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The 10 best PS5 games to play in 2021

best ps5 games 7
best ps5 games 7

The PlayStation 5 is just a few months old – and still very hard to get hold of. But it already has a burgeoning list of terrific games to try. Of course, it will also play almost the entire PS4 back catalogue via backwards compatibility, so even at this early stage you are overwhelmed with choice. To help you sort through that mountain of software, head over to our best PS4 games list, which has some cracking recommendations, from the classic to the unsung.

For this list, we're focusing purely on actual PS5 games, which means games that are exclusive to the console (of which there are only a couple at present), cross-generational releases that appear on PS4 as well, and earlier PS4 games that have been updated with significant PS5-only patches. As the machine is so young, we've restricted ourselves to just 10 picks, but you can expect this list to grow quickly as the library for Sony's latest machine is fleshed out.

A State of Play looking at the year ahead in PlayStation

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Demon's Souls

The debate about From Software's best will rage on until the last embers have died out, but there's no arguing which game started it all. 2009's Demon's Souls not only birthed a genre but raised the bar on murky video game adventures, gifting us with deep lore scratched into the stonework, exquisite combat that has you clanking iron against armour and atmosphere that's to die for.

To see all that resurrected and refined on PlayStation 5 is quite the thing, and in so many ways it's the ideal launch game – and ideal accompaniment when you first pick up your PS5. Here's a classic whose heritage and excellence is undoubted, delivered with searing fidelity thanks to Bluepoint's exhaustive makeover. Is the original FromSoft game the best one? The debate will never be settled, but for now this is the most impressive one you can currently play.

A quiet moment in a church in Demon's Souls

Want to read more? See our full Demon's Souls review and buy it now from Amazon.

Astro's Playroom

Bundled-in software feels like a thing of the glorious past, as does Team Asobi's Astro's Playroom – a brilliantly imaginative old-school platformer, pre-installed on every PS5, that runs wild and free through PlayStation's past, from the original demo disc bundled in with Sony's very first video game console through to cherished classics like Ape Escape, Gravity Rush, Bloodborne and beyond.

By the time Astro's Playroom's short six-hour runtime has finished, it's more than earned its place alongside those PlayStation classics. More than a nostalgia trip, it's an inventive and uniquely tactile platformer that puts the PlayStation 5 through its paces, and underlines the point that Team Asobi is one of Sony's very best assets when it comes to video game development.

Astro makes a sandy escape in Astro's playroom

Want to read more? See our full Astro's Playroom review.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales

What's better than a big triple-A blockbuster? A not-so-big triple-A blockbuster, it turns out. Like Uncharted spin-off The Lost Legacy, Insomniac's Spider-Man: Miles Morales is an improvement on the original as it trims down so much of the fat found in modern big-budget games, delivering an open world adventure that's as tight and trim as a superhero's suit.

It helps that Miles Morales has been elevated to a starring role, and – sorry dear Peter Parker – he lifts the whole thing, his gangly nerviness as he learns those silken ropes the perfect foil as you clumsily bound around Harlem and Manhattan. Oh, and we should probably mention this thing is absolutely gorgeous on PlayStation 5 – a blockbuster spectacle for a blockbuster machine.

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Want to read more? See our full Spider-Man: Miles Morales review and buy it now from Amazon.

Control: Ultimate Edition

Cor, what's that font? And where do you get those up-lighters? And is that a monstera, skulking in a sweet concrete flower bed? Control is special. It's a smart and fast-paced action game from the people behind Max Payne, but it's also a whole world stuffed into a beautiful, terrifying, mid-century modern office building. The lighting's by Kubrick, the floors are by Harry Gesner. You get to chuck trash cans around with your mind, blast zombies with a gun that transforms into a different kind of gun, and even uncover a room filled with Post-it notes.

The best thing about Control is that it knows when to take itself seriously, such as with the perfect animation for a projectile hitting a filing cabinet, and when to enjoy the campy nonsense, which is generally where the plot and world-building come in. With a sweet upgrade for the PS5, this game has never looked better.

Jesse Faden explores the Federal Bureau of Control in Control

Want to read more? See our full Control review and buy it now from Amazon.

God of War

Sony sometimes seems so in love with Oscar-bait misery that you can forget how much fun even its more sombre games can be. Is God of War sombre? It has a protagonist grappling with fatherhood and a bit of a mid-life crisis, certainly, but he also makes friends with giant snakes and at one point gets to punch Faraday from Lost through a small mountain.

It's beautiful stuff – which now, thanks to an update, runs at a silky 60 frames per second on PS5 – a Metroidvania wrapped in luxurious mythical detailing, and powered by a wonderfully brutal bit of theatre whenever you lob your axe into someone and then god-brain it back into your hand, as everybody around you erupts into fountains of hot Lucozade. Not bad, Sony, but can we have another Sly Cooper soon?

