PS4 10th Anniversary: DashGamer’s Top 5 Games

For The Players...

It’s been ten years since the PlayStation 4 began its domination over the video game industry. The console blazed a path through the competition from its inception, selling out the XBOX One 2:1, and left Nintendo without a hope in the world. It started to replicate the prominence of its grandfathered PlayStation 2 era, as Sony favoured its the voice of its fanbase after a disaster launch of the PlayStation 3. The PS4’s formula was simple; an affordable powerhouse that would develop a library of titles that would cover a multitude of genres but would be strong on the interactive cinema front. While its launch window was certainly questionable, with barely any impact, by March 2014, the PlayStation 4 had taken off with no looking back. Title after title, hit after hit. The platform cultivated a library of instant classics that remained exclusive to the platform for its seven year lifespan.

This year we celebrate ten years of the PlayStation 4, and while it slowly retires itself from the market, it leaves an imprint so vast that it personified what gaming would become for an new wave of players. The tagline “For the Players” was not just some fancy slogan, it was a moniker the studio and its leadership was prepared to fulfil for its dedicated audience. From Jack Tretton to Shawn Layden, their passion and dedication rang loud and clear to their playerbase that this was a generation for gamers as much as it was for PlayStation. We were showered with what would become insanely popular hits, remakes and classics from Final Fantasy VII, Uncharted, inFamous, The Last of Us. Then and then introduced to new franchises from unlikely developments teams in Horizon Zero Dawn, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Death Stranding, and more. A generation of excellence.

To celebrate, we’ve compiled a list of five titles – including ten honourable mentions – that deserve to be part of everyone’s must play/essential list of titles before the PS4 takes its final bow. Here is our top five in no particular order.

inFamous: Second Son

While the generation was in its infancy, the PlayStation was floundering without strong launch titles to get it up and going. The momentum swing was in XBOX’s favour, but only by the skin of their teeth. That was all about to change with the launch of what I believe to be, one of the PS4’s most polished gaming experiences to date. Nine years after its launch, inFamous: Second Son still proves to be one of the platform’s greatest achievements in demonstrating a completely optimised experience from graphical fidelity, performance, mechanics and gameplay. Set after the events of 2011’s inFamous 2, the standalone sequel permits the player a gateway through Cole MacGrath’s Good Karma timeline, where the electric conduit had sacrificed his life to save the human race, while in-turn stripping those with the conduit gene of their powers, but only within the vicinity of the RFI – the Ray Field Inhibitor – a reverse Ray Sphere made by its creator Dr. Sebastian Wolfe.

InFamous: Second Son’s plot sets it apart from Cole’s story, with a new protagonist in the limelight, the young, rebellious and overly confident Delsin Rowe portrayed by The Last of Us’ Troy Baker. Living amongst the Akomish, a small, Native American tribe located just outside Seattle, within Salmon Bay, Delsin’s unconventional upbringing see’s him shaped into a delinquent that’s parented and guided by his older brother Reggie, portrayed by Critical Role CEO Travis Willingham. Unbeknownst to him, Delsin carries the conduit gene, to which is now commonly attached and labelled with the renamed “Bio-Terrorists”. After the aforementioned events in New Marais, the US Government deployed a new initiated, enlisting reformed conduits as officers to take down “Bio-Terrorists” across the nation. The DUP – Department of Unified Protection – also known as “Dupes”, were on a warpath to eradicate any and all that were deemed a threat.

After a guarded vehicle crashes outside of the Akomish, Reggie – the Sheriff of Salmon Bay, heads off to investigate. With his curiosity getting the better of him, Delsin covertly follows his brother to the crash site, where he discovers one of the criminals trying to escape. Aiding him in his getaway, Delsin grabs onto the Bio-Terrorist, and sparks an awakening, that ultimately surfaces the conduit gene that laid dormant within him. Wielding the power to traverse with smoke like arcane type abilities, the youngster is later confronted by Brooke Augustine, the leader of the DUP, where she tries to interrogate Delsin into giving up the location of Hank, the Bio-Terrorist he helped, and now shares his powers with. Augustine tries to intimidate and threaten Delsin, by taking Betty – the leader of the Akomish, as bait to get Delsin to divulge the information she wants. Without hesitation, Augustine uses her concrete forming abilities to have stone spurs attach themselves to the bodies of the people in the Akomish, leaving most to die. Delsin sets a path to Seattle, with hopes to negotiate a trade for Augustine’s power, to save his people.

