RPG (role-playing games) is probably one of the best genres in video games simply due to its age. Dungeons and Dragons, a game that many consider to be the birth of RPGs, has been around since 1974. DnD forms the basis on which almost all RPGs are made, including most of this list of the 21 Best PS4 RPGs. The tabletop game paved the way for video games by providing balanced statistics on which to base just about every aspect including but not limited to enemy AI, combat systems, weapons, classes, and races.
Once computers and consoles were capable of it, the RPG genre exploded with games like The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, and Dragon Quest. Not long after such games on the NES, SNES, and Atari, came the PS1 with a laundry list of RPGs – arguably as long as Nintendo’s at the time. These were the not-so-humble beginnings of the PlayStation and it was only an upward climb from then on.
PS exclusives quickly became the lifeblood of the video games industry, turning many gamers to the console. The competition was certainly helped when Nintendo dropped out of the console race with the Wii and Wii U. Around then we got titles like The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Heavenly Sword, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, and later on, Final Fantasy games, GTA IV, Assassin’s Creed, Metal Gear Solid 4, and so many more. All of which were stunning success stories, bolstering Sony to eventually come out with the next generation: the PS4.
The PS4 was a console that came out with a bang. It launched with an HD version of The Last of Us, Killzone Shadow Fall, and later on, the headliner of the console: Horizon Zero Dawn. Unfortunately, the latter had to compete with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, a game that sold nearly 10 million copies (compared to the 7.6 million of Horizon Zero Dawn). Nonetheless, since the PS4’s launch, the console has been the place to go for high-quality RPGs.
Without further ado, here are only 21 of those best PS4 RPGs in no particular order:
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Although Dragon Age: Inquisition has been out for a few years already, it still stands as one of the best RPGs on the PS4 to date. The third installment of the Dragon Age series by Bioware, Inquisition occurs amidst the Mage/Templar war that began in the wake of the final act of Dragon Age II (fondly and not so fondly referred to by fans as “Damn it, Anders.”)
The player controls the Inquisitor, the Fade-touched (and some say Maker-touched) leader of a bipartisan group called the Inquisition. With the help of friends, companions, and resources acquired along the way, your goal as the Inquisitor is to close the Breach and defeat the enemy that threatens to rend Thedas asunder.
Inquisition is what happens when Bioware takes the open world aspects of Dragon Age: Origins and melds them with the characterization found in Dragon Age II. The game can be played on multiple difficulty levels (from “Casual” to “Nightmare”) and has several DLCs that both add into the storyline and act as complete one-off quests (à la Dragon Age: Awakening or any of the other Origins DLCs).
The game also boasts a wide range of romance options, because it wouldn’t be Bioware without them, including a couple exclusively same-sex options (and one persnickety Elvhen.)
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The third game in CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher series, Wild Hunt is absolutely worth all the hype it’s been given. After a four-year wait between games, Geralt of Rivia must embark upon another quest, with two absolutely fantastic, full-length DLCs for when you finish the main plot.
The Wild Hunt has appeared, a formidable group of wraith-like elves and they seek the Elder Blood found flowing through the veins of one Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon – Geralt’s protégé. Geralt must use all of his Witcher training and all of his contacts to find Ciri before the Wild Hunt takes her blood, and the power that lies within it, for their own.
CD Projekt Red spent four years working on this masterpiece, and it shows; everything about this game, from the graphics and monsters to the characterization, is amazing. Every interaction, while not necessarily memorable, is well voiced and expertly animated, to the point where you find yourself mostly paying attention to Geralt’s expressions and body language more than what’s being said.
The Witcher series delves into Slavic folklore for some of the best monsters to date, including cockatrices, botchlings, and sirens. The twists they provided to the folklore, like how the sirens are both aerial and aquatic, or how the botchlings can be transformed into protective house spirits with the right ritual, make the folklore in Wild Hunt truly unique.
The map is expansive and elaborately designed; you could spend hours discovering all the points of interest alone. However, certain areas of that map are recommended for higher levels only. There’s nothing quite like reaching a new part of the map, only to get chased out by a monster that could kill you just by looking at you the wrong way.
