We didn't think things could get much better than 2017's Horizon Zero Dawn, Call of Duty: WW2, The Last Guardian and Assassin's Creed: Origins, but that was just the start. 2018 brought even more, and there's plenty left for this year and beyond - check out our most anticipated games to find out what's on the way soon.
We've played each and every game in this round-up, and have reviewed all of them to help you decide whether they're your cup of tea. We've got everything from solo adventure games to huge online open worlds, as well as fighting games, shooting games, racing games and more.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption was a phenomenal open world game for its time, and is one of few games that has stood the test of time, so it should come as no surprise that Red Dead Redemption 2 has set a new standard for open world games.
The open world of Red Dead Redemption is sprawling and varied, but it’s the finer details of the open world that make it feel dynamic and lived-in. You can have impromptu conversations with passers-by, intimidate witnesses to crimes to avoid becoming wanted and, when you want a little R&R, you have can hunt over 200 species of animal, go fishing or play dominoes with other gang members at camp.
We’ve been stopped by outlaws trying to rob us, we’ve helped a woman being attacked in her home, we’ve helped convicts escape prison carts and more – all while randomly exploring the open world out-of-mission.
The missions are action-packed, story-driven and wildly varied – from high-pressure missions like robbing a train to more relaxed missions where you simply have to go fishing – the game offers something new at every turn.
And we haven't even mentioned Red Dead Online, coming to consoles in November 2018, providing a way to explore the vast open world with your friends.
We'll end with a warning: Red Dead Redemption 2 may ruin every other open world game for you.
God of War
God of War for PS4 was said to be a complete reimagining of the franchise that would step away from what was offered in 2013’s God of War: Ascension. While this made some fans nervous, Santa Monica Studio has produced what could be one of the best games not only for PS4, but of this generation of gaming.
Kratos, the Ghost of Sparta and son of Zeus, has moved away from his ultra-violent, God-killing ways and has instead chosen to settle down far away in the realm of Midgard. Following the death of his wife, Kratos and his son Atreus must take the ashes to the highest point in Midgard to scatter them.
But it’s not as simple as it seems; despite being Atreus’ father, Kratos and his son don’t have a very close relationship. The story is as much about the blossoming of the relationship between father and son, as it is about spreading the ashes. And while that seems pretty deep for a God of War game, the story is told to absolute perfection.
It’s not the story alone that carries God of War though; the gorgeous and varied semi-open world is an absolute joy to explore, and the combat is pretty close to perfection. Why? Because it has been completely reimagined.
Gone are the fiery Blades of Chaos, with Kratos instead wielding the ice-enchanted Leviathan Axe. Kratos can throw the Axe at enemies and magically summon it back to his hand with the press of a button, much like Thor and his hammer Mjölnir.
God of War ticks all the boxes; it looks stunning, combat is satisfying, offers an emotionally gripping campaign and a variety of things to do once you’ve completed the main story. What's not to like?
Read more in our God of War review.
Horizon Zero Dawn
Horizon Zero Dawn was one of the most critically acclaimed games of 2017, exclusive to the PS4 and PS4 Pro. But what makes the post-apocalyptic open world of Horizon Zero Dawn so attractive? Apart from roaming mechanical dinosaurs and a fiery red-headed heroine, of course.
The game’s storyline is much like a Hollywood movie with an engaging and intriguing storyline: after proving herself worthy to those that labelled her an outcast as a child, it’s up to Aloy to unmask the secrets of her past and in doing so, shed some light on why the world it is as it is, and where the mysterious dinosaur-like Machines are coming from.
Now, combine that with extended cut scenes and a game where every frame could be a painting and you’ve got something that’s engaging, gorgeous and hands down one of the best games to grace the PS4 ever.
Frankly, what’s most impressive about Horizon Zero Dawn is that it’s powered by a PS4, and not a high-end gaming PC. This is especially true when running Horizon Zero Dawn on a PS4 Pro, as we did, offering a 4K output at 30fps by rendering the game in 2160p checkerboard.
Lines are clear and defined, textures are of an extremely high quality and the frame rate is stable while providing one of the greatest gaming experiences available on a console. We take our hats off to you, Guerrilla Games, we really do.
Read more in our Horizon Zero Dawn review.
The Last Guardian
We had to wait nine years, and it managed to somehow skip the PS3 entirely, but it was worth it: The Last Guardian is the sort of exclusive that should make anyone without a PS4 very jealous indeed.
The latest game from the creator of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus sees you play as a young boy tasked with escaping a derelict castle. Your only companion? A giant, magical, half-bird, half-cat creature named Trico, who you'll have to befriend and help if you want to make it out in one piece.
Across the game's platforming, puzzles, and fights, it's that bond with Trico that'll keep you coming back for more, as you slowly build up trust between the two of you, until by the end of the game you're happily plunging off teetering towers, confident that the big fluffball will catch you on your way down.
There are a few performance issues and occasional frustrations with the controls, but The Last Guardian is beautiful - and emotional - enough that you're not likely to care.
As sure as the sands of time, FIFA is out again but it genuinely is better than ever. Tweaks to game mechanics, superior player likenesses and an unparalleled online community makes FIFA 19 the ultimate football game.
