The Playstation 5 already has a great lineup of games that show off the new hardware, as well as take advantage of the unique capabilities of the DualSense controller. Some of the games are brand new for the platform while others have undergone a next-gen upgrade for release on the PS5. Irrespective of the genre you might be into, there’s something here for everyone.
Here are my initial picks for the best PS5 games you can get right now, writes Krishan Sharma.
Included with every PS5 console, Astro’s Playroom single handedly demonstrates the power of the DualSense controller making it one of the most satisfying and enjoyable games to play at launch. A platformer at its core, Astro’s Playroom constantly surprises and delights with inventive new ways of using the DualSense controller’s unique haptic feedback and adaptive triggers in concert with the motion controls, speaker, touchpad and microphone built into the controller that really elevate the sense of immersion to new heights.
Whether it’s feeling the tiny taps of Astro’s footsteps literally beneath your fingertips, mimicking the difference between trudging through sand and snow, piloting a glider, manning a spaceship or firing off a gatling gun, the DualSense accurately recreates the sensations in such convincing fashion that you can’t help but smile.
My only real qualm with the game is that it’s over all too quickly and the absence of a two player mode. Spanning four worlds and 16 levels, the campaign clocks in at around three hours but you can extend your play time further by finding collectables which serve as a fun little virtual gallery for Playstation’s past. You also unlock time trials as you complete levels in the game, allowing you to compete against the rest of the world online for the fastest finishes.
Astro’s Playroom is the most Nintendo-like game Sony has ever produced, leveraging the strengths of the controller to deliver a truly unique experience. I recommend booting up Astro’s Playroom first before you play anything else.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales
If you’re looking for a visual showpiece for the PS5, look no further than Spider-Man: Miles Morales. A follow up to 2018’s Spider-Man, the attention switches to the charismatic Miles with a more focused sequel that is free of story bloat while also managing to throw in some new abilities to the mix.
That oh so satisfying swinging through New York is presented in stunning detail complete with ray tracing for realistic reflections and lighting as well as a silky-smooth 60fps (frames per second) both of which run simultaneously with the latest ‘Performance RT’ software update. Load times are non-existent and the 3D audio implementation is also top notch with the city’s soundscape enveloping you at all angles as you web sling your way through the crowded streets.
The seven hour campaign is on the short side, combat can get repetitive and the DualSense implementation is fairly lackluster. That said, the game delivers a blockbuster cinematic experience that makes it a must play for anyone that enjoyed the first Spider-Man game.
Sackboy: A Big Adventure
The Little Big Planet series takes a departure from the famed creation mode that the series built its name on in favour of an all new 3D platforming adventure that draws inspiration from the likes of Super Mario 3D World in its structure and design. The presentation is incredibly charming and reminded me of 2019’s Yoshi’s Crafted World with its emphasis on cardboard cutouts, fabrics and other household objects complemented by top notch lighting and materials work that truly bring each stage to life.
Sackboy: A Big Adventure also boasts one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever heard in a video game with tunes that span the works of indie artists to some of the biggest names in music. In Sackboy, the music is more than mere accompaniment to the action with some levels built around specific tracks that see everything from the platforms and enemies dance in time to the music. These levels almost turn the game into a rhythm based platformer as you feel compelled to time your moves right along with it.
For me the weakest aspect of the Little Big Planet series has always been the platforming largely due to the floaty jumps and overall movement feeling off. But developers Sumo Digital have turned this around with Sackboy feeling more responsive and precise like a good platformer should while also giving him access to upgrades like hover boots, boomerangs and a blaster to go with his core moves of rolling, throwing, jumping and punching.
Sackboy is also one of the few games at launch to include couch co-op with support for up to four players and there are certain stages that require cooperation such as having one player move and hold a platform into place so others can progress. The game also makes subtle but meaningful use of the DualSense controller’s haptic feedback and adaptive triggers.
