The best PS5 games: the best PlayStation 5 titles to play in 2021

Sony's latest console has a wide range of games, here are some of the best on offer

What are the best PS5 games, you ask? Well, it’s a matter of opinion for the most part, but critical acclaim and commercial success can tell us quite a lot about the best titles available on Sony’s new hardware, too.

Granted, it’s not exactly the easiest task in the world, getting a PlayStation 5 right now – and the global PS5 shortage doesn’t look like it’s going to let up any time soon, either. But for those of you that have managed to get your eager little hands on the precariously white hardware, we’ve collected some of the most essential experiences that have been released so far to ensure you don’t miss out on Sony’s best offerings.

You’ll notice that as you read on below, we have stuck to games that are 100% pure PS5 – there are no PS4 games, no patched PS4-to-PS5 crossovers, no half-baked ports, and no cross-gen games that don’t target newer hardware specifically, like COD: Warzone, either. They’re all great – and have their place on other lists like our best FPS games or best PS4 games – but right now, we’ve got our eyes firmly fixated on that big, beautiful white behemoth that launched at the end of 2020.

Without further ado, here’s our comprehensive list of the best PS5 games you can play right now.

Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart

Ratchet & Clank: A Rift Apart
Ratchet & Clank: A Rift Apart. Credit: Insomniac Games

Starting with the most recent addition to the PS5 stable, Rift Apart is a Saturday morning TV fever dream come to glorious 4K, ray-traced life. Bursting with references to older games in the storied franchise, while serving as a useful entry point for newcomers, it’s an absolute treat. Showcasing the unique powers of the PS5’s custom SSD (making loading new levels and worlds eye-poppingly fast), hopping through portals becomes a narrative and gameplay mechanic, mixing up the classic formula just enough to keep things fresh, while never fixing what isn’t broken. Top tip: play in Performance RT mode for silky smooth 60fps gunplay as well as the glorious new lighting effects. Clank has never looked so shiny.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Miles Morales
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Credit: Insomniac Games

Yes, we’re kicking off this list with an Insomniac one-two. Blarg knows how the studio managed it, but only seven months before shipping Ratchet, Insomniac christened the PS5 era with the launch release of Spider-Man Miles Morales. Sure, it’s not a full sequel to Marvel’s Spider-Man, but it’s still a sizable spin-off. Think Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, rather than The Last of Us: Left Behind. Cashing in on the narrative threads established in the first game, Miles is now a budding superhero in his own right. It’s the details that really make this entry sing. A snowy reskin of the NYC map. Side characters like Rio Morales stepping up into pivotal roles, making us feel truly invested in this developing world. Even the slightly unpolished, off-balance, helter-skelter nature of Miles’ still burgeoning swinging. It’s a brilliant continuation, and expansion, of the series. Roll on the full sequel.

Returnal

Returnal
Returnal. Credit: Housemarque

Another recent release, Returnal has pedigree practically dripping from its gooey alien pores. From Housemarque, the studio that gave us arcade gems such as Super Stardust HD, Resogun (itself a PS4 launch title) and Dead Nation, to its heart-on-sleeve references (Alien, PT, Annihilation), via the rousing success of the roguelike genre – this feels both of-its-time and retro in the same breath. Selene, a scientist-astronaut-type, has to fight her way out of both a hostile alien locale and, seemingly,  her own brain-induced nightmares. It’s intense, always varied, tough-as-nails – and oh so fun. Another showcase of lightning-fast loading and buttery 60fps visuals, this is one of the best PS5 games if you’re after a technical showcase of what the hardware can do.

Astro’s Playroom

Astro's Playroom
Astro’s Playroom. Credit: ASOBI Team

It might seem slightly anti-climactic to include a free bundled game on this list alongside its £70 RRP peers – but write Astro off at your peril. Quite comfortably the best tech demo free game since Wii Sports (and controversially, I’d say it’s even better), AstroBot will lead you down memory lane (almost literally) through the history of PlayStation. I’m honestly not ashamed to say that I found myself tearing up at several points as Team ASOBI seemingly left no foundational stone of my childhood unturned. Eagle-eyed gamers will find references to almost every major (and, in some cases, niche) game ever released on a PlayStation platform. Combine that with excellent platforming mechanics, lush stylised graphics, and an addictive demo of what the new DualSense controller can do – you’ll be hooked.

