The 12 Best Games on PlayStation Now

Illustration: Jim Cooke
Illustration: Jim Cooke

When PlayStation Now first launched, in 2015, it was more confusing than enticing. On paper, it was meant to be a streaming service that allowed modern gamers access to classic games. But the monthly price was steep — higher than Netflix — and it featured a vexing pay-per-hour model on top of that. Plus, even though PSNow was a game-streaming service for the PS4, it didn’t support PS4 games, at least not at first.

These days, PSNow is very different. Sony has since switched over to a straight-up subscription model, following in the footsteps of Microsoft’s popular Xbox Game Pass. As of October 2019, for $US10 ($14) a month — or $US60 ($86) a year, if you pay up front — you can get access to a vast library of video games, including, yes, PS4 titles. Select a game you want, stream it or download it, and play.

Editor’s Note: Unfortunately PlayStation Now is not currently offered in Australia. At this stage, it’s unlikely it will ever launch locally.

Jumping headlong into the service can be daunting. All of a sudden, you’ll find yourself with access to hundreds of games (from indie darlings to AAA blockbusters) dating all the way back to the PS2 era. If you’re wondering where a curious gamer should begin, fear not: We’re here to help! Below, you’ll find a roundup of the 12 best games currently available on PlayStation Now. The library changes often; new games are added and removed all the time. We’ll update this list as availability shifts.

A word on streaming: You can download many games, including the classics, with PSNow, but some are only available via streaming. All streaming-only titles on this list were tested on a standard PS4 with download speeds of 13.7 Mbps and upload speeds of 3.1 Mbps. Games generally took an extra few minutes to boot up. For the most part, they played just fine, though graphical clarity occasionally dipped. Whenever possible, we recommend downloading games directly to your console.

Screenshot: Arkane Studios

Dishonored 2

Dishonored 2 is like a really great sophomore album. It keeps the tone (off-kilter steampunk) and foundation (first-person stealth-action) that made the debut so great, while adding fresh, creative elements. One big change is the introduction of a second playable character, Emily Caldwin, the daughter of Corvo, the first game’s protagonist. You can still play as Corvo, and Blink to your heart’s content. But choosing Emily gives you access to a whole new suite of supernatural abilities, including one ridiculously overpowered move that binds enemies’ fates to each other: Land a headshot on one, and three others will go down too. Dishonored 2 also features the single best level in the franchise, a game of cat-and-mouse set in a labyrinthine mansion full of traps and industrial gadgets. As always, you can tackle any of the game’s open-ended missions by killing everyone in sight, or through nonlethal pathways. In short, Dishonored 2 is The Bends.

A Good Match For: Fans of environmental storytelling, first-person perspectives, tense stealth sections,

Not A Good Match For: Anyone who wants a straightforward path; Dishonored 2 gives you a lot of tools and a lot of spaces to use them, but doesn’t always tell you what to do.

Read our review, and our in-depth look at the game’s coolest mission.

Study our tips for playing the game.

Screenshot: Capcom

Resident Evil 4

You can measure the Resident Evil franchise in two time periods: Before Resident Evil 4 and After Resident Evil 4. The first several games in the franchise were true-to-form survival horror games. Most of the games from Resident Evil 5 on have been action games, more focused on delivering explosive setpieces than hair-raising chills. Resident Evil 4 is the best of both worlds, a bridge between old and new, connecting primal fear and hoo-rah hijinks. And that’s to say nothing of that fact that this game did more for over-the-shoulder perspectives than any other game. For those who missed this one — or any of its 482,712 ports over the years — you play as Leon Kennedy, sent off to an uncharted village to rescue the president’s daughter. Yes, there are zombies. Lots of zombies. And the plot beats are sure to scare you stiff. But hey, at least you’ll have some big guns in your corner

A Good Match For: Anyone who has or hasn’t played it.

Not A Good Match For: Diehard fans of Resident Evil 2 (the original) or Resident Evil 6

Read about why this game is such a hallmark.