All in all, a console launch wouldn’t be complete with a solid platformer and Sackboy: A Big Adventure fits that bill nicely.
One of the few true exclusives to the PS5, the 2009 cult classic Demon’s Souls has been rebuilt from the ground up for the modern age, introducing the dark fantasy land of Boletaria to a whole new generation of gamers. The grim atmosphere and hulking bosses are captured in phenomenal detail and aside from a few quality of life improvements such as new items and weapons to covet, the game stays faithful to the original right down to the hard as nails difficulty.
Demon’s Souls, like those that came after it, is not a game that can be brute-forced. Blindly running into situations or spamming the attack button will ensure a quick and timely death for your character. The key to combat is taking your time, advancing slowly, learning the enemy attack pattern and figuring out when and how to engage with the methodical action feeling gritty as ever to play. It’s unforgiving but fair.
As with any Soulsborne titles, you will die a lot but the near instantaneous load times mean that death isn’t anywhere as frustrating as it was in the original PS3 version.
The brutal learning curve and somewhat obtuse mechanics might not be for everyone but for those who persevere, Demon’s Souls offers a deeply rewarding experience that very few games can match.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
(Also available on Xbox Series S and Series X)
For Call of Duty lovers, every holiday season is first and foremost about the next CoD title and the good news is that the latest entry in this annualised franchise doesn’t disappoint. The single player campaign is some of the best to come out of the franchise in years and, outside of some server and matchmaking hiccups, the multiplayer modes are a total blast. Zombies mode in particular has a strong foundation that I hope to see fleshed out (pun intended) further with future updates.
The campaign is as over the top as ever, but this time around you’re also given plenty of choice throughout including optional side missions, whether to kill or capture particular antagonists and various dialogue options. Even though your choices don’t materially affect the overall story, it’s fun to replay levels and try out different options to see how the scenes play out differently. Most missions are broken up with a healthy dose of stealth which serves as a nice palette cleanser before the next big action set piece.
The multiplayer suite has plenty of options and modes for players of all types, but it all features the same excellent gunplay and choice that have formed the core of Call of Duty for years. The real draw, however, is ‘Fireteams’ which features large-scale, team-based firefights similar to Call of Duty’s free-to-play battle royale, Warzone. It’s more focused and less chaotic than Warzone and if you enjoy working with your friends in big battles and huge maps, Fireteams is where you will be spending most of your time. That being said, multiplayer in Black Ops is missing some key mechanics that were in previous entries, such as mounting weapons and switching a weapon’s fire rate, which made transitioning from Warzone a little jarring.
The much loved Zombies mode makes a welcome return and this time around players can bring their own loadout into the massive undead slaughterhouses instead of solely relying on what you can find in the map. Zombie mode also supports split-screen, making it a great option for some couch-based co-op fun.
Cold War is also a visual tour de force on the PS5 which is a little surprising given that it’s also a title that runs on last-gen consoles. It’s the only title available at launch that lets you keep ray tracing enabled while running the game at 4K and 60fps. Although the ray tracing is limited to shadows, it can make a significant difference to the image quality in certain scenes. Better yet, with ray tracing disabled you can run the game at up to 120fps, making for the most responsive and fluid Call of Duty on consoles to date.
I also have to commend developers Treyarch on the bombastic sound design that truly shines with a proper surround sound setup or on a quality pair of headphones.
While Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War is available on all platforms, the PS5 version is the most satisfying to play thanks to the stellar implementation of the DualSense controller’s adaptive triggers and haptic feedback. Triggers now have a resistance to them just like an actual gun and that resistance changes based on the weapon you’re wielding. For example, assault rifles feel relatively easy on the trigger while LMGs genuinely feel heavy in your hands. The triggers also deliver their own kickback simulating recoil perfectly and the haptic feedback vibrates to the rhythm of the fire rate. With the DualSense, every type of weapon handles differently and feels unique to shoot, making the game that much more immersive to play.
