Thehas had an impressive first year. Following a solid launch with games like Demon’s Souls, , and , 2021 saw an assortment of PS5 games that made owning the console early worth it. And though some exclusives we had hoped to see this year have been pushed further into 2022 — like — we still saw many PS5 games in 2021 that showed off what Sony’s new console can do.
As we’re approaching the console’s first anniversary, we put together a selection of the‘s best games — so far. This roundup includes first-party games such as Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart and and console exclusive third-party games such as the recently released . Be sure to check back with this post, as we’ll update it with more noteworthy games in the PS5’s library.
Arkane Studios’ Deathloop injects the thrilling open-ended, action-stealth gameplay from the Dishonored series into the framework of a time loop, offering up the year’s most inventive and deviously clever first-person action game. Getting to explore Blackreef Isle as the cunning and equally hilarious Colt showcases Deathloop’s deft handling of comedy and oddball, ultra-violence.
Many of the encounters you’ll have will leave you impressed by how far you can push the intricate design of its clockwork world to assassinate key targets and break the infinite loop. But when you add in another player who can invade your game as Colt’s former-lover turned rival Julianna, Blackreef Isle becomes an impromptu multiplayer arena that sees one player hunting the other. Deathloop quickly earned itself a spot on the list of must-own PS5 games, and it’s also one of the best games of 2021.
Check out CNET’s full review.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
The Ratchet & Clank series is synonymous with the PlayStation brand and, even after nearly 20 years of games, Rift Apart stands as one of the best entries in the entire series. Rift Apart leans heavily into the series’ tested formula of action platforming with a hefty dose of over-the-top weaponry, but the latest game features one of the strongest stories the franchise has seen yet, giving longtime fans and newcomers alike a compelling and fun plot to follow. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is an excellent showpiece for what the PS5 can do, and it’s also made us more excited about the future of the series.
Final Fantasy VII Remake: Intergrade
2020’s Final Fantasy VII Remake almost seemed too good to be true. Getting to revisit the world of Final Fantasy VII and see the classic party of heroes in a new and visually stunning light was a surreal and equally thrilling experience. It managed to surpass its moniker of being just another remake, and it was indeed one of the year’s best role-playing games. However, the catch was that it is only one part of a larger story, and we’ve got to wait some time till we even get a glimpse of the next installment. Still, Intergrade on PS5 served as a great way to hold players over till then.
Along with an impressive visual and gameplay upgrade for FFVII Remake, Intergrade also added a new PS5 exclusive story expansion focusing on FFVII’s quirky ninja, Yuffie, and her journey into Midgar. If you own a PS5 and still haven’t gotten a chance to experience Final Fantasy VII Remake, then do check out Intergrade.
Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut
Another revisit to a PS4 game is the director’s cut for Ghost of Tsushima, an open-world samurai action game coming from the creators of the Infamous series. What makes the PS5 edition a clear upgrade over the original is that on top of having the Iki Island expansion, which adds more than 5 hours of new story content, it also gave the base game a substantial performance upgrade. With improved technical buffs adding increased framerate, faster loading, and running at a native 4K resolution, this enhanced edition makes the Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut on PS5 the definitive way to experience developer Sucker Punch Productions’ visually stunning and carefully crafted open-world game.
2021 has seen an unusual amount of games set within the framework of a time loop, and the PS5 exclusive Returnal still stands as one of the strangest ones of the year. Blending fast-paced third-person action gameplay with the unpredictability of a randomized role-playing game, Returnal has its protagonist Selene trek through an alien planet filled with hostile creatures and enigmatic artifacts detailing a cataclysmic event — and it somehow all connects to her. Its plot feels like a carefully calculated mix of films like Prometheus and Edge of Tomorrow, yet Returnal’s story and presentation give it a flavor all its own. Running and gunning through Returnal’s many ruins with bizarre alien weapons offers some of the most satisfying and thrilling shooters of the year, enticing you to get in just one more loop through the planet.
One of the more conspicuous trends of the past 10 years has been the rise of the super hard game. A lot of that is chalked up to the success of Dark Souls, by FromSoftware, which hit the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2011. But Dark Souls itself was a spiritual successor to Demon’s Souls, a highly regarded game by FromSoftware that launched in 2009.
And now Demon’s Souls has a second life on the PlayStation 5, as it’s arguably the best game on the platform. It has a 92 rating on Metacritic, and got a 9 out of 10 from GameSpot. It’s been credited for faithfully remaking the 2009 classic but improving it with better movement, and modernizing it with graphics that show off what the PS5 can do.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales
In Spider-Man: Miles Morales, an expansion to 2017’s Spider-Man, you can wear a backpack in which a small cat donning a Spider-Man mask pops out and attacks your enemies.
I don’t think I need to expand any further.
Sony Computer Entertainment
Uncharitably speaking, Astro’s Playroom is a glorified tech demo. Charitably speaking, it’s a glorious tech demo.
Designed to show off what the PlayStation 5’s Dual Sense controller can do, Astro’s Playroom comes free with the PlayStation 5. “Free tech demo” doesn’t scream “must-play,” but Astro’s Playroom has received strong acclaim for being filled with clever homages to previous PlayStation games and, more importantly, for being fun to play.
Astro’s Playroom makes no attempt to hide the fact that it’s an excuse to show you what a gamepad can do. But it conjures a world that you’ll want to see and explore, according to GameSpot’s Mike Epstein.
A third-person action game concerned almost primarily with flow and movement, The Pathless is a pleasure to play every single second you have the controller in your hand.
It’s available on other platforms, including the iPad, but I’d argue it’s best played on a current gen console like the PS5, where the visuals and frame rate reflect the slickness of the game’s design.
You can read our full review here.
Hitman 3 is the first big game of 2021 and it’s a good’n too. Wrapping up the rebooted Hitman trilogy, which began with the eponymous 2016 title, Hitman 3 received a 9/10 from CNET sister-site GameSpot thanks to its excellent level design, improved story and its replayability. That last attribute is the key. Hitman may be about assassinations, but it’s more of a puzzle game than an action game, and you’ll have to play each level over and over to see all of the creative ways Agent 47 can dispense with bad guys.
The game is available on both the PS4 and PS5, among other consoles, but the PS5 version has 4K, 60-frames-per-second gameplay and improved haptic feedback thanks to the DualSense controller.