Screenshot: Remedy Entertainment

Control

Control is the latest game from developer Remedy Entertainment (Quantum Break, Alan Wake). You play as Jesse Faden, the new director of the Federal Bureau of Control. The bulk of Control plays out inside the FBC’s headquarters, a mid-century skyscraper called The Oldest House. Lest you think this is some standard-issue third-person shooter, know this: You can control stuff with your mind. Without going too deep into the lore, The Oldest House is home to all manner of otherworldly entities. As a result, you also have access to all manner of paranormal powers. Control is tight from a gameplay perspective, and offers no shortage of creative gameplay moments. But it also manages to smartly touch on a wide range of thought-provoking topics. What other big-budget shooter can competently hold court on everything from high-minded fare (collective unconscious) to banal, everyday trivialities (what’s the point of work, really)?

Note: Control leaves PlayStation Now on August 31, 2020.

A Good Match For: PlayStation owners who never had a chance to play Alan Wake or Quantum Break. Players who are sick of games-as-a-service games and want a tight, self-contained narrative.

Not A Good Match For: Anyone who doesn’t like Metroidvania-style exploration. Pencil pushers.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Study our tips for the game.

Screenshot: Naughty Dog

The Last of Us (PS3)

If you haven’t played The Last of Us by now, that’s maybe a conscious decision. Naughty Dog’s 2013 magnum opus was the swan song for the PlayStation 3, an action-adventure-survival-shooter-fungi-zombie-killing game that pushed the system — and players’ ideas of what a game could be — to its limits. Seven years later, the desolate, emotional tale of Joel and Ellie still holds up. In 2014, a remastered version, featuring souped-up graphics and a few UI tweaks, came out on PS4. In other words, you’ve had plenty of time to play this thing. Much ink has been spilled on why The Last of Us is truly one of the greats, and we don’t want to sound like a broken record. Just know that this one’s a must-play. (Same goes for the standalone prequel expansion, Left Behind, which tells Ellie’s prequel story and is accessible from the main menu.) With the sequel scheduled for release later this year, now’s the best time to boot it up.

Note: The Last of Us is only available via streaming.

A Good Match For: Fans of tight narratives, complex crafting systems, and satisfying third-person game mechanics. People who want to replay The Last of Us before The Last of Us Part 2 comes out.

Not A Good Match For: Anyone with fungal allergies.

Read our review, and our review of the excellent Left Behind DLC.

Watch it in action.

Study our tips for playing the game.

Screenshot: Level-5

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3)

Have you ever watched a Studio Ghibli movie and thought, Wow, I wish I lived in that? Well, playing Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is as close as you’re going to get. Studio Ghibli teamed up with the game-making maestros at Level-5 (Yo-Kai Watch, Dragon Quests VIII and IX) to craft an RPG for the ages. Like the best Ghibli films, Ni No Kuni starts off with heartbreak before pivoting hard into charm and whimsy. You’re put in the shoes of 13-year-old Oliver. In short order, you witness a childhood doll come to life, get transported to a magical alternate world, and stumble upon a city where all the denizens are anthropomorphic cats. But as whimsical as Ni No Kuni is, it’s not a cakewalk. The combat system — an active-time, menu-based system that leans hard on Pokémon-like “familiars,” which you can level-up and evolve — starts off with a lot of hand-holding. Soon enough, the difficulty skyrockets, and you realise, Hey, maybe it’s better looking in from the outside.

Note: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, is only available via streaming.

A Good Match For: Fans of Spirited Away. Pokémon trainers. JRPG enthusiasts.

Not A Good Match For: Players looking for grit and realism.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Study our tips for playing the game.

Screenshot: From Software

Bloodborne

Maybe you’ve heard: Dark Souls games will kick your arse. Bloodborne is made by the same creators (From Software), and is just as difficult, though the formula is a bit different. Where Dark Souls and its ilk were sword-and-shield games, Bloodborne is a sword-and-sorry-that’s-it game. (OK, sure, technically, you also have a firearm. Good luck using that to block an enemy claw larger than an F150.) The combat, then, forces you to dodge and parry and dance around the battlefield. Better yet, it’s refined to the point where mistakes don’t feel like the fault of shoddy game design. Rather, mistakes are your fault: teaching moments that shed light on areas of potential improvement. Yes, battles are tough. Some combattants can take you out in one hit. You may spend hours trying and retrying to take down a single boss. But the end reward is an exhilarating rush of success — the type of victorious adrenaline you can only get from a game that’s as ultimately fair as it is brutally challenging.

