Gift guide: Playstation 4 Games worth giving
2017 has been a banner year for gaming, and the PS4 in particular has gotten a ridiculous amount of really great games. Whether you or your loved one is interested in action, huge explorable worlds, RPGs, multiplayer, or something that doesn’t quite fit in the usual categories, there was an amazing game (or four) this year that fit the bill. (And I’ll go through them in that order.)
Here are our picks for the best and most interesting games to come out in the last year for the PS4 (though some are cross-platform). None require the PS4 Pro, though of course many will feature improved graphics on the upgraded system. Even including only the cream of the crop I hit 20 items to recommend, but there are dozens more that could also be great gifts. Feel free to include your own suggestions in the comments!
Lacking a new Dark Souls or Bloodborne, Nioh is your best bet for that type of unforgiving action — but while the game borrows liberally from those modern classics, it quickly establishes its own rhythm and style. It’s gorgeous, intense, difficult, but rewarding – just don’t expect the story to make any sense. (There are new expansions, making this already huge game even huger.)
This quirky fast-paced action game diverges from others in the genre with a unique world, fascinating branching storyline and constantly varying gameplay. Beating the story is just step one.
Wolfenstein: The New Order
Nazis rule the world in a horrifying alternate future you blast through in this controversial but extremely well-reviewed first-person shooter. The team focused entirely on the single player experience, so savor it (if you can stand the admittedly extreme violence).
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Lauded by critics not just for being a solid action game, but a moving and interesting depiction of mental illness, Hellblade is one of the rare games where its message is portrayed through the gameplay itself.
MASSIVE WORLDS: Horizon: Zero Dawn
The new Frozen Wilds expansion just came out, making this a great time to get into HZD for the first time or to return to it. This huge, huge world is absolutely unique in its conception, and its various systems of crafting, exploration and combat are, if not entirely original, often far better than they’ve been done before.
Middle Earth: Shadow of War
The sequel to 2015’s amazing Lord of the Rings open world actioner Shadow of Mordor ups the ante in every conceivable way. Build armies of orcs, encounter unique enemies that dog you for hours and jockey for position in their own organizations – and generally cause havoc with all kinds of awesome Elven powers. It’s the ultimate LOTR power trip.
Assassin’s Creed: Origins
The latest AC game goes all the way back to ancient Egypt, and by all accounts it’s highly engrossing, if not the reinvention its fans have been hoping for. The star is the setting, which is represented with so much respect and accuracy that it could double as a history class.
RPGS: Persona 5
I myself sank over a hundred hours into this game, which combines stealth, dungeon crawling, Pokemon-esque creature collection, and a high school dating simulator. I know, it sounds like a mess. It’s brilliant, cohesive, and has the best art direction I’ve seen in years.
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age
This game originally came out back in 2006, but it was well ahead of its time and really has yet to be equaled in some ways. This revamped edition fixes a bunch of flaws (though Vaan is still the protagonist) and gives this innovative, extremely well-written and well-acted game the presentation it deserved.
Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana
This action RPG series has never really made it big in the west, but give this one a chance and you’ll see why it’s a hit elsewhere. VIII departs from JPRG tropes with a more contained story (at first, anyway) and a focus on fun combat over everything else.
Dragon Quest Heroes II
The first DQH surprised just about everyone with its blend of building, combat, and good feelings. The second expands all those ideas and refines the ideas, but it’s not a direct sequel so don’t worry about playing the first. Suitable for all ages!
MULTIPLAYER: Injustice 2
Truth be told, I’m not much of a fighting game guy, but if your loved one is, Injustice 2 is supposed to be excellent – though if they’re a Marvel person, they may not relish the character selection quite so much. Worst case scenario, this is a great party game — who doesn’t want to have a Batman/Superman grudge match?
This tiny controller
As long as we’re talking about local multiplayer, you’d be doing yourself a favor by picking up one of these little spare controllers. They’re much cheaper ($30) and work better with small hands, making them great for adding kids to the party.
Puyo Puyo Tetris
This bargain-priced game combines the line-clearing of Tetris with the bubble-popping of Puyo Puyo, making for insane multiplayer and a surprisingly compelling puzzle campaign. If your loved one has retro roots they’ll appreciate it.
Call of Duty: World War II
From our review: “For the younger generation of CoD players, this will be a brand-new type of Call of Duty. Without jetpacks and the ability to wall-run, CoD:WWII is about positioning, decision-making and gun skill. But at the same time, the new game returns to a time the series hasn’t visited in a while — World War II — and doesn’t shy away from the horrors of it all.”
Technically this came out last year, but there’s a new expansion and honestly the game is just too fun not to have. Bouncing around a kitchen with an active fault in it or while barreling down the highway, trying to cook burgers and do dishes is magnificently stressful and hilarious. Excellent party game.
OFF THE BEATEN TRACK: Little Nightmares
This terrifying-looking little adventure puts you in the role of a tiny little girl attempting to navigate a horrible subaquatic monster den. The imagery looks absolutely horrifying, but I love it anyway.
