The PlayStation 5 has already built up an impressive library. Here are our favourites…
Deathloop is one of the best games on the PS5 so far.
The has had an impressive first year. Following a solid launch with games like Demon’s Souls, , and , 2021 saw an assortment of PS5 games that made owning the console early worth it. And though some exclusives we had hoped to see this year have been pushed further into 2022 — like — we still saw many PS5 games in 2021 that showed off what Sony’s new console can do.
As we’re approaching the console’s first anniversary, we put together a selection of the ‘s best games — so far. This roundup includes first-party games such as Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart and and console exclusive third-party games such as the recently released . Be sure to check back with this post, as we’ll update it with more noteworthy games in the PS5’s library.
Arkane Studios’ Deathloop injects the thrilling open-ended, action-stealth gameplay from the Dishonored series into the framework of a time loop, offering up the year’s most inventive and deviously clever first-person action game. Getting to explore Blackreef Isle as the cunning and equally hilarious Colt showcases Deathloop’s deft handling of comedy and oddball, ultra-violence.
Many of the encounters you’ll have will leave you impressed by how far you can push the intricate design of its clockwork world to assassinate key targets and break the infinite loop. But when you add in another player who can invade your game as Colt’s former-lover turned rival Julianna, Blackreef Isle becomes an impromptu multiplayer arena that sees one player hunting the other. Deathloop quickly earned itself a spot on the list of must-own PS5 games, and it’s also one of the best games of 2021.
Check out CNET’s full review.
The Ratchet & Clank series is synonymous with the PlayStation brand and, even after nearly 20 years of games, Rift Apart stands as one of the best entries in the entire series. Rift Apart leans heavily into the series’ tested formula of action platforming with a hefty dose of over-the-top weaponry, but the latest game features one of the strongest stories the franchise has seen yet, giving longtime fans and newcomers alike a compelling and fun plot to follow. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is an excellent showpiece for what the PS5 can do, and it’s also made us more excited about the future of the series.
2020’s Final Fantasy VII Remake almost seemed too good to be true. Getting to revisit the world of Final Fantasy VII and see the classic party of heroes in a new and visually stunning light was a surreal and equally thrilling experience. It managed to surpass its moniker of being just another remake, and it was indeed one of the year’s best role-playing games. However, the catch was that it is only one part of a larger story, and we’ve got to wait some time till we even get a glimpse of the next installment. Still, Intergrade on PS5 served as a great way to hold players over till then.
Along with an impressive visual and gameplay upgrade for FFVII Remake, Intergrade also added a new PS5 exclusive story expansion focusing on FFVII’s quirky ninja, Yuffie, and her journey into Midgar. If you own a PS5 and still haven’t gotten a chance to experience Final Fantasy VII Remake, then do check out Intergrade.
Another revisit to a PS4 game is the director’s cut for Ghost of Tsushima, an open-world samurai action game coming from the creators of the Infamous series. What makes the PS5 edition a clear upgrade over the original is that on top of having the Iki Island expansion, which adds more than 5 hours of new story content, it also gave the base game a substantial performance upgrade. With improved technical buffs adding increased framerate, faster loading, and running at a native 4K resolution, this enhanced edition makes the Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut on PS5 the definitive way to experience developer Sucker Punch Productions’ visually stunning and carefully crafted open-world game.
2021 has seen an unusual amount of games set within the framework of a time loop, and the PS5 exclusive Returnal still stands as one of the strangest ones of the year. Blending fast-paced third-person action gameplay with the unpredictability of a randomized role-playing game, Returnal has its protagonist Selene trek through an alien planet filled with hostile creatures and enigmatic artifacts detailing a cataclysmic event — and it somehow all connects to her. Its plot feels like a carefully calculated mix of films like Prometheus and Edge of Tomorrow, yet Returnal’s story and presentation give it a flavor all its own. Running and gunning through Returnal’s many ruins with bizarre alien weapons offers some of the most satisfying and thrilling shooters of the year, enticing you to get in just one more loop through the planet.
One of the more conspicuous trends of the past 10 years has been the rise of the super hard game. A lot of that is chalked up to the success of Dark Souls, by FromSoftware, which hit the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2011. But Dark Souls itself was a spiritual successor to Demon’s Souls, a highly regarded game by FromSoftware that launched in 2009.
And now Demon’s Souls has a second life on the PlayStation 5, as it’s arguably the best game on the platform. It has a 92 rating on Metacritic, and got a 9 out of 10 from GameSpot. It’s been credited for faithfully remaking the 2009 classic but improving it with better movement, and modernizing it with graphics that show off what the PS5 can do.