Demon’s Souls

Demon's Souls
Demon’s Souls. Credit: Bluepoint Games

Quite possibly the worst-kept secret in gaming for a number of years, Bluepoint Game’s remake of From Software’s brutal challenge is a triumph. If you played the original from 2009, the glorious art and unique gameplay was sometimes tanked by a technical performance that was quite clearly heaving against the limit of budget, hardware and its own ambition. Not so in 2021. Bluepoint has wisely kept their remake as faithful as possible, while updating what didn’t work, and elevating the original artistic intentions with a depth and detail that simply weren’t possible on PS3. It’s a curious game to play – Demon’s Souls is both a look into the future of gaming, but also an archeological artifact, as it built the basis of From Software’s domination through the PS3 and PS4 eras with Dark Souls, Bloodborne and Sekiro. Just don’t expect it to be any easier now that it runs more smoothly. It’s still rock solid.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

Assassin's Creed: Valhalla
Credit: Ubisoft

Look, any pretence of the Assassin’s Creed series meaning anything other than being a past-set killing simulator disappeared around the time that Assassin’s Creed III bottled its modern day ending. So our advice? Just stop worrying about what it all means – kick back with a tankard of ale, grab your shield and set sail for Viking conquest. Because Ubisoft’s open-world, seafaring formula, premiered in AC III, developed in Black Flag and now perfected in Valhalla, is as fun and as liberating as ever. It’s also a useful showcase of how pretty the best PS5 games can look, which is always useful when your bitter friends come round and want to get their mitts on the DualSense just to be sure it’s real. Just don’t expect to finish it this year. Valhalla is long.

FIFA 21

FIFA 21; Credit: EA Sports

Each year, it’s usually a penalty shootout between PES and FIFA for the title of best football game – and PES has been running it very, very close the last couple of years. But FIFA 21 earns its place on this list by default. PES skipped the last release cycle to focus on next year’s installment – leaving FIFA 21 as the last football-sim standing. Expect a tight race next year, but for now, just marvel at Allison’s hair. Seriously. The Liverpool goalie’s hair is a work of beauty. Hair received a total overhaul for the next-gen version of the title, along with a nice bump up to 4K. Now if only the rest of the game could catch up to the follicular beauty on display…

It Takes Two

It Takes Two
It Takes Two. Credit: Hazelight Studios

It seems like only a few years ago that couch co-op seemed to be dead forever, lost to the sands of time like a remote between the cushions. Enter Josef Fares, eccentric maverick, head of Hazelight Studios, and leader of the charge to bring back local multiplayer. Following on from the stellar work of A Way Out, It Takes Two is a kitchen sink drama channeled through a magic fairytale, as a warring couple find themselves transposed into the body of their child’s dolls. No, it doesn’t get any less weird from there. Best you find out the rest of the story yourself. Bring a friend – or better still, a significant other, to do some co-op in one of the best PS5 games for local multiplayer.

Hitman 3

HITMAN 3 – Season of Sloth
Hitman 3. Credit: IO Interactive

Otherwise known as Professional Assassin Simulator 2021, Hitman 3 is an almost perfect feast for Generation Twitch. Open levels that encourage improvisation, planning, and planning mean that no two players will approach a hit the same – and no one player will experience it the same way twice. IO Interactive has somehow flown slightly under the radar despite consistently churning out excellent Hitman games. The strength of their work has got them a deal to make a 007 game. Don’t sleep on their most polished and vibrant work yet.

Resident Evil: Village

Resident Evil Village
Resident Evil Village. Credit: Capcom

Quickly memed on by legions of thirsty social media users pining for Lady Dimitrescu – 9 foot 6, pale as a sheet and with serious anger management issues – Resi doubles down on its unlikely first-person reinvention in 2017’s Biohazard with a gothic horror straight out of Victorian literature. Vampires, werewolves, impenetrable dialogue – its threats and fears are wild and varied, and will keep you sweaty long after the credits roll. But more than anything, it’s just great fun. Like a haunted house theme park ride – campy, schlocky hedonism, with a perfect seasoning of cold terror. Delicious. One of the best PS5 games if you love your horror and action combined.

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