Best PS4 Games Of 2019
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PS4's Finest Games This Year
Sony is laying the groundwork for the next-generation PlayStation 5, but PS4 isn't going quietly into that good night. The current console generation still has plenty of life left in it, and it showed its strength this year with a killer lineup of big games.
Much of the PS4 lineup kept pace with PC and Xbox One, with multiplatform games performing well on Sony's console. The company also further opened its cross-play functionality throughout 2019, finally letting PS4 players game alongside other platforms so that you're no longer bound by console loyalty in many cases. Meanwhile, Sony put out some first-party exclusives this year, including the open-world zombie survival game Days Gone and the divisive but ambitious Death Stranding.
Sony heads into the new year a strong market leader, with several more big exclusives and a new console launch on the horizon. Before we look ahead to 2020, it's time for one more look back at our favorite PS4 games from 2019.
If you're curious about what else we've highlighted as the best games in other categories, be sure to check out all our end-of-the-year coverage collected in our Best of 2019 hub. You can also check out our top 10 games of 2019. Over the next few days, we will offer further insight into why we picked them as the best of 2019, with a standalone article going live on-site in order of the games' release dates. Then, on December 17, we will reveal which of them gets to take home the coveted title of GameSpot's Best Game of 2019.
Resident Evil 2
Resident Evil 2 is far more than a remake of the classic PlayStation original. Where recent action-focused games strayed away from what made early entries so unique and terrifying, RE2 remake continues the tone established by Resident Evil 7: Biohazard's return to the series' horror roots. In the process, the game develops Resident Evil's quintessential survival-horror mechanics and puzzle-solving into its most cohesive iteration yet.
As Leon or Claire, a familiar terror awaits as you navigate the labyrinthian hallways of the Raccoon City Police Department. The original game's most memorable moments expectedly line the remake's retelling of that terrifying night in 1998, but they're recontextualized, remixed, and given new life. Simply pointing your gun at a zombie is anxiety-inducing again, as the game removes the empowerment once offered by the freedom to aim, providing you only a semblance of dominance, a much shakier aim, and fewer bullets. And don't even get us started with the Lickers or Mr. X; the remake amplifies the terror of fighting these relentless enemies in a more seamless environment where your chances of survival seem to decrease by the minute.
Somehow RE2 remake's successes far exceed that of the original. The brilliant execution of its risk-reward survival-horror highlights it as one of the best experiences this year. A riveting and harrowing adventure, RE2 Remake is a shining example of the series' best qualities that proves the genre can still evolve, thrill, and delight.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
With Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, From Software proved it can still excel at creating new ways of making incredibly difficult action games. Though Sekiro utilizes similar storytelling beats and mechanics from the developer's previous's Soulsborne titles, the game is an altogether different beast to tackle--curating mentally taxing (but highly rewarding) combat encounters that are defined by both stealth and hyper-aggression. Combat is the best aspect of Sekiro, but the game has a lot more going for it, all of which helps make it one of the best gaming experiences of 2019.
Sekiro's setting, Ashina, is loosely based on the Sengoku period of Japan. It's a well-crafted world, one that's supported by its detailed level design and storytelling. Save for a few areas, all of Ashina's many locations are directly connected, allowing you to seamlessly traverse most of the map without the need to fast-travel. This further makes Sekiro's in-game world feel like an actual place--one where its well-written characters call home. Lore isn't info-dumped on your either; instead the game encourages you to seek out the answers to its many questions by tying expositional history to useful in-game items or weapons. By growing stronger, you learn more about the world, and by seeking out answers to your questions about the world, you find items that make you stronger.
Which, frankly, is just a long-winded way of saying that Sekiro works so incredibly well because all of its systems, mechanics, and features are working in tandem with one another. Individually (with the exception of the combat), you could argue that Sekiro doesn't do any one thing in an extraordinarily unique way. However, the game does a better job than most at seamlessly tying all of its pieces together in a way that can only be described as extraordinary.
Outer Wilds isn't a puzzle game, exactly, but in many ways, the game itself is a puzzle. As the denizen of a small backwater planet with big dreams of exploring the galaxy, you're tasked to explore a large uncharted galaxy. The game has all the initial appearances of a space exploration sim with somewhat realistic (and challenging) rocket mechanics. It only takes your first cycle, in which the entire galaxy ends and resets itself, to realize it's much more than that.
On a mechanical level, Outer Wilds is about unlocking a mystery over time. Every life will inevitably end after a set time, and each iteration starts you fresh, equipped only with the cumulative knowledge you've built up through your previous lives. That mechanic is used brilliantly to explore larger human concepts--the value of curiosity and discovery, the pursuit of knowledge, and the passage of information between generations. Outer Wilds a deceptively simple game with big ideas.
Remedy has a sharp interest in science fiction and the paranormal, as seen across games like Alan Wake and Quantum Break. Its latest game, Control, is perhaps the purest distillation of the studio's keen eye for the strange and mysterious, as it turns the story inward toward a secret government agency that oversees paranormal activity. The result is a veritable playground of peculiar weirdness, letting Remedy stretch its legs with a world that is richly detailed and often hilarious in its meta-commentary on genre tropes.
Control's well-crafted world serves as the setting for an engaging action romp as Jesse Faden, a visitor with her own agenda to the department, finds herself thrust into the middle of a disturbing attack. You gain access to a variety of Force-like powers, which work well within the creepy backdrop. And it complements all this with a Metroidvania-like structure, having you double back and explore a headquarters that's often shifting in structure. These elements all work together to make something truly unique that recontextualizes Remedy's library and fulfills its esoteric interests in the otherworldly.
Perhaps no game inspired heavy conversation this year quite like Death Stranding. The debut post-Konami effort from renowned game director Hideo Kojima was undeniably ambitious, bursting with both big philosophical ideas and new gameplay systems to help illustrate them.
On one level, Death Stranding is largely about transporting goods through a post-apocalyptic world and completing the downed Chiral network to reconnect the citizens of the United Cities of America. This involves planning routes and cargo loads, avoiding the ruinous "timefall"--rain that degrades equipment and living organisms so quickly it looks as if time is going faster--and building infrastructure like bridges and roads to help all of these tasks easier for both yourself and other players online. The game is subversively nonviolent, only granting you a weapon after many hours and then overtly pleading with you not to use it. But it's also a game about connection, as explored through its social features like the ability to share infrastructure projects and help your fellow players along.
That's a testament to Death Stranding's heady concepts. It has action sequences, but it isn't fundamentally about action. Instead, it's a game about human connection and interdependence on a massive scale. A game that revolves primarily around carrying goods from place to place posits a much larger idea at its core--that none of us can carry the weight alone.