Rooting around in a coffee table basket, looking for a notepad, I unearthed this list. I’d forgotten having written it down a little over a month ago. Upon seeing it I remembered, ‘oh, this is that list I wrote down of my 17 favourite PS4 games.’
So…That’s what this is, then.
(Sorry, early adopters. There are no PS VR games here.)
These are not necessarily first party games, or even games that are native to only the PS4. They’re just games that are available on the system, and that’s where I played them. Which has been most of what I’ve played on over the past two and-a-half years, with a lot of Vita sprinkled in, but there’s no Vita stuff on this list, kinda obviously from the explanation I just gave. Anyway, for your judgment and mocking, this list:
17 — Bloodborne
Bloodborne would be number one on this list if Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls didn’t exist. But, ya know. That’s the kind of number 17 game this is: it’s simply the fourth iteration of a brilliant, complex-but-solid vision for a video game. It’s totally worthy of a number one ranking, it’s just that we’ve had a bunch of similar adventures before.
16 — Life Is Strange
I think Life Is Strange could have had some form of more satisfying ending. And it might have been clunky in a few places. Mechanically and story wise. But for the most part it was a fun and often emotional roller-coaster. The adventure gameplay is different enough with a few quirks of its own as well. The characters grew on me by the middle of the series (season?). It seems like a pretty good number 16.
15 — Party Hard
I saw this game played on YouTube and decided I had to have it. The types of people who like to say certain games are “rough around the edges” would love to call Party Hard rough around the edges. Sure, whatever. If a game entertains me it can look like whateverthefuck. This is a stupid looking, buggy, quirky-as-hell, sometimes not working as intended video game. But it’s stupid, ridiculous fun. This game is my Hotline Miami. Some people want the run-in-guns-blazing adrenaline rush that game provides. While I don’t particularly like it, I can easily see why it’s admired. It’s tight and efficient. That’s kind of what Party Hard isn’t; and yet I’d much rather play Party Hard. For all its flaws, the game can be so satisfying – whether methodically stalking people at a house party, or trying to cause as much chaos as possible by inciting a panic and then watching that panic snowball into insanity. Party Hard can be super fun played either way, especially to types like me who enjoy a methodical mass-murder strategy game, even if it’s sort of sloppy all around. To me, it just works somehow.
14 — No Man’s Sky
I can imagine a future in which there are hordes of documentaries about the pain this game caused to people. It was supposed to be everything!, they’ll shout-cry into the camera. The outrage over No Man’s Sky should have easily been avoided. Expectations ran amok. It amounts to this: 1. Stop pre-ordering games. 2. Read a few reviews and wait an extra day or two.
Did Hello Games mislead the public? I dunno, maybe. For argument’s sake, sure. Yes.
Was there anything unethical about the way they marketed/presented their game? Maybe. Businesses are constantly doing unethical shit. That’s why some people have jobs where they act as a middle-person to tell consumers what they’re in for. If everyone who cried their eyes out about this goddamn game would have just waited to read some reviews– which they could have done on the day it came out! It’s not like they had to wait– they might have learned that the game wasn’t what they hoped it was.
To all the people who pre-ordered No Man’s Sky – you made Hello Games rich. You did this. I know, I saw the same trailers that you did. The game looked like it had really cool potential to be a lot of things. But we all know better by now, do we not? Be the change you want to see – don’t pre-order games. Ever. There’s no reason. I’ve done it twice in my life– in the physical media era, mind you–, the first time for BioShock, which was known to be a game-changer a week before it released, and Dark Souls II, which if you know me I don’t need to explain.
For the vast majority of humans with good internet, the days of pre-orders are over. You don’t need that special bonus hyper edition skin or coat or axe or hat.
Personally, I don’t agree with the way Hello Games has handled NMS post-release, what with their complete silence on the matter. But they’re a business, and they sold the shit out of that game. They did their jobs, and they probably have a bright future. Despite being called out by Shuhei Yoshida himself, I’m sure Sony is quite pleased with how much money NMS raked in.
Anyway, uh…Yeah, I like the game for what it is.
Oh, I’d also like to correct a common misconception about the game. I’ve heard a lot of people say that, despite them thinking the game must have had a bit of extra development help from outside and this and that, they were amazed to see that the credits are “just one page of about 15 names or so.” So, yeah, I don’t know if Hello Games made weird credits on purpose, but if you sit on that “one credits page” for about 15-20 seconds it will fade into a second page of credits, with many more names. And then it does that a bunch more times. I watched the full credits to the game and that took about 10 minutes. It obviously credits a lot of Sony people and other non- Hello Games people.
