Best PS5 games 2021 – Polygon

Which are the top games for the PlayStation 5? If you’re among the lucky few who’ve obtained Sony’s new console (which is still suffering from supply and shipping issues) you’ll be wondering what to play. This living guide will be constantly updated to reflect the latest games.

Our recommendation lists here at Polygon ordinarily contain 22 games, because it’s a solid number that can encompass many different kinds of games. This list doesn’t have 22 picks because, well, the PS5 is still young. However, it does have backward-compatibility with PlayStation 4 games, so our list of the 22 best PS4 games will also serve you well.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

a female Eivor swings a weapon while fighting a group of enemies in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

Image: Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft

ValhallaThis is an extremely secure role-playing and stealth game. The player can enact large-scale battles as well as quick assassinations, while hiding within the crowd. Vikings also use stealth to their raids. Their narrow longships can sneak up on encampments and attack the enemy without notice. Eivor has an assassin’s blade, a gift given to her from Sigurd. Hers, though, is not hidden — she wears it atop her cloak, because she wants her foes to see their fates in her weapon. […]

Valhalla’s most intriguing story is one about faith, honor, and family, but it’s buried inside this massive, massive world stuffed with combat and side quests. That balance is not always ideal, but I’m glad, at least, that it forces me to spend more time seeking out interesting things in the game’s world. — Nicole Carpenter

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Astro’s Playroom

Astro jumping in Cooling Springs in Astro’s Playroom

Image: Team Asobi/Sony Interactive Entertainment

Astro’s Playroom is themed around the idea that you’re running around Inside your working PlayStation 5. The first area, Cooling Springs, is filled with waterslides and glaciers, implying that it’s keeping the heat down to a manageable level. The game’s cute themeing showcases different parts of the hardware.

As in any great platformer, it’s a treat to just run around the environment in Astro’s Playroom. Astro doesn’t have as wide a range of talents as, say, Mario in Super Mario OdysseyHowever, he is able to use a powerful jetpack as well as a strong spin attack and tugging on the ropes. These activate the DualSense controller’s new haptics, displaying the subtleties of enhanced vibration technology. As just a simple example, if you walk across a glass surface as Astro, you’ll feel the small tippy-taps of each step within the controller. To launch an underground enemy in the sky, tugging on a rope will produce a different feeling. The controller’s vibrations are stronger, and you can then feel the following: Ka-thunkAstro falling on his back to his robutt.

Without playing it, it’s easy to write off Astro’s PlayroomAs a stupid, innocuous pack-in, it’s a fun way to use up system storage, while you wait for The ActualDownload games. This is one of Sony’s best ever platformers. It has the same charm and fluidity as a Nintendo platformer, but also shows the new console’s power. This should make for a great launch-day surprise, especially for the few people who have been able to order a PlayStation 5. — Russ Frushtick

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Black Ops Cold War – Call of Duty

A player stands in front of burning wreckage in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

Image by Treyarch/Raven Software/Activision

There are many of [Black Ops Cold War’s campaign]This polished but artificially one-dimensional feeling is what the author leans on. Instead of being governed by a narrative that is linear, it takes place in naturalistic beats. Cold War’s missions feel more modular, represented as stacks of photos, scribbled code sheets and newspaper clippings pasted up on a wall in your safe house. You will find collectible evidence objects in many missions. These can be brought back to your safe house to help you solve small escape room-style puzzles. Unfortunately, only two of these side missions exist.

Your clandestine group will pacify around the safehouse on pre-programmed routes. Sometimes they’ll approach each other to engage in quiet conversations like actors on set. The one of them may answer a call, but the other will hold it in place and stare out at space for a while before speaking with you. There is little to distinguish them from Amerika Town’s cardboard figurines. Within missions, they’ll belt out sardonic quips and jingoistic inculcations, all with the same emotionless reserve–‘We don’t sit back and hope for the best, we make the best happen’ or ‘Some of us have crossed the line, to make sure the line’s still there in the morning’–each entreatment meant to draw the player into the game’s ideology and which belie the truth that the game doesn’t seem to believe in its own ideology. It’s all theater that Learn more it’s theater. —Yussef Cole

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The secret heart of Treyarch’s Call of Duty games since 2008 has always been Zombies. Wave-based survival is equally silly and challenging as it is endlessly repeated… Black Ops Cold WarTreyarch has brought attention back to zombies, and how they can be killed.