Horizon Zero Dawn
Horizon Zero Dawn was one of the most anticipated releases during the debut of the PS4. From its first trailer release during E3 2015, gamers have been captivated by the stunning dystopia that Guerrilla Games had created. When it was finally released in 2017, Horizon Zero Dawn became the second best-selling game on the PS4 to date, and for good reason.
The game follows a mysterious young woman named Aloy, who is part of one of the many cultures that had crawled from the rubble of a fallen technologically advanced human society. These neo-humans know very little of the “Old Ones,” to the extent that some societies, like Aloy’s, forbid contact with any of the ruins left scattered throughout the world.
The Earth had a millennium to retake all that humanity had altered, leaving nothing but underground bunkers full of corpses, crumbling ruins of cities long forgotten amidst dense forests full of life, and strange dinosaur-like robots that wandered the landscape collectively called “The Machines.”
Aloy must solve the mysteries of both what happened to the Old Ones, and the cause of the Derangement that made once-peaceful Machines hostile toward humans. All the while finding her place in this strange new world.
Return to Dunwall with this sequel to the original Dishonored game. Emily Kaldwin is all grown up now, ruling Dunwall like her mother before her. With her father Corvo Attano at her side, her rule seems safe enough…. But of course, the Outsider would find that boring, wouldn’t he? A coup is afoot, and it is about to change everything.
In Dishonored 2, you have the option of playing either as Emily Kaldwin or Corvo Attano. With a slew of new abilities like “Domino” and “Shadow Walk,” as well as returning abilities like ”Blink” and “Bend Time,” you as the player must make your way through a new city – Karnaca. Here, you must discover how to get your throne back, and save Dunwall once again from tyranny.
Dishonored 2 brings back the same beautiful graphics and corruption-filled plot that we saw in Dishonored, with the added bonus of replay value by having two playable characters. Your actions are still tempered along the “high chaos” and “low chaos” scales, however, they have been adapted into a much more comprehensive grid that allows the player a little more freedom of choice.
Discover the city of Karnaca in multiple ways – are you a shoot first, ask questions later kind of player, or are you willing to take the high road (read: ledges) and find a more covert way to your goal? Why not a bit of both? You decide.
God of War
Kratos returns in one of the highest rated games for PS4 by critic reviews. Selling over 5 million copies of the game within the first month of its release, God of War takes the bloody (and bloodthirsty) fighting style we’ve come to expect from the franchise and synthesizes it with a more complex characterization of Kratos that you didn’t know you needed.
After getting his revenge on the entire Greek pantheon in the previous two games, Kratos finds himself among the proud gods of Norse Mythology – specifically, on Midgard. Here, after an indeterminate number of years, Kratos has found himself a new wife, Faye, and with her had a son named Atreus. The game begins, however, after Faye’s death.
The goal of this game is simple: on her deathbed, Faye asked Kratos and Atreus to spread her ashes at the highest peak of Midgard. You play Kratos as he journeys with his son on this quest, while both of them mourn the loss of mother and wife. The complexity of Kratos’ character is exhibited in his evolving relationship with Atreus and in their interactions as they progress on their quest.
The gameplay in God of War is fantastic. Continuous camera shots that only fade to black when you die allow for a more immersive experience. These shots even extend into combat situations, which truly contribute to both the all-over feeling of the frenzy of battle and to show the scale of some of the creatures you fight with. Additionally, Atreus is not just another in a long line of escort missions.
Functioning similarly to Elizabeth from BioShock Infinite, Atreus actually assists you in battle. He fires arrows at your command, and will occasionally (and without prompting), leap onto an enemy’s back to allow you to get a few hits in on their unprotected abdomen. With armor and special abilities that are customizable for both Kratos and Atreus, you can fine-tune your fighting styles to your own preferences, and make both characters all the more deadly.
God of War is not one of the most highly rated PS4 games for nothing. The dynamics of this new narrative make it well worth any cost by breathing new life into a series that may have otherwise suffered from monotony. This game perfectly balances story with combat and allows you to watch the evolution of Kratos’ and Atreus’ characters in such a way that by the end, you truly care about them.
The Persona series has remained relatively unique in both RPGs and JRPGs due to the sheer scale and theme; there are only so many RPGs where you climb into a TV on purpose. Furthermore, each game in the series is unique enough to stand on its own without the other games. Each game has a different cast of characters and understanding of the Metaverse the player must venture into.