(Also available on Xbox Series S and Series X)
Not to be confused with the version that came out on last gen consoles back in September, NBA 2K21 is a significant and stunning next-gen upgrade with hands down the best visuals seen in a sports game to date. The details and animations on the players as well as on the crowds have been turned up to 11, making the visual presentation closer to a live broadcast than a video game. It’s a game that will have you constantly reaching for the replay button so you can really slow things down and appreciate all the details. You’ll see sweat on the players’ faces intensify as the game progresses, player expressions change as they make contact with each other while fighting for position in the paint as well as signature animations on your favourite NBA players.
There’s even a new broadcast team calling the game with the likes of Brian Anderson, Grant Hill and Allie LaFroce providing the best play-by-play commentary in sports video games.
NBA 2K21 also takes advantage of DualSense’s adaptive triggers to simulate the fatigue of the athletes on the court. As a game goes on and the in-game players get more exhausted, the real-life player will encounter more resistance when pushing on the sprint trigger. This resistance will also come into play in the postgame; weaker postgame players will encounter more resistance when backing down stronger opponents. Meanwhile the haptic feedback simulates the impact of collisions mid-game. The implementation is subtle but impactful in terms of enhancing the gameplay.
There are a few missteps; The City, for example, is a great idea in principle but its sheer scale can leave it feeling deserted. The unnecessary grinding and egregious microtransactions that plagued previous entries in the series also make an unwelcome return.
Still, this is the closest video games has ever come to realistically simulating a sports title, making it an absolute must play for fans of the genre.
Devil May Cry 5 Special Edition
(Also available on Xbox Series S and Series X)
DMC 5 SE is a souped up version of one of the best action games ever released with visual upgrades that include ray tracing support and a super smooth 120fps, as well as new game modes and the presence of Vergil as a playable character.
Playing as Dante’s brother and arch-rival, Vergil, isn’t a simple skin swap either. There’s new cutscenes and story elements to flesh out his inclusion and he’s considerably more difficult to use than the other characters with his dodges and blocks having much less margin for error coupled with his inability to double jump. He’s a blast to play as once mastered with a rewarding moveset and entertaining quips to complement his playstyle.
Other additions include Turbo mode, where the whole game runs 20% faster, and Legendary Dark Knight mode which drastically increases the number of enemies on screen at once to really test players skills.
My main qualm with the game is that it barely takes advantage of the DualSense controller’s adaptive triggers and haptic feedback. When you start up Nero’s sword there’s some resistance to the triggers to make it feel like you’re revving the throttle on a motorbike, but it feels more like a gimmick than something that improves the sense of immersion.
While there’s not enough here to justify double dipping for those that played the original on last-gen consoles, new players and lapsed series fans are in for a real treat.
Immortals: Fenyx Rising
(Also available on Xbox Series S and Series X)
Immortals Fenyx Rising is the closest thing to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the Playstation 5 and for that alone, it’s worth playing. The go anywhere and climb anything approach is a refreshing departure from the traditional Ubisoft open-world affair that I hope to see the studio build on in the future.
Immortals emulates Nintendo’s opus with everything from its game structure and combat to the self-contained puzzle areas that require the use of the game’s physics engine to solve. The game’s dungeons or “Vaults” as it’s called in the game are well thought out and a real highlight even though there are times where you will need to fight with the game’s controls to execute the solution to some of them.
The game is entertainingly narrated by Greek gods Zeus and Prometheus, who will squabble and bicker and occasionally break the fourth wall as you play. The game does a great job at weaving its lighthearted tone without losing the world-ending gravitas if you don’t succeed. The visuals are a bit of a mixed bag with detailed majestic landscapes and a bright colourful presentation coupled with hit and miss character designs and noticeable screen tearing on the PS5.
While Immortals lacks the polish and incredible natural discovery of Breath of the Wild, it does carve out a path of its own with excellent writing, a surprisingly deep combat system and a fair share of fun puzzles that will keep you playing till the very end.