Sony’s PlayStation 4 has won the 8th generation console war, there’s no doubt about that. It’s affordability, coupled with superior marketing and the reputation that follows the PlayStation brand, helped the PlayStation 4 come out on top and ultimately beat the Xbox One.
However, there’s another key reason why the PlayStation 4 sold so many units, and that would be its superb selection of exclusive titles.
In this article, we’ll be listing some of the best PlayStation 4 exclusive games that helped define the fourth iteration of Sony’s famous console, as well as some that are yet to come out in the console’s twilight years, now that the PlayStation 5 is on the horizon.
Without further ado, let’s begin!
Release date: March 24, 2015
We start off big, with a game that is not only one of the best PlayStation 4 exclusives but also one of the best games ever made – Bloodborne!
The game is set in the grim city Yharnam, a place steeped in mystery that simply oozes with Victorian gothic charm. The story, in true Souls-like fashion, is layered and cryptic, requiring the player to pay attention to all the subtle cues and hints presented in both the dialogues and the game’s carefully-designed environments.
Bloodborne presents a unique twist on the combat formula established in Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls. While the previous Souls games rewarded patience and a slow, methodical approach to combat, Bloodborne features a high risk-high reward combat system that is fast-paced, smooth, and exhilarating – perhaps also more forgiving, depending on how you take to it. The player is armed with an array of trick weapons and firearms and the focus on RPG elements isn’t as great as it was in the previous games.
Ultimately, as amazing as Bloodborne is from a story, art, design, and gameplay perspective, it’s just not for everyone. It is a Souls-like game, after all, so the combat is brutal and there is a steep learning curve that could pose some trouble for gamers who aren’t familiar with the formula. But if you’re willing to try and get used to it, Bloodborne will definitely prove to be an unforgettable experience.
Horizon Zero Dawn
Release date: February 28, 2017
Developer: Guerrilla Games
Next up, we have another groundbreaking game that really stands out on several fronts: the design, the graphics, and even the gameplay, to a degree – Horizon Zero Dawn.
The game is set in a world where primitive human societies coexist with machines that are inexplicably modelled after real animals and that seemingly have a part to play in the planet’s ecosystems, just like regular organic creatures. This makes for a rather memorable setting and the various machine enemies encountered throughout the game make for very interesting adversaries.
Even if we were to disregard the excellent art direction and environment design, the graphics of Horizon Zero Dawn are nothing short of stunning, especially considering that it’s running on 2013 hardware! This is all thanks to Guerrilla Games’ outstanding Decima engine.
Finally, the gameplay is interesting, too, as the player is presented with a variety of weapons that have to be used strategically when taking on different enemies, especially on higher difficulties. Machines are fast and tough – button mashing is no way to take them on, so the player is expected to exploit their weak spots, employ an array of tools, and use the environment to their advantage if they want to overcome the game’s challenges.
At the end of the day, though it may suffer from some common AAA tropes, Horizon Zero Dawn truly is a remarkable game that is definitely worth playing.
God of War (2018)
Release date: April 20, 2018
Developer: Santa Monica Studio
A long-awaited sequel to God of War 3, the 2018 God of War is a soft reboot of sorts. It provided the series with a new setting and a much-needed (mostly) clean slate for telling a new story.
The game follows an aged Kratos and his son Atreus in their quest to fulfill the last wish of Kratos’ recently-departed wife and Atreus’ mother, taking them through several worlds of Norse mythology and pitting them against a variety of new enemies. Overall, the game is more mature and more story-driven than the previous God of War titles, which is a refreshing change of pace.
The gameplay, too, parts with the old fixed camera perspective in favor of a slower and more grounded third-person action RPG experience that feels partly influenced by Dark Souls. Kratos wields a new weapon, the ice-imbued Leviathan Axe, and Atreus provides long-range assistance in combat with his bow.
All in all, the new God of War is a very well-rounded game that pretty much has it all: story, graphics, and gameplay. Granted, it can get a tad monotonous over time and the game, unfortunately, recycles many boss fights, but it is still an excellent game that no PlayStation 4 owner should miss.
Release date: September 7, 2018
Developer: Insomniac Games
Next up, we have Marvel’s Spider-Man, a fresh take on one of Marvel’s most popular superheroes. It takes place in a brand-new universe (Earth-1048) that exists independently of other Marvel universes, unconstrained by existing Spider-Man games and movies.
This time around, the game thankfully skips the whole origin story segment and throws the player head-first into the main plot, putting them in the shoes of an experienced Peter Parker who has had more than enough time to get a hang of his powers. The game features new takes on familiar characters and villains, plus some entirely new ones.
From a gameplay standpoint, Marvel’s Spider-Man has to be the best Spider-Man game to date – web-slinging through Manhattan has never felt so good, and combat encourages players to think creatively, utilizing the environment and a variety of gadgets to defeat enemies. Much like with Horizon Zero Dawn, mindless button-mashing is no way to play the game.
Overall, the combat is definitely reminiscent of the Batman Arkham series, though sadly, the boss fights aren’t the game’s strong suit and many of the villains feel wasted in the end. Regardless, even if you’re not a big fan of Spider-Man or superheroes in general, Marvel’s Spider-Man is definitely worth trying out.
Killzone Shadow Fall
Release date: November 15, 2013
Developer: Guerrilla Games
Next, we have Killzone Shadow Fall, the fourth entry in the Killzone series which goes all the way back to the PlayStation 2. Now, Killzone games mainly stood out due to the sci-fi aesthetic that was pasted on what was essentially just a regular Call of Duty-esque FPS game i.e. a largely linear single-player experience whose main appeal lay in its multiplayer content.
In contrast, Shadow Fall places a greater focus on the single-player campaign, equipping the player with a variety of tools and allowing them to move more freely through less linear levels and environments, utilizing stealth as they go. That said, Shadow Fall is more difficult than what the players familiar with the past Killzone games expected.
Ultimately, Killzone Shadow Fall is a beautiful game (courtesy of the Decima engine once again) and the gunplay is solid, though the story is still not its strong suit, despite the developers’ efforts to turn Killzone into a more serious single-player experience. Nonetheless, you can easily catch Shadow Fall at a discount now, so if it sounds like your cup of tea, you should probably give it a try.
The Last Guardian
Release date: December 6, 2016
Developer: SIE Japan Studio
Moving on, we have The Last Guardian, a game developed by the people behind the unforgettable Shadow of the Colossus, something that is readily apparent from the game’s visual design.
The Last Guardian is not a combat-focused game, though. Rather, its appeal lies in its atmosphere, the puzzles, and the relationship between the protagonist – an unnamed boy – and Trico, an unusual part-mammalian, part-avian creature who accompanies him. Of course, the player will have to make use of both the boy’s and Trico’s abilities in order to solve puzzles and progress.
Needless to say, The Last Guardian is an unusual game. It looks great, and though it suffers from some minor performance issues on the regular PS4, this is unlikely to be too big of a distraction if an evocative puzzle game such as this one is something that you find interesting.
Release date: August 25, 2015
Developer: Supermassive Games
Next, we have yet another adventure game that echoes titles such as Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy and Heavy Rain. Until Dawn follows a well-executed horror storyline reminiscent of most slasher movies, all the while featuring excellent graphics – once again, the courtesy of the Decima engine.
The game takes place in a remote mountain lodge, and it puts the player in control of eight different characters who have to face a threat that may or may not be supernatural in nature. As you’d expect from a game like this, there are some choices to make – some will determine who lives and who dies in the end, while others will matter little in the long run.
All things considered, Until Dawn is a memorable experience with an engaging story, well-written characters, great graphics, and excellent facial motion capture. Granted, there are some pacing issues and the tone of the game isn’t as serious as some might expect, but it’s definitely worth trying out, especially if you liked other similar adventure games such as the two mentioned in the first paragraph.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Release date: May 10, 2016
Developer: Naughty Dog
Naturally, we cannot talk about PlayStation 4 exclusives without mentioning Uncharted. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is the conclusion of Nathan Drake’s story, though it is by no means the end of the franchise as a whole.
Obviously, if you really want to get the full experience, you should play the three games that came before this one, though it’s not really necessary. Sure, it would help the story and the ending have a bigger impact, but you can understand the plot and enjoy Uncharted 4 even if you’ve never played an Uncharted game before.
Just like all the previous Uncharted games, Uncharted 4 features plenty of gunplay and treasure hunting. Enemies can be engaged with firearms, in melee, or can be avoided via stealth, all the while there are obvious echoes of Tomb Raider present in the platforming and exploration segments. The gameplay generally feels smoother and more streamlined compared to the older games, so that’s a plus.
Needless to say, Uncharted 4 is a beautiful-looking game with some stunning vistas, an engaging story, and the actual gameplay is improved compared to the previous installments. The levels are more open but are still fairly linear, and as mentioned above, we’d recommend playing the PS3 trilogy first, though this isn’t mandatory if you’re mainly in it for the action and the graphics.
Uncharted: Lost Legacy
Release date: August 22, 2017
Developer: Naughty Dog
We’ve mentioned that the ending of Nathan Drake’s story wasn’t the ending of the Uncharted series, and that’s where Lost Legacy comes in. It is a standalone expansion for Uncharted 4 which features a new protagonist, or rather, a whole two of them: Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross, both of whom have been introduced in previous Uncharted titles. Chloe, however, is the main protagonist while Nadine is not playable in the single-player campaign.
The core Uncharted experience remains virtually unchanged, for better or for worse. As before, gunplay and melee combat are there, stealth is an option, and there are beautifully-designed locations to explore.
The game still looks amazing and Lost Legacy actually does some things better than Uncharted 4, but whether you’re going to get tired of the same old formula or whether you’ll take a liking to the new protagonist is entirely subjective.
Ratchet & Clank (2016)
Release date: April 12, 2016
Developer: Insomniac Games
Now, we get to something a little more light-hearted and family-friendly. Ratchet & Clank is a popular series of platformers that traces its origins all the way back to the PlayStation 2, and it consists of over a dozen games at this point. The latest entry in the franchise is the 2016 game titled simply “Ratchet & Clank”, and it is a re-imagining of the original game.
Ratchet & Clank features fun and engaging 3D platforming with some very memorable moments and character design, and it is an absolute must-play if you’re a fan of platformers. The game features a variety of diverse levels and weapons that are unlikely to get boring before the journey is over.
All in all, there’s plenty of content in Ratchet & Clank, the cartoony CGI graphics are executed marvelously, and it is a proper remake that takes advantage of newer hardware’s resources in order to deliver an all-around satisfying experience.
Now, we should also mention some games which are yet to come out in 2020, which are The Last of Us Part II and Ghost of Tsushima.
The sequel to the critically acclaimed The Last of Us, The Last of Us Part II is slated to come out in May of 2020, and it follows a grown-up Ellie, accompanied by an aging Joel, and the gameplay is shaping up to be a streamlined, improved, and expanded version of what we’ve seen in the original game.
As for Ghost of Tsushima, it is an action RPG set in 1274 Japan during the Mongol invasion. It will feature a vast open world and will allow the player a great degree of freedom when it comes to deciding how they will approach certain encounters.
We can confidently say that these two games will undoubtedly count among the best PlayStation 4 exclusives in the end, but we’ll just have to wait for them to come out first.
Finally, we’d like to go over some honorable mentions – games that aren’t PlayStation 4 exclusives per se and others that we feel don’t quite make the cut when compared to the other titles listed in this article but that we still feel deserve a mention.
The Last of Us Remastered
The Last of Us is easily one of the most prominent PlayStation 3 exclusives, and the remaster brings enhanced graphics and performance, along with some extra DualShock 4 functionality. Ultimately, the remaster allows those who haven’t had the opportunity to play the original on the PS3 to experience this marvelous game.
Shadow of the Colossus (2018)
The original Shadow of the Colossus was a PlayStation 2 masterpiece, and the 2018 remake takes the foundation of the original and improves upon it with enhanced graphics, though the gameplay remains largely identical. The 2018 Shadow of the Colossus truly feels at home on the PlayStation 4 and it breathes new life into a game that definitely deserves the attention of those who never played the original, as well as those who want to re-experience it with beautiful new graphics.
Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection
We’ve mentioned that Uncharted 4 is best experienced after you’ve gotten acquainted with the earlier titles. But being PlayStation 3 exclusives, the first three games are confined to Sony’s last-gen console. Fortunately, just like many other high-profile PS3 exclusives, they have received their own remasters.
The Nathan Drake Collection includes the three main Uncharted games that were released for the PS3 – Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, all three boasting enhanced performance, but they remain otherwise unchanged.
So, if you want, you can get a great 3-in-1 deal which includes some of the PS3’s best titles, and you can get them fairly cheap if you catch the Collection at a discount.
Infamous: Second Son & Infamous: First Light
Following the original Infamous, a PS3 exclusive from 2009, we have Infamous: Second Son. Much like the original, the game could easily be described as a superhero/supervillain simulator whose story is shaped based on the player’s moral decisions i.e. whether they choose to act as a hero or as a villain/anti-hero.
Second Son, however, felt like a lukewarm continuation of the series, and the same goes for its standalone expansion, First Light. There is a great sense of freedom and variety involved with both of these titles, but they ultimately feel somewhat flat, both from a story and from a gameplay standpoint.
There is little sense of impact in combat and the open worlds of both games suffer from the “big empty city” syndrome that is common among many open-world titles. Nonetheless, they aren’t bad games by any stretch of the definition, it’s just that we feel they are simply “above average”, so we can’t rightly group them with the best PS4 exclusives, all the while we also can’t really ignore them completely either.
Days Gone is a decent zombie survival game that manages to stand out from other titles in an oversaturated genre, at least to a degree. An open-world game with interesting combat, it is worth checking out if you’re a big fan of post-apocalyptic scenarios, particularly those that involve zombies.
However, if you’re just plain tired of zombies, Days Gone won’t do much to reinvigorate your enthusiasm. It is still a flawed game with a flimsy story that can get repetitive over time, partly thanks to the aforementioned oversaturation of this genre.
That would be all the best PlayStation 4 exclusives released so far, plus some extra mentions and two more high-profile games that will be released in the near future. Of course, these are only our picks, and there are other PS4-exclusive games out there that we didn’t include. If you feel that there are games out there that deserve a spot on this list, let us know in the comments and we’ll see about adding them in the future!
On a final note, you’ll notice that there are some prominent titles missing, games that you’d definitely expect to see on a PS4 exclusive list e.g. Death Stranding or Detroit: Become Human. The thing is, these games (along with some others) have either already been released for Windows or will be in the future, so we can’t rightly include them on a list that deals with PlayStation 4 exclusive games.
Samuel is GamingScan’s editor-in-chief. He describes himself as a hardcore gamer & programmer and he enjoys getting more people into gaming and answering people’s questions. He closely follows the latest trends in the gaming industry in order to keep you all up-to-date with the latest news.