A Good Match For: Players looking for a genuine challenge. Those who like lore

Not A Good Match For: Players who want a game to let up, just a little bit, please, no matter how many times you try to take down Martyr Logarius.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Study our tips for playing the game.

Screenshot: Bethesda

Fallout 4

Fallout 4, like its two series predecessors, is an open-world RPG-shooter hybrid set in a cheekily 50s-future-tinged post-apocalyptic America. While previous entries visited Washington, D.C., and Las Vegas, Fallout 4 drops players in the bomb-shattered remains of the Greater Boston area (or “The Commonwealth,” to use in-game parlance). The shooting has been refined since prior entries, in that bullets actually go where you want them to. Unlike Fallout 3 or Fallout: New Vegas (which is also on PSNow), Fallout 4 plays more similarly to a modern shooter. The side quests — particularly one in which you spelunk the ruins of the Salem Witchcraft Museum — are as meaty as the main questline. Plus, Fallout 4 introduces the settlement system: In a godlike building mode, you can build up a network of small towns that, over time, beget you essential resources and crafting materials.

A Good Match For: Animal Crossing players who wished Animal Crossing was more like Mad Max.

Not A Good Match For: Red Sox fans. Fallout: New Vegas diehards.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Study our tips for playing the game, and learn how to get one of the game’s best guns right at the start.

Screenshot: ThatGameCompany

Journey (PS3)

There’s a certain subgenre of indie games: brief, meditative joints that have no text or dialogue yet still manage to say more than most games with 1,200-page scripts. Generally, games of this nature have stunning art direction. They have musical scores worth buying on vinyl. The actual gameplay — probably a mix of environmental puzzles and light exploration — might be thin, but it’s bold, confident, and usually serves a function. Journey, released in 2012 by ThatGameCompany, is the gold standard of this subgenre. Yes, Journey is all of those things, and it also has a bonus component: real connection. In Journey’s quietly integrated multiplayer, you can run into other players on the same journey as you. You can’t speak. You can’t exchange tips or messages. But you can communicate — through silent puzzle-solving collaboration, and the mutual understanding that you’re in this strange, beautiful, subversive thing together.

Note: Journey is only available via streaming.

A Good Match For: Everyone who plays games.

Not A Good Match For: End to end, it’s shorter than Avengers: Infinity War. Give it a try!

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Screenshot: Team Cherry

Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight puts you in the shoes — or whatever insects wear on their insect feet — of a lone knight. You explore an insectoid realm called Hollownest, a time-worn kingdom that has certainly seen better days. All of it, the whole game, is awash in muted blue-scale, as if you’re viewing the game through aquarium glass. The result is a melancholic, side-scrolling “Metroidvania” unlike any other. Hollow Knight is as punishing as it is forgiving. In combat, you take down other insects with a mix of well-timed dodges and well-placed sword swings. At first, you can only withstand a handful of hits before dying. Defeating enemies earns you Geo, which you can spend on essential upgrades, unlocks, and the like. Play to a save point, and you get to keep your haul. Die, and you lose it all — but a shadow of the knight will pop up where you fell. On your next go-around, if you can defeat your former self, you get your Geo back. Surely, there’s a moral in there, something about how we’re our own worst critics or our own toughest enemies or whatever. A less subtle game would say that quiet part loud.

A Good Match For: Fans of 2D platformers and action-adventure games.

Not A Good Match For: Impatient players, since Hollow Knight is a slow burn for the first few hours.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Study our tips for playing the game.

