In the second of our articles celebrating six months of the PlayStation 4, we’re taking a look at one of the major driving forces behind the console: PlayStation Plus. Unlike with the PS3 and Vita, PS+ was built into the PS4 experience from the beginning, so early adopters have already been treated to seven titles. But how do the past six months of games stack up under PS4 Attitude’s scrutiny, and what can we expect from the service in the future?
As if to show that it was serious about PlayStation Plus on PS4, Sony gave one of the console’s best launch games away for free on day one. Housemarque’s cylindrical shoot ‘em up Resogun was lauded by critics and gamers alike for its stunning particle effects, lightning-fast gameplay and sheer addictiveness. Make no mistake: if for some reason you didn’t have a PS+ subscription at the launch of the PlayStation 4, then you missed out on a real treat.
Brought in as a last-minute replacement for the delayed Driveclub: PlayStation Plus Edition, the puzzle-platformer Contrast is a lot better than many reviews would have you believe. Yes, it’s short, and there are a handful of glitches to avoid, but the game’s clever use of light and shadow, as well as its mix of 2D and 3D gameplay mean that it might just pleasantly surprise you. It definitely had potential, so we hope Compulsion Games is looking into making a sequel.
Don’t Starve: Console Edition
Nothing strikes fear into the hearts of modern gamers like the word ‘permadeath’, so it’s interesting that Klei Entertainment based an entire game around it. When you start Don’t Starve, you’re dropped into a randomly generated world populated with hostile creatures and mysterious items, and tasked with surviving for as long as possible. As the name implies, starvation is also a constant threat, as is insanity, which all adds up to a game that only the truly dedicated will ever master.
Even before its release on PC last year, Outlast was already gaining a reputation as one of the scariest survival horror games of recent years; and for good reason. As you’d expect, there are a number of (consistently effective) jump scares, but developer Red Barrels also makes excellent use of its setting – the thankfully fictional Mount Massive insane asylum – as well as a number of truly terrifying antagonists, to create a game that is very difficult to play with the lights turned off.
Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition
Essentially just a PS4 port of a three-and-a-half-year-old PS3 game, Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition is arguably the console’s most disappointing PlayStation Plus game so far; especially considering that many gamers will already own the PS3 version from the PSN hack’s Welcome Back package. That said, top-down shooter Dead Nation is still certainly worth a play on PS4, and the inclusion of the addictive Road to Devastation DLC increases the game’s longevity significantly.
Mercenary Kings should look instantly familiar to anyone who has played a Metal Slug title, as Tribute Games’ first console project has more than a little in common with the classic run and gun series; from the military theme and dark humour, to the 2D graphics and high level of difficulty. Although the whole game can be played in singleplayer only, our advice is to bring a few friends along for the journey, as you’ll find things are a lot less frustrating!
Stick it to the Man!
Stick it to the Man is one of those rare games that ends up being awesome, even though you had absolutely zero ideas of what to expect. Part platformer, part point-and-click adventure, Zoink Games’ debut console title stars the hapless Ray, who suffers an unfortunate head injury at the start of the game, and soon after finds that he can read people’s minds. It’s genuinely funny, with surprisingly great voice-acting, so we thoroughly recommend giving this one a download.
Although many of the games that have been free on PlayStation Plus aren’t quite AAA in quality, it would take an extremely picky gamer to be disappointed with them. The seven titles we’ve seen so far represent a number of different genres and styles, so if you’re not a fan of one game, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy the next. The fact is that, after six months, your £40 annual subscription has already got you a collection of games worth nearly £90; with plenty more to come in the future, including Driveclub: PlayStation Plus Edition and The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth.
As the PS4’s game library and user base grow, then obviously the console’s Instant Game Collection will too. Around 70 games are already available for the system, so we predict it shouldn’t be too long before we start seeing big blockbuster games that we’ve come to expect from the service on other Sony consoles. After all, today’s PlayStation Plus on PS3 is hugely different to the one that launched four years ago, so we can only imagine what it will look like on PS4 in a year or two’s time.