We’re used to America gettings things first, but the additional week this rainy little island had to endure before finally getting hold of the PlayStation 5? That was a test, even if the promise of the best PS5 games landing before most of their Xbox counterparts made it that little bit easier.
Eventually the wait ended, and the largest console you’ll ever clap eyes on has been out in the UK for well over a year now. Although actually getting your hands on one hasn’t got any easier.
Unlike the Xbox Series X, which launched without any first-party games and continues to push Xbox Game Pass and studio acquisitions as its biggest draw, Sony has a typically diverse little collection of them already, each utilising in some way the PS5’s huge power boost and an innovative new controller.
And like the Xbox Series X, the latest PlayStation is capable of making last-gen games look and run better, so there’s plenty to get stuck into if you’re lucky enough to have one under your TV.
We’ve been putting the PS5 through its paces since day one, and have put together a list of the games we think you should be playing first. Here are the best PS5 games to buy and play first, in no particular order.
- Related: read our full PS5 review
1. Astro’s Playroom
For all of its graphics and CPU advancements, the most interesting thing about the PS5 is the new DualSense controller, and Astro’s Playroom is the perfect demonstration of its various innovations – definitely one of the best PS5 games around!
The game itself is a charming, if fairly basic 3D platformer, but add the DualSense’s functionality and it becomes something entirely unique. Through the haptics, you can feel the titular robot’s footsteps in your hands, or the slap of impact when he plunges into water. The new adaptive triggers, meanwhile, tighten when Astro later discovers a bow and arrow, and lock up altogether when he runs out of coins to play the crane game in the main hub. There are loads of great ideas here, many of which will no doubt be pinched for future PS5 games.
And aside from all that, Astro’s Playroom is also absolutely jam-packed with Easter eggs and tributes to PlayStation’s 25-year history, all of which are well worth seeking out, and none of which we are going to spoil.
The five hours we spent with the game gave us some of our best gaming moments of the year, and given that it’s absolutely free and comes pre-loaded on every PS5 console, it’s the easiest recommendation we’ll ever make.
2. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
It’s Christmas in The Big Apple, but the city’s newest web-headed crimefighter has no time for ice skating and unsuccessful shopping trips. As you’d expect there’s some villainy afoot, and with original Spider-Man, Peter Parker, out of town, it’s up to his new partner Miles to suit up and put a stop to it.
If you played 2018’s excellent Spider-Man game you’ll feel right at home here; Miles Morales is more of a generous expansion than a whole new game, but its 10ish-hour campaign cuts off a lot of its predecessor’s fat, while adding more variety to missions and some excellent new characters. And the swinging still feels as fantastic as it did two years ago.
Miles Morales is also a technical showcase for your new console, with much-improved draw distance, super sharp 4K visuals and impressive ray tracing reflections. Who needs Pete?
3. Demon’s Souls
Confession time: we’re yet to down the first boss in Demon’s Souls, a ground-up remake of the 2009 PS3 cult classic that set the blueprint for the Dark Souls series that followed.
While the visual performance of the game – entirely redone with modern technology, running in 4K at a buttery smooth 60fps on PS5 – is very different, the merciless difficulty that the Souls games are known for remains intact, and some series veterans will tell you that Demon’s Souls is the most unforgiving of the lot.
Still, those who put in the work insist that no game has a loop as satisfying as that of this one and its contemporaries, and with the stunningly reimagined kingdom of Boletaria harnessing the PS5’s power in what is easily one of the best-looking games ever made, there’s no better time to get stuck in and show those unnecessarily large monsters who’s boss. Which we intend to do too.
4. Sackboy’s Big Adventure
Sackboy’s a bit too weird for Sony to have ever properly committed to making him PlayStation’s mascot, but that hasn’t stopped it from signing off his first-ever 3D platformer.
Unlike in the LittleBigPlanet games in which our hessian hero made his name, you won’t be making the levels here. Sackboy’s Big Adventure is a very traditional platforming game, carefully crafted by developer Sumo Digital. The big bad here is the dastardly Vex (voiced brilliantly by Richard E.Grant), who’s wreaking havoc across Sackboy’s home of Craftworld and naturally must have his master plan foiled by an anthropomorphic sack.
While the early levels are extremely gentle and a bit basic, probably to encourage the younger target audience, things get a lot more interesting as the game progresses, with some of the best use of music since Rayman Legends and countless collectables for completionists to hunt down. After Tearaway, Yoshi’s Crafted World and Sackboy’s own LittleBigPlanet series, we’re a tiny bit over seeing game worlds made entirely of miscellaneous junk, but none have looked prettier than the one here.
Well worth a playthrough, especially if you have youngsters asking for the pad.
