Sony’s PlayStation 4 finally arrived in the UK yesterday, and the new console war between the Xbox One and PS4 has kicked off in earnest. This is a war that has the potential to be as memorable as the classic Mega Drive/SNES battle of the early to mid-nineties.
While Sony is launching a week later than the Xbox One, it has an advantage in terms of price, being £80 cheaper than Microsoft’s console (although it doesn’t come bundled with a camera, which is the major cause of this price difference).
If you purchased a PlayStation 4 yesterday, however, the truth is that you’ll likely be underwhelmed as far as games go. Many of the big franchises associated with the PlayStation brand are M.I.A. upon launch. There's no Infamous. No Uncharted. No Prototype. Adding to the disappointment, Driveclub and Watchdogs, two highly anticipated PlayStation 4 launch games, were pushed back to 2014. Oh, and there's also no hardware backwards compatibility so you can't slip a hot PlayStation 3 game into your shiny new system, either.
In addition, many day-one PlayStation 4 titles are intergenerational games that also appear on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Naturally, the PlayStation 4 versions will have graphical improvements and/or extra game modes, but don't expect a radical difference. Not yet, anyway.
Don't despair, however: The PlayStation 3 launched with a weak line-up, too, but the library strengthened to the point where the system became one worth owning.
In any case, there are certainly a few games that are definitely worth picking up now. Our recommended PlayStation 4 launch games will carry you through to 2014 – the year when the really hot games will begin to pop up in stores and on the PlayStation Network digital marketplace.
As always, please let us know your PlayStation 4 launch line-up thoughts in the comments section below.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (£49)
Ubisoft's historical stealth-action game takes place in the Caribbean during the 18th century, when pirates ruled the high seas. Like Assassin's Creed III, Black Flag features hunting and open-world gameplay, but also includes an upgradeable ship and new in-depth naval warfare. All this pirate action will also appear on the PC, PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii U, but the PS4 version contains enhanced graphics and side-missions starring Assassin's Creed: Liberation's female protagonist, Aveline. That’s a very neat bonus.
Battlefield 4 (£47)
The Frostbite 3-powered Battlefield 4 is easily one of the most visually impressive titles for current-generation consoles, the Xbox One and, of course, the PlayStation 4. The DICE-developed shooter’s detailed destructible environments are the talk of the town, but it's the game's scale that truly impresses. Battlefield 4's PlayStation 4, PC, and Xbox One versions have an incredible 66-person multiplayer mode (64 traditional players plus the two returning field commanders) that ensures lots of chaotic military-themed fun.
Contrast is set in a film noir-like dreamscape in which gamers play as Dawn, the imaginary friend of Didi, a little girl with family issues. Dawn has the ability to shift from the 3D world into the 2D world of shadows to solve brain-teasing puzzles and help Didi understand the secrets that her family holds.
Killzone: Shadow Fall (£48)
This first-person shooter is set 30 years after the events of Killzone 3, featuring two rival factions, the Helghast and the Vektans, who live side by side in a futuristic city, divided by a wall. Tensions are high, and the cold war they are embroiled in is about to run red hot. Players control Lucas Kellen, a Shadow Marshal, who is tasked with maintaining peace – with big, big, guns.
NBA 2K14 (£54)
This basketball game has it all – a ton of different modes and features, a real depth to the gameplay, and some excellent touches of presentation. Perhaps most of all, though, this is the game that will show off the power of your next-gen console, with the PS4 (and Xbox One) version boasting some superb graphics. Not only does everything look hugely realistic, the players move realistically, and the attention to visual detail is phenomenal. If American sports are your bag in any way, shape, or form, this is a must-have.
Warframe is Digital Extreme's free-to-play third-person shooter that's thrilled PC gamers since March 2013 – and it is now available on the PS4 as a launch title. In Warframe, gamers play as ninja-like warriors decked out in power armour who tote swords, guns, and other weaponry. Affinity points, acquired by completing missions and wasting enemies, let you level up the fighters' armour and weapons. It’s fun and it’s free – and it’s difficult to argue with that combination.
For more on Sony's new console, check out our PlayStation 4 review, and our piece on why the PS4 has more power than the Xbox One, and yet it's still more compact and lighter.