For example, in Persona 4 the characters (not the audience) understand the Metaverse to be something akin to a dream place where personas must be defeated. This is opposed to Persona 5 where the main group becomes known for their work in the Metaverse as the Phantom Thieves of Hearts. In previous Persona games the Metaverse seemed to be something only the main group knew about, but in Persona 5 it seems more characters are privy to the information.
If it is not obvious already, the Persona series presents a delightfully complex world where the player must manage going to high school and vigilante missions in the Metaverse. That is nothing to say of the many relationships the player has to maintain in order to gain skills and in-game currency for weapons and armor. Persona 5 is the ultimate RPG in the fullest sense of the term.
Final Fantasy XV
Final Fantasy, much like the Persona titles, are a series of RPGs that rarely connect to each other via characters or narrative. This is especially true in the case of Final Fantasy XV, as the gameplay and narrative deviate greatly from most of the series. When the game released in 2016, most fans took this as a refreshing change, describing it as a fun road trip in the Final Fantasy universe. This is also a game that has been ported to PC and mobile, though the latter is not exactly free-to-play.
Final Fantasy XV sports an open world and no turn-based combat, allowing the player to switch between weapons and magic more quickly. Though the open world is vast, the game does feature fast-travel in the form of a car that players can control. Later on, DLCs were added, introducing players to new playable characters and a multiplayer feature.
The plot of Final Fantasy XV lies in the same universe as Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy XIII, and Final Fantasy Type-0. The world of Eos is under the Niflheim Empire’s thumb, save for the kingdom of Lucis. The latter is where the McGuffin of this game is, a magical Crystal protected by the Lucis’ royal family. Niflheim and Lucis are about to enter peace negotiations when Niflheim decides to attack instead and steals the Crystal. Before all hope is lost, the heir to the Lucis throne decides to go after the Crystal and attempt to use its powers to save Eos from the evil Niflheim empire.
Dark Souls II and III
Ah, the Souls franchise: everyone’s personal admittance of masochism. The infamous games of this critically acclaimed series are so steeped in their own lore that it seems almost sacrilege to speak about them so briefly. Despite any misgivings, 21 Best PS4 RPGs will include the second and third games of the Souls series.
Though these two games take place in entirely different settings, they follow the same basic premise in their overarching plots: the Bearer of the Curse and Ashen One (in Dark Souls II and Dark Souls III respectively) must ultimately decide whether they will link the Flame and continue the Age of Fire, or extinguish it for good and summon in an Age of Darkness. Throughout it all, the main characters must fight their way through the worlds of the Souls universe in some of the most grueling and beautiful combat situations ever devised.
Dark Souls II continues its predecessors’ tradition of being punishingly difficult in its combat. Both bosses and standard enemies have the capacity to kill the player character with only a couple of hits. Additionally, like in Demon Souls, your max HP meter decreases in capacity with each death, until you use a Human Effigy to counteract it. However, there are certain items early in the game that can be used to balance out the HP reduction with bonuses to damage and defense.
The story of Dark Souls II begins with a recently awakened Undead. You seek to break the curse of Hollowing that all Undead suffer, and travel to the fallen kingdom of Drangleic for answers. There, you are tasked with acquiring the Great Souls of the Old Ones; a quest not so easily achieved as you are hampered across the kingdom by viciously aggressive enemies that seek your destruction.
If you purchase the Scholar of the First Sin edition of the game for PS4 instead, you’ll get the base game with a plot variance, an additional quest and boss battle, as well as all the offered DLCs in one neat package. Scholars of the First Sin also contains new items, including the Scythe of the Forlorn and the Agape Ring, and two new locations.
Dark Souls III, on the other hand, begins in Lothric at the tolling of a bell. That bell symbolizes that the First Flame is about to go out, and the world is once again threatened to be plunged into Darkness. The bell rouses from their graves beings called Unkindled; heroes of ages past who tried and failed to rekindle the Flame. Your character is one of those Unkindled, and it is your duty to reunite the Lords of Cinder and link the First Flame once more.