In Spider-Man: Miles Morales, an expansion to 2017’s Spider-Man, you can wear a backpack in which a small cat donning a Spider-Man mask pops out and attacks your enemies.
I don’t think I need to expand any further.
Uncharitably speaking, Astro’s Playroom is a glorified tech demo. Charitably speaking, it’s a glorious tech demo.
Designed to show off what the PlayStation 5’s Dual Sense controller can do, Astro’s Playroom comes free with the PlayStation 5. “Free tech demo” doesn’t scream “must-play,” but Astro’s Playroom has received strong acclaim for being filled with clever homages to previous PlayStation games and, more importantly, for being fun to play.
Astro’s Playroom makes no attempt to hide the fact that it’s an excuse to show you what a gamepad can do. But it conjures a world that you’ll want to see and explore, according to GameSpot’s Mike Epstein.
A third-person action game concerned almost primarily with flow and movement, The Pathless is a pleasure to play every single second you have the controller in your hand.
It’s available on other platforms, including the iPad, but I’d argue it’s best played on a current gen console like the PS5, where the visuals and frame rate reflect the slickness of the game’s design.
You can read our full review here.
Hitman 3 is the first big game of 2021 and it’s a good’n too. Wrapping up the rebooted Hitman trilogy, which began with the eponymous 2016 title, Hitman 3 received a 9/10 from CNET sister-site GameSpot thanks to its excellent level design, improved story and its replayability. That last attribute is the key. Hitman may be about assassinations, but it’s more of a puzzle game than an action game, and you’ll have to play each level over and over to see all of the creative ways Agent 47 can dispense with bad guys.
The game is available on both the PS4 and PS5, among other consoles, but the PS5 version has 4K, 60-frames-per-second gameplay and improved haptic feedback thanks to the DualSense controller.
"Will Sony buy Ubisoft?" and other questions after Xbox's shock acquisition of Activision Blizzard – VG247
On January 18, 2022, Microsoft announced plans to acquire Activision Blizzard. This is a platform holder buying one of the biggest games publishers and one of the world’s biggest games. Call of Duty, Activision’s flagship product, has suffered some declines in recent years, but it remains a massive series. And more significantly, it is one of the most popular games on PlayStation.
Activision Blizzard is also a company embroiled in lawsuits and ongoing conflict with its employees, and has had its reputation seriously harmed due to a sexual misconduct scandal.
I am a business journalist, and there’s a lot to discuss here in terms of industry consolidation, workplace practices and business models. But if my Twitter feed is anything to go by, there are a lot of buring questions from gamers, too – particularly around what this means for the future of Call of Duty, and how PlayStation might react to this industry-changing announcement.
It’s a bit too early to know the answers to these. But we can make some educated guesses based on what each company is saying. So let’s get to it.
Whenever you talk to Microsoft, you’ll hear execs and marketing types talk about the ‘billions’ of gamers that it wants to reach. Considering its consoles have never even cracked 100 million sales – and indeed, only a few consoles have ever reach that level – the company has to think beyond the console to do this.
That involves being big in PC, big in mobile, and big in countries outside of the US and Western Europe. It involves making console games more accessible and more affordable.
That’s why it’s building up Game Pass, and it’s why it is trying to make games streaming work, and it’s why it’s buying all these games and studios, and investing heavily in technology and cloud gaming.
Lots of people will focus on Call of Duty, for obvious reasons. It’s one of the biggest games brands in the world. But in Blizzard, Microsoft has a major PC games studio, and in King, it would own one of the most successful mobile gaming developers out there. Activision – even more than Bethesda – gives Microsoft the creative talent and content that it needs to make what it’s doing with subscriptions, streaming, and technology reach those ‘billions’ of players.
That’s its goal.
Big consolidation of games companies can lead to concerns over creativity and opportunities. But there are also potential positives. Activision Blizzard will likely have a bit more freedom to spend longer on their games, and will no longer feel the pressure to have to release big sequels to their franchises regularly. For those gamers concerned about Blizzard’s recent output, being part of the Microsoft family might just give them the space they need to get back to its best.
There will inevitably be some questions that Microsoft will need to face around this deal. Antitrust and monopoly laws are designed to stop one company becoming too dominant, and putting them in a situation where they basically control the market. Xbox is now certainly a massive gaming powerhouse in this regard, owning some of the biggest and most profitable titles in games. It has the power to really transition the business towards a subscription-based future.