Time loop games were very much in vogue in 2021, but the one that we’ve thought about the most is Deathloop. The hidden isle of Blackreef is doomed to repeat the same 24 hours forever, making death little more than a temporary inconvenience and the island’s residents as hedonistic and dangerous as might expect. As Colt Vahn, it’s up to you to break the loop.
If you’ve played any of Arkane’s previous games, such as Prey or the masterful Dishonored series, you’ll know that they’re all about giving the player freedom to tackle the first-person combat however they want. High chaos, super stealthy or a healthy blend of both: it’s up to you, and perhaps more than any of the studio’s games to date, Deathloop really does fully embrace every approach, and the result is a wildly entertaining sandbox of violence.
Hellbent on stopping Colt is his arch-nemesis Julianna, who at any point can invade your game. Offline she’s an AI-controlled character, but Deathloop’s online multiplayer component allows real players to assume the role of Julianna, which leads to some tense and hilarious battles that make your Deathloop experience feel totally unique.
6. Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut
We were admittedly pretty lukewarm on the PlayStation 4’s final big exclusive game at launch, but Ghost of Tsushima has still found a huge audience ready to sing its praises, and if you’re not taken by the Viking simulator that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is offering up, perhaps Sony’s samurai epic could be your next open-world obsession.
Ghost was already one of the best examples of a last-gen title that’s instantly improved by the PS5, and the Director’s Cut is now the definitive version. As well as benefiting from the shorter loading times, the game runs at a perfect 4K/60fps, making one-on-one duels – already one of the game’s strong points – even more epic to behold. And it looks mind-blowingly beautiful. Japanese lip-syncing – one of the most asked-for features from fans – has been added to the PS5 game, as well as some generous DualSense trickery and 3D audio support.
And we should probably mention the entirely new Iki Island, which adds a huge chunk of additional story content, a massive new environment, new characters, and most importantly of all, new animals to befriend.
7. Gran Turismo 7
In a genre increasingly dominated by the brilliant bonkers Forza Horizon series, we half-wondered if we could ever fall for Sony’s traditionally straight-faced sim racer again. But Gran Turismo 7 is a terrific reminder of why the GT series has lasted long enough to celebrate its 25th anniversary this year.
This is still a game that’s head over heels in love with cars and car culture, but you really don’t need to be a petrolhead yourself to have a great time. As you set about collecting the 400 cars available at launch, GT7 does a great job of teaching you its many systems, and if you’d rather just drive there’s a massive suite of assist options.
We love the leisurely Cafe mode, in which a friendly chap named Luca gives you menus of cars to collect, lovingly telling you all about their history before introducing a new set, and Music Rally, which has you racing not against time, but a song’s BPM. With ray tracing support, full 3D audio and genuinely immersive DualSense features, Gran Turismo 7 should be in every PS5 owner’s collection.
8. Dirt 5
We’ve already talked up Dirt 5 as one of the best launch games for the Xbox Series X|S, and it’s a two thumbs up recommendation on the PS5 too.
The racing is always brilliantly tense, and with a wide range of locations and dynamically shifting weather system, it’s perfect for putting your telly’s HDR capabilities to work. There’s also a 120Hz mode for TVs that support it.
The PS5 version might be the pick of the pair, with the game making full use of the DualSense’s haptics and adaptive triggers. You race on lots of different terrain in the game, each changing up the vibrations you feel in your hands. Like a lot of the first wave of games that have embraced the new PlayStation pad, the difference is subtle until you go back to regular rumble.
With Gran Turismo 7 not arriving until next year, Codemasters’ off-road world tour is the place to go for fun on four wheels.
Returnal definitely won’t be for everyone.
Arguably the first triple-A “roguelike”, this sci-fi shooter pits you against waves of unforgiving enemies as you explore a series of biomes on a hostile alien planet, and when you die (and you will die, a lot) you’re sent right back to the start, losing the majority of your weapons and often hours of hard-earned progress. To make things worse, the map is randomly generated so it’s not like you can memorise the most forgiving route.
But it’s also this uncompromising difficulty and nail-biting tension that makes Returnal one of the most thrilling and memorable games on the PS5. And sure, the constant dying can be frustrating, but when a game looks and feels as good in the hands as this one, the suffering feels worthwhile.
Arguably no PS5 game to date better shows off the potential of 3D audio, while the DualSense controller’s haptic feedback is brilliantly utilised. Returnal may well break you, but triumph, when it does come, has never been sweeter.
10. Disco Elysium – The Final Cut
Disco Elysium is an RPG in which gameplay revolves almost entirely around dialogue, so it’s a good thing that it’s easily one of the best-written games of all time, and features full voice acting on PS5, making a surreal and frequently laugh-out-loud funny adventure even better.