The gameplay in Dark Souls III is very similar to that of Dark Souls II. Your questing and combat follow a similar track, although both operate much more smoothly than in previous games. Dark Souls III also adopts a magic system from Demon Souls and re-christens it “Focus Points” (FP.) In the introduction of FP, Estus Flasks have been bisected, with one type of Flask restoring HP, and the other restoring FP.
Dark Souls III maintains the series’ promise of difficult combat situations, however, the boss fights are so very worth it. One of the best parts of the Souls series is the character design, and Dark Souls III is no different. Each piece of this striking world is rendered with such loving detail that, even though graphics are not up to the standard of some of the other games on this list, the story well makes up for it.
On the tail of Dark Souls II came Bloodborne, and although they are produced by the same developers, the two games are rather different in presentation. Bloodborne is set in a gothic-Victorian inspired city called Yharnam. Within this world, Yharnam is renowned for its medical advances, however, it quickly becomes apparent that the city has fallen victim to an epidemic which has turned all of its citizens into deranged, sometimes bestial monsters. Your character, known as the Hunter, is tasked with finding and stopping the source of the plague, lest you be trapped in Yharnam’s nightmarish streets forever.
Gameplay in Bloodborne is similar enough to the Souls games that veterans of the latter will find playing Bloodborne pleasantly familiar. However, Bloodborne relies much more strongly on quick reflexes and dodging enemy attacks, so your Souls knowledge will only take you so far. Despite its more elusive combat tendencies, Bloodborne still encourages heavy-hitting through its Rally system, which allows the player to regain vitality lost during battle by landing hits on the enemy.
If you’ve played even one of the Souls games, then you will definitely see aspects of that series echoed in Bloodborne. However similar the two series are, Bloodborne bears enough difference from the Souls series to stand on its own. Inspired by great horror novelists such as Bram Stoker and H.P. Lovecraft, Bloodborne excels at immersing players in gothic horror that seamlessly meshes its plot, environment, and enemies.
Though Nier: Automata is the sequel to Nier and Nier is a spinoff from the Drakengard series, it is absolutely not necessary to play the previous games to understand Automata. The creators of all these games are notorious for their abstract and frankly weird ideas; until Automata, many of them did not appeal to a greater audience, especially in America. As such, Automata is considered to be the best title in the series thus far.
Automata is set in a post-apocalyptic world where machines made by humans are fighting a war against the machines created by alien invaders; in other words, a proxy war. The game offers three different perspectives of the same story, allowing the player to take control of a combat android, her companion, and a fugitive prototype. Through this, the creators are able to touch on themes not normally explored in video games, like a gamer’s impulse to kill (not just enemies), confronting prejudice, escaping difficult situations, and the philosophy of altruism.
In addition to such heavy issues, Automata is one of the few games in the world that combine a wide variety of gameplay with a consistent narrative. For example, at the beginning of the game, the combat is a side-scrolling shooter and by the time you get to the boss, the gameplay returns to third-person combat.
Divinity: Original Sin
The Divinity series has been funded entirely by Kickstarters from the very beginning and is considered to be one of the best RPGs on console. The latest addition to the series, Divinity Original Sin 2, is no different but it doesn’t come onto the PS4 until August 2018.
As such, we’re going to focus on the previous game, Original Sin. Despite a somewhat steep learning curve, lack of tutorial, and complex combat system, Original Sin offers a dynamic and beautiful world to play around in. For example, all of your in-game interactions feel very natural and organic; if something is on fire, you can use a water spell to douse it and the people rescued will cheer for you. It is always exciting to come up with a solution to a puzzle that may not be entirely obvious and the game lets you do it.
The main story of Original Sin is just as intriguing as the side quests. Much like The Witcher 3, Original Sin is extremely well-written, to the point that even playing rock-paper-scissors becomes a worthwhile pastime.
If you’re interested in the Souls series, but feudal Japan is more your thing, fear not! 21 Best PS4 RPGs: The Ultimate List has a game for that! Enter Nioh, an action RPG based on a fictional version of Japan in the 1600s, just before the unification under the Tokugawa shogunate. Amidst all the warring clans, creatures called yōkai have begun appearing, wreaking their own havoc.
