The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S generation is a massive step up from the previous one. PS4 and Xbox One were the first big systems needing a hardware refresh due to low horsepower. That never happened before, at least with separate console units.
However, these next-gen systems are pretty beefy and can seriously take things to the next level. This isn’t solely for the graphics, as this horsepower is important for rendering more objects at once than ever before and other technical features. It can be hard to spot true next-gen titles, but there are legitimately many games that can’t be done on the last-gen system’s hardware.
10 Ghostwire: Tokyo
Originally a PS5 exclusive, but now on Xbox too, Ghostwire: Tokyo is a great open-world supernatural action game with a lot to discover. The story’s okay for what it is, but the side content and what you find can truly be wild. It’s so fun exploring, and the combat is much improved from what it was at launch.
When the Xbox version came out, there were numerous gameplay elements added that vastly improved the depth of the combat system. With a big, detailed open world and so many effects going on, this is truly a next-gen title.
Another Bethesda game that started out as a PS5 exclusive was Arkane Studios’ Deathloop. It has a really unique concept for an FPS with a Groundhog Day system. You have a single day to kill eight targets, and if the day ends or you die, you get reset to the very start.
All progress is lost, but you’re more knowledgeable and, later on, can even keep certain items. This makes Deathloop an incredibly unique FPS experience. There’s been quite a few time loop games, but this was the first triple-A FPS to take on the concept, and it does it phenomenally.
8 Serious Sam 4
Serious Sam 4 has a lot of flaws, but when it’s good, it’s one of the most fun and chaotic FPS games out now. You have a massive arsenal, and you’ll constantly be switching weapons to deal with threats accordingly. Killing thousands of enemies all by yourself, especially in the larger fights, is a rush like no other.
The soundtrack is also fantastic, and the addition of side missions is welcome, too. Sam 4 is a game you definitely can’t run of last-gen systems at all due to the high enemy count and huge amount of rendered objects. If you played this on Xbox One, it would run in the single digits in terms of framerate.
7 Dead Space (2023)
2023 was a phenomenal year for remakes, especially in the realm of horror. Resident Evil 4 is a sure Game of the Year contender, but the Dead Space remake was also stellar. While most of what’s good in the RE4 remake is what already worked in the 2005 title, the Dead Space remake adds a lot to the overall experience while still feeling like the same game.
It’s more for a Dead Space: Special Edition or Dead Space Sigma, if you will. The better pacing, side missions, and the ability to go to any other section of the ship you please all add to the game while still feeling like the classic. You can’t say that about RE4, which has a vastly different combat system.
A really good game that got dunked on by many critics is Scorn. It’s a short-length horror adventure title with amazing jaw-dropping visuals. Scorn was actually a result of a Kickstarter back in 2017, and it’s not hard to see why it got funded coming from the impressive campaign video.
One thing this game does exceptionally well is disempowering the player. Throughout most of Scorn, you’re attached to a parasite that gradually envelops you more and more. Sometimes, it’ll hurt you, making you take unavoidable damage. You feel so helpless.
5 Layers Of Fear (2023)
Bloober Team is a well-known horror game dev, though not all of their titles have been home runs. The Medium, while a decent early next-gen title, had some pretty offensive themes, but Observer is a borderline horror masterpiece. Their output is inconsistent, but the 2023 Layers of Fear is more on the good side.
Like Evil Dead 2, it’s a sequel and a remake of the previous installments, giving you the ultimate Layers of Fear package. This game is one of the first to be released with Unreal Engine 5, and it looks amazing. It’s not as good as the almost true-to-life tech demos available, but a solid early-on showcase of the engine, nevertheless. It’s definitely a game you can show other people to witness the power of these next-gen systems.
4 Hi-Fi Rush
One of the only new triple-A games to be announced and released on the same day is Hi-Fi Rush. This was a very odd occurrence, but when you start playing, you will learn just how special this game is. Feeling like something that would come out from Clover Studios back then, Hi-Fi Rush is a hack-and-slash title but rhythm-based.
This genre crossover was long overdue, and the game executes it about as well as you can. Sure, easier difficulties will make the title accessible to people without a strong sense of rhythm, but the harder modes are the total opposite. This is an action title that can truly test you, plus it has a lot of heart at its core.
Bethesda’s first single-player title since Fallout 4 in 2015 is Starfield. This game is massive, with 120 total Star Systems and over 1,000 Planets to explore. Despite those features, don’t go too hard on the space exploration as Starfield was designed realistically. This means only ten percent of the Planets actually have life on them.
There’s still some special areas out in far Star Systems, but definitely do the various quests first for a more enjoyable time. Quests here are excellent, as always, and some of them in Starfield are Bethesda’s greatest. RPG elements are also very well done, and overall, Starfield is a stellar game as long as you engage with the parts you love. With such a big title, you don’t need to experience everything to enjoy it.
2 Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
What element makes Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart stand out from the 2016 Ratchet & Clank is that it’s not a remake. When you compare the classic PS2 game to the PS4 remake, it’s no contest which is the superior platformer. Rift Apart doesn’t have that issue, so it can stand on its own as a solid game.
It’s a truly next-gen title, not in terms of looks, but in terms of gameplay. With environments switching on the fly, you need the PS5’s powerful SSD to run it. This was proven when the PC version was released, and an attempt to run it with a PS4 hard drive didn’t work.
Returnal is a hard-as-nails third-person shooter roguelike exclusive to PS5 and PC. It’s a roguelike with permadeath, but it is significantly longer than most other games in the genre and can take around five hours to finish a full run.
The third-person shooter gameplay is excellent and can really hook you in. This is one of those hard games that can drive you to master it, and it feels great when you’ve finally overcome everything. Two-player online co-op is also a lot of fun and a nice aspect to try out if you’re tired of the single-player.
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