 

Uncharted 4

Naughty Dog’s distinction within the gaming space was held in the highest of regard at this point. It had been three years since the release of The Last of Us, and five since Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. It was rumoured that the Uncharted franchise was shelved at this point in favour for the studio diverting their attention to its R18+ focused future in the survival horror series. But it was without question that Uncharted series creator Amy Hennig, was not done with Drake’s story just yet. While Uncharted 4’s early development cycle proved hell on its entire team, from the departure of Hennig, to almost every single person attached to the project except its lead, Nolan North, Hennig’s existing work was scrapped and started fresh, re-written and developed by Neil Druckmann, Josh Scherr, Bruce Straley and the help of The Last of Us subsidiary team at the Santa Monica studio.

Uncharted 4: A Theif’s End was Drake’s curtain call. The domesticated life of the retired treasure hunter was merely a shell of his former glory. The experienced adventurer now residing in New Orleans, has settled into married life with Elena Fisher, and works a job salvaging lost properties below sea level. Fifteen years prior to this, Nate and his brother Sam were on a lifelong mission to discover the lost treasure of Pirate Henry Avery, which the siblings had discreetly been tracking from their now deceased biological mother, Cassandra. Now, Sam reunites with Nate after his near death attempt to escape a Panamanian jail with business partner Rafe Adler, it’s a race to the treasure with their former investor hot on their heels as the pair meet familiar faces along the way and get a helping hand or two in getting what they have sought for decades; closure.

DashGamer awarded Uncharted 4 its Game of the Year award in 2016.

Horizon Zero Dawn

So you’re telling me, the studio renowned for developing a first-person shooter, one that was said to be tired and outdated at launch – of course I’m referring to Killzone: Shadowfall – was set to be the studio that prominently places a sturdy pillar, introducing a fresh faced mascot to PlayStation’s established line-up of characters? Horizon: Zero Dawn was an masterclass in open-world quasi-RPG action-adventure that shook the very foundation of Guerrilla to its core, detouring its ideology of developing a plethora of shooters from its primary years in the industry. I would think that after the critical reception its last Killzone title received, the studio were fed-up with the franchise, and were vying to something new. This was a complete shock to the system, as no one expected such a revered, and well polished escapade with an insanely fleshed out plotline to come from the same team.

The post-apocalyptic world see’s tribal instincts become the primal way of life upon earth, with a futuristic twist laid upon post-modern existence. Technology is praised like God, with respective tribes owning large plots of land. Abandoned at birth, Aloy is raised by an ousted warrior, Rost, that takes the initiative to prepare her for the proving, an event where one warrior is initiated into the Nora tribe after winning the competition. By default, Aloy wins after the rest of its competitors are massacred by a masked group of cultists, who also killing Rost after trying to protect Aloy. Aloy sets foot on her own journey to avenge her adoptive guardian, while embarking on her own journey of self-discovery, learning more about the Carja, the empire that rules over all tribes, the “old ones”, a label given to society of the past, and how she came to be born without a mother and why it was unexplained and despised.

It’s one of the greatest action-adventure open world experiences. In 2017, Horizon Zero Dawn was awarded the DashGamer Game of the Year award, amongst three other titles.

Persona 5

I could write ten paragraphs about this title it’s that good. Persona 5 is one of, if not, the greatest JRPG of our generation. There’s quality facets that would be hard to replicate in most titles, although have inspired many esteemed, established and experienced including the father of Super Smash Bros. himself, Masahiro Sakurai. It follows the same tropes as its predecessors, a team of students take on an alternate reality to save society from ruin, but this time it’s more than a powerplay governed by a major figure within the political realm. From sex, belief, religion and justice, Persona 5 takes players upon a whirlwind of ethical and moral standards that are exploited in society to shape, manipulate and mould people into puppets. A story written to perfection, and timely at that with its release hitting home for many American’s under the ruling of then President Donald Trump, the parallels were uncanny.