Your character plays as William, an Irish sailor who arrived on the island of Japan in pursuit of an enemy, and was enlisted to help quell the yōkai that threatened the human populations. William and the rest of the Nioh story are based after the life of one William Adams, a real-life sailor who, in 1600, was the first Westerner to arrive in Japan, and became one of the first (and few) Western Samurai. (I am not making this up, here’s the Wikipedia article.)
The game has fantastic combat and draws on both Japanese mythology and history with fair accuracy. Similar to the Souls games, Nioh relies on hack-and-slash fighting methods that require a heavy amount of tactical decision making. Although the objectives are fairly linear, the game still manages to provide the player with an explorative experience. William also encounters a number of historical figures in his adventures, which would make anyone interested in Feudal Japan get excited.
From the makers of Life Is Strange comes a completely different game. Vampyr is as unlike Max’s sunny high school as can be. The game is set in the grit of London, towards the end of the first World War. Soldiers coming home find no peace, however, as a plague has struck the old city both in the form of the Spanish Flu and vampirism. Player character Dr. Jonathan Reid is victim to the latter and returns from the dead bent on finding out what he is and who did this to him.
Vampyr is delightfully dark and often encourages the player to kill – though not without consequences. You can unwittingly kill important characters and lose entire plotlines in a moment of weakness. Do not despair, more options open up if the player continues to be brutal in this way.
As Reid gets to know the community around him (all fully voiced), killing becomes all the more lucrative – the happier people are, the more experience points you’ll gain for killing them. Vampyr certainly presents a fascinating choice for the player and the ability to roleplay a true vampire (not the sparkly kind) is all the more thrilling.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Norse mythology seems to be a popular basis for many games lately, and there is none more accurate to that mythology than Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. Created by Ninja Theory, this self-described “independent AAA game” was created with a team of only 20 developers, and uses motion capture technology for impressively realistic facial expressions.
Senua’s Sacrifice is a dark fantasy tale of an 8th century Pict warrior named Senua, who travels from her homeland and into Helheim far to the north in an attempt to save the soul of her beloved Dillion. She believes that she is cursed by what she calls the Darkness, and the voices that she hears in her head are the Furies.
The game insinuates that you too are in Senua’s head, as one of these voices notices your presence and narrates to you. Senua must fight her way through Helheim, against two of Hella’s guardians and against manifestations of her own Darkness, before she can reach Hella.
All the while, Senua’s sad story is revealed to the player in excruciating detail.
In addition to being faithful to Norse mythology, Senua’s Sacrifice also diligently portrays one other incredibly important aspect of the game: mental illness.
Senua suffers from what would today be classified as a kind of psychosis (ie schizophrenia). Throughout the game, the player can hear the voices that whisper to her and endure the hallucinations Senua experiences during particularly intense moments of stress. Ninja Theory wanted to ensure authenticity when they created Senua’s Sacrifice, and so they collaborated with a number of world-leading neuroscientists and non-profit organizations in order to ensure that the game would reflect the truth of how psychosis and other similar mental illnesses are experienced.
Despite the origin of this game’s title, Prey has a lot more in common with BioShock than it does Prey from 2006. Much like BioShock, the most recent Prey features a twist at the end that subverts almost all of the player’s previous actions.
Despite many such deviations from the original game (like having absolutely nothing to do with Indigenous peoples), Prey manages to construct a mysterious narrative about the fallacy of human curiosity. The humans in this universe found aliens, in a way, that they attempted to convert into special abilities. They were successful, to a point, but the aliens were not keen on taking it lying down.
As such, it is the player’s mission to not only keep the aliens in check but to figure out what went wrong in the first place. Prey was developed by Arkane Studios and their unique combat style is all over this game – for the better. You get what could be considered supernatural powers, like mimic, and interesting technological tools, like the GLOO gun.
1947 was one of the most violent years in Los Angeles due to soldiers returning home and often failing to find a polite place in society. You play as one such soldier, coming into the role of a good cop and determined to restore order and get answers more than climbing any social ladder.
The events in-game may not be historically accurate, but RockStar faithfully reconstructed the city of Los Angeles down the last gritty detail. The player is encouraged to explore the city via 21 main cases and about 40 mini side quests. The latter usually comes to the player as they explore, through the car radio. Needless to say, L.A. Noire gives the player plenty to do.