So yeah, if you hear people talking about how crazy it is that No Man’s Sky is just one static page of credits, that is 100% factually incorrect. If you don’t believe me I’m sure there are easy ways to verify what I’m saying.
13 — The Order: 1886
I must seem like the world’s greatest apologist of games people hate, right? I still stand by my comments from last year that The Order: 1886 is a fine game. Instead of marketing it poorly (Sony seems to employ this strategy often, don’t they?) it should have been sold as a $30 game rather than $60, and marketed as a unique, six-hours-long highly polished cinematic action game. I’m confident that such a strategy would have entirely changed the conversation around the game.
The game must be less than $20 these days. If you read all I’ve written about it and go in with the mindset that I recommend, it probably won’t disappoint you. The Order has some cool-as-shit moments, and there’s a good chance the sequel will be much improved, so you should get a head start on that.
12 — Oxenfree
I’ll happily play more games like Oxenfree. I’ll take a bit more of the conversation/adventure/mystery aspects and a bit less of the horror cliches. The game would have been just as good with fewer or no exploding light bulbs. The developers could also work out a few kinks with the conversation system (characters talking over one another). Largely, however, Oxenfree was an enjoyable experience. I played through the game three times, the permutations were just interesting enough (and the game short enough) to warrant that.
I feel strongly that there either needs to be an Oxenfree 2, or simply another game in its style. Thumbs up to Oxenfree.
11 — Wolfenstein: The New Order
We all know about the resurgence of id’s properties. Doom 2016 surprised some people. Two years earlier Wolfenstein was a good game, with an actual story and fine characters. All around a sorta great game. Where would we be without id’s contributions? Well let’s see. id made Quake. Half-Life was written based on Quake’s engine. And without Half-Life everything would be dramatically different today. Sooo…Basically without id, gaming as a whole would have called it quits in about ’01. They may still have made FIFA ’02 and Madden ’02 but that would have been the end. Yep, cement this theory.
Thanks, id. You guys are alright. Oh, and Machine Games too; the people who made this game!
10 — Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
I stayed as spoiler-free as one could before the release of Uncharted 4; I had only heard some comments about slow pacing, less combat, and overall very positive thoughts. That led to me being slightly disappointed by the insane amount of combat in Uncharted 4.
When people said Uncharted 4 had the least combat of the Uncharted games (I don’t believe this, actually) I took it a bit too much to heart. It’s like someone in casual conversation saying “Oh, Bronson? No, he’s hardly a mass murderer. Pompadou, now there’s a mass murderer.” And then this person points to evidence that Pompadou has murdered 114 people, while Bronson has murdered “only” 89 people.
Bronson is still a very serious mass murderer.
And so it is with Uncharted 4, Nathan Drake is still a mass murderer of proportions that this planet has rarely seen. Nathan Drake shouldn’t be able to sleep at night. Apparently a normal night in the Drake/Fisher home includes chatting about work over dinner and maybe some video games after. They don’t at all talk about the hundreds of human beings that the two of them have murdered in their real lives. It’s kinda crazy.
Naughty Dog even put a trophy in the game called “Ludonarrative Dissonance.” I like Naughty Dog, but that’s kinda lame. You’re just acknowledging that someone at your company is capable of reading stuff on the internet. It’s like me walking around wearing a shirt that says “Privileged” because I’m white. Yeah, ok, sure, I’m acknowledging that. I’m not really doing anything though. I’m not helping in any way. See what I mean?
I’ll criticize Naughty Dog all day for this because I think they make such excellent games.
I need to talk for a bit, k? Here is the world of games according to Max.
What year did Dear Esther come out? I think it was 2012. I’m 90% sure of that, so I’m going with 2012. No time to look it up. What does that tell me? Dear Esther was just ever so slightly ahead of the times as far as trends that should be happening. There is now a genre we refer to as either FPX (First Person Experience) or walking simulator. I like FPX because it’s more accurate in every case. Anyway, why does this genre exist? It exists because people want games like this. Developers are making games like this.
I very wisely said, once upon a time, that people should start making non-violent first-person perspective games. BioShock Infinite could have started something. It could have been more legendary than the original BioShock. Instead, it was a flaming trash heap of shit, and the team that made it was scuttled. Ken Levine fucked up big time. He’s a smart man and in the past has been a visionary figure in the gaming industry. But ya done fucked up on BioShock Infinite, Kenny.
All they had to do, yes, all they had to do, was make BioShock Infinite a First Person Experience game. No combat. They were in a better position than anyone ever had been to do this. I’m being completely serious. Think about how much they could have changed the course of games if the sequel to BioShock had no combat in it.
