Best PlayStation Exclusives: 20 Picks For PS4 And PS5
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The PS4 (and even the PS5 so far) has been defined by its exclusives. While Sony’s PlayStation consoles have had notable exclusive games over the years, a significant number of the very best games on modern PlayStation consoles are exclusives. From sterling action games like God of War and Marvel’s Spider-Man to brilliant RPGs such as Final Fantasy VII Remake and Persona 5 Royal, recent PlayStation exclusives have been mightily impressive. We’ve rounded up the best PlayStation exclusives for PS4 and PS5. While most of these games are playable on both PS4 and PS5, we’ve included a few PS5 exclusives as well.
If you own a PlayStation console, we’d consider all of these to be must-play experiences. A few of these titles were later ported to PC, but for the purpose of this list, all PlayStation console exclusives are eligible. The 20 best PlayStation exclusives are listed in alphabetical order, and some of them are free to play on PS5 if you’re a PS Plus subscriber.
For more PlayStation game recommendations, check out our roundups of the best PS5 games so far and best PS4 games. First-person shooter fans will notice that this list doesn’t feature any in the genre, but we do have a roundup of the best PlayStation shooters, too.
While the Dark Souls series remains From Software’s most popular IP, an argument could be made that Bloodborne is the studio’s strongest game. Bloodborne features an absolutely haunting and mesmerizing world filled with memorable set pieces, characters, and vicious enemies. The captivating atmosphere is bolstered by top-notch combat, which is faster-paced than Dark Souls and focuses on dodges while encouraging an aggressive play style. Make no mistake, though: Bloodborne is definitely cut from the same cloth in terms of difficulty. Naturally, the lavishly designed bosses–some of the best in the studio’s catalog–present a formidable challenge, but regular enemies roaming Yharnam are often just as deadly. Bloodborne is also loaded with secrets and sets itself up well for multiple runs. Though it released back in 2015, Bloodborne still looks and plays as great as ever. It also happens to be in the PS Plus Collection on PS5.
See our Bloodborne review.
Wildly ambitious and unique in its approach to open-world game design, Death Stranding is an experience that everyone should at least try. Death Stranding revolves around making connections in a fractured depiction of America on the verge of collapsing. You play as Sam (portrayed by Norman Reedus), a delivery man who hoofs it across a world in ruin to deliver packages. In fact, the majority of your time in Death Stranding is spent walking and climbing across uneven terrain while balancing your delivery boxes. On a surface level, Death Stranding seems like a rather boring game, but the act of exploring the world and uncovering the mysteries that run through it winds up being both illuminating and strangely relaxing. Death Stranding is also a rather prescient social commentary and is as delightfully weird as you’d expect from a Hideo Kojima-led game. Death Stranding Director’s Cut releases September 24 for PS5 and comes with updated visuals and new content.
See our Death Stranding review.
The game that started it all. Demon’s Souls put From Software on the map as a studio who would become known for brutally challenging action-RPGs. That said, it was more of a cult hit than later games in the Souls series, so it certainly made sense to bring it back more than a decade after its original release. As a launch game for PS5, Demon’s Souls showed off the immense power of the new console. It’s a simply gorgeous remake, from the character models and world to textures, lighting, and other fine details. Critically, the remake retains the feel of the original game. Remake studio Bluepoint Games didn’t try to change From Software’s masterpiece; instead, the developer smoothed out the edges and presented the modern classic in a new and improved light. Demon’s Souls is a must-play for PS5 owners looking for a challenge.
See our Demon’s Souls review.
While there have been other “game creation” tools released for consoles, none of them have reached the heights of Dreams, created by Media Molecule of LittleBigPlanet fame.. Though Dreams does have a short campaign–created with the in-game tools by Media Molecule–the star of the show is the massive creation suite that allows you to build your own experiences from the ground up. The title is fitting, because you really can follow your dreams and create whatever you want. Dreams has a staggering level of depth when it comes to the tools at your disposal. It’s possible to create a full game that looks and plays like a fairly high-end product in Dreams. It must be noted that Dreams does have a learning curve if you’re trying to make a “professional looking” game, but you can also spend time playing other users’ creations. It’s a never-ending experience, really.
See our Dreams review.
