2016 has been a good year for games. For PS4 owners at least, just the fact that Uncharted 4 was finally released is probably enough to cement it in the annals of time.
Where it really shined though, was in the output of third party developers. Now a dab hand at working with current-gen technology, they’ve delivered some fantastic titles that not only attempt to sear your eyeballs with their visual splendour, but also put sores on your hands from all the thrilling gameplay they’ve crammed into them.
With the end of the year drawing near then, it seems like the perfect opportunity to look back and highlight some of its essential PS4 releases. And seeing as it’s nearly Christmas, we’ve ensured they’re all available physically, so you can trundle into your nearest trusted games emporium (or website) to purchase them as gifts if needs be. Enjoy!
Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration
Whilst Xbox One owners got their grubby hands on the excellent Rise of the Tomb Raider in 2015, those with PlayStation 4s got to experience its delights this year, and with added bells and whistles to boot.
Sequel to the series’ 2013 reboot, Rise of the Tomb Raider offered improved combat options, more expansive environments, and, wait for it, actual tombs to raid. Not only that, but with Lara racing to find the legendary city of Kitezh before the paramilitary force known as Trinity, it offered enough highs across its action, adventure and puzzle-laden gameplay to cast a shadow over Uncharted 4’s efforts. Can’t give a game much more praise than that, eh?
Containing the base game, all the available DLC and a Croft Manor VR experience for PSVR owners, Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration is a mighty fine package for PS4 owners. Oh and those with fancy PS4 Pros even get to choose between a range of snazzy graphical presets too. [Buy it here]
Rip and tear. Rip and tear. That was the ethos behind this year’s reboot of the Doom franchise, and while there was indeed a hell of a lot of ripping and tearing to be done, it was its fast-paced gunplay that really stole the show.
Battling Hell’s minions was an absolute blast as you ran around like Usain Bolt with his pants on fire, filling your enemies’ faces with both barrels of your shotgun. And when you ran out of ammo for that, you simply switched to another of Doom’s awesomely meaty weapons or sliced a demon in half with your chainsaw like an ammo filled piñata and carried on the fun. Need I say more?
Its multiplayer offerings may have been a little on the mundane side, but as far as first person shooters go, Doom’s single player campaign is the best in years. [Buy it here]
Originally set for release in 2015 before being delayed, Naughty Dog took their time with Uncharted 4 to make sure that it was spectacular. I mean, being Nathan Drake’s last game, he had to end his treasure chasing days on a high, right?
Giving us more of an insight into the real Nathan Drake as his long lost brother turns up needing some help, Uncharted 4 did not disappoint. Stunningly realistic visuals powered set piece after set piece, full of the “Oh, crap!” moments we’ve come to love and expect from the series. Stealthy approaches gave way to tense shoot-outs before you were given time for a breather as you traversed lush landscapes. And at the end of it all, we were treated to what is unfortunately a rarity in the games industry; a genuinely satisfying conclusion.
If you’ve got a PS4, Uncharted 4 is a game that you simply must own. You’re going about this whole gaming malarkey wrong if you don’t. [Buy it here]
After the troubled launch of Battlefield 4 and the general disappointment of Battlefield: Hardline, DICE had to do something to win back its fans. Lucky for them, it seems like taking the series back to World War 1 with Battlefield 1 has more than done the trick.
Despite featuring the series’ best single player campaign in years, letting you witness the horror of war though multiple protagonists’ eyes, Battlefield 1’s real attraction is its epic multiplayer action. All the usual Battlefield modes are in there, along with a brand new Operations mode that has you battling for territory over a number of maps, but it’s the actual combat itself that makes it shine. Buildings crumble around you as missiles and bombs hit their mark, gas clouds swell, trying to infiltrate your lungs before you can reach for your gas mask, and a hail of bullets makes you reconsider your position as you move in to capture an objective. Entering a match on any of Battlefield 1’s finely crafted maps truly feels like entering a warzone, which is an experience you just can’t find anywhere else. [Buy it here]
Dark Souls 3
Difficult but fair, the Dark Souls series has served intrepid adventurers well since its introduction in 2011. By taking the best elements of the similarly designed Demon’s Souls and Bloodborne and adding them into the fold however, this year’s Dark Souls 3 was a masterpiece.