Black Ops Cold War doesn’t reinvent the Zombie-mode wheel. While it retains the most basic ideas Treyarch brought to the mode in the last twelve years, it simplifies them to their funniest elements.

It is from this that the most impressive example comes. Black Ops Cold War’s map, which takes the original Nazi research lab from the firstWorld at WarThe Zombie experience is enhanced with a Zombie map. […] Everything I do in the map now feels like it’s in service of my survival. — Austen Goslin

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Demon’s Souls

confronting a giant glowing enemy in Demon’s Souls (remake)

Image: Bluepoint Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment

Demon’s SoulsIt has strong bones. It was true in 2009, when developer FromSoftware released the mechanically groundbreaking role-playing game on PlayStation 3, and remains true for Bluepoint Games’ remake, released alongside Sony’s PlayStation 5 this week.

A beautiful remodeling project can be done over these bones. You can find every texture here Demon’s SoulsPainstakingly, the entire painting was repainted. Three to four new animations have replaced every stilted animation, each one with more vibrant flourishes. Many of the original game’s points of aggravation, like long load times and frequent backtracking, have been softened or nearly eliminated. Bluepoint doesn’t often mess with the foundation. Demon’s SoulsIt would be sacrilege to say otherwise. — Michael McWhertor

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Destiny2. Beyond Light

Destiny 2 Europa Beyond Light

Image: Bungie

Destiny 2: Beyond Light’s most impressive feat is how it takes Destiny’s first step into a new era — the Era of Darkness — without being a full sequel.

Beyond Light isn’t a new golden age for the franchise like Destiny:The Taken King Destiny 2: Forsaken were. Beyond LightThis is something completely different. It’s more Destiny, but it’s actively stepping into a new generation of powers, performance, and design.

Game loads much faster The menus appear quicker. The Director works better. The new tutorial is very useful to returning and new players. Also, this Destiny 3What? But not precisely.

Beyond LightAvoid the trap of having to rewrite everything. Instead, make strategic and targeted changes. — Ryan Gilliam

Destiny 2 will get a next-gen upgrade on DecYou can get it here. 8. PS4 users will be eligible for a free upgrade to the PS5.

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Devil May Cry 5 Special Edition

Vergil using Mirror’s Edge in Devil May Cry 5 Special Edition

Capcom Image

Devil May CryFive Special Editiosn isn’t a new game like the others on the list, but it is one of the first examples out the gate that put the promises of next-generation hardware on full display. The world of Devil May Cry always seems to be slick with something — water, demonic ooze, slimy roots of a world-sized tree filled with blood. All of that dazzles with easily accessible ray tracing, even if it’s a little stomach churning. The most iconic set pieces look even better, with a faster frame rate making it easier to see the continuous action.

Capcom packed the game full of characters the first time around, switching between three different heroes who had their own unique fighting styles. You can also replay the campaign with the help of the special edition, where big bad Vergil is a playable option. All these options offer variety that makes the campaign — which embraces demonic camp as well as any great CW show — worth experiencing all over again. While this game was great when it first came out, the new edition will hopefully make it more popular and allow for greater enjoyment of its fantastic action and quirky humor. — Chelsea Stark

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Dirt 5

A car in Dirt 5 speeds through a snow and lightning storm

Image by Codemasters

Dirt 5Codemasters has taken over the longstanding tradition of providing the racing showcase for a new generation. Both Codemasters and the series are known for their demanding style of simulation racing. Dirt 5Moves strongly to appeal to mass audiences and make it accessible, while still adhering strictly visually to physics.

Dirt 5This is more a motorsports racer than the MotorStorm model, which makes sense considering that many Evolution Studios alumni are now working for Codemasters. It’s pack racing at heart, with lots of contact and not much technical know-how necessary to win. Experiential drivers may need to be able to set difficult difficulties, especially in the Career mode.

