The PlayStation 4 launched worldwide five years ago on November 13, 2013. A hardware launch is always an exciting day for the gaming world, but did the PS4 launch titles wind up delivering on their end of the bargain on its first day? It’s not traditionally seen as an all-time great lineup, but let’s see what sticks out from the 20 or more titles that were playable on launch day with five years of hindsight.
PS4 Launch Titles – The Good
If there was one real star of the PlayStation 4 launch, it was Housemarque’s Resogun. The colorful shooter was an update of the arcade classic Defender, and still reigns as one of the best digital titles in the PS4 library. Since launch, it has only improved thanks to a number of free and paid updates, and it easily remains the best day one Sony-published title.
A duo of PlayStation 3 ports also helped fleshed out what players had available on November 15. Both Sound Shapes and Flower had great PS4 versions, and while neither featured new content, both games look wonderful at higher resolutions. These iterations served a good purpose during launch periods, and helped give a spotlight to two smaller Sony-published titles that deserved some extra love.
Rounding out the best of the PS4 launch titles were a bunch of solid installments in series that have been topped in the years since. While I had a blast with Battlefield 4, Injustice, and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag when they released, they aren’t really titles that players have much of a reason to play anymore. Outside of arguably Black Flag, the rest have been succeeded by sequels that improve upon the already enjoyable formula.
PS4 Launch Titles – The Meh
Contrast was one of the coolest, yet ultimately uneven, launch titles. The puzzle platformer had a fantastic art style and a gimmick as it focused on using shadows to traverse its 3D world. However, the game also had a myriad of issues ranging from annoying bugs to just being generally unpolished. As such, it’s one of the most promising yet frustrating games to be released on PlayStation 4. Thankfully, it was a PlayStation Plus title, so it was easier to enjoy considering most didn’t have pay extra for it.
A lot of the launch line-up was comprised of yearly titles that give players really no incentive to ever play the past ones aside from trophy hunting. Games like Call of Duty: Ghosts, the hilariously named Madden 25, and NBA 2K14 were all solid games but offer little in terms of worthwhile unique content unlike Injustice or Black Flag.
While it has since become one of the best free-to-play titles available on consoles, Warframe was quite limited when it launched. The gameplay didn’t feel nearly as polished as it does now, and it had only a fraction of the content. When looking at how far Digital Extremes has taken the action game, it’s really quite impressive. It went from a decent, unspectacular launch game to becoming one of the best examples of free-to-play done right. Warframe even has more expansions coming soon, showing the longevity and power of the title.
PS4 Launch Titles – The Bad
Angry Birds Star Wars isn’t a horrible game, but it was quite possibly the most overpriced launch title ever. Released at $49.99 on consoles despite being free (with optional microtransactions) on mobile, the game was widely criticized for being a terrible value. Pricing qualms aside, there’s not much to praise about it. The gameplay is fine, but Angry Birds has never been meant to be played with a controller and it doesn’t feel great doing so.
Look, it’s easy to just dunk on Knack. However, despite becoming a punchline, it’s not as if the first title was terrible. It clearly wasn’t the type of pure platformer that people wanted, but it did deliver a generic action game in the vein of an E-rated God of War. It was a weird mix of genres that could have worked out, but it didn’t do anything particularly well. Ultimately, it’s just a forgettable game that isn’t really worth anyone’s time.
Sadly, that wasn’t the only game to make the list as Killzone: Shadow Fall is one of the biggest disappointments to come out of Sony in a long time. Not only did the campaign feature an underwhelming story with some terrible level design, but the only redeeming feature (multiplayer) hasn’t aged very well. Not only has the shooting been considerably trumped by Titanfall, but the online isn’t exactly brimming with activity in 2018. Guerrilla Games thankfully recovered well with Horizon Zero Dawn.
PS4 Launch Titles – Conclusion
Overall, the PlayStation 4 launch library was a disappointing one and still is today. There are only a handful of games worth going back to, and most of them have superior sequels. It’s a far cry from the PlayStation Vita’s launch that had well over a dozen worthwhile games ranging from exclusives to great portable versions of console titles. Thankfully, as everyone knows, a launch doesn’t define a system and the PlayStation 4 now boasts a fantastic library with hundreds of awesome games.