This highly original game has you playing as a sort of mystic martial artist, traveling through a gorgeous world and entering combat with others like you. The system of finding and tuning your “deck” of stances and moves is totally unique and will scratch the itch of any armchair tactician.
Another strange but intriguing premise, Echo has you attempting to infiltrate a starkly beautiful mansion of sorts. The twist is that it’s guarded by clones of you, which actually learn from your behavior and adapt to it as you try and fail over and over. An interesting idea that inspires both the story and the gameplay.
Life is Strange: Before the Storm
The prequel to the immensely popular Life is Strange, this episodic choice-em-up takes place long before – you guessed it, the storm that threatened peaceful Arcadia Bay in the first game. But it’s really about the relationship between Chloe and Rachel Amber, the girl whose fate we already know. The first two episodes are available, but you can also buy a season pass.
I started on Nintendo Life as a voluntary ‘DSiWare reviewer’ way back in January 2011, so naturally my first review was Spot the Differences on WiiWare. Despite being a graduate in literature I’d always been extremely shy about sharing any of my writing, so to post a review of a game and get positive comments was a lovely moment for me; my love affair with the site grew from there. Within months I’d reviewed some big games like Ocarina of Time 3D and started writing editorials, and by that first Summer I was ‘features editor’. The goal was simple – to have regular articles that just embrace and chat about games and get us all talking and commenting. I had lots of support from the editor at the time James Newton and the Triforce of directors – Anthony, Damien and Darren.
I was features editor while studying a pointless but intriguing postgraduate degree; I’d decided to do that after leaving a well-paid job because, ultimately, I followed my gut instinct in seeking a career and life that would truly suit me. During my two years of study I feared that my idealistic choice would backfire, but as I graduated the chance came up for a job with Nintendo Life. I would spend my days writing news, reviews and features about Nintendo – how can that be a job?
The full time ‘Nintendo Life’ – which is a lifestyle, that’s for sure! – started for me in October 2013, becoming the editor in April 2014; it was life changing. I moved to work out of an office in England and friendships grew, and then due to the wonders of 21st Century living I came back to Scotland in 2016 to work remotely and build a new life. I know how lucky I’ve been to have that flexibility.
My job with Nintendo Life has been extraordinary for me, transforming my prospects and perspectives. I’ve travelled to London (a lot), Paris, Frankfurt, Hamburg and more for events, I’ve met developers with enviable talent and energy for life. I’ve met gamers and enthusiasts that share a glorious love for gaming. So many of my favourite moments are from talking with creators, particularly indies that produce their games through sheer passion and willpower. I’ve played hundreds of games, written about hundreds more, and loved it.
I’ve also made a lot of friends. I want to thank everyone I’ve worked with in the Nintendo Life team, past and present, dozens of people that have written for the site during my time. Some of my favourite people that I’ve never actually met face-to-face are in that writing team, and their passion for the big N – their distinctive voices and styles – make the site what it is. I’ve had so many great moments with them.
The site has grown and evolved so much, too. Its growth has been extraordinary, to the point that nowadays I cling onto its coat-tails. In some ways my departure is well timed, with that in mind – I’ve written nearly 10,500 articles over the years (news, reviews, features etc), and it rather feels like it! It’s a unique and fulfilling job, but it’s also all about long hours spent primarily online. The internet itself has evolved too – we’ve seen the site’s YouTube channel grow rapidly with Alex, the way people consume media and news is changing, and it’s hard to keep up day-to-day. A fresh editor leading the way (my successor will be announced tomorrow) will be good for the site. I’ve given as much as I can to Nintendo Life and have treasured it, but the time’s right for a fresh challenge.
I want to finish with three important thank you messages. First, to the site Directors and also my best friends – Anthony Dickens, Damien McFerran and Darren Calvert. Their impact on my life can’t be underestimated, as they’ve always seen the best side of me and embraced it. They’ve supported and encouraged me, backing my work and making it incredibly fun and rewarding. They’ve been, and will continue to be, close friends – I owe them so much.
Second a little public thanks for my family, who didn’t even blink when I told them I was leaving a good job to go back to university, nor when I told them I’d write about Nintendo for a living. They’ve always supported me no matter what I do, and that means more than they know.
Finally I want to thank the Nintendo Life community. All the contributors and readers, all of you that read our articles and those that leave comments. I’ve had some great times hosting live blogs, in particular, where the chat has had me in stitches. We’ll always have the infamous ‘VGX awards’ live blog, the closest I ever came to a public meltdown; I have a lot of special, weird, bizarre and funny moments to take with me.
So, thank you. Keep being awesome, keep being nice to each other, keep playing video games, and keep living the Nintendo Life.
As 2017 draws to a close, let’s try and forget for a moment the hellscape of our daily existence, and instead look back on a year that was full of some damn good video games.
A lot of games came out in 2017, but none of them were as good as The Witcher 3, which is so good it can do a mean impression of pretty much anything that was released this year.
A nine-year-old boy from Ashland gave up a big-ticket Christmas gift in order to pay it forward to people he saw walking around in the cold.
If you haven’t scooped up NBA Live 18 on the PlayStation 4 yet, it’s on sale at the PlayStation Store for $9.89, until January 2.