However, the games industry is huge, and there are lots of big players out there. Xbox may have a number of big IP and developers, and operates across most major platforms. But it isn’t the biggest console games company out there – that’s Nintendo and Sony. On PC, it’s a long way from challenging Valve. And on mobile, King may be a major player, but there are other significant names out there, such as Zynga.
But those are just the traditional games companies. Facebook’s investment in the Metaverse, Epic Games has Fortnite, there’s Roblox, Google with Stadia, Apple on mobile, and even Netflix and its games expansion. There is a lot of games competition out there right now. It’s never as simple as all that, but there’s a lot of reasons to suggest that Xbox isn’t a monopoly in games. Not yet, anyway.
No. Call of Duty will definitely remain on Xbox, PC and smartphones. The real question is: will Microsoft stop Call of Duty coming out on PS5?
Possibly, but not definitely. Call of Duty is a global, mass-market games brand that extends well beyond one platform. In many ways, it’s not too dissimilar to Minecraft, which is a true multi-format video game that Microsoft also operates. Taking Call of Duty off PlayStation will boost Xbox console sales, but will likely hurt Call of Duty in the process – that series has a lot of fans on Sony’s console. Xbox may well decide that there’s a lot of value in having a major game on a competitor’s console.
Yet, you could argue the same thing is true with Elder Scrolls, and Microsoft has made it clear that the next game in the series will be an Xbox exclusive.
This has an active and engaged audience on PlayStation already, and as a free-to-play title, the whole point is making it as accessible as possible. So in this case, I would be very surprised if Warzone disappeared from PS5. Just as I would be surprised if Elder Scrolls Online suddenly went Xbox exclusive.
It’s possible, but then it always was. Microsoft’s acquisitions are not purely about Xbox consoles. In fact, they’re mostly about driving the Game Pass subscription service, which is on PC. Microsoft has some popular PC titles like Age of Empires and Flight Simulator, but Blizzard takes that up another level.
The real thing for Microsoft here would be to incorporate an IP like Warcraft into its existing PC Game Pass subscription service.
You have to hope so. Microsoft isn’t perfect, but it has been vocal in its efforts to be a more inclusive, welcoming and diverse business. It’s not saying much, but the Xbox management team is one of the most diverse in the games industry, and it’s rightly proud of that.
It’s worth noting, however, that Microsoft has a ‘limited integration strategy’, which basically means it buys companies, offers them help, but ultimately leaves them to operate how they want. The thinking is that if they go in and meddle too much, it risks damaging what made it successful in the first place (and Xbox has certainly made those mistakes before). This strategy started with the acquisition of Mojang, and it’s worked very well for it so far.
It’ll be on Activision to ask for help from Microsoft. And I suspect it will.
Workplace culture doesn’t change overnight. New processes take time to bed in. Bad apples need to be moved on and replaced by the right people. Microsoft could certainly help, but it’ll take time.
This depends on what PlayStation wants to achieve. The reason Xbox needs these studios and these games isn’t purely to sell more consoles, but to grow its subscriber base in Game Pass and reach new markets.
Sony already has a successful console platform, a strong base of studios making great games, and it’s currently popular in far more markets than Xbox.
But it is facing competition, not just from within games but outside, too. And if it wants to fend off these rivals, or even compete better with new concepts like Game Pass, it may need to keep acquiring.
And PlayStation has been acquiring companies. These acquisitions may not be on the same industry-shaking level as Activision or Bethesda, but this is the games industry we’re talking about… who can say where the next smash hit will come from? It could be a big studio like Infinity Ward, or an entirely new start-up. Sony has been investing a lot in new teams over the past 12 months. Last year it signed the first game from Deviation Games (ex-Call of Duty veterans), Firewalk Studios (ex-Destiny folks) and Haven Studios (former Assassin’s Creed devs). Maybe this generation’s big hit video game will come from one of them, rather than an established player.
But watch this space. We are in a world of rapid consolidation. Maybe next week we’ll hear that Sony is buying Ubisoft. Or Facebook is buying Sony. Or Netflix. The games industry is changing quickly.
Potentially anybody. We can all see how attractive a company like Sega might be to Xbox, or Square Enix to Sony. There are plenty of people looking to buy, the question is who might want to sell?
Take-Two, Ubisoft and Nintendo have all previously stated that they are not for sale. But things change. Ubisoft is currently struggling to keep staff following a number of workplace scandals, and its games and business practices are coming under criticism. It may have famously fought off a hostile takeover before, but might it be more open to an amicable takeover now?
What I can say, is that we’re less than three weeks into 2022 and we’ve already had two of the biggest games acquisition in history (the other being Take-Two/Zynga). There will be more.
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