A Guide to the PlayStation 4′s Launch Titles

The next-generation of consoles are officially here. Seven years after Sony launched its PlayStation 3, we now have the sleek, powerful and incredibly social PlayStation 4. Unlike the PS3 that was designed to become the ultimate living entertainment hub, the PS4 is a return to a focus on gaming. From the ground up, the PS4 was architected to be extremely easy for developers to design games quickly. The result is the most diverse console launch in PlayStation history. Here’s some of the ones we’ve been playing since the PS4 launched.

Need for Speed Rivals


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The Need For Speed franchise has been kicking around for 19 years. And while the games have been passed from developer to developer, the core arcade racing (as opposed to simulation racing) hasn’t changed at all. In Rivals, you get to race in two careers in Redview County: as a racer and as a cop. As a racer, you’ll race other cars, do time trials and try to outrun the cops. As a cop, you’ll be tasked with chasing down reckless racers and have items such as shock waves to help you. The goal is to earn “Speed Points” by completing different objectives on your “Speedlist”, which you can then use to upgrade your vehicles or buy new ones.

But earning Speed Points is tougher than it sounds, especially if you’re playing as a racer. For instance, even if you win a race, if you’ve got cops on your rear, they’ll continue to chase you until you lose them. If you get busted, you’ll lose all of your Speed Points. Worse, if you decide to do several events back-to-back and you get busted by the cops, you lose every single Speed Point from all the events. Thus, Rivals is like gambling: the bigger the bet, the bigger the reward.

The story is a bit of snooze, the un-skippable cutscenes often too long, and the myriad of menus and sub menus to bring up things like the GPS to map a route to your hideaway can be a little overwhelming and confusing, but damn it if Rivals isn’t a gorgeous game that brings back that feeling of high speed velocity.

What makes it next-gen: Rivals is a looker right from the start. The anti-aliasing is so well done and the cars are just beautifully modeled. Customization is back (yes!), albeit in a more limited capacity than previous games in the series. Rivals is about high-octane adrenaline — exactly what the PS4 promises.

Buy it!

Resogun


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Out of all of the games available on PS4 so far, Resogun is hands-down my favorite. Developed by Housemarque (the same devs behind the highly addictive game Super Stardust HD and Super Stardust Delta), Resogun plays like a glammed up modern version of the classic game Defender — if that game was pumped on steroids. The twin-shooter uses the left analog for moving your spaceship and the right for firing. Weapons can be upgraded throughout each phase as you take down hordes of enemies in the wildly addictive side-scrolling shooter. The game even uses the DualShock 4′s speaker to dish out the computer dialogue, which makes the action that much more intense.

While Resogun’s fast-action gameplay makes you keep coming back for more in single-player, it’s also lots of fun in co-op online mode (when you’ve got a good Internet connection). It’s absolutely satisfying to crush a boss and hear “Armageddon”.

What makes it next-gen: Resogun, like Super Stardust HD/Delta, proves that next-gen isn’t simply just about pushing higher polygons. The game’s simple, but addictive gameplay rekindles the magic of shooter-ups (fun fact: they’re often called “shmups”) from the mid ’90s.

Price: $14.99 (free if you’re a PlayStation Plus member)

Just Dance 2014


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Post Dance Dance Revolution, motion controllers put dancing games on the map. There are two dancing game camps: Dance Central (for Xbox 360) and Just Dance (every other platform). Whereas Dance Central is all about nailing down discrete choreography, Just Dance has always been more about being wild and fun — it’s a party game.

As publishers transition their games from PS3/Xbox 360 to PS4/Xbox One, we’re seeing a lot of ported games in the launch lineups. Just Dance 2014 is one of them. The fifth game in the series features 47 songs from pop icons such as Lady Gaga to Nicky Minaj to PSY. Notable in Just Dance 2014 is the “On-Stage” mode, which lets you take the lead dancer, while two other players can join in as your backup crew.

In previous versions of Just Dance for PlayStation, you had to use PlayStation Move controllers, but on PS4 you don’t; you can use the PlayStation Camera to track movement. In my opinion, the camera tracking isn’t nearly as good as the Xbox’s Kinect, often failing to acknowledge my moves, so it might be wiser to stick with using Move controllers.

What makes it next-gen: Between the Battlefields and Call of Dutys, you’d be remiss to think that next-gen consoles are only for adults. Just Dance 2014 might not offer enough to warrant it over the PS3/Xbox 360/Wii U counterparts, but it still is one fun party game. And ultimately, that’s what a next-gen console should be: fun for not just yourself, but for friends and family too.

Buy it!