Final Fantasy VII Remake
Considering that Final Fantasy VII Remake suffered numerous delays and scrutiny over its revamped design, it’s astounding that it wound up recreating the magic of the beloved original. Though it only covers a relatively small slice of the whole story, Square Enix managed to stretch that out to a 30-plus hour experience without it feeling padded at all. The move to real-time action combat was a source of controversy, but it paid off exceedingly well thanks to an intricately designed system that emphasizes strategy over mindless hacking and slashing. The remake also shines because of the characters and world. With wonderful writing, pitch-perfect characterization, and a lovingly reimagined version of Midgar, Final Fantasy VII Remake artfully captures the appeal of the original. Whether you’ve played the original or not, Final Fantasy VII Remake is a journey worth taking. Final Fantasy VII Remake: Intergrade adds performance enhancements for PS5 as well as a new episode starring Yuffie. The DLC is also available separately on PS4.
See our Final Fantasy VII Remake: Intergrade review.
Ghost of Tsushima
Ghost of Tsushima is a beautiful open-world action game from Sucker Punch Productions. Set during the first Mongol invasion of Japan, you play as Jin Sakai, a samurai trying to stop the invasion of Tsushima Island. Ghost of Tsushima features a stunning open world with lush environments and a great mix of compelling action and stealth gameplay. The game was recently re-released as Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut, which features a fantastic new story set on Iki Island. The Director’s Cut is available for both PS5 and PS4, and the PS5 version takes advantage of the hardware by offering 4K resolution and 60fps.
See our Ghost of Tsushima review.
God of War
It’s not often that a reboot of a beloved franchise becomes the best game in series history, but Sony Santa Monica’s God of War did just that. God of War does far more than just trade Greek Mythology for Norse; it gives its leading man some much-needed depth and delivers a story-focused experience. God of War kicks off following the death of Kratos’ wife Faye, and follows the demigod’s journey to scatter her ashes alongside his son Atreus. We get to see a brand-new side of Kratos, a more contemplative man that isn’t always in a rush to resort to violence, though that still does happen pretty frequently. The incredible world is viewed from a one-shot perspective, which winds up making you feel closer to the action. Whereas earlier entries in the series felt like hack-and-slash games, God of War’s combat has layers to it, making it both more strategic and satisfying overall. God of War has a free PS5 upgrade that features up to 4K resolution and 60fps. PS5 users can play the game for free via the PS Plus Collection. A sequel, God of War: Ragnarok, releases for PS5 and PS4 next year.
See our God of War review.
Horizon Zero Dawn
Horizon Zero Dawn is one of the best first-party open-world games for PlayStation. Developer Guerilla Games crafted a unique post-apocalyptic world that feels both primitive and futuristic thanks to the machines (robot dinosaurs) that inhabit the expansive lands. Horizon Zero Dawn stars Aloy, a young warrior who investigates humanity’s downfall. Horizon Zero Dawn’s story is riveting and the writing is top-notch. The engaging tale is paired with an excellent combat system that requires you to stealthily observe machines and figure out the right approach to each encounter. With a bevy of cool gadgets at your disposal and immense freedom for experimentation, Horizon Zero Dawn’s combat feels fresh even after dozens of hours of play. The Complete Edition comes with the Frozen Wilds expansion, which takes Aloy to a frigid new setting that uses the daunting elements to provide a new wrinkle to the impressive combat system. The sequel Horizon Forbidden West is set to release in February 2022 for PS5 and PS4.
See our Horizon Zero Dawn review.
Infamous: Second Son
Infamous: Second Son was the first must-play exclusive on PS4. Second Son focuses on a new protagonist, Delsin Rowe, and takes place seven years after the events of Infamous 2. You don’t have to have knowledge of its predecessors to enjoy Second Son, but it does help inform you on the lore. Delsin is a Conduit, which essentially makes him a superhero with cool powers he can gather from his environment. As a Conduit, he has to fight the US government’s agency in charge of hunting down those with powers. While Second Son’s story isn’t as good as other entries, the combat represents the series at its best thanks to a suite of new powers and an emphasis on making moral choices that impact Delsin’s character development. The mainline campaign has a nice variety of missions, fun boss fights, and interesting side quests. If you’re looking for an action game that gives you over-the-top powers and lets you run wild, Infamous: Second Son is a great choice. It’s included in the PS Plus Collection for PS5.
See our Infamous: Second Son review.
