The Best Games For The PS5

The Best Games For The PS5
Screenshot: Ubisoft

Congratulations! You weathered the queues and were able to nab a PS5. You’ve somehow finagled the thing into your TV stand and turned it on without issue. So, what comes next? Of all the options at your fingertips, which games deserve your time and energy?

First, know this: The vast majority of games playable on the PS4 are playable on the PS5 via backward compatibility. (Here’s our list of the best games for that console.) Beyond that, members of the PS Plus subscription service get access to the PS Plus Collection, a perk that offers some of the most acclaimed PS4 games — including Bloodborne, Uncharted 4, and God of War — at no extra cost. All of those titles are downloadable from the PS5’s dashboard. No matter what, you’ll rarely be short of terrific things to play on the PS5.

But if you’re looking for something suitably cutting-edge — something designed with this new console in mind — you needn’t look far. Plenty of great games released across generations, with the superior versions, no surprise, out on the PS5. The system has fewer next-gen-only offerings at this point, but the few it has are an impressive lot. Here, without further ado, are the best games for the PS5.

(A quick note for Kotaku regulars: As with any console launch, the early offerings aren’t exactly robust. To that end, our next-gen Bests lists are lower than the usual 12, and limited to games with truly new-gen versions. For great backward-compatible PS4 games, consult the links above. We’ll update this post as additional worthy PS5 games release in the coming months.)

This article had been updated since its original publication.

Image: Hitman 3
Image: Hitman 3

Hitman 3

Make no mistake: Hitman 3 on next-gen consoles is the definitive Hitman. Not only is IO Interactive’s stealth paradise visually stunning (no surprise there) but, on PS5 at least, it also makes subtle use of the DualSense controller’s advanced haptics. You can also carry over all of your data and unlocked levels from Hitman 2, though the process is admittedly somewhat confusing. Any stages you import will join the six included in Hitman 3: Dubai, Dartmoor, Berlin, Chongqing, Mendoza, and the Romanian backcountry.

For the most part, these are just like any other level from the recent Hitman games. You’re given one or more targets and let loose in a sprawling open area. You have to pay attention to the environment and nearby characters for clues. You can lift the clothing off incapacitated NPCs for a disguise. The missions aren’t long, but they’re designed to be played over and over as you unlock new starting locations, stash spots, and pull off unique kills. It’s tense, tough, often silly, and just as approachable for novices as it is accommodating for longtime fans.

A Good Match For: Fans of stealth, puzzles, environment analysis, and costume parties. Anyone plagued with serious wanderlust.

Not A Good Match For: Those who prefer to go in guns blazing (unless you’re down to play the bombastic final level ad infinitum).

Read our review.

Find all* of the bananas.

Image: Immortals Fenyx Rising

Immortals Fenyx Rising

Immortals Fenyx Rising is like a buffet of comfort food. It features the open-world structure of Assassin’s Creed (or at least the new ones). Much of the action is broken up by Zelda-style environmental puzzles (well, at least those from Breath of the Wild). It’s rooted in Greek mythology (see: any number of major games). One of the primary characters is voiced by the unmistakable Elias Tousfexis (he’s the voice of Deus Ex’s Adam Jensen). And it’s scored by Gareth Coker (Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Halo Infinite). On top of that, the script is full of wit and humour, and the visuals — at least on next-gen consoles — are full of whimsical, cel-shaded splendor.

A Good Match For: Anyone seeking a Ubisoft “map game” that isn’t 100 hours long. Those who loved The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Not A Good Match For: Players craving something fresh.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Study our tips for the game.

Screenshot: Bungie Screenshot: Bungie

Destiny 2

In December, Destiny 2 received a next-gen overhaul. Before the update, Bungie’s space-faring loot crawl was a solid shooter. Now, it’s one of the best on the market, with stunning visuals, top-shelf performance, and even support for 120fps in the Crucible PvP mode (provided you have a compatible display). A November update — the Europa-bound Beyond Light — brought a new area, new missions, and new abilities, but the fundamental gameplay remains blessedly unchanged. If you’ve been away for a while, it’s worth getting back in the fight. And if you never checked it out in the first place, now’s as good a time as ever — Beyond Light includes an easy start point for new players.

A Good Match For: Fans of first-person shooters with endless streams of loot. Anyone who likes poring over in-game lore text.

Not A Good Match For: Those hungry for a competitive scene on the level of Bungie’s pivotal Halo 3. Anyone who can’t take storylines about Light vs. Dark seriously.