When anyone who will listen hears my theory on this (I beg you, listen) I describe it as something like: Why the fuck won’t anyone just reach for the Legendary Cup of Legendary-ness? It’s just sitting there. Even as of this second, any developer who wants to be Legendary can do it. The Legendary Cup of Legendary-ness is available to everyone. You need one of two things to reach for it. You need either a development studio that is allowed to entirely control the influence of their game without publisher meddling; or, you need an influential figure leading your team who can assure a publisher that what they’re doing is the right thing. An influential figure like, say, Ken Levine.
If you have those ingredients here is how you acquire the Cup: 1) Be the development team that is making a sequel to a game where the player murders a lot of things. 2) Make the sequel so that the player doesn’t murder a lot of things.
It’s that simple.
It could have been BioShock Infinite. But it wasn’t. They missed their chance, and that team is forever a bunch of fuckups. No, that’s too mean. Just the people running the show. That’s you, Kenny. Ya done fucked up.
I don’t know how many times I can say that I’m being completely serious, but: I’m being completely serious. Nothing has ever been more obvious to me. Sure, you’ll piss off a few bros and your sales might be worse off (might be, but they might not!) but you will acquire the Legendary Cup of Legendary-ness.
I could probably ramble about this for a few hundred thousand words, so I’ll just cut myself off.
Uncharted 4 is obviously not as disappointing as Infinite. It’s not even remotely disappointing. But I can still want more. Naughty Dog did introduce actually-good stealth into this game that makes for several fun encounters of tall grass stalking. But the big shoot-outs are still there. There’s still a ton of them. This is, after all, easily the longest Uncharted game, which I think is not a good thing, since every single Uncharted game has had at least a few terrible chapters that needed to be cut.
It’s easy to forget the game is super long because it has a great ending (after a shitty final boss fight, mind you). But it is super long. And there are so many goddamn gun fights. I don’t think there’s fewer than any other Uncharted game. You can get Naughty Dog to correct me there, but I won’t believe it. Play it yourself and tell me you disagree.
And that’s why this hurts. The non-combat moments of Uncharted 4 are so much fun. The conversations between characters we’ve grown to love. Even a new character who I guess is well written. Every second of Uncharted 4 that I wasn’t shooting things or blowing things up, I was having a great time. And then the old Uncharted combat would start up again, and I just wanted it to be over. The stealth sections where you could avoid combat were definitely a plus, I don’t have much bad to say about those except they probably used this trick two or three too many times.
After all this, I still pick Uncharted 4 as the best game in the series, closely edging out Uncharted 3. Though it comes nowhere near the dizzying heights of glory that The Last of Us brought.
There you have it. Uncharted 4: there’s still too much combat in this game, and it hurts that Naughty Dog, for some reason, didn’t read my mind and make an Uncharted game that was pure adventure and character exploration without the violence. But it was still a great game that I’ll remember fondly for the most part. It just had a chance to be something more.
9 — Three Fourths Home
I wrote a few sentences about Three Fourths Home in my 2015 games of the year piece. I have nothing new to report, so read that if you want to know why this makes the list.
8 — Valiant Hearts: The Great War
Do you like stories of love, pain, tragedy and dogs? Do you like crying? Then Valiant Hearts is a game for you!
Seriously, everyone should play Valiant Hearts. It’s completely worth your time, and buying it sends a message to a very powerful developer/publisher in Ubisoft, that you support non-traditional games like this one.
7 — Mortal Kombat X
After MK2 I didn’t care a whole lot about MK. After MK3 I one-hundred percent stopped caring about Mortal Kombat. I never thought my love of this series would be rekindled, but MK X did the trick. Is it “ten” or “eks”? I still don’t know. I call it “eks.”
Don’t play it online, that shit is awful. But play the goofy campaign and then just play with friends or against the computer on a modest difficulty setting. MK X has a lot of fun in store.
6 — Tales from the Borderlands
I’m not ready to give the Telltale crown to TftB, I might be one day, but for now that still belongs to the first season of The Walking Dead. However, Tales is far and away my second favourite Telltale game, and I think most of the world agrees with me.
It’s a genuinely funny video game. We don’t have a lot of those. Buy this game and enjoy the hell out of it.
5 — Until Dawn
Woot woot, Until Dawn! I’ll say the same thing I said about Oxenfree: More please! If you own a PS4, Until Dawn is one of the first games you should play. It’s better than every game from 6 to 17 on this list. I’m right most of the time, so you can just take my word for it.