The Last of Us Part II
The Last of Us was considered by many to be the best PS3 game. It also didn’t necessarily need a sequel. Remarkably, Sony closed out the PS4’s brilliant run on a similar note, with another Naughty Dog game pushing the boundaries of what was possible on then-current hardware. The Last of Us Part II picks up five years after the events of the original and focuses on Ellie and a new character named Abby. The story is a meditation on revenge. At times, it’s difficult to stomach, and the grisly violence that runs through it can be uncomfortable. All of this, however, helps The Last of Us Part II hit its themes and leave a lasting impression. The Last of Us Part II has a balanced mix of intense violence and stealth gameplay that feeds into the narrative. The dilapidated and dangerous world is beautifully rendered, the score is moving, and the performances are top-notch. Naughty Dog managed to deliver a game that is at least close to the level of the original. It’s an unforgettable and unflinching experience that pushes the medium in bold directions.
See our The Last of Us Part 2 review.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Ultimate Edition
Marvel’s Spider-Man is easily one of the best superhero games ever made. From both a gameplay and story perspective, Marvel’s Spider-Man is more than worthy of the Spidey name. Insomniac Games managed to create an experience that makes you feel like you’re Spider-Man, whether you’re swinging across the New York City skyline in search of collectibles or fighting baddies. With a great upgrade system, tons of cool gadgets, and a fluid combat system that both looks and feels great, playing as Spider-Man has never felt this good. The story, which focuses on a college-age Peter Parker, is extremely well-written and emphasizes both the life of the superhero and the regular guy Peter Parker. The follow-up, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, is a shorter adventure, but it also impresses thanks to the characterization of Miles and foundation in place from the original.
PS5 users can grab the Ultimate Edition, which comes with a remastered version of Marvel’s Spider-Man, all three expansions, and Miles Morales’ campaign. If you’re playing on PS4, you’ll have to grab the two games separately (Marvel’s Spider-Man: Game of the Year Edition and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales).
See our Marvel’s Spider-Man and Miles Morales reviews.
For fans of twin-stick shooters, it doesn’t get any better on PS4 than Nex Machina. Developed by Housemarque, Nex Machina is played from a top-down perspective and resembles old-school arcade games. Players are tasked with moving through rooms littered with enemies to kill while working toward saving humans. The gameplay setup presents a formidable challenge that requires fast reflexes and split-second decisions. Though Nex Machina can be played solo, it’s better as a local co-op experience for two players.
See our Nex Machina review.
Persona 5 Royal
Persona 5 Royal is an expanded version of one of the best JRPGs on PS4, but it’s more than a simple re-release with added content. Yes, Persona 5 Royal adds a bunch of new content, including a superb new palace; however, where it impresses most is with its reworked content. Atlus made sweeping changes to the original story that helps tie it all together in a much more impactful and meaningful way. Persona 5 Royal is a game that can utterly absorb you for 100-plus hours thanks to its wide variety of content, including excellent social simulation features, a wonderful turn-based combat system, and a world filled with interesting activities. Simply put, Persona 5 Royal is the best JRPG on PS4. The original Persona 5 is included in the PS Plus collection, but we’d recommend opting for Persona 5 Royal.
See our Persona 5 Royal review.
Ratchet & Clank
A reimagining of the duo’s maiden voyage, Ratchet & Clank is an inspired and wholly engrossing take on the PS2 classic. Though it retains the plot structure and overall progression, Ratchet & Clank adds features from subsequent entries as well as completely reworked visuals. Essentially, Ratchet & Clank looks like a native PS4 game. It’s well worth revisiting the lovable duo’s first journey together. PS5 owners can play it for free via the PS Plus Collection. Even if you play the next entry on this list first, Ratchet & Clank is still worth your time.
See our Ratchet & Clank review.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is a dazzling showcase of the PS5’s power. As the latest entry in Insomniac Games’ legendary action-platformer series, Rift Apart introduces new wrinkles to the over-the-top action. A new female Lombax named Rivet joins the fray as a playable character, and the story cleverly separates Ratchet and Rivet to provide two distinct gameplay experiences that eventually align during the game’s excellent conclusion. Rift Apart makes phenomenal use of the PS5’s features. Hinted at in the title, Ratchet and Rivet travel through rifts that instantaneously transport them to wholly new environments. It’s a visual spectacle that leads to some really cool gameplay moments. Rift Apart also uses the DualSense’s haptic feedback and adaptive triggers to provide a more immersive combat experience. Speaking of the combat, Rift Apart plays very similarly to earlier entries in the series, which definitely isn’t a bad thing. Whether you’re a longtime fan or newcomer, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is a must-play game for PS5 owners, and it’s only on PS5.