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Want to read more? See our full God of War review and buy it now from Amazon.

WRC 9

The quality of the WRC series might come as a surprise to more casual racing game fans, and understandably so – having coasted along under the watch of the ever-industrious bunch at Milestone, not much was expected when the officially licensed rally series shifted over to upstarts Kylotonn with WRC 5. What's happened since then, though, has been nothing short of remarkable.

From a knowingly arcade initial offering, the series has evolved into a hard-edged take on what's a somewhat underappreciated golden age for the sport, with cars as powerful and awe-inspiring as those seen in the Group B heyday. WRC 9 is the culmination of all that, and is the measure of – perhaps even superior to – Dirt Rally 2.0 when it comes to off-road kicks. The PS5 version, with its brilliant use of the DualSense controller's haptics and adaptive triggers combined with a 60fps frame-rate, simply seals the deal.

A Hyundai i20 drifts round a bend in WRC 9

Want to read more? Find out why WRC 9's PS5 update shows the DualSense is a revelation for racing games and buy it now from Amazon.

Destiny 2

Destiny 2 isn't the easiest game to get your head around. If you've been lured in by its free-to-play version, the first thing that probably strikes you is: where do I start? Playing through the game's quick introductory mission is liable to leave you with a bunch of choices of where to go next, and no clear idea of which is the best option to pick.

For those already invested, however, Destiny is probably the best it's been for years, thanks to an excellent expansion in Beyond Light and a revolutionary next-gen update that gives everything a boost, from faster loading times to vastly improved performance that showcase the game's stunning environments and combat at their best.

It's enough to heartily recommend giving Bungie's shooter another chance (if you are, we recommend getting refreshed with the New Light tutorial, then playing each story campaign in sequence before taking on some dungeons and raids with friends) – and thanks to cross-save support across all platforms, doing so is easier than ever.

Digital Foundry looks at Destiny 2 PS5 vs Xbox Series X|S – A True Next-Gen Advantage

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Want to read more? See our full Destiny 2 review and buy it now from PlayStation Store.

Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition

Following the divisive DmC (which, for what it's worth, was a damn fine game), Capcom went back to its roots for this, an action game as hard-edged and inventive as the much-loved Devil May Cry 3. Nero, Dante – grizzled and tough as you know and love him from the PS2 days – and new addition V offer up three very different play styles in a brand of fighting that's always pushing you to adapt.

It's perhaps the RE Engine's most impressive outing yet too, and of course it's all the more impressive when playing on PlayStation 5 where 60fps at 4K is a given – and if you want to stretch things a little more, there's also the option to switch on ray-tracing, which is glorious even if performance does take something of a hit. To see such an unashamedly old-fashioned game served up with such cutting edge technology is a treat, and with the depth of its combat this is one of the meatiest propositions on PlayStation 5 to date.

Nero in action in Devil May Cry 5

Want to read more? See our full Devil May Cry 5 review and buy it now from Amazon.

Hitman 3

Less about sneaking your way through enemy-filled bases and more about planning the perfect assassination in a Groundhog Day-style framework, the modern Hitman games have built up a well-deserved and devoted audience over the years.

Even if you're late to the party, the third game is the best place to start. Hitman 3 features some of the most varied and inventive levels in the series – one moment pushing through crowds in a warehouse-sized nightclub, solving a murder mystery in an English mansion the next – and the ability to import levels from previous games you've purchased (chances are you already own the original through PS Plus) makes it feel less of a sequel and more of a best of package.

On next-gen consoles is where Hitman 3 shines thanks to those all-important load times. It's a rare series where experimentation through save scumming – the act of reloading after you attempt something risky, like 'subtly' dropping a chandelier on your target and seeing if you can get away with it – is actively encouraged, and knowing you can do so in a matter of seconds feels like just the task SSDs were made for.

Agent 47 surveys Hitman 3's Dubai level

Want to read more? See our full Hitman 3 review and buy it now from Amazon.

Fortnite

Recently, Fortnite hosted a short film festival, in which you could pull up and lob tomatoes at a screen showing Creature Comforts while the Predator mimed giving and receiving pizza just out of shot. This is a weird game, but it increasingly seems to be a classic: a perfect hangout space with a very nippy Battle Royale stuck in the middle of it.

And with its next-gen upgrade, it's genuinely beautiful too, great lighting effects and a lovely draw distance blending with an art style that turned out to be the secret weapon. This is a game where anything goes, and nothing looks out of place. Just ask the Predator.

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Want to read more? See Fortnite's entry in our games of the decade series.

For more curated best-of lists like this, meanwhile, feel free to argue in the comments section of the following, too:

We've also got the latest updates on PS5 stock and where to buy it, if you're still hunting down a next-gen upgrade!

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