Until Dawn is the Arizona Cardinals of video games: It hasn’t necessarily won anything or claimed the title of “champion” in any regard, but it’s solid and is well respected. (Well, not this season.)
[Note: I recently played Playdead’s new game Inside, and if I had written this list after having played it, it probably would have been placed right around here. It’s really good.]
4 — Overwatch
Blizzard exec: “I’m bored, Bronsonheimer.”
Bronsonheimer: “Hmm. Sir, do you want to make the best type of game in existence in the genre of online team-based shooter?”
Blizzard exec: “Yeah. Yeah, I want to do that, Bronsonheimer.”
Bronsonheimer: “Okay sir. Just hang on a sec.”[Three days or whatever goes by]
Bronsonheimer: “Hey sir, we took some assets from that game we canceled and we utilized them in making the best type of game in existence in the genre of online team-based shooter.”
Blizzard exec: “Super.”
And Blizzard said, “Let there be Overwatch.” And it was so.
3 — Diablo III: Reaper of Souls
In the PC version of Diablo III you can’t roll. In the PS4 version of Diablo III you can roll. Rolling changed everything.
Blizzard made some games, and then one day they made Warcraft. And that was good. And then they made Diablo and Warcraft 2 and people were like “shit, look out, here comes Blizzard, whoever they are!” So then Blizzard made Starcraft and everyone was like “well, that’s a game-changer.” Then they made Warcraft 3 and that was pretty good and then they made World of Warcraft and everyone was like “hmm, another game-changer.”
Then they made Diablo III on the PC and it was probably the first disappointing Blizzard game. Then everyone at Blizzard was like “lol, oops, did someone hiccup?” And then Bronsonheimer was like “yeah that was me, lol, sorry, won’t happen again.”
And then they made fucking Diablo III on the PS4 and it’s better than the PC version. Let me get this straight: One of the most prolific developers of PC games ever– I’d argue top two or three, only obviously behind Valve– had this tiny hiccup, and then they were just like “oh we’ll just fucking make this game even better on this console that we’ve never developed shit on” and they did it. Diablo III on console is incredibly good.
AND THEN THEY MADE OVERWATCH!!!!!!!! Not to mention they have a very popular tablet game that everyone apparently loves in Hearthstone.
Folks, you’ve already changed gaming at least twice, and arguably four times. You can take a vacation now.
2 — Rocket League
There’s really nothing left to say. Rocket League. And, as amazing as the game is to play, Rocket League is also an excellent lesson in giving games good names. Rocket League is a great game, this is one of the most agreed upon things of all time, I have to imagine. Though I think we might not give enough credit to that name. While SARPBC (I don’t wanna) is a goofy and attention grabbing name, it’s also clunky and stupid. This is a lesson to all games. Even popular games. Do you hear me, Killzone Shadow Fall? What?? Those are just words glued together that are nonsense.
Man #1: “How’s it going, Johnson?
Johnson: “Killzone Shadow Fall.”
Man #1: “God no, Johnson’s gone mad. He’s talking gobbledygook. It’s all over.”
What about Persona 4: The Ultimate in Mayonaka Arena. Really? Fuck off.
Man #1: “Hey man, how’s Persona 4: Arena?”
Despicable asshole: “Do you mean Persona 4: The Ultimate in Mayonaka Arena?”
Man #1: “I fucking hate you.”
Rocket League: It’s a great game with a great name.
1 — Fez
Fez is my favourite game this side of 2010 that isn’t called Dark Souls. Fez brings the feels like nothing else does. To someone wired as I am, it’s therapeutic. First of all, there are no bad guys. There’s no jumping on some sad little thing’s head; no “game over.” It’s just little Mr. Fez-wearer (Gomez), go-at-your-own-pace environmental puzzle solving, and a complex and twisting map of many mysteries, all wrapped in the strange but cozy blanket that is Disasterpeace’s soundtrack.
Listen to “Beacon,” “Legend,” “Compass,” or “Majesty” and tell me you’re not a little moved. It may be known as a particularly odd game, shrouded in mystery, what with all the hidden clues throughout to decipher the game’s language. I still finished the game without referring to any guides at all, and I’m not the greatest at puzzle-y games. So it’s fine. I have not, however, uncovered all of its secrets – they are a challenge let me tell you. Again, I haven’t referred to the internet for this game, ever. I think it makes it a lot more satisfying. I’m okay if I never decipher the full mysteries – it gave me enough.
Please try Fez if you haven’t before. I don’t know how a game like Fez exists, but it makes me happy. It feels, to me, like seeing magic.
Is this the worst list you’ve ever read? Let me know!
Email some fool at xtal@Tap-Repeatedly.com.