Career offers the most depth, showing the player all of the events (point-to-point rallies; circuit races; hill climbs against a clock; and even ice racing) in all of the exotic, no-way-you-could-actually-race-there locales. There’s a fleet of 64 vehicles, some fictional, among 13 classes. Those looking for a serious, you-against-the-timer rally simulation should look to KT Racing’s WRC 9. Also available for Xbox Series X as well as PS5. The new console generation has a racing feature. Dirt 5You can get it. — Owen Good

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NBA 2K21

Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers shouting in NBA 2K21 on PS5/Xbox Series X

Image: Visual Concepts/2K sports

If you’re only a sometimes-fan of professional basketball, NBA2K21’s offerings verge on overkill. But there’s no denying that this series offers the most complete immersion of the NBA, as a game, a business, and a lifestyle, in ways rival FIFA doesn’t.

All the main modes in a team sport title can be found here. But MyCareer should be where you spend your time. You can find more information at NBA 2K21 on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, MyCareer’s hub world of pickup basketball, socializing, and even shoe shopping gets a robust expansion into ‘The City.’ Players are now transported to a larger environment where their co-operative competitive play supports one of the four factions they join, somewhat like an MMO. Don’t worry, there’s still a ton of basketball to be played here, whether that’s with others or as you practice for and play the next game on your single-player career schedule.

Visual Concepts NBA 2K21 To launch, they are eager to demonstrate what all of this new power can do. The game’s visuals are sharper than ever. There is more detail in arenas, which helps it resemble a live broadcast. There are gameplay upgrades taking advantage of beefier processing, like players’ contextual awareness of the three-point line, taking a step back if necessary to attempt the shot. There’s even a dedicated career mode for the WNBA, though it’s not that much to crow about. All things are in. NBA 2K21 What was launched for PlayStation 4 in September on Xbox One and PlayStation 5 is now obsolete with Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. — Owen Good

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Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Spider-Man swinging through the streets in Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Image by Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment

Miles MoralesThe new title is shorter than the old one: there are fewer missions and objectives. There are also fewer activities. This plays out in the story too, with Miles’ central focus being Harlem, as compared to almost the entirety of Manhattan in the first game. (Harlem is also a focal point for African American history, a place with a community that, in the words of Langston Hughes, fostered the “expression of our individual dark-skinned selves.”)

Similar to large, open-world video games, there are many separate but often weak subplots. There are no side missions. They don’t exist in isolation. Everyone touches everybody else because of its smaller dimensions. Themes and stories intertwine; all are part of the same web. Miles is the central figure of this web. His juvenile and naïve attempts to rectify one part of the web send tremors somewhere else. This net of responsibility is pulled taut, and Miles always feels like he’s failing.

And, well, don’t we all feel that? In this chaotic year, I found inspiration in Miles’ ability to rise above challenges, to meet the face of catastrophe, to look darkness in the eyes. And not because he succeeds — indeed, he often fails. He is willing to do the impossible. It’s also his ability to persevere and how others recognize him and stay with him, even when he fails. — Tauriq Moosa

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You can watch dogs: Legion

Watch Dogs: Legion Recruitment Talker

Image: Ubisoft Toronto/Ubisoft

I’d worried that Legion’s be-anyone approach might turn its characters into the game’s loot — valued only for the skill or perk they bring to the team, and robbing us of anyone worth caring about. You might be left with that feeling if you play without the game’s permadeath option, which has to be activated at the start of a campaign (it can be later turned off, but not reactivated). The permadeath option should be turned on. It feels like the ‘right way’ to play.

I’m glad I restarted Legion Watchdogs’s campaign very early in my playthrough, after finding the guards’ and thugs’ oblivious AI triflingly easy to exploit at standard difficulty. Only permadeath and hard difficulty forced me to plan out and solve each level as a puzzle — which should be the enjoyment of a game built around hacking, after all — rather than blunder through an impromptu shooting gallery out of impatience or a bad decision. These settings are best for experienced gamers or those who know how Ubisoft manages stealth.

I didn’t find any nasty difficulty spikes waiting for me as the story advanced through the Ubisoft formula of taking down a series of bad actors and discovering how they’re linked, before the big reveal and concluding showdown. Watch Dogs: Legion’s story may be templatized, but it benefits considerably from a richly illustrated, believably near-future London, and plot lines that are unafraid to tackle troubling subjects or put a subtle opinion on them. — Owen Good

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Selene looks downcast in Returnal

Image: Housemarque via Polygon

RefundWas the original PS5 video game that was not free Astro’s PlayroomThe DualSense controller was truly used by this user. To test the limits of the controller’s feedback, Housemarque took its refined arcade shooter craft and planted it in a third-person roguelite. The result is a game that demands precision — precision that your fancy new controller helps afford with its haptic triggers and immersive rumble.

