The 8 games to play first on your PlayStation 5

Knock some DualSense into yourself

We're used to America gettings things first, but the additional week this rainy little island has had to endure before finally getting hold of the PS5? That was a test. 

Well, the wait is over, and the largest console you'll ever clap eyes on is finally out in the UK. Unlike the Xbox Series X, which launched without any first-party games, Sony has a diverse little collection of them on day one, each utilising in some way the PS5's huge power boost and 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 be unboxing one today. 

We've been hopping between the launch lineup titles like an excitable bunny for the last few weeks, and have put together a list of the games we think you should be playing first. 

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.

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 groundup 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 in tact, 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.

Eventually.

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 collectibles for completionists to hunt down. After TearawayYoshi'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.

5. Bugsnax

Where to start with this one.

An instant internet sensation after its announcement in the summer, Bugsnax is a puzzle-focused first-person adventure game set on the mysterious Snaktooth Island, a place famed for its native half-bug, half-snack creatures. Go with it. You, a curious Grumpus (essentially furry humans. Again, go with it) journalist, head there to track down its self-styled leader for an interview.

The meat of the game lies in exploring the island and working out how to catch the myriad different species of Bugsnax, each requiring a different strategy if you’re to tempt them into your trap.

With hints of Pokemon, a surprisingly well-rounded cast of oddball characters and nice use of the DualSense, the first PS Plus game of the PS5 era shouldn’t be overlooked.

6. Ghost of Tsushima

We were admittedly pretty lukewarm on the PlayStation 4’s final big exclusive game, 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 is one of the best examples of a last-gen title that’s instantly improved by the PS5. 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 mindblowingly beautiful. 

Also you can befriend foxes, so there’s that.

7. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

It’s very hard to keep up with the Call of Duty series. After last year’s entry saw Infinity Ward soft reboot its now legendary Modern Warfare subseries, the first next-gen CoD hands the reins back to Treyarch for a direct sequel to 2010’s Call of Duty: Black Ops.

Set during the early ‘80s period of the Cold War, the seventeenth Call of Duty game delivers a short but sharp globetrotting campaign - mostly enjoyably daft, occasionally troubling - in which you, a typically enigmatic agent codenamed “Bell”, join up with a special unit of soldiers to track down a suspected Soviet spy known as Perseus.

The PS5 version looks incredible with its hardware-accelerated ray tracing feature enabled, while the weapon-to-weapon variation in the DualSense’s trigger sensitivity really does add a extra layer of immersion.

The back-to-basics multiplayer and return of the popular (but far too silly for the very stern Modern Warfare games) Zombies should please CoD purists looking for a new shooter, even if the overall package feels a bit safe.

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.