The current-gen console is dead, long live the current-gen console! Although they aren’t technically dead, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are effectively stepping down from the console throne this week as the 9th generation consoles make their debut. We here at GameSpace wanted to honor our old consoles one last time before they get pushed to the back of the entertainment center to forever collect dust by offering up a list of our favorite games of the generation. This list isn’t about which games received the best reviews or Metacritic scores, but more a tribute to the joy that these particular games brought to our gaming lives.
There was only one guideline given to the staff – they must have personally played the game themselves on the Xbox One or PS4; PC versions and watching others play on Twitch wouldn’t count. A couple of the GS family showed up at my doorstep brandishing torches and pitchforks and demanding that Nintendo be included. The Switch isn’t even a real console but it’s hard to deny how much the cute little handheld has contributed to the gaming world over the last few years (and the pitchforks, don’t forget they had pitchforks), so I reluctantly conceded to its inclusion in this list.
PS4 – Bloodborne
I had never played a Dark Souls or Dark Souls 2 before I found Bloodborne unexpectedly in my hands, so I didn’t quite know what I was in for. When I heard the first notes of that incredible soundtrack and took my first steps into that beautiful gothic world, I knew the setting was one I would enjoy incredibly. I felt lost because not very much explained at all, but I wasn’t hopelessly lost. Just enough information was conveyed in everything I did that I was able to slowly piece together how things worked and what I needed to do. All of this was so well done that despite many many deaths, I kept persevering through. When I killed my first boss, I jumped up and yelled in excitement because I genuinely felt like I had accomplished something.
Bloodborne is one of the most well constructed and rewarding games I have ever played. Figuring out how to balance an aggressive fighting style and picking the right moments was something I enjoyed even when I was doing it wrong; every time, I learned something and improved. I also loved the unique take on multiplayer, where you never saw another Hunter, but you could find notes left behind and leave some of your own. Also, the markers where others have died were incredible. Sure, later on, you could do the bell thing, but the early multiplayer experience was unique and helped Bloodborne to standout from the crowd even more.
PS4 – Persona 5 Royal
I have played many JRPGs in my time. Some of them have been great, but Person 5 Royal is in a league of its own when it comes to JRPGs. Not a single moment is wasted, and everything comes together to tell a fun and exciting story with a cast of multilayered and fun characters.
Even the more ancillary characters have many sides to them and getting to know them better always reveals an interesting insight into who they are and why they behave the way they do. Games with teenagers going to school can sometimes feel very trite and unimportant, but P5R reaches for the stars and asks you to think about various social issues differently.
I also love how P5R went all-in on their style and theme and asked for no forgiveness. There isn’t one single moment that feels out of place; everything fits together perfectly to deliver 100+ hours of entertainment. Once I started playing, I couldn’t set it aside and kept going back to it to find things I had skipped over previously. If you enjoy turn-based gameplay with an anime-inspired flair, Person 5 Royal is a game you should pick up. This game actually delayed me from playing FFVII Remake, and I don’t regret that at all.
PS4 – Final Fantasy VII Remake
Part one of this expected trilogy was a joy for me to play personally as I cut my “console gaming” teeth on Final Fantasy VII on PSOne. I loved it for the many reasons I stated in my review here. But to recap, the remake has top-notch voice acting that brings these 16-bit characters to life. Combine that with great story-telling and challenging combat and it’s hard not to have a winner. Graphically speaking I thought it was one of the best looking games on the PS4. The remake also has lots of mini-games to avoid action RPG tedium.
PS4 – Marvel’s Spider-man
This game, in my humble opinion, reinvigorated the super-hero game genre at a time it was sorely lacking. It’s actually the reason I purchased a PS4 right after this game was originally announced. The game is full of Marvel lore goodness, albeit an alternate universe that has now become Marvel’s “Gamer Universe”. The game spawned a prequel novel as well as several tie-in comic books which just adds to the overall experience.
From a gaming standpoint, Insomniac Games developed a game that had fluid and natural movement as well as combat. Voice acting was also superb and visually speaking it did the comic books proud.
Nintendo Switch – Breath Of The Wild
Why? Because Zelda! Perhaps the biggest, or second-biggest Nintendo gaming franchise. Loved the open-world RPG-ness of this one. From real-time combat to the cool environment-based puzzles this one had me hooked from the beginning. I was afraid I would dislike the unique pale graphics but I embraced them right away.
Nintendo Switch – Pokemon Sword/Shield
Besides Zelda and Mario perhaps Nintendo’s biggest franchise. This was the first true Pokemon RPG for the Switch. I loved the questing, the graphics and the optional online play. The gym adventures are also a great treat as they typically involve puzzles. I especially liked the open worldness and collection of “shinies”.