Battlefield 4


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There are two types of mainstream first person shooter gamers. You have your Call of Duty and your Battlefield fans. Both games are playing in the same trenches and both franchises sell millions of copies per release. Battlefield 4 (BF4) is DICE’s newest and possibly greatest FPS, so long as you don’t play it for the single-player, which is awfully bland with a band of characters you won’t really care for.

Multiplayer is where BF4′s meat is when the game doesn’t crash on you (and it happened a lot). You’ve still got your Conquest, Team Deathmatch, Squad Deathmatch and Rush, but now you’ve also got two new modes: Obliteration and Defuse.

In Obliteration, a bomb randomly spawns on each map. Both teams make a rush to pick up the bomb and dump it at the opposing team’s objectives and detonate it. Its unpredictable, quick gameplay, and emphasis on teamwork makes it largely entertaining. On the other hand, you have Defuse, the other new mode, which is totally hardcore. You play in teams of five versus five but the stakes are high. Each player only has one life and can be revived once per round. Your goal in Defuse is to take out the enemy squad or arm and detonate a military objective. (It’s pretty tough, and I don’t recommend playing it unless you’re darn hardcore).

What makes it next-gen: Battlefield 4 is largely more of the same-old as Battlefield 3. In the world of first-person shooter games, there’s not a whole lot of room for innovation. If anything, Battlefield 4 is the culmination of every Battlefield game since Battlefield 1942. It combines elements from all of its predecessors to provide a polished BF game that not only looks grittier and more realistic, but also plays a lot tighter.

Buy it!

Flower


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Flower isn’t exactly a new game. It was released in 2009 for the PlayStation 3. Few gamers understood Flower because it didn’t even feel like a game. Similar to last year’s critically acclaimed game Journey, Flower is about the experience — it was created to tug at your emotions. In the game, you control the wind and blow flower petals around to interact in six stages. That’s basically it. There are no bosses to fight or leveling up to do. To tell you the truth, It’s more a work of art than it is a game.

The dialogue and text-free game is as much a visual experience as it is an auditory one — all with the goal of provoking your feelings. The orchestral soundtrack is perfectly soothing and aims to relax and put you in a state of calm.

What makes it next-gen: Flower was already considered a masterful piece of interactive digital art. While the game looked great on PS3, the visuals have been sharpened with the bump up to 1080p resolution, with richer details thanks to the use of a wider color palette. It’s stunning. Controlling the wind with the DualShock 4 is also more precise thanks to improvements made to the controller’s motion sensors. Flower is worth a play simply because it is so different from all of the other games in the PS4′s launch lineup. It’s digital zen.

Price: $6.99 (free if you already bought it on PS3)

Madden NFL 25


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Back in the day, a new Madden release was the equivalent to the Super Bowl Part II. As with all games, Madden’s innovation in recent years has slowed to a crawl. Madden NFL 25 is a port of the PS3/Xbox 360 version that was released in August. The gameplay hasn’t changed; you’re still in control of buying a team and managing the players with the goal of taking them to the Super Bowl.

Thanks to the PS4′s extra power and EA’s IGNITE engine, player models are a hair prettier (you can actually see lighting reflecting off each player’s helmets dynamically) and stadium’s feel more alive with spot-on cheers from the crowd that don’t feel robotic. The game physics feel more solid, but the commentary from Jim Nantz and Phil Simms can be a little repetitive, though. In a nutshell, Madden NFL 25 on PS4 is a lot prettier, but it’s also a lot smarter.

What makes it next-gen: When it comes to sports games, hyperrealistic player models are nice, but what matters is the AI. Madden NFL 25 for PS4 sharpens up the AI for better blocking and easier running (maybe too easy), to name a few. The ability to share your glorious plays via screenshots is also extremely satisfying (if you like boasting online).

Buy it!

Sound Shapes


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Like Flower, Sound Shapes is an old game. Released last year on PS Vita and PS3, Sound Shapes is a simple, stylish side-scrolling game where you navigate a tiny blobby ball (circle?) across the level. Everything in the game pulses with a beat or a sound, which helps create music.

The game’s quirkiness is what makes it so unique. It’s unlike any music-based game you’ve ever played before and best of all, it’s really social. As you play through the campaign (which is on the short side with five “albums” of four levels), you’ll unlock more items that you can use to create your own levels. You can create your own content and share them with others.

What makes it next-gen: The PS4′s made it a mission to be very (and we mean very) indie friendly. On Vita, Sound Shapes took advantage of the device’s touchscreen, and on PS4 it now makes use of the DualShock 4′s built-in speaker, touchpad and lightbar to provide an even more immersive experience.

Price: $14.99 (free if you already bought it for PS3/PS Vita)

Killzone: Shadow Fall

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This is one of the PS4′s exclusive launch titles that offers fantastic graphics that really showcase the PS4′s potential. You can check out our full review of the game here.

Buy it!