Interrogation is where the game really shines. With the face-scanning technology, RockStar was able to capture the expressions of each actor exactly. As such, knowing whether or not someone is lying or telling the truth is less in the dialogue and more by the player’s discretion and ability to read body language.
After each statement, you can choose whether to believe, doubt, or press for further details. Choose the right one, and they might give you more information. This can prove difficult for some gamers, but that is all the more reason to get the hang of it and push on. That said, the conclusion of the case will often be the same regardless of your choices – something fans hope to be fixed in future titles.
Assassin’s Creed Origins
As always with Assassin’s Creed games, it is the setting that truly captures the player’s attention. In the case of Origins, each city is not only unique in architecture, but also in culture, politics, prejudices, and racism. This makes the game world far more alive and robust than any of the previous titles in the series. So much so that Ubisoft decided to add a completely free educational mode.
This mode strips the game of combat and plot, leaving a specific path for players to follow and learn about the world of ancient Egypt. Discovery mode does have its problems, especially the set path, but it is important to note that an AAA publisher like Ubisoft had the thought to include it. Hopefully, this means that other publishers will consider education modes in their games too, to the point where we might find them in classrooms one day.
Besides Discovery mode, Origins offers a completely revamped combat. Unlike previous titles, Origins does let you simply button-mash square anymore. You must learn when to dodge, block, and parry before attacking recklessly, otherwise you will find yourself at the game over screen.
Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto V can only be understood if the player is ready and willing to accept a sharp-witted satire on the American way of life, everything from capitalism to materialism. Otherwise, the game will just seem like the literal road to hell in a handbasket.
If the satire of GTA 5 doesn’t draw you in, the open world should. The city of San Andreas is designed in such a way as to encourage exploration like no other game has been able to do since. The main plot is there, sure, but there is more fun to be had is in the player testing the limits of the game. The best stories in GTA 5 are the ones you make yourself, like stealing a plane just to parachute from the highest point in the city; or taking a pleasure drive up a beautiful mountain just for the view.
Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen
Dragon’s Dogma might be one of the older games on this list that doesn’t quite stand the test of time. However, in the interest of listing the 21 best PS4 RPGs, we would be remiss not to mention this game. Dragon’s Dogma made its mark with its unique combat system where scale matters and sometimes you have to climb up enemies to take them down.
It makes for a Shadow of Colossus feel that fans very much enjoyed. You mustn’t be reckless, however, as Dragon’s Dogma will punish anyone who rushes into battle without so much as a thought about defense. Even when shooting down a griffin from a distance, it is important that player take their time with each enemy – not unlike the combat of Dark Souls.
Otherwise, the world is a little sparse between quests. The game tries to make for it with hidden treasures and enemies, but it can be tough for players looking for more. Again, this game did not quite stand the test of time but it is important to acknowledge.
As with the previous game, Destiny 2 is one of the best RPG shooters on the PS4. There is even a more story-driven campaign this time around, giving the player plenty to do both solo and with friends. The acting is much improved for Destiny 2 as well, allowing players to become more invested in the story, characters, and even the villain.
Some parts of the multiplayer are not so fun, like the 4v4 where teams can too easily hide from each other and dragging around matches longer than necessary. The PvE is a little better but requires a great deal of forethought and strategy with other competent players.
Destiny 2 stands out in other respects as well, like the beautiful worlds you can visit. Each of them have entirely different color palettes and unique aspects to explore. Loot is certainly a part of it, as are exploring to a few choice viewpoints.
Unlike other games in the series, Yakuza 0 is not only a prequel to all of them, but allows the player to come into the work of Yakuza without previous knowledge from the games. This is a great boon to the series, as it has been very long-running and extremely detailed. Yakuza 0 is the perfect introduction for new players into the series, showing where such complex characters started in their life of crime.
As the latest in the series next to Yakuza 6, Yakuza 0 benefits from gameplay lessons learned in previous titles. Combat, for example, is much more smooth and it is easier to target one enemy at a time if need be.
In addition, Yakuza 0 sports a huge variety of mini-games, from dancing karaoke, to card collecting and computer games. These provide an often welcome distraction from the heavy plot and allow the player to unwind before diving back in.