The strength of the Playstation library has long been in its lineup of first-party exclusives. This generation is no different, as the Playstation 4 already has a strong and healthy collection of exclusive games, not to mention those which have yet to be released — most notably, Horizon: Zero Dawn, God of War, Days Gone, and others.
Not all exclusives are created equal, however, and many fall flat — or are downright panned — upon release. Despite this, the underwhelming games do not go anywhere, and often, when given the space to breathe, can be reconsidered. Upon such reconsideration, one may be surprised to find that some of these games — initially received poorly — are actually quite good!
Here is a brief list of the four most underrated PS4 exclusives.
Killzone: Shadow Fall
Killzone: Shadow Fall launched alongside the Playstation 4. Actually, in many instances, it was bundled inside, making it many gamers first PS4 experience (as well as my own). Sitting at a 73 on Metacritic, Killzone has long settled into that “satisfactory” range, with an overall assessment barely passing in many high schools. Is this an accurate score? No!
Killzone: Shadow Fall is not a satisfactory game. Killzone: Shadow Fall is an exceptional game! Especially when one considers the fact that it launched alongside the PS4, there is really very little to criticize. The story is very, very solid, and should appeal to both long-time Killzone fans and newcomers alike. Graphically, the game is downright stunning, and it remains one of the best — if not the best — looking games on the PS4, to date. Where the game really shines, however, is in it’s multiplayer, which has always been a strength in Killzone titles (even Killzone: Mercenary on Vita still has a healthy online community). My brother and I sank nearly 100 hours into the online multiplayer, and we regularly assert that it was the best online experience we’ve had this generation.
If you haven’t played Killzone: Shadow Fall, for whatever reason, you really must, as it holds up as one of the best PS4 titles available today.
Last week, I wrote a piece on how Knack is the most criminally underrated PS4 exclusive, so I won’t rehash the entire thing here. Instead, I will keep it short and sweet.
Knack was critically panned — sometimes brutally — by both gamers and reviewers alike, due primarily to the fact that it was a launch title. At a time when gamers were excited to see what new “next-gen” experiences were in store for them, they found themselves disappointed by what is merely a very, very solid game.
Though not revolutionary, Knack is an absolute joy to play. Mechanically, the combat is tight, challenging and fair — maintaining a fine balance between wanting to throw your DualShock 4 through the TV in frustration and the Souls-like satisfaction of making it through an area to the next checkpoint. Graphically, the game looks great, with colorful outdoor environments and particle physics that are pure eye candy. The story is charming and family-friendly, serving to move the action along without ever boring the gamer.
If you haven’t played Knack, keep an eye out for it on sale — especially if you are a fan of Sony’s strong lineage of family-friendly titles.
Oh, Driveclub... if only you weren’t broken at launch! How differently things might have turned out!
As many gamers know, Driveclub was an absolute mess at launch. The online functionality was almost completely broken, and remained so for at least a month. Because of this, the game suffered severely, both in terms of sales and critical reception, and Evolution Studios was ultimately canned by Sony (though they’ve been picked up by F1 developer Codemasters).
Today, with Driveclub being at the peak of health and all DLC available, the game is absolutely fantastic! Photorealistic visuals, as well as the best weather effects ever seen in a game, lead to some of the best console driving experiences to be had, with the gameplay striking the perfect balance between arcade and simulation. For trophy hunters, there are 128 beautiful trophies to pop — many quite challenging — across the entire game (including DLC). Online racing experiences are solid and almost entirely problem-free, though the offline content alone is enough to satiate even the most hardcore racing fan.
Buy the Driveclub season pass as soon as you notice it on sale (which is, pretty much, all the time). You won’t be disappointed.
The Order: 1886
And now, the big one.
The Order: 1886, widely considered to be the PS4's most disappointing exclusive, was brutalized by gamers, reviewers... and pretty much anyone who ever heard of it. Unexceptional cover-based shooting and a campaign barely longer than a feature-length film (especially if you speed-run it) ultimately led to The Order: 1886 sitting at a 63 on Metacritic. But is The Order: 1886 really that mediocre?
No. The Order: 1886 is good. It’s not great... but it’s good.
Stunning visuals make slowly walking through the streets of Victorian London an immersive experience unmatched by most other third-person games. The Order: 1886 takes on a different level of immersion when one slowly makes their way through it (preferably with surround sound headphones), and doesn’t sprint through to see how short they can make it, in order to justify the bandwagon complaint that it’s “too short.” The gunplay, though not amazing, is rather solid — and one cannot deny that the arc rifle is totally badass. The true strength of the game, however, is in its story, which is exceptional — with great characters, high-quality acting, and exactly the plot-twist I was hoping for. Fans of The Order: 1886 can only hope for an 1887, though, at the moment, we can only speculate on Sony’s plans for a sequel.
Is the game “too short?” Yeah. Does that mean the game is mediocre? I don’t think so, as no other game can give you the kind of cinematic-gaming experience The Order: 1886 delivers.
Again, if you see this one on sale, do yourself a favor and pick it up. Play it in one or two sittings, and enjoy it for the cinematic-gaming experience that it is.
What do you think? Am I too generous with my scores? Am I a Sony fanboy who can’t except when an exclusive is mediocre? Or do you agree that these games are the PS4's most underrated exclusives? Did I miss anything?
Tweet @Shasdam and/or let me know what you think in the comments!
Until next time, happy gaming!