We ran our list of the best games of 2015 earlier this month, but we’ll break it down by console for you. We’re not just looking at console exclusives, but at the full range of releases for the year, excluding collections, reissues and remasters. So a game like Guitar Hero Live could pop up on multiple lists, whereas compilations like Rare Replay or Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection will be getting their own separate list. We’ve already done our Xbox One and Wii U lists, and now it’s time for the PlayStation 4.
The PlayStation 4 had perhaps the biggest and most diverse line-up of new games in 2015. From big budget spectacles to intimate downloadables, Sony’s system had something for everybody this year. Here are picks for the best PlayStation 4 games of 2015.
The Chinese Room has created a world and a community that, in its depth and subtlety, feels real. It shares the verisimilitude of a Ken Loach film but without the politics, the characters sounding like real people having real conversations. Before the scope of the mysterious illness dawns on everybody and overtakes all conversations, we hear them talk about the sort of personal issues that videogames rarely discuss, like the slow pain of a disintegrating marriage, the anxiety of young parents, or the absence felt when a lifelong partner passes away. These moments of empathy and humanity are when Rapture excels, uncovering poignancy in areas this medium has generally considered too mundane to explore.—Garrett Martin
Invisible walls, authority figures who have pre-determined mistrust towards you no matter what you do, no sense of personal privacy, and a never-ending to-do list… I guess I never realized all the inherent similarities between high school and videogames until I played the first three-hour episode of Life Is Strange. It reminds me of the parts of Beyond: Two Souls that I didn’t hate: a teenage girl with super-powers but also realistic life problems and serious consequences. Everybody else at school thinks Max is stuck-up and a pretentious jerk; I can tell why they’d think that, and it’s why Max seems human and flawed. She’s just a teenager, trying on different types of “coolness” for size.—Maddy Myers
Guitar Hero Live, with its streaming music video channels, is now as much of a music delivery service as it is a game, and that ensures its livelihood, at least in my household. As long as they’re running and updating Guitar Hero TV, I’ll carve out time for this game. It offers something that no other game, and really, no other TV station, currently does: a powerful combo of play, nostalgia and discovery. I mean, I’d never buy a Darwin Deez record, but I’m glad I’ve seen that video, you know?—GM
Soma isn’t much of a horror game. It uses horror trappings as a jumping off point to find more intelligent and interesting trails to follow. Its follow-through is impressive. When it talks about something, it goes for it, and the results are rarely pretty or happy but almost always intriguing. And most importantly it asks us to consider questions that might become relevant sooner rather than later.—Suriel Vazquez
The Phantom Pain might be the only open-world game I’ve ever played where I can say I feel like I wasn’t wasting my time on some activity that was dull or poorly designed. Even my favorite games in the genre all have at least one or two clunky activities that they force you to do over and over again for the sake of progression, tainting the experience. However, nothing feels like a chore in The Phantom Pain. It’s a game made by people who know the pieces of its construction intimately and how those pieces should connect to one another, who understand that making the small moments matter is just as important as the big picture.—Javy Gwaltney
When I think of my time in Witcher 3, which is still going, I think mainly of the quest for Ciri, your adoptive daughter. I think of mages with freckles and villagers working fields after you drive away their tormenters. I think of it as a game which says that all we have is each other, as family and friends. As people, whose lives are short but brilliant. As a game that says that what makes life worth living and struggling for isn’t trying for perfection but our common imperfections. It’s aspiration by way of mundanity and I don’t know that I’ve played anything quite like it.—Ian Williams
Rocket League is the only game I’ve played that’s captured the truly exciting bits of soccer for me. The vast majority of (the admittedly few) sports games I’ve played are so beholden to seasonal statics that I’m just always so bored because I can’t be bothered to keep up with the annual Who’s Who of professional leagues. Rocket League’s touch of zaniness allows it to focus on the bare essentials of the game: there are the players, a ball, and two goals. There are no stat games here. No managing players. No fluff. Just soccer…with turbo-powered RC cars, and it’s all the better and more accessible for that.—JG
Boosterism is out of character for me, and I’m honestly as surprised as anyone else is that I’ve had such a (dare I utter the word) visceral reaction to Until Dawn. It’s genre-changing across the board, and I literally cannot wait for other games to pick up even 1% of what it brings to the table in terms of narrative and design innovation.—Cameron Kunzelman
Bloodborne is a distillation of everything that worked in Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls. The combat is fast, less clunky and more risky. Yharnam is a stunning world worthy of hours of exploration, and, perhaps most pleasant of all, Bloodborne is a game that knows when to end. It’s a deeply challenging game set in a fantastically realized gothic nightmare, an adventure of the highest quality for those willing to undergo the game’s trial by fire.—JG
It’s amazing that something with Fallout 4’s scope and magnitude remains as bewitching as this game does. Bethesda’s formula is overly familiar by this point, but from a story perspective these games exploit the freedom afforded by the medium more than almost any other notable examples. Fallout 4 is built on mystery and discovery. We can charge through the main storyline as quickly as we’d like, but the true power of this game comes from exploring at our own pace, uncovering its secrets in no certain order and at no set time.—GM