Refund’s controller feedback is, outside of some stunning visuals, its most iconic feature. And because of some of the game’s downfalls, like its uneven repetition and imbalanced Parasite system, it’s perhaps doomed to be remembered mainly as a great showcase game for the PlayStation 5. It is, however. RefundIt is still worth picking up for every PlayStation 5 user, even if it’s just to experience the $500-rumbling in your hands. — Ryan Gilliam

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| Image: Housemarque/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon


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Ratch & Clank: Rift Apart

The new Lombax character from Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

Image by Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment

Ratchet & ClankRift ApartIt is the title of next generation that amazes all who see it. The controller looks amazing, it plays an important role in the gameplay and there are a lot of particles and bolts on the screen.

But as expensive as Apart from the Rift looks, it’s also just a great Ratchet & Clank game. Apart from the Rift takes classic Ratchet & Clank ideas and modernizes them. The series’ famous wacky weapons have unique alternate fire modes, activated by how hard you pull down the trigger. You’ll also find the usual collect-athon features refreshed by the Rift system with a detailed plan.

The latest Ratchet tells a story, however. Rivet is joined by Kit to make it a more powerful and diverse cast. If you’ve spent years playing Ratchet games, Apart from the Rift likely won’t surprise you outside of its visuals. But if you’ve missed the series, or haven’t played them in years, Apart from the RiftThis is an excellent reminder that the Lombax robot friend and Lombax have remained together for over 19 years. — Ryan Gilliam

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Death Stranding: Director’s Cut

A man in a golden skull mask prepares to conjure a monster in Kojima Production’s Death Stranding

Image by Kojima Productions/Sony Interactive Entertainment

Death Stranding: Director’s CutThe best way to enjoy one of the weirdest games in recent years is by playing it the right way. Where 2019’s Death Stranding welcomed a dedicated audience — and a good chunk of players that quickly bounced off — Director’s Cut makes Hideo Kojima’s independent debut more accessible without sacrificing its unique identity.

Death Stranding: Director’s CutSam Porter Bridges still requests that he walk through a compressed version of America, stacking boxes on his back and precariously carrying them. Sam now has more tools for the first leg of his cross country journey. Instead of walking the first 15 miles with just a rope, you’ll quickly be able to get a firearm that can stun your adversaries with lightning. You don’t have to be a slugger in the first battle scenario, but you can now do it quickly with a brand new piece of gear. Death StrandingIt offers an extensive firing range that allows you to check your loadout.

For all its shiny new toys however, Death StrandingIt is still about connecting with people. While its text can sometimes be a little sloppy, the game never fails to express those metaphors via gameplay.

Nobody has ever accused Hideo Kojima of subtlety, but it’s Death Stranding: Director’s Cut’s smallest changes that make it so much easier to recommend. —Ryan Gilliam

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Colt kicks an enemy in Deathloop

Image: Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks

My final run was done. Deathloop, I thought I would’ve walked away from the game feeling like a superpowered, time-bending assassin. I was instead impressed by the speed of the game.

That’s because there’s only one way to succeed in this time-looping game: To win, I must memorize the routines of all my assassination targets throughout four unique times of the day. To eliminate them, I must also set up scenarios to ensure they are all in the correct place and at the same time. It took me around twenty hours to learn everything. All that work paid off and I found myself on the edge.

The endgame scenario for DeathloopIt is necessary to eliminate all my targets within a single operation. The feeling was similar to setting up dominos which then fell down gracefully in the best way. The excitement of executing a well-made plan armed with knowledge — and a powerful arsenal of weapons and superpowers — made the hours of investigation and prep work feel worthwhile.

Deathloop still has a handful of mysteries left for me to unravel, and I can’t wait to uncover all of Blackreef’s secrets. — Jeff Ramos

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| Screenshot: Arkane Studios via YouTube


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