My Generation: A PlayStation 4 Retrospective

As we look back on this past generation of gaming it is pretty easy to say The PlayStation 4 has dominated by leaps and bounds. Releasing in North America in 2013, the PlayStation 4 came out of the gate roaring with a price point $100 below the competition and with a keen focus on gaming rather than worrying about being a multi-purpose entertainment box. Sony took advantage of every single one of Xbox’s mistakes from the starting gate and never looked back, instead putting their head down and writing the narrative for this generation of gaming from day one.

When people talk about PlayStation 4 they speak of the games. The PS4 has an astounding stable of first party and exclusive games and content. It has been the primary focus for the PS4 and the quantity of exclusives is only matched by the quality of them. Studios such as Naughty Dog, Sony Santa Monica, Insomniac Games, Kojima Productions, Guerrilla Games and so many more worked tirelessly over these last 7+ years worked tirelessly to craft some of the best video games played during this landmark generation.

In addition to the software, Sony has worked to bring new experiences to players through innovations such as the dual shock touchpad (which is THE best way to enter text in a game on a controller), the Share button (which is now a staple in game controllers), and most notably PSVR. PlayStation is the only console developer to integrate virtual reality into their gaming experiences. No, Labo doesn’t count and if you say it does I’m gonna slap you. PSVR has allowed console players to experience truly unique and outstanding games such as Blood & Truth, Astro Bot’s Rescue Mission and Pistol Whip. As a PlayStation 4 owner we consider the PSVR to be a truly valuable addition to your library of play options.

When all is said and done and you look at the breadth of exclusive must play video games and gaming experiences, the PlayStation 4 is a generational achievement that guarantees itself a spot amongst the best platforms in all of gaming history. In the years to come when people speak on the best places to play, the PS4 will undoubtedly be spoken time and time again as among the greatest platforms of all time.

As stated, the games of the PlayStation 4 are what make this platform such a crowning achievement in video gaming. So we wanted to share with you some of our favorite PlayStation 4 games that you should definitely have in your legacy library.

My favorite game of the PS4 generation is also a brand new video game IP exclusive to Sony. Marvel’s Spider-Man is a pure joy from start to finish and brought me and my son non-stop thrills from start to finish. I’ll never forget bringing the game home with me after work and sitting down with Dual Shock in hand ready to become a hero. As Peter Parker leaps from his window and the game transitions control to the player I yelled in my living room as loud as I could as I could feel the rush of swinging through the New York City skyline. Marvel’s Spider-Man is a game that brought a smile to my face throughout. From the rogues gallery of villains you battle, to the vast closet of unique costumes from my favorite films, to the landmarks such as the Wakanda embassy and Avengers Tower, Marvel’s Spider-Man is a super-hero fantasy come to life that is only matched by Rocksteady’s Arkham series.

My favorite PlayStation franchise is the Uncharted series and Uncharted 4 is the not only the perfect closing chapter of the saga, but it’s the best game in the franchise. Handing creative control to Neil Druckmann of Last of Us fame was such a brilliant turn, as he was able to use his brilliant storytelling and character development to give us the most grounded and introspective version of Nathan Drake yet. After spending countless hours playing this thrill-seeking adventurer and collecting the greatest treasures the world has ever known, Uncharted 4 gives Nathan the most important adventure of his life and a treasure to seek that is worth more than any gold he could ever unearth. Telling the story about the bonds of family and the debts we we think we owe those who matter most to us, Nathan must recognize the value of love and trust when weighing it against the ever fleeting treasures we spend our lives chasing. Uncharted 4 is a brilliant and surprisingly impactful closing chapter of the Drake legend.

Astro Bot’s Rescue mission needs to be on a list of the greatest PS4 games if not for the fact that so many PlayStation 4 owners have probably never played it. An exclusive PSVR experience, Astro Bot is THE game to show your friends who may be skeptical on the validity of virtual reality gaming. This delightful platformer is also a brand new IP to the Sony stable of franchises and introduces us to what is possibly the best mascot character for this current generation of PlayStation. Astro is a charming little robot who spends his adventure leaping and spinning through themed worlds in a mission to rescue his little robot friends. He will scale mountains, dive into the depths of the ocean and everything in between in this top tier platforming adventure that is made so much better through the use of VR technology. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the best Mario game to come out this generation is not going to be found on a Nintendo platform, it’s right here on PSVR. Astro Bot’s Rescue Mission is the most fun I’ve had platforming all generation.

Kratos and I go way back, it wouldn’t be too far off to say we grew up together. In my wayward youth I spent a good portion of my time playing the God of War trilogy and really identified with the “character” of Kratos, an rage fueled, emotionally stunted man, who while supposedly mourning his family, had some clumsy mini game threesomes. Looking back, from a story perspective they were far from perfect but the gameplay was pretty fun with epic battles and non stop action. When Kratos made his return I for one was excited. Kratos had a beard and I have a beard!!! That was good enough for me. The facial wasn’t the only thing that changed. Kratos was older, he had a new quiet life and a new family and he just experienced lost. The journey that followed was some of the most touching moments especially considered where we had been left with the series. We see him learn to over come his rage and become a father. The combat got a major upgrade and if you have seen the tech videos behind it, you know they just make it seem more fantastic. For me the game shined between combat as good as it was. The stories in the boat, the quizzical son. The game grew to be so much more than some out dated hack and slash style game. And while the game outgrew it’s former self the moment Kratos retrieves the chaos blades was so satisfying and that was just one of the great sequence in this game. I’m really looking forward to traversing more worlds in the Norse mythology and seeing where the journey continues on the PS5.