Read our review of Beyond Light.

Watch it in action.

Study our tips for the game.

Screenshot: Insomniac / Kotaku Screenshot: Insomniac / Kotaku

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Spider-Man: Miles Morales is everything its predecessor (2018’s Spider-Man) was and more. Playing as Miles Morales gives you access to a far deeper bag of tricks than Peter Parker had at his disposal. You can still swing from Harlem to Fidi in seconds, but can bust out more than 20 stylish SSX-style flips along the way, rather than just a handful. Miles also has a literally shocking set of powers that augment his strikes, and can turn invisible at the drop of a hat. Beyond the toolkit, the narrative is tighter, more personal, and more contained than the 2018 game’s. (Full disclosure: Kotaku alum Evan Narcisse wrote for the game.) Also, there’s a cat suit. (See above.) Of course, since this is a next-gen launch title and all, you’re probably wondering about visual enhancements and the like. The answer is yes, Spider-Man: Miles Morales is quite a looker, featuring two different rendering modes that prioritise either razor-sharp resolution and image quality or a smooth framerate of 60 fps. Both are stunning. Just like this game.

A Good Match For: Fans of action games. Friendly neighbourhood heroes. Manhattanites (have fun tracking down your office or apartment).

Not A Good Match For: Rhino. Anyone looking for a 700-hour time-sink; Miles Morales can be fully completed in under 30 hours.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Study our tips for the game.

Screenshot: Gearbox Screenshot: Gearbox

Godfall

Godfall is the spitting image of what you’d picture from an ideal launch game: a showcase of spectacle and technical swank with some seriously tight combat to boot. Sure, the story is eye-rolling, and the loot grind is, yes, another loot grind. But the minute-to-minute gameplay — straightforward third-person, monster-killing action — is so satisfying that Godfall isn’t tough to recommend on PS5, especially considering the dearth of games truly designed for the console. As for the endgame? Play it, don’t play it; the choice is yours. Not every game needs to be an endless daily commitment. You can wring plenty of enjoyment out of Godfall from the main campaign. Godfall knows exactly what it is and doesn’t try to be anything more (or less).

A Good Match For: Fans of action games, hack-and-slash games, particle effects, particle effects, particle effects, and Captain America. (There’s a throwable shield. It rules.)

Not A Good Match For: Folks looking for something ambitious or unique. Anyone who hates using the shoulder buttons to attack; Godfall doesn’t currently allow for full button-remapping.

Watch it in action.

Screenshot: Ubisoft / Kotaku Screenshot: Ubisoft / Kotaku

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

By now, you probably think you know what you’re getting with Assassin’s Creed. That’s what makes Assassin’s Creed Valhalla such a pleasant surprise. Though unmistakably more similar to the recent series entries (Origins, Odyssey) than the middle-aged ones (Syndicate, Black Flag), Valhalla is very much its own creature. For one thing, side-quests don’t exist at all, supplanted instead by a dizzying amount of bespoke narrative vignettes and environmental challenges. For another, the narrative is vivisected regionally, so you get a bunch of shorter main arcs alongside an overarching narrative (kind of like a long-running, well-crafted TV series). And the setting — England and Norway in the late-9th century — is distinct, at least in the video game world. That it’s rendered so marvelously is just icing on the cake; you can practically taste the crunchy autumnal leaves of Cent and Sciropescire.

A Good Match For: Fans of massive, compelling open-world games — including the prior two Assassin’s Creeds — and historical drama.

Not A Good Match For: Players tired of Ubisoft “map” games. Anyone not down to play a morally dubious raider.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Study our tips for the game.

Screenshot: Sony Screenshot: Sony

Demon’s Souls

Although the PlayStation 5 might not have a lot to offer right now, the Demon’s Souls remake developed by Bluepoint Games is one of the best console launch titles in recent memory. It maintains most of what made the PlayStation 3 original so special, sprucing things up a bit with a massive upgrade to visual fidelity and some very useful quality-of-life updates. It may not be the best or most fulfilling Souls adventure — a high bar — but Demon’s Souls both justifies making the jump to a next-generation system and solidifies Bluepoint as a studio we’d want to remake our favourite games if and when the time comes.

A Good Match For: Demon’s Souls fans who don’t mind a few aesthetic changes, folks looking for a relatively easy entry point into the Souls series, and anyone who doesn’t mind a good challenge.

