As we head for worlds unknown, it’s always good to look back on the last generation and all the triumphs along the way. From underrated hits like Infamous: Second Son to blockbuster adventures in Middle-Earth, there’s plenty of fantastic titles from last gen well worth shouting about.
Lists like these are always subjective, but it’s hard to deny how epic these games were. These are my personal picks for the games of the generation — and why they’re all still worth revisiting today.
Infamous: Second Son
Infamous: Second Son arrived early in the last console generation, but it made a massive impression.
As Delsin Rowe, players are able to conquer or save the world in Second Son using a mix of superpowered abilities. As a power sponge, Delsin is able to mimic the abilities of other superpowered individual, and it’s up to him how he uses those powers.
High chaos mode tells a tale of wanton destruction and revenge, while low chaos mode explores a more intimate tale as Delsin uses his powers to help his local tribe. Either way, you’re in for an incredible, visually spectacular time. Combat is excellent fun and the open world is a pure delight to explore. (There’s also an epic photo mode you should check out.)
It’s one of the most underrated games for PS4, and everyone should play it.
Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor
It’s a major shame Shadow of War chose to implement a microtransaction system that damaged the legacy of Shadow of Mordor. The first game in the franchise was an absolute game-changer, and brought the world of The Lord of the Rings to life in spectacular ways. The Nemesis system which allowed orcs to remember you and gain power in your wake was a killer bit of innovation, and it makes the game feel far more alive than it would otherwise.
Talion is your run-of-the-mill protagonist, but the way he plays is so different to every other game. Rather than focusing solely on hacking and slashing through Mordor, players can use Talion as a mind-controller to subtly manipulate the orcish hierarchy. The mechanic is absolutely fantastic, and just one of the reasons why Shadow of Mordor is such a memorable and engaging game. That’s not even mentioning the gorgeous and gloomy world of Mordor and how excellent the combat is.
A return to this formula wouldn’t go astray.
Spyro Reignited Trilogy
Growing up, Spyro was one of my all-time favourite games. His entire PS1 trilogy is delightful, and each game is special in its own way. That’s why it was so good seeing The Spyro Reignited Trilogy launch on PS4. It meant an entire generation of children could experience the games for the first time. It meant being able to revisit the worlds of Dragon Shores, Avalar and beyond in shiny HD.
The Spyro Reignited Trilogy is an excellent package and includes three lovingly detailed remakes of the best platforming games of their generation. It’s bright, colourful and always fun (even when you can’t get the damn egg thieves to stay still).
There’s plenty to love about this game whether you played the originals or you’re just discovering the franchise for the very first time.
Dishonored 2 is a perfect sequel. It took everything great about the original stealth adventure and added in new mechanics, new characters, intricate lore and exponentially more choices. Environments are bigger and brighter than its predecessors, the abilities given to Emily and Corvo allow far more survival options and the story is tighter and more involving, too.
Whether you’re into stealth games, superhero games or period dramas, there’s something for you here.
Dishonored 2 is the best game of the franchise by far and with such a massive sandbox to play in, there’s near-endless replayability here. It’s a game you can absolutely get lost in, and you should.
Wolfenstein: The New Order
Wolfenstein: The New Order kicked off an incredible new chapter for the Wolfenstein franchise. In lieu of magic zombie mecha Nazis and over-the-top surrealism, New Order grounded itself in reality. It focussed on the humanity behind the franchise, and the struggle of B.J. Blazkowicz to maintain order while retaining his sanity. It’s a deeply personal tale, but it balances intimacy with killing a whole lot of Nazis — the perfect way to spend an evening.
While The New Colossus was equally as profound, it’s New Order‘s narrative that really made me fall in love with the franchise. It’s supremely well-written, features a cast of relatable characters and expertly strikes a balance between running-and-gunning and hard-hitting storytelling. The New Order is a near-perfect game.
Final Fantasy VII Remake
Final Fantasy VII Remake is another excellent remake of a classic PS1 game. Rather than sticking to an exact formula, the best part about Final Fantasy VII Remake is its ability to surprise. Sure, it mostly sticks to the story laid out in the original game but it absolutely keeps fans guessing, too.
Unlike other remakes, it doesn’t feel beholden to what came before, making it consistently exciting. It’s also an absolute visual treat. This game looks stunning and there’s always something new to find around every corner. Every choice made in this remake feels deliberate and well thought-out from the great new combat system to the unbelievable level of care in cutscenes and environments.
Everything about Final Fantasy VII Remake sings.
Marvel’s Spider-Man is an incredible adaptation of some of Peter Parker’s most intimate and personal comic stories, all housed in a brilliant action-adventure game.
From swinging around New York to chaining attacks or guiding Peter through his messy life, Spider-Man brings a sense of excitement and realism to the adventure.
This game sees Peter Parker at his strongest and most vulnerable. It would’ve been easy to create an epic power fantasy, but Spider-Man goes lower key and explores deep moments amongst all the action. It’s a balance seldom struck, and it makes Spider-Man one of the PS4’s most powerful, emotive adventures.
Batman: Arkham Knight
If I say my favourite Robin is Jason Todd, you’ll probably understand why Arkham Knight made this list. While others might point towards the game’s endless tank missions and obstacle courses when talking about it being in contendership for ‘game of the generation’, these features pale in comparison to the main story.
Arkham Knight is a masterclass in storytelling and pacing, and the slow rollout of the Arkham Knight’s true identity is excellent even if you know the outcome. When you add in the Arkham franchise’s excellent combat, slick visuals and fantastic performances from Troy Baker, Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy, you have a recipe for a fantastic game.
Arkham Knight is incredible, and it deserves to be heaped with praise.
Prey shares Infamous: Second Son‘s distinction as one of last generation’s most underrated games. Many passed it off as Dishonored in space, and while it certainly shares some DNA with the stealth adventure it’s unfair to write it off as a clone.
Prey is an epic space-faring adventure where your choices impact the environment around you and who you are as a character.
To get too deep into its primary mechanic would be to spoil the game’s central conceit. But having the choice between becoming a living alien weapon or retaining your humanity at the detriment of your survival is a classic catastrophe that Prey uses incredibly well.
When you think about great combat, a well-written narrative and gorgeous locales, think Prey. If you haven’t played it yet, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
Did any of your favourites make the list? Anything you’d add? Pop on down to the comments below and share your thoughts on my choices.