The PlayStation 5 games you should buy first
By Mike Hume
Congratulations, you're one of the lucky few to have secured a PlayStation 5 for the holidays. Now you'll want to make the most of it, particularly when it comes to the console's upgraded immersion features.
There aren't a ton of options for games at the moment, however. And while there are plenty of backward compatible titles that are worth porting over for smoother play or upgraded graphics, it's the DualSense haptics that really inspire the most joy. To that end, allow us to recommend some titles that truly sing on the next-gen system.
"Astro's Playroom" comes pre-installed on the PS5 and does a fantastic job showcasing the revolutionary controller via added audio, extremely specific vibration patterns and triggers that offer different tensions when executing different actions. (Think the increasing tension on a bow string, or the tightening of a coiled spring.) You'll definitely want to spend time with the adorable Astrobots, but eventually you'll want to try your hand at some more involved titles.
If you want to maximize your fun with your new toy, you ought to prioritize buying one or more of these titles that make great use of the PS5's best features.
- Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales (Ultimate Edition). The previous Spidey game, "Marvel's Spider-Man," did a great job showcasing the PS4 Pro's 4K resolutions, and the dynamic fighting system and oh-so-smooth web-swinging through Manhattan's city streets provided a terrific imitation of how a superhero must feel when they're beating down bad guys. But "Miles Morales" actually makes you feel like a hero, thanks in large part to the DualSense haptics.
Now players can actually feel the vibration when one of Spider-Man's webs affixes to the side of a skyscraper and sense the tension as the hero swings downward in pendulum-like fashion. The controller buzzes on one side, then the other as Miles discharges one of his supercharged venom punches.
On top of showing off all of the PS5′s best features, the game was also one of Launcher's 10 best games of the year. You can get the base PS5 game for $49.99, but it's worth splurging $20 more for the Ultimate Edition that includes the remastered version of "Marvel's Spider-Man," which shines all the brighter with the help of the PS5's ray tracing.
- Demon's Souls. The famously challenging combat game got a big overhaul on the PS5, sharpening pretty much every aspect of the game. The frightening creatures that lurk within the fog-draped land of Boletaria have never looked so chilling. And with ray tracing and particle effects, they now reside in a breathtaking setting. Eerie sounds surround you thanks to the 3D Tempest audio engine, further building the tension.
The best next-gen aspect, though, is the actual feel of the combat. Your blows register with different sounds and vibrations, straight from the DualSense controller, depending on the surface your weapon strikes. You'll notice a solid thunk for wooden shields or a tinny clang against armor.
The PS5′s super-short load times are notable too, with less waiting to hop back into the fray after your character gets killed by a trap or ambush. That's no small benefit given how difficult "Demon's Souls" can be.
- Ghost of Tsushima. Another of Launcher's 2020 favorites, "Ghost" debuted for the PS4, but it never looked as good as it does on the PS5. A next-gen specific update enhances the action to 60 frames per second (FPS), rendering the pulse-pounding combat even cleaner than before. As a late-generation PS4 title, the detailed fields of Pampas grass and snow-capped peaks of the island retain their pristine beauty in 4K resolutions.
Finally, the introduction of the new co-op Legends mode (via a free update earlier this fall) has only added to the game's re-playability. Even after finishing off the main campaign, you'll want to linger in Tsushima for a long time to come.
- FIFA/Madden 21. The ubiquitous console sports titles have often drawn criticism for the lack of significant changes from year to year, but the next-gen consoles introduce an array of new features that represent some of the biggest improvements the franchises have seen in years.
"Madden 21" now runs at 60 frames per second on the PS5, providing smoother animations in games. The AI has also been upgraded through the integration of player tracking data from the NFL to better illustrate how real-life receivers run their routes. Now they'll cut harder, accelerating out of their breaks, or decelerate to deceive their defender. In a word, it's more realistic.
The DualSense also allows you to feel your players' footsteps . . . or those of an oncoming pass rush.
FIFA's upgrade starts with new showy graphics that even feature details like individual strands of hair that, as your player moves, behave accordingly. Flick the ball with a header, your player's luscious locks follow. This is Vidal Sassoon's dream game.
If you were ever bothered by the silly skill-based mini games you were forced to play while matches loaded, the new SSD drive has banished them from mandatory to optional. The DualSense also adds a new wrinkle with it's trigger tension. Holding down the sprint button (traditionally the right trigger) gets harder as your player's fatigue rises.
- Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. On the whole, the latest Call of Duty game isn't as praiseworthy as its 2019 predecessor, "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare," but the introduction of a few next-gen features should appeal to both competitive and casual players.
If you like the sweaty grind of the multiplayer mode, you'll certainly embrace the game's optional 120 FPS mode. Yes, it'll disable some of the high-end visual effects, like ray tracing, but the additional frames provide far fewer "How did he see me?!?!" moments.
Competitive types may turn off the haptics from the DualSense, but they do provide a neat new experience by behaving differently for every gun type. Pistols and submachine guns require less effort to aim (using the left trigger) than heavier LMGs and sniper rifles. Meanwhile the recoil from those heftier weapons will actually kick back against your trigger finger when you pop off shots.
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