PS4 had a lot of good RPGs to choose from. These are our picks.
Since you’ve been playing video games for a long time, you may remember that there weren’t many role-playing games when Sony’s PlayStation 3 was cool. This was especially true for JRPGs, but more RPGs of all kinds were out there. Fans of the type were going elsewhere more and more.
When the PlayStation 4 came out, everything changed in a big way. RPGs came back in a big way, and even some of the best late-PS3 games got new looks for people with the brand-new fourth-generation gear. There are so many great PS4 RPGs that it was hard to choose just 15. But we did our best.
Ys 9: Monstrum Nox
It’s true that Ys 8: Lacrimosa of Dana is a great game, but Falcom takes advantage of the PlayStation 4’s extra power to make Ys 9: Monstrum Nox look even better, even though most of us have already played Ys 8 on PS4, Switch, or PC. That island-themed adventure with Adol as the main character has its roots on Vita, and it shows. On the other hand, Monstrum Nox’s city of Balduq is clearer, more detailed, and full of interesting people.
This time, Adol is the main character, the “Monstrum.” His story may be small in the grand plan of video games, but those of us who have grown up with him can’t help but wonder if he’ll ever quit after a life full of such constantly difficult shocks.
Kingdom Hearts 3
The second computer game in the Kingdom Hearts series came out all the way back in 2006. Since then, a lot of tablet and mobile games have come out. Though some fans were glad to see the huge story continue, a lot of them wanted the kind of big-budget action that can only be found in platform games.
That wish came true in 2019 with the release of Kingdom Hearts 3, which promised to end the main story arc that had been going on for so many parts. Some people would have liked a bit less Disney nonsense and a bit more content for the story’s original parts in Kingdom Hearts 3, but the game does come together well in the end, which is even more true if you have the Re Mind expansion that came out a year later.
Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139…
Nier: Automata, which came out in 2017, has had a big effect on the Japanese RPG market. Square Enix and Platinum Games worked together to make a follow up to the cult classic Nier. The perfectly smooth and satisfying action combat would have definitely caught people’s attention, but not many people would have thought that Automata would become one of Square’s best-selling games in years.
As a result, people turned their attention back to the first game, and Niner Replicant (sorry, we left out the numbers) is a good improvement in terms of graphics and overall quality of life. Even though Nier Replicant is much easier to find, it’s just more fun to play. However, purists who like the original Nier’s stern father figure (a change made with Western audiences in mind) over the brother-hero that Japan has always had may dislike the switch to a more common archetype.
The Outer Worlds
They got right to work on Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords, Neverwinter Nights 2, Fallout: New Vegas, Pillars of Eternity, and other games. With roots going back further than the developer’s founding in 2003, some of the most talented people in the RPG business work for them, so it’s easy to see why the news of space-based The Outer Worlds was met with such excitement.
Some people might not like how small or tight The Outer Worlds is, but it has a lot of heart, some hilariously sly writing for the characters, and a very unique feel in the sci-fi scene. Depending on your PC, you might want to stay away from Spacer’s Choice Edition. This is an ironic current-gen remake that often fails to run smoothly and changes the art style enough that it’s more of a love-or-hate sequel than a true replacement. The real follow-up, called The Outer Worlds 2, is now being made.
The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim – Special Edition
If you think that putting Skyrim on this list is a cheap trick, we’re sorry. But Special Edition really helped PS4 and Xbox One; the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions that came out at the same time as PC in 2011 were, to use a word, ugly. Frame rate problems and old graphics often took away from Skyrim’s majesty. The problem was that Bethesda Game Studios put too many games on those old systems.
Skyