There’s no way around it — the PlayStation 4 is at a disadvantage when it comes to launch lineups. Microsoft went all out on November 22nd, filling the shelves with exclusives and multiplatform titles alike. Sony’s paltry offering consisted of just three PS4-only games, which might not be as worrisome if either the two games actually available at retail were earth-shatteringly impressive.
But that is not the case. One is a great multiplayer shooter with a muddled campaign and the other is a repetitive platformer with a forgettable mascot. Don’t fret though, PlayStation 4 owners, there are still a few games to stock your shelves with over the holidays, and some are even worth playing.
In this feature, BGR has done its best to comb through the stark lineup to find the diamonds in the rough, the games you should pick up over the holidays for your brand new PlayStation 4. Here are the five best PS4 games money can buy so far.
I never would have guessed that what amounts to a digital pack-in title would be the best exclusive on the PlayStation 4, but for better or worse, that does seem to be the case. Resogun is not a complex game — in the vein of Super Stardust HD, Housemarque’s last PlayStation-exclusive space shooter, the visuals and the simplicity are what give Resogun its charm. Each level has a continuous wave of enemies with which you must do battle while simultaneously rescuing tiny green humans from their suffocatingly small cages.
The gimmick of Resogun is that the levels wrap around 360 degrees. Flying in either direction gives the impression that the level is spinning on an axis. It also gives you the ability to see what’s happening on the opposite side of the level while you’re fighting off aliens in the foreground. There are a few different ships to choose from, each with different abilities that can be upgraded by picking up powerups, as is to be expected from a game like this.
I’m sure the spell will break within the next couple of years, but as with nearly every game on both the PS4 and Xbox One, Resogun is stunning. The core of every level serves as the background, and as you battle with the enemy forces, the buildings collapse into a shower voxels behind your ship. It’s more than just the graphical power of the hardware; Housemarque knows how to craft a beautiful aesthetic. If you own a PlayStation 4, you deserve to download Resogun.
Killzone: Shadow Fall
It’s no surprise that both Xbox One and PS4 fans already have a few shooters to choose from this month, but only one is doing anything different than its competitors. Killzone: Shadow Fall is a deeply flawed game with a hit-or-miss campaign that culminates in quite possibly the dumbest ending I’ve ever been unfortunate enough to witness, but the multiplayer almost makes up for what is admittedly an uneven package.
Although BGR’s review of Shadow Fall was less than enthusiastic, there were plenty of other critics who were able to look past the rough edges and find an enjoyable, noteworthy FPS, which can be hard to find amid the sea of modern day military shooters that flood the market every three months. And although the multiplayer lacks the obsessive-compulsive leveling system of other titles, Killzone’s ever-evolving Warzone mode is more engaging than any individual mode in Call of Duty: Ghosts or Battlefield 4.
Do a little bit of research, maybe watch some streamers on the PS4 Twitch app before you take the plunge, but if you’re looking for a shooter that tries to shake things up rather than dumbing them down, Killzone: Shadow Fall is worth a look.
Battlefield 4 is the latest addition to one of the most popular FPS series in the history of the genre. DICE brought the series to consoles years ago with Battlefield 2: Modern Combat, but the franchise made its biggest impression yet in 2011 with the release of Battlefield 3. Two years later, Battlefield 4 is out for both the last-gen and the next-gen systems, and for my money, it’s the best next-gen shooter so far.
In a genre where Call of Duty has reigned supreme for far too long, Battlefield feels like a genuine evolution of the formula. Multiplayer matches play out across enormous, expansive environments, filled with land, sea and air vehicles to maneuver. Vehicles have always been a staple of the franchise, but after spending years with Call of Duty’s infantry-only online battles, it’s hard to imagine going back.
That’s not to say there aren’t issues. Much like Killzone, Battlefield 4 subjects you to a terribly boring campaign filled with unlikable characters working their way through unlikely circumstances. It’s also been widely reported that the game suffers from regular crashes, a rarity for any console release, much less from a publisher as monolithic as EA. As with every shooter on the PS4 and Xbox One, Battlefield 4 is worth it for the multiplayer alone, but this might be the best multiplayer of all.
Need for Speed: Rivals
Need for Speed: Most Wanted was one of the games I spent the most time with last generation, so Rivals was near the top of the list of games I couldn’t wait to get my hands on with the new console launches.
At first glance, Need for Speed: Rivals looks like a “greatest hits” collection of some of the most popular Need for Speed titles, and not in a good way. The huge open world of Most Wanted is in tact, but it feels far more claustrophobic than before. The high-speed police chases of Hot Pursuit are still exciting, but without a reliable matchmaking system, you’ll spend almost all of your time shunting AI racers rather than fellow human players.
For those expecting a direct follow-up to any of the previous titles in the series (as I was), it’s important to realize that the team at Ghost Games took a different approach entirely. The mission structure is much more linear, cars unlock in sequence, and every session is a multiplayer session as long as you are connected to the Internet. It’s worth noting that Rivals inexplicably features the most insane, baffling, poorly-acted story I can remember seeing in a video game in recent memory. It’s frightening at first, but it takes on a “so bad it’s good” quality within the first hour or so that immediately qualifies it for MST3K-style group sessions.
As a PS4 owner, you don’t have many options in the racing game department. Driveclub has been delayed into 2014 and Forza Motorsport 5 is an Xbox One exclusive. Rivals takes some warming up to, but once you click with it, you’ll start having a lot of fun.
After including Peggle on the list of best Xbox One games, I couldn’t rightfully exclude the higher-definition update of one of my favorite PlayStation 3 games from this list. If you’ve never played Flower, the game has a very simple premise: take control of the wind and fly from flower to flower, collecting petals along the way. When you first pick Flower up, it feels like a gorgeous tech demo; a way for Sony to show off the DualShock motion controls. As you progress, a story slowly unfolds, giving meaning to your actions.
Flower is as much a game as it is an audiovisual experience. The music is absolutely stunning, as are the environments. I find myself coming back to this game fairly regularly just to look at it again, despite its brevity.
If you somehow missed out on Flower the first time around, consider yourself lucky. This is the definitive version of Thatgamecompany’s first game designed for consoles, and with an entry fee as low as free, you won’t be losing anything for giving it a shot.
You can find our list of the five best Xbox One games here. Check back tomorrow to find out which Wii U and 3DS games are worth picking up before the end of the year.
This article was originally published on BGR.com