Nintendo Switch – Animal Crossing
I’m not a big fan of cuteness games but something about this life sim became compelling. Collecting of recipes and completing achievements became an obsession quickly. And I didn’t even mention Amiibo support. The day/night season cycle and frequency of updates added to the hype. Even today the game is still an obsession for many.
PS4 – Persona 5
I am a big fan of the SMT (Shin Megami Tensei) series. Persona 5 was just the next in the “Persona” series of SMT but it has such a good story. Persona 5 also had a great visual style for the overall game which really made it unique and awesome. The style and story kept me entrapped in the game for hours. Also, the want to collect my favorite tamable creatures.
PS4 – Tales of Zestiria
For me the Tales series of games made up a lot of my RPG childhood along with other grand titles. Tales of Zestiria was breath of fresh air in the RPG world when it came out. I was really needing something new and it captured me. Tales of Zestiria has a great story of how sometimes things are not so black and white, a story of how people are not so different but just have different circumstances. No the rest of the game played like a Tales game no different there but the story is juice. So much that there was enough juice to make a game about the prequel to Tales of Zestiria, Tales of Berseria.
PS4 – No Man’s Sky
No Man’s Sky out of all the PS4 games I have played and bought that is not an MMO I have probably played the most. NMS is such a chill game to play. All I have to do is planet hop and discover stuff. It is nice to just turn on something on Spotify and just immerse myself in space travel and discovery. I have been playing since the start and the amount of improvements of where it has come from is astounding. NMS for me is a very relaxing game to take a break from the day’s stress and noise. I hope everyone has a game like that.
Xbox One – Forza Motorsport 7
I really don’t play games on consoles very much but one game that spent more than its fair share of time on my Xbox’s hard drive was Forza Motorsport 7. To this day I will argue that the track racing of Forza Motorsport is superior to the mayhem of the Forza Horizon 4’s open-world racing. Adding new cars to your garage is always nice but the real feeling of accomplishment in Forza 7 comes when you have mastered a track that you once had difficulty navigating even when you had all the driving aids turned on.
Xbox One – Minecraft Dungeons
With my daughter rapidly approaching her teenage years finding games to play together is getting harder with each passing day. Since Minecraft Dungeons released earlier this year, it has been the one game where one person or the other isn’t reluctantly grabbing the controller to play. It’s the kind of game that doesn’t require a huge time investment, allowing you to boot up the Xbox whenever the urge arises and do a couple of quick dungeon runs, making it a perfect fit for family time.
Nintendo Switch – My Friend Pedro
While the rest of you marveled over the balletic bloodbath that is DOOM when it blew onto the Nintendo Switch, My Friend Pedro took that free-flowing gunplay and ratcheted up the silliness to 11. It might only be a 2D side-scrolling shooter that seems like John Wick’s fruit store on acid but… seriously what else do you need it to be? My Friend Pedro isn’t complex but it is incredibly slick, well-executed and just proves that you don’t need much more than a banging soundtrack, an acrobatic assassin, and a total head trip to make you forget about a bad day.
Nintendo Switch – Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Not an indie and something of a more sedate form of combat, even if it’s just as outlandish as the banana wielding maniac. Still an utterly unexpected move, Ubisoft’s Rabbids and Nintendo’s Mario crossover with an X-Com style gameplay format is something of a feat that I don’t think we will ever see again. While Zelda’s open world aesthetic has been heartily matched by games like Genchin Impact, the whole concept here is sort of unmatched. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle isn’t just an excellent turn-based strategy, it provides a wealth of scenarios, plenty of depth, and charm in spades. Also, there’s a Rabbid Peach. I’m sorry but the best Peach is Rabbid Peach.
PS4 – Skyrim VR
Skyrim VR was the first real introduction I had to VR. I loved Skyrim in the first place, and to have such a beautifully crafted virtual world opened up to me in an even more immersive was mind-blowing. That is, I love fantasy, and seeing companions and monsters, life-sized, in my living room forever changed my vision for what video game entertainment could be. The only other time this happened was back in the 1990s when I first played Hexen on the PC, and noted how immersive the game was, with leaves blowing in the wind… I digress. There was new, greater joy in using a bow and arrow, greater investment in using spells, more opportunities to dodge with nuanced movement, and, sadly, the introduction of motion sickness. You can’t have everything, but Skyrim VR came really close.
PS4 – Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto V set a new bar in storytelling, so far as I’m concerned. With characters written with incredible detail, a marvelous world to explore, and all of the chaos and mayhem one can muster in a GTA game, GTAV sealed itself indelibly in my mind for what a game feels like when everything goes right. I loved each of the major protagonists and found myself invested in discovering their backgrounds, motivations, emotions, responses, and how their plot would resolve based on my choices. It is a masterpiece.