Not A Good Match For: Demon’s Souls fans who wanted just a straight-up port. Players who want their games to be as free of frustration as possible.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Study our tips for the game.

Screenshot: Sony Screenshot: Sony

Astro’s Playroom

Astro’s Playroom may be a free game, coming pre-installed on every PS5, but that doesn’t make it a wash. Make no mistake: It’s a delightful platformer, oozing with charm and effervescence. You play as a cheery, emotive robotoid (an Astro bot). Each level is themed after some technological aspect of the PS5 — Memory Meadow, for instance, offers winks and nods to the system’s technical guts, while SSD Speedway pays homage to the internal storage — and switches seamlessly between two- and three-dimensional perspectives. As you play, you’ll uncover various references to PlayStation history, which get stored in a museum-like collection. The main draw, though, is how it feels. No other game currently utilises the DualSense’s cutting-edge haptics as well as Astro’s Playroom. You’ll use motion controls to scale a cliff one minute; the next, you’ll blow on the microphone to propel yourself forward. All the while, the controller hums with a responsive, reactive vibration that’s so much more than, “Hey, look, you just got attacked.” This may sound like sacrilege, but Astro’s Playroom may be the most Nintendo-feeling game released this fall.

A Good Match For: Anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of using the PS5’s DualSense controller. PlayStation devotees. Mario fans.

Not A Good Match For: Dude, it’s free, and is already installed on your console. Give it a whirl!

Watch it in action.

Screenshot: Annapurna Interactive Screenshot: Annapurna Interactive

The Pathless

From the Mongolian throat singing in the menu to the world that’s both awash in colour and yet muted with the darkness you’ve been sent to vanquish, The Pathless is an artistic feast for the senses. New from Giant Squid — the makers of the lush underwater explorer ABZÛThe Pathless is an action-adventure puzzle game in which you play as The Hunter. Together with your handy bird companion, you are tasked with rescuing the four children of the Eagle Mother from the evil Godslayer. The Pathless is a lot like bread — it doesn’t need a lot of ingredients to be good. The game gives you a bow and bird and sets you loose upon a mysterious island where it’s up to you to figure out the rest. “The rest” is a lot of simple but intuitive puzzle solving involving trick shots and bird-assisted platforming. The Pathless is an art museum of a game, meant to evoke emotion and wonder as you explore the breathtaking mountains, grasslands, rivers, and ruined temples. It’s also part bird-care simulator, letting you give pets to your eagle companion whenever you like.

A Good Match For: Players who still want a well-written action game but need a break from the big-budget bombast of Spider-Man: Miles Morales or Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.

Not A Good Match For: Players who need a little direction in where to go, what to do, and how to do it next.

Read our impressions.

Watch it in action.


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

The Best PC GamesThe Best PS4 GamesThe Best Games On PS NowThe Best Xbox One GamesThe Best Games For The Xbox Series X And SThe Best Games On Xbox Game PassThe Best Nintendo Switch Games • The Best Wii U Games • The Best 3DS GamesThe Best PS Vita GamesThe Best Xbox 360 GamesThe Best PS3 Games • The Best Wii Games • The Best iPhone GamesThe Best iPad GamesThe Best Android Games

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

Update 2/4/2021: Excellent work, 47. Hitman 3 joins the ranks.

Update 12/25/2020: Immortals Fenyx Rising has earned a seat on the pantheon. Also, Destiny 2‘s next-gen update and Beyond Light expansion make it feel like a new, and awesome, game.

Comments

  • I know Fenyx Rising is probably a game I’d enjoy but the marketing killed it for me. It felt like YouTube was flooded with videos following the same script. That turned it from a game that would have easily caught my attention on the store page to Raid Shadow Legends.

    • I thought the same, but after my friend convinced me to buy it? It’s basically BotW with more direction, more polish and far more quality of life features (like a proper set of menus and context buttons for making everything work). It’s got decent boss fights, proper Zelda style dungeons and plenty of flavour text as you come across various puzzles and chests in the world. If you liked BotW then you’ll like Fenyx Rising. The marketing really didn’t do it any justice and it was the superior release compared to Valhalla.

      You can also safely ignore all of the online content, since I know people hate that stuff being shoved in.

  • I’d advise avoiding Godfall. It is very much a rushed out skeleton of a game that’s all style no substance. It feels like it was made as quick as possible to be able to take advantage of next gen launch and it feels more like a tech demo than an actual game.

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