero, and I will always have fond memories of Infamous: Second Son because of that.
6. Ratchet and Clank (2016)
Playstation made its name early on with a number of fantastic platformers. Crash Bandicoot and Spyro were household staples but have since released on other systems. Even though the mascot platformers of the 90’s have been and gone, there’s one left that has spanned multiple generations. Ratchet and Clank have had many adventures over a dozen games, yet none of them matched the quality of the latest game in the series.
Colourful, vibrant, and gorgeously animated, Ratchet and Clank (2016) brought the series to modern consoles, and with it a level of detail not seen before. Insomniac Games used all of their experience with the series to bring forward mechanics introduced in previous games. It made the game incredibly varied and exciting to play, breaking up the main gameplay loop perfectly with races, grinding sections and aerial combat. You never know what’s coming around the corner, making Ratchet and Clank (2016) the culmination of years of hard work and dedication.
5. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (2016)
Bit of a controversial entry at number five, with many considering Nathan Drake’s final adventure as one of the best third-person shooters ever made. However, it was very difficult to place it any higher considering the rest of the entries in this list. Just like the rest of the games in the franchise, Uncharted 4 is an action-packed romp through foreign countries and hidden temples. Full of thrilling set pieces and car chases, it ramps up the intensity at just he right time whilst peppering in some more sombre, heartfelt moments.
What I enjoy most about the Uncharted series is the story and relationships between characters. Naughty Dog may have started out with platformers, but have become masters of storytelling in recent years. Focusing on the characters gave the Uncharted series an identity, setting it apart from other shooters. Uncharted 4 is the culmination of years of storytelling, finally finishing the story arcs of multiple characters at once, most of which long time fans had grown very attached to. It may be a game where you gun down hundreds of men, but at least it’s wholesome.
4. Marvel’s Spider-Man (2018)
Earlier in this article I praised Infamous: Second Son for making you feel like a superhero. Insomniac Games took it one step further in 2018 and let you become one. Many had tried and failed to make an authentic Spider-Man game, yet very few developers given the license were ever able to make a brilliant game. Marvel’s Spider-Man is not only the best Spider-Man game, but rivals the Batman: Arkham series for the title of best superhero game ever made.
Being a huge Spider-Man fan, I was always going to be a little biased. Insomniac wasn’t afraid to include some of the more obscure villains from the Spider-Man universe, making it a very authentic game that was clearly designed by fans of the spider. What sets apart Marvel’s Spider-Man from others in similar genres was its approach to traversal.Swinging around New York feels amazing, making even mundane tasks exciting and exhilarating. I would often sack off the main story just to swing around a bit, because it was just that entertaining. My only grievance was the notable absence of Mysterio and Venom, something I hope Insomniac will rectify with a sequel.
3. Persona 5 (2017)
I recently wrote an article about how video games can help improve your mental health, in which I praised the relationship building mechanics within Persona 5. Even though I still strongly believe what I wrote, it isn’t the only thing that the game has to offer. In fact, Persona 5 is an amazingly stylish and creative JRPG that deserves all the praise in the world. I’ve never played a game like it that can consistently remain a fantastic experience from beginning to end over literally hundreds of hours.
Having the player enter the minds of evil individuals gave the developers total creative freedom. You only have to play the game for a few hours to see the results. The enemy designs are all absolutely insane, but also fit into the worlds you explore. Just waiting to see what world you get to explore next is an excitement unique to Persona 5, just because it could be literally anything around the corner. You’ll be roaming around an ancient pyramid in one level and then a cruise ship in the next. Persona 5 is an example of what talented developers can do if completely unshackled by creative limitations.
2. Bloodborne (2015)
Separating first and second place was almost torture which, coincidentally, is what it’s like walking the streets of Yharnam. Bloodborne is undoubtedly one of the best games this generation, even though I’m not the biggest Dark Souls fan. Something about the game’s aggressive combat and sullen atmosphere resonated with me more than other games developed by From Software. I know it’s considered blasphemous to dislike the Souls series, but Bloodborne was the first game from the now famous developers that clicked with me.
I was never one to play defensively, and Bloodborne allowed me to charge into the thick of the fight. With a dizzying range of weaponry and unique playstyles, it’s game that you can play multiple times over yet have a different experience every time. Whilst it makes you want to smash your controller against a wall, Bloodborne’s difficulty never feels unfair or undeserved. Boss fights are either massive spectacles or personal duels, changing it up randomly to keep you on your toes. It’s a wonderfully frustrating experience and I could easily pick it up today, five years later, and still be sucked into its world.
1. God of War (2018)
What can be said about the God of War reboot that hasn’t already been said? When the series was in dire need of a shakeup, Santa Monica Studio delivered the goods. They gave us a tender, caring Kratos without compromising the epic set pieces that the franchise is famous for. Previously portrayed as an axe-wielding maniac bent on revenge, making Kratos a father gave the Greek god a sense of relatability previously unseen in other games, and his relationship with Atreus was the highlight in an already majestic game.
Distancing themselves from the standard corridors fans came to expect, Santa Monica gave us a mixture of linear set-pieces and a semi open-world that rewarded exploration over anything else. Atreus constantly reminds the player to explore the world, and for good reason. Each side quest in God of War is unique and rewards the player with world building and material goods. One of my favourite parts of the game is simply cruising the lake in your boat listening to the characters talk to each other, such is the quality of the writing.
And it’s not like combat suffered as a result of the reboot. The change to an over-the-shoulder camera made combat feel much more personal and brutal. The Leviathan Axe is incredibly satisfying to use and has cemented itself in the halls of famous video game weaponry. Boss fights may not be as numerous as in previous God of War titles, but their scale remains. God of War is the only game, to this day, that has made my jaw drop. The final few hours of this game has some of the most impressive spectacles I’ve ever seen in a video game. God of War isn’t just my favourite PS4 exclusive, but one of my favourite games of all time.
I could go on for longer about God of War but I think I’ll spare you the 10,000 word essay. It’s important to note that this is simply a celebration of seven years of quality games, and that I don’t think any game on this list is “bad”. It was surprisingly difficult to rank them, but it just came down to personal enjoyment in the end. If you think I missed a brilliant exclusive, be sure to let me know in the comments below. I’m genuinely interested to see what you think of the list and what your favourite PS4 exclusive.