Kick Off mode adds great offline multiplayer options for the first time in ages to reinvigorate a game that still excels in online, where you will have to practice very hard not to get thrashed. But it's worth it.
And with exclusive Champions League rights this is a true pinnacle of football gaming for the Sky Sports generation.
Read more in our FIFA 19 review.
Assassin's Creed Odyssey
After Assassin's Creed Origins revamped the long-running series, Odyssey took the baton and ran with it, building on Origins' foundations to deliver a bigger, bolder game.
Set even earlier, before the Assassins even existed, this ancient Greek historical fantasy expands on the RPG elements that Origins carefully introduced, throwing in branching dialogue, romance options, customisable combat skills, and upgradable gear.
The core loop of exploration, stealth, and combat is mostly unchanged, with a return of your trusty eagle companion too (this time named Ikaros, in keeping with the setting). Sprawling across the Greek mainland and myriad islands against the backdrop of the Peloponnesian War, the lush setting is up there with the series' best too, and you'll want to explore it to the fullest, whether on foot or at the helm of your trusty ship.
It's worth noting that Assassin's Creed Origins is still fantastic in its own right, and remains one of the best PS4 games too.
Find out more in our full Assassin's Creed Odyssey review.
Far Cry 5
Set in the fictional region of Hope County, Montana, you find yourself in the shoes of a Deputy in the local police force, sent in to arrest the leader of a separatist cult - Eden’s Gate – known as Joseph Seed. Upon his arrest and subsequent escape, it soon becomes apparent that to deliver justice to Joseph, the land must be liberated and his “Heralds” must be brought down first.
One upside of being set close to the Rockies in the US is that Far Cry 5 looks stunning. Luscious green forests, sprawling lakes, and towering mountains cover the landscape, making every view a breath-taking one. It’s well populated too, with tons of friendly people trying to take their homeland back and cultists trying to kill everyone, but even the local fauna has a huge amount of range from Deer to Bears, and even a few Caribou and Moose.
When not out liberating the land from cultists, there are plenty of other side activities to carry out: Hunting animals, base jumping with a wingsuit, mimicking a stuntman, and even fishing. Few give tangible rewards unless the skins of certain animals are required in a mission, but everything that is done can grant perk points in order upgrade abilities.
Far Cry 5 is a rollercoaster of emotions; from the sheer adrenaline of the gameplay to the psychological trauma resulted from the most disturbing underlings in the series’ history. A hugely enjoyable experience, even if it’s certainly got a few pacing and open-world teething issues to address.
Read more in our Far Cry 5 review.
It's probably fair to say that Insomniac's PS4-exclusive Spider-Man game isn't the most original or innovative game on this list, but it makes up for it by being ridiculously fun to play around in.
This open-world take on the wallcrawling superhero owes a ludicrously large debt to Rocksteady's Arkham Batman games - most obviously in the combat and stealth systems, which are lifted almost directly from those games, but also in the multi-villain story structure, open world mechanics, and even the traversal mechanics.
For the most part it's merely an able imitator, but it's that traversal that brings Spidey into his own, building on Batman's foundation and elevating itself far above them: swinging around NYC is breathtakingly enjoyable, and it's easy to lose hours to nothing but webslinging, swooping between skyscrapers and only stopping for the odd selfie.
Everything else about the game is fun - the story is schlocky comic book far, the combat is fast-paced, and the open world is lively (if undeniably repetitive) - but it's the webslinging that makes Marvel's Spider-Man almost an essential PS4 game.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Shadow of the Tomb Raider is the final instalment in the Origins trilogy, offering an all-round darker experience than those that came before it. Lara is good at killing, and she knows it. In fact, we think she even revels in it at points in the gritty campaign.
Alongside a dark, Hollywood-esque storyline, new exploration mechanics provide the most immersive open world experience in the Tomb Raider series. You can now spelunk, allowing you to fully explore complex cave systems, and you can swim underwater too.
Lara can cover herself in mud and stealthily approach enemies, taking them out one-by-one. The takedowns are pretty brutal too, but what's new there?
The Challenge Tombs are more extreme than ever, with complex puzzles to solve and deadly traps to avoid. They're bigger, more detailed and generally better than those in previous games - what's not to like?
Take a look at our Shadow of the Tomb Raider review for more information.
Final Fantasy 15
At 200 hours for a complete playthrough (and at least 40 for the main story alone), Final Fantasy XV is pretty undeniable value for money- luckily, it's also a good enough game that you'll probably want to stick around for all 200 of those hours.
The game sets you on a road trip with a few buddies, but since this is a Final Fantasy game, there's obviously a lot more to the story than that, and it's packed with all the requisite twists and turns to keep you engaged throughout.
FFXV shakes up the series' turn-based combat with a new dynamic, real-time system that lets you perform joint attacks with your teammates. It takes a little getting used to, but once you do it's effective, intuitive, and above all fun.
The open world lets you travel just about as far as the eye can see, and visit everything along the way, and the game world is packed with activities and side quests to keep you occupied.