A near two-hundred hour campaign cultivates one of PlayStation’s greatest exclusives, to which its Vanilla form remains on the PS4 (with a PS3 port available). You take on the role of an unnamed protagonist, misunderstood for his heroism and arrested on the charge of assault. He’s sent by his parents to live with a close associate, Sojiro Sakura, a café owner living in the local backstreets of Yongen-jaya, Tokyo, and is transferred to Shujin Academy, where he meets with associates that become his close friends and cohorts in the rag-tag group known as the Phantom Thieves of Hearts. After a supernatural event sends our main hero and a delinquent on an unaccompanied journey to an alternate reality, they are sentenced to death by an unruly king that deems them trespassers. The only problem being that the castle they were trespassing on was Shujin Academy, and the king being the school’s Physical Education teacher, Suguru Kamoshida.

After a successful escape, the pair are content on revisiting the other world once again, to find out what was indeed happening, and how this reflects on the reality they’re living. It’s suspected that the PE Teacher is assaulting male students, and sexually assaulting female students, but no one is speaking up. It’s now up to our hero, flanked by his friends and one mischievous cat to get to the bottom of this case. This of course is only a taste of what’s to come as Persona 5’s campaign expands upon the academy to the entirety of Tokyo, reflecting the hearts of those that are corrupt and uncouth. It’s one of the greatest campaign’s ever created, and masterfully delves deep into sensitive subjects, all while delivering a fulfilling adventure, taking a band of unlikely allies and turning them into earth’s mightiest heroes.

Persona 5 was also awarded the DashGamer 2017 Game of the Year award, alongside Horizon Zero Dawn.

The Last of Us Part II

In what is the most polarising choice, The Last of Us Part II was PlayStation’s most anticipated story in 2020. The tale followed through on Joel and Ellie’s misadventures through the United States after seven years. The epidemic has grown worse, but humanity has adapted along the way without a cure in sight. Now an adult, Ellie struggles to find her own way in life with or without Joel by her side. Ashley Johnson reprises her role as Ellie, with Laura Bailey introduced to the franchise as Abby. The two sides of the same coin are flipped unconditionally without any reason but to seek out their own closure, which culminates to a bloody final act between the pair. It directly follows up on events taking place after The Last of Us’ murderous massacre in Salt Lake City, played out by Joel in hopes to save Ellie from being dissected and sacrificed after her immunity is discovered by the Fireflies.

The pair now reside in Wyoming, with Tommy and Maria, while Ellie develops her own relationship with Dina. Estranged from Joel, she works with Maria as a watcher to keep the small town of Jackson at peace while Joel, Tommy and their team cycle through shifts of separate teams, keeping Ellie and her former guardian apart. It comes to light that the father-daughter pairing has dissipated between the two, and are leading their own lives with some regrets that come to light. But a carefully timed plot to take out a loved one leads to the ultimate revenge story, leaving Ellie with nothing left to lose. The Last of Us Part II, just as its predecessor acts as for the PS3, is the PlayStation 4’s final swan song before closing out the platform’s generational lifecycle. 

An era of elite entertainment from a cavalcade of quality studios, not to be outdone by one of the greatest development teams that continue to hone their craft, and love for telling excellent stories while demonstrating design and gameplay on an entirely different level.

Honourable Mentions:

God of War (Sony Santa Monica, 2018)

Ratchet and Clank (Insomniac, 2016)

Marvel’s Spider-Man (Insomniac, 2018)

Street Fighter V (Capcom, 2016)

Bloodborne (FromSoftware, 2015)

Death Stranding (Kojima Productions, 2019)

Detroit: Become Human (Quantic Dream, 2018)

Final Fantasy VII Remake (Square-Enix, 2020)

Ghost of Tsushima (Sucker Punch, 2020)

inFamous: First Light (Sucker Punch, 2014)

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