You play a detective charged with solving a murder, but there’s a small problem: you’re also an alcoholic and an amnesiac, so while you’re putting together the puzzle pieces of the aforementioned mystery, you’re doing the same for your whole life. This gives you total freedom to mould the character you want to play as, which can range from vaguely competent charmer to a chaotic disaster of a human being, and every dialogue choice you make can have consequences.
Navigating the disgraced city of Revachol is admittedly best done on PC with a mouse and keyboard, but if that isn’t an option for you, the PS5 alternative is still a must-play.
11. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
t’d be easy to call the latest entry in PlayStation’s long-running Ratchet & Clank series a playable blockbuster animated movie, but in truth, it looks even better in motion than a lot of those. Ratchet & Clank games have always been technically impressive beasts, and Rift Apart certainly doesn’t buck that trend.
Never less than stunning to behold, it gives the PS5 a serious workout, while the typically bonkers weapons you acquire throughout the game usually have a primary and secondary mode of fire that activate depending on how hard you squeeze the DualSense’s adaptive triggers. A Rift Apart is a PS5 exclusive and all the better for it.
It’s also just very fun to play. If you’ve played a Ratchet & Clank game before you already know what to expect: visit planets (as both Ratchet and a new female Lombax named Rivet), shoot aliens, collect bolts and buy even better weapons to do the same thing all over again. Mix in some rock-solid platforming and dazzling dimension-hopping set pieces and you’ve got a first-party game worth bragging about.
12. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2
We adored the remake of two of the best sports games ever committed to code when it kickflipped onto last-gen hardware last year. Unsurprisingly, the PS5 upgrade makes a 5-star game even better.
As before, you get the two classic games rebuilt from the ground up in high definition, but now they run natively in 4K at 60fps, and can go up to 120fps if you’re willing to take a bit of a resolution hit. Haptic feedback courtesy of the DualSense makes landing big tricks feel even better in your hands, and there’s now support for spatial audio too.
While none of the enhancements radically change the experience, they do mean THPS 1 + 2 is one of the most impressive next-gen games to date, and to be honest, did you really need an excuse to drop into the Warehouse again?
- Now read: the best ever PlayStation games
13. Horizon Forbidden West
If you loved the PS4 classic Horizon Zero Dawn, you’ll be happy to know that its long-awaited sequel is simply more of everything that made the original so much fun. More robotic beasts to slay, more gadgets to take them down with, a bigger, even more beautiful world to explore, and much-improved side quests to lose hours to.
Protagonist Aloy is still a fascinating character to play as. In the first game she was oblivious to the secrets of the post-apocalyptic America she grew up in, where technology is feared and humans form tribes to survive. But in Forbidden West Aloy is a hardened warrior who knows her destiny, and it makes for an equally enticing adventure.
Horizon Forbidden West doesn’t reinvent the third-person action RPG, and if games that drown you in loot and quest icons aren’t your bag, this one probably won’t change your mind. The story gets pretty ridiculous too, but when combat and exploration is this much fun, it doesn’t really matter.
14. Elden Ring
FromSoftware’s first open-world game is nothing short of a masterpiece. We struggled to imagine how the very deliberate design of the Dark Souls games would translate to a game that lets you do and go whatever and wherever you like, but it has pulled it off and then some.
Surviving in The Lands Between is still incredibly difficult, and you’ll die a lot on your more than 80-hour journey. But unlike Bloodborne, Sekiro and Dark Souls before it, Elden Ring’s non-linear structure means that an inability to beat a certain boss doesn’t halt your enjoyment. Simply go somewhere else, get stronger and more powerful, and come back later.
Comparisons to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild can be misleading, but what Elden Ring does have in common with Nintendo’s all-time great is its sense of adventure, and how it nearly always rewards your curiosity. It’s a game people will be talking about for years, and an absolute must-play on PS5.
15. Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection
There’s no new content in Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection. The two-game bundle brings together two of the PlayStation 4’s very best games, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, but content-wise they’re exactly the same games as they were before.
But Legacy of Thieves Collection is easily the best way to play these games today for one simple reason: 60fps. Sure, fidelity mode features some nice graphical flourishes that make the two action adventure classics look even better than before in shiny 4K, but its performance mode that’s a game-changer here. Once you’ve launched Nathan Drake towards a terrifying cliff face at a silky smooth 60fps, you’ll wonder how you ever tolerated anything else. If you’re willing to knock the resolution down to 1080p (and have a compatible TV) you can even play with a 120fps framerate.
If you’ve never experienced the globe-trotting thrill ride that is Uncharted 4, or the spinoff game that’s easily worthy of the mainline series’ name, then doing so on PS5 is essential. And if you ask us, the performance enhancements are enough to make both games worth replaying as soon as you get a chance.