See our Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart review.
Returnal is quite the change of pace for Housemarque, a studio known for smaller, retro-style shooters (like the aforementioned Nex Machina). Returnal is more in the mold of AAA games, with beautiful visuals, a huge world, and a lengthy story. That said, Returnal does retain the difficulty of Housemarque’s earlier games, and it’s arguably the most challenging game on this list. Returnal is a roguelike third-person shooter starring an astronaut named Selene who is trying to escape a mysterious planet. It uses the roguelike formula to tell an engaging and thought-provoking story. It also uses the formula to deliver a punishing experience that requires trial and error to make progress. With an emphasis on dodging and nimble gunplay, Returnal harks back to Housemarque’s other games. It’s a rather novel experience in the AAA space as a roguelike. Each of the six biomes offer new challenges, but be aware that making it through all of them can take quite a bit of time, especially if you aren’t great at shooters. Returnal is one of the best PS5 exclusives, but if you’re not a roguelike fan, it may be hard to get into.
See our Returnal review.
Rez Infinite is a wonderfully made expanded version of the classic musical rail shooter. You play as a hacker inside an AI that has been riddled with viruses, zipping your way through a trippy world on rails while shooting enemies. Rez Infinite has an incredible techno-infused soundtrack that is key to making the experience tick. Along with a great mainline campaign, Rez Infinite has additional modes such as score attack and boss rush. While Rez Infinite is playable on PS4 and PS5 without a headset, it is at its best when using a PSVR headset. Although originally released in 2002, Rez feels like a game that was designed with VR in mind. It’s one of the best PSVR experiences, but it’s still worth checking out even if you don’t have the headset.
See our Rez Infinite review.
Shadow of the Colossus
Shadow of the Colossus was one of the best PS2 games, and Bluepoint Games (hello again) brought it back in style with the 2018 remake. Shadow of the Colossus is a mysterious game, as you’d expect from Fumito Ueda and Team Ico. The game doesn’t tell you much besides that the protagonist Wander is trying to resurrect a girl named Mono. He travels across a lush landscape on horseback searching for colossi. Shadow of the Colossus is essentially a boss rush game, with each of the 16 colossi presenting a unique challenge. Determining how to topple the colossi is part of the mystery and requires a bit of ingenuity and platforming. Each fight is an impressive spectacle that still feels unique more than 15 years after the game’s original release. Shadow of the Colossus is an adventure that will stick with you, and Bluepoint’s remake is endearingly respectful to the original. It features modernized controls and stunning visuals that make the fantasy world and its inhabitants come to life in a new light.
See our Shadow of the Colossus review.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Nathan Drake’s swansong brought Naughty Dog’s charming action-adventure to a fitting conclusion–at least when it comes to Drake’s arc. Drake comes out of retirement for one last job, uncovering the treasure of famed pirate Henry Avery. Taking advantage of the PS4’s hardware, A Thief’s End has more spacious set pieces than earlier entries, allowing for a more freeform approach to exploration and combat. It feels less scripted than Drake’s other adventures, which provides a greater sense of adventure. A Thief’s End also shines for its story. Drake’s and Elena’s relationship is tested, and he has to reckon with the fact that his long-lost brother actually isn’t dead. A Thief’s End has a large scope, and it balances its moving parts exceedingly well to give a proper goodbye to one of Sony’s most iconic characters.
See our Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End review.
Wipeout Omega Collection
As the only racing game on this list, Wipeout Omega Collection stands out for numerous reasons. First, it’s a brilliant and gorgeous compilation featuring a trio of stellar anti-gravity racers: Wipeout HD, Wipeout HD Fury, and Wipeout 2048. What’s especially cool about compiling all three of them in one package is that, even though they have the same foundation, they are markedly different experiences. Wipeout HD gives players the pure, fast-paced anti-gravity racing experience, with high-tech tracks and cool vehicles. Meanwhile, Wipeout HD Fury tosses combat into the mix, creating a more action-packed racing game. Wipeout 2048 rewinds time to before the futuristic tracks were built, dropping racers on more natural tracks that alter the overall feel and gameplay. All three games withstand the test of time, though hopefully one day we’ll still get a brand-new Wipeout game.
See our Wipeout Omega Collection review.
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