Screenshot: Konami

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, the final Hideo Kojima instalment of the three-decade-old Metal Gear series, is a modern video game marvel, a true tour de force that still impresses five years after release. It’s also bonkers. Like previous Metal Gears, The Phantom Pain is a third-person stealth game. You, as Punished “Venom” Snake, scope out enemy bases, come up with a plan of attack, and otherwise engage in tight stealth-focused gameplay. That gameplay is fluid and responsive, to the point where enemies will intelligently respond to how you play. Take out enough foes with headshots, for example, and they’ll start wearing helmets. It’s smart, modern, and meticulously well-designed. But this is also a game that features a scantily clad female character who doesn’t speak and, get this, is named Quiet. (The rationale behind her outfit: She breathes through her skin.) This is also a game in which you can make your horse relieve itself — as an actual gameplay mechanic. And if you’re expecting a satisfying story, prepare to be disappointed. Without spoiling anything, know that, after 60 hours, the narrative tapers off. Good thing the minute-to-minute gameplay is as solid as it is.

A Good Match For: Fans of 24 (Kiefer Sutherland voices Snake in this one).

Not A Good Match For: Players who need a coherent, complete story.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Study our tips for playing the game.

Screenshot: Level-5

Dark Cloud 2 (PS2)

One of the main draws of PSNow is the fact that you get access to not just PS3 games but PS2 games, as well. There are plenty of top-tier classics (including Shadow of the Colossus) available, though few top 2003’s Dark Cloud 2. Originally released as Dark Chronicle, in Japan, Dark Cloud 2 is an action-RPG designed by Level-5. Combat plays out like a standard hack-and-slash — but, in a neat twist, your weapons gain experience. Level them up enough, and they’ll transform into more powerful forms, like extremely violent Pokémon. For most of the game, you control Max, a farmer, and Monica, a princess. The twist? Monica is from a different timeline. Much of the plot revolves around time-travel hijinks, to the point where you rewrite history to prevent the deaths of certain NPCs. Fans have long-clamored for a sequel. We asked Level-5 about one back in 2009. Since then, there’s been no official word (though readers did ask us to make Dark Cloud 3, for some reason). So, for now, this is as good as you’ll get.

A Good Match For: JRPG somms; like an old wine, Dark Cloud 2 has aged well.

Not A Good Match For: Players who need their audio sharp and graphics sharper. (Earth to Level-5: If not a sequel, can we get a remake?)

Screenshot: Rockstar San Diego

Red Dead Redemption (PS3)

Red Dead Redemption doesn’t look as good or play as well as Red Dead Redemption 2, but it’s still a great game with some terrific moments and an all-time great ending. By now, you probably know full well what Red Dead is all about. You play as a cowboy (John Marston) in a cowboy world (early 20th-century American West) who does cowboy things (slings guns, rides horses). It’s made by the open-world maestros at Rockstar, who sure know how to make a digitally rendered world actually seem like real life, with sweeping landscapes and towns that feel organic. The main gimmick — outside of the overall fact that Red Dead Redemption is basically Westworld: The Game — is that you can slow down time in gunfights and line up perfect shots like you’re in the Matrix. Yee-haw. (Bonus: the much-ballyhooed Undead Nightmare add-on, which zombifies the Red Dead world, is also on PS Now.)

Note: Red Dead Redemption is only available via streaming.

A Good Match For: Gamers who somehow missed it the first time around. Red Dead Redemption 2 players who want a John Marston plot refresher.

Not A Good Match For: Anyone expecting this game to play exactly like 2018’s stellar Red Dead Redemption 2. Players who never quite got a grasp of Rockstar’s oft-clunky shooting.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

How has this list changed? Read back through our update history:

Update 7/8/2020: Insomniac’s Spider-Man swings off the service after just three months, clearing the way for Dishonored 2.

Update 4/9/2020: We’ve removed Horizon Zero Dawn and Uncharted: Lost Legacy, both of which are no longer available on PlayStation Now. Marvel’s Spider-Man and Resident Evil 4 took their empty slots.

Update 3/9/2020: We’ve removed Heavy Rain and added Control, which debuted on PlayStation Now on March 3, 2020.

Want more of the best games on each system? Check out our complete directory:

The Best PC Games • The Best PS4 Games • The Best Xbox One Games • The Best Games On Xbox Game Pass • The Best Nintendo Switch Games • The Best Wii U Games • The Best 3DS Games • The Best PS Vita Games • The Best Xbox 360 Games • The Best PS3 Games • The Best Wii Games • The Best iPhone Games • The Best iPad Games • The Best Android Games

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