Set in the hauntingly picturesque Kingdom of Lothric, Dark Souls 3's interconnected world was as alluring as you’d ever want such a hostile place to be, with grotesque inhabitants that hit both fast and hard. And its bosses? Well, they were as deviously designed as ever, able to make you swear like a nun with tourette's as you died again and again until you’d learned every nuance of their movesets. That’s the joy of a game like Dark Souls 3 though; getting your ass handed to you on a silver platter until you’ve developed your stats and skills to the point where you can show anything the game can throw at you who’s the boss. You just can’t beat the cathartic feeling it brings. [Buy it here]
World of Final Fantasy
Remember a time when Final Fantasy games had random battles, turn based combat and a despicable villain that truly looked the part? If so, you’ll probably love World of Final Fantasy.
A far cry from the boy band road trip that is Final Fantasy XV, World of Final Fantasy is a charmingly old-school JRPG that pays homage to the series’ extensive history. Traipsing from one escapade to another, you’ll encounter cute re-imaginations of all your favourite Final Fantasy characters and visit locations that are often very familiar. There’s even some classic Final Fantasy melodies spread across its soundtrack too, reworked to keep them fresh but still able to tug on your heartstrings.
If you’re a long term Final Fantasy fan that bemoans just how much the series has changed, World of Final Fantasy is made with love, for you. [Buy it here]
Developed by Respawn Entertainment, the company founded by the folks responsible for the creation of the Call of Duty franchise, the original Titanfall was a hit when it was released exclusively on Microsoft formats a little over two years ago. This year’s Titanfall 2 though, absolutely blows it out of the water.
It has a proper single player campaign for a start, which is nothing less than phenomenal. Sure, it may be a little on the short side, running at only five hours or so, but it crams in so much exhilarating action with its intuitive free-running gunplay and satisfyingly mighty Titans that you just won’t care. And when you’re done with the single player campaign you can jump right into its plethora of revised and expanded multiplayer modes, which will keep you engaged and entertained whether you’re a Titanfall noob or seasoned pro.
Gamers who like a pleasant surprise should definitely check Titanfall 2 out, even if only for its campaign. Those who also embrace its fast-paced competitive multiplayer modes however, complete with hulking metal brutes, will find it a much more compelling package. [Buy it here]
Watch Dogs 2
While it was released under a stormy cloud, visually downgraded from its E3 showings, Watch Dogs was still a great game. Like the leap from the innovative yet ultimately repetitive Assassins Creed to its massively improved sequel however, Watch Dogs 2 is everything the original game should have been, and then some.
Out is the sour-faced Aiden, much derided for being devoid of any personality. In his place is Marcus, a younger, hipper protagonist who isn’t afraid to crack a smile and make a few jokes. It perhaps signals the rebirth of the series; one that’s less serious in tone and places more emphasis on players simply having fun, whether it’s on their own or with their friends in co-op. In any case, it works. Watch Dogs 2 simply oozes character, and is sure to win players around who were left disappointed by its predecessor.
Whatever your thoughts were on the original Watch Dogs, throw them out of the window. Watch Dogs 2 should be considered as the new start for what is set to be a great series. [Buy it here]
Ratchet & Clank
As a game based on a movie that’s based on a game, this year’s Ratchet & Clank is an accomplished reimagining of a PlayStation 2 classic that both looks and plays fantastic.
Placing you in the shoes of everyone’s favourite Lombax and his and his well-spoken robotic pal, you’d have to be dead inside to not enjoy this colourful and genuinely amusing platformer. There’s some great variety to the gameplay on offer, with lots of shooting and puzzling to be done when you’re not simply traversing the wonderfully created environments. And in true Ratchet & Clank style there’s a huge arsenal of weapons to buy and upgrade such as the ever helpful Mr Zurkon and the comical Pixelizer.
Throw away any misconceptions you have about its Saturday morning TV visuals and characters, Ratchet & Clank is a great game that is huge amounts of fun no matter your age. [Buy it here]
If you like a good stealth game, chances are you’ve played 2012’s Dishonored. Plopping you into decent sized environments in which you were free to deal with your targets in a myriad of ways, it was a bloody good game, but the recently released Dishonored 2 is just bigger and better.
Seeing you escape Dunwall after a coup, the locales of Karnaca in which you find yourself are exquisitely designed, just begging for every nook and cranny to be explored. How you do so is up to you though. You can be anything from a ghostly pacifist, moving around in total stealth whilst finding a non-lethal way to deal with your target, to a genocidal maniac, busting in through the front door before shooting and slicing anyone that stands in your patch to pieces. However you play, your expanded arsenal of powers, weapons and abilities make it an absolute blast, and the cherry on top is that it looks glorious too. [Buy it here]
So there you have it; our take of the essential PS4 games of 2016. Feel strongly about any games that aren’t on the list? Shout it out loud and inform everyone by leaving a comment below.