Rarely do my kids see me playing a game and give two shits about it. That all changed when Insomniac released Spiderman. The game acting as sort of a gateway to all things Spiderman allowed me to share my favorite super hero with my two girls. Suddenly we were watching the movies and I was showing them the comics that had my favorite costumes or versions of Spiderman and they were eating it up. It is a game that since I platinumed I have gone back to and my girls actually like to play as well. The story is filled with everything that makes Spiderman one of the most iconic super heroes every. There is his trademark wit, then over whelming sense of responsibility, the choices and sacrifices that come with being your friendly neighborhood Spiderman. The combat is fluid and if I had to complain about it I would say that it really seems like it should have a DMC style rating system by the many ways you can chain together attacks. They absolutely nailed swinging, this is probably the first open world-ish game where I only fast traveled the few times needed to get the trophy. A robust photo mode with tons of Marvel Easter eggs to capture and unlockable and collectibles that where fun and incredibly designed.

I’m going to be perfectly honest and say that I almost didn’t add this to the list. I was going back and forth with this and Ghost of Tsushima or Infamous Second Son. It isn’t to say that those games are better, if you compare graphics, story and gameplay Last of Us 2 wins hands down. In terms of being able to sit down and play in chunks well Last of Us 2 was hard to do that with. The game is an unrelenting, bleak force peppered with some of the most human, intimate and beautiful moments I have ever seen in a game. I would routinely have to take breaks to relax my nerves. But ultimately it kept drawing me back in. I needed to see how the story and themes played out. Naughty Dog created such an amazing world filled with detail and nuance and life. It was amazing to see little touches like when Abby goes next to a ledge, how the perspective changed just a bit and the camera swayed. It was amazing to sit with the guitar and strum some songs and it was amazing how a game with characters so tormented by their past and actions left me feeling a bit of hope. All this and a huge commitment to include an industry leading amount of accessibility options. For as hellish as the world in the Last of Us is, it is the first game that I started over as soon as the credits rolled.

You may not have heard of Ghost Giant but I bet you’ve played a game or two by it’s developers Zoink. I was already a fan of games like Fe and Stick it to the man by the time I started hearing about Ghost Giant. I know Adam talks a lot about Astro being a game that sold PSVR, but for me that game is Ghost Giant. When I played the demo at E3 I immediately knew this was the game that would get me to buy into VR. It is an amazingly touching story about a lonely boy, Louis and his friendly blue giant ghost of a friend who helps him out. You play as the giant and use your two giant blue hands to solve puzzles and help Louis and other townsfolk. If you have VR and haven’t played Ghost Giant yet do yourself a favor and pick it up, if you’ve been on the fence about VR in general, well if you are like me this game will be worth it and there is plenty more after you’ve completed it to make the price point worth it.

My favorite game of the entire generation was a brand new IP in the form of Horizon Zero Dawn. I have advocated every year since its release that HZD was the true game of the year, and that Zelda: BoTW stole the spotlight from this superior game. The story of discovery as Aloy uncovers the secrets of the time before and the corruption of the robot-dinosaurs remains one of my favorite tales of the PS4 era. The feeling of dread and awe as the player navigates through the world discovering new enemies and figuring out the best way to take down these mechanical beasts made the combat of HZD unforgettable in my opinion. Finally, the main character of Aloy herself, like Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft, shows what happens and what is possible when developers stray from the typical “dude-bro” protagonist. The emotional voice-acting of Ashly Burch brought to life the character of Aloy in such a way that she’s easily one of my favorite female leads in recent memory, and I am eagerly awaiting the release of Horizon: Forbidden West on the PS5.

The Last of Us Part 2 will go down in history as one of the all-time greats, while also being incredibly divisive among its fans. Set 20 years after the original, an absolute masterpiece in its own right, TLOU2 tells a story not about the end of the world or about the cordycep infection responsible for the infected, but instead tells a story about humanity and the lengths people will go through to protect the ones they love. In a fascinating twist, the developers at Naughty Dog flip the script by putting players in control of the “enemy”, Abby. From that point on, it becomes increasingly more clear as to what Naughty Dog was attempting, and I believe they nailed it. By forcing players to see the world through Abby’s eyes for nearly 50% of the games length, when the two female leads are forced to square off it, I found myself torn as to who I was rooting for. The story was crafted in such a wonderful way that it forces you to rethink the dynamic of good and evil and instead see the world in myriad shades of grey. The Last of Us Part 2 is a special game, and it’s one that I don’t think I’ll ever forget.

God of War is a series previously known for its copious violence, gigantic boss fights, and cringe-worthy sex mini games. With the 2018 release of God of War, Sony’s Santa Monica Studio did something that most adult gamers thought to be impossible. They took a character who’s only motivation is anger and revenge, and made millions of PlayStation fans finally give a shit about Kratos as a person (god?). Watching Kratos straddle the line between being a father trying to protect his son from the dangers and truths of their existence, yet still being able to draw upon his curse as the God of War gave the character some much needed depth and complexity. It’s not all about the story and character moments though, as the combat and exploration in God of War both played homage to its earlier roots and introduced new mechanics for gamers to explore and combine. The most notable addition, and easily the most satisfying, is the leviathan axe. During my 20 or so hours with main game I never got tired of throwing and recalling Kratos’ new combat weapon, and combined with several of the new “powers”, these new tools made every encounter a visceral exercise is Draugr dismemberment. I can’t wait to see where the team takes Kratos and Atreus next in God of War Ragnarok.

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