Set at the height of the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1918 London, you play as Dr. Jonathan Reid, a renowned doctor, scientist and now, vampire. You're tasked with helping the 60 night-dwelling residents of London stay healthy, while also trying to find out where the virus originated - and how to stop it from spreading.
If you’re looking for a semi-open world, story-focused RPG, Vampyr is a solid option. It offers in-depth conversation options, game-changing choices to make and an intriguing storyline full of plot twists and betrayal.
But it’s much more than that too; combat is satisfying, especially as you unlock new vampiric abilities and upgrade your weaponry, and the world feels more alive than most open world games. Every person you see has a name, a story and relationships with other characters in the game, and deciding to feed on them can have a knock-on effect on the community and availability of quests. It makes you second guess your every move, and will leave you wondering if you made the right choice long after it was made.
But it’s the way that Vampyr makes you feel bad for killing citizens that makes it impressive – I’ve never felt more guilty playing a game in my life.
Find out more in our Vampyr review.
When have secret experiments on space stations ever gone right? Throw in memory modifications and eery aliens and it's hard to really feel surprised that everything went a bit skewy on Prey's Talos I.
You step into the shoes of Morgan Yu, one of the station's head scientists, as you contend with the outbreak of the Typhon, an assortment of gooey black extraterrestrials with a penchant for mind control and murder.
While most of these enemies are pretty typical, the best are the Mimics, scuttling spiders that also have the ability to disguise themselves as every day objects - potentially making Prey the first game to scare you with a coffee cup.
There's a pretty open character progression system, with options to focus on strength, hacking and repairing, or more outlandish Typhon powers of your own, while Talos I itself is also open to explore (mostly) freely.
If there's a downside to Prey it's that the story, while initially promising, never quite comes together entirely. That, and it'll all feel very familiar if you've played the likes of BioShock or Dishonored before. Still, it's tremendous fun, and easy to recommend.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
After a few disappointing games in a row, and a steady shift away from horror and towards AAA action, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is an attempt to reclaim the franchise's survival horror crown. With a new first-person perspective and focus on hiding and stealth (lovingly borrowed from the likes of Amnesia and Alien: Isolation), there's a lot here that's new to the series, not least the setting: a Texas Chainsaw Massacre take Louisiana, complete with sweltering heat and bloodthirsty cannibals.
But as much as it introduces new themes, Resident Evil 7 also harks back to the oldest games in the series. You'll be exploring a decrepit mansion, using green herbs to heal yourself, and carefully lining up headshots to save ammo - at least when you're not running away.
Yeah, the story gets a bit silly (though mercifully avoids almost all the expansive Resident Evil lore - this is a great entry point to the series) and the boss fights are slightly rubbish, but Resident Evil 7 is really, really scary - and you can't ask for much more than that. Just don't ask us to try it out in PS VR, we haven't dared yet.
Read more in our full Resident Evil 7 review.
Metal Gear Survive
Metal Gear Survive takes place following the events of Ground Zeroes, and is technically a spin-off from the MGSV timeline. Essentially, a wormhole appears and promptly sucks Motherbase into its churning maw and end up in a desolate dimension where you’re forced to survive.
You’ll find new features when compared to previous MGS games, most notably the introduction of a hunger and thirst system that really limits -ahem-, that really enhances the survival experience. Your character levels up and unlocks new talents as you progress through the game, and the growing library of things to craft should keep you busy for a while.
But while some of these activities are certainly enjoyable, there is a lot of busy work required before you can progress through the story. Finding food on top of scavenging for materials so you can actually play the game gets a lot less interesting after you’ve done it for the fifth time. And when that’s combined with oxygen consumption in the dust, you’ll find yourself heading back to Base Camp fairly often to replenish your stats.
But despite the frustrations, fans of Metal Gear Solid V will feel right at home here with the game’s tone and feel. The wanderers being dangerous up close, and a need to be more tactical makes a nice difference to other zombie titles that encourage you to hack and slash. If you’re a fan of zombie games and the Metal Gear series, you really can’t go wrong with this one.
Read more in our full Metal Gear Survive review.
Call of Duty: WW2
Call of Duty WW2 takes the CoD franchise back to its roots. During the campaign you’ll storm the beaches of Normandy on D-Day before fighting your way across Europe, experiencing events of the second world war including the Battle of the Bulge and The Rhine through the eyes of a solider.
Clocking in at around six hours of play time, the intense campaign is packed with intense close-quarters combat and spectacular events, all enhanced with impressive sound design and incredible visuals. It’s a stunning game with detailed environments – even the facial animations are detailed.
The multiplayer boasts 10 diverse maps across Europe, featuring maps with tight corners and enclosed areas perfect for shotguns or submachine guns to open maps ideal for patient snipers. A big change is the removal of Classes. They’ve been replaced with Divisions, each with unique unlockable benefits like SMG suppressors or bayonet charges.
But while the changes are welcome, we can’t help but feel it’s a little underwhelming compared to other games like Battlefield 1 with huge multiplayer modes and various vehicles to use, especially with CoD’s 12-player limit.
There’s also a Nazi Zombies mode with a great new co-op campaign mode, featuring an original story separate from the campaign.
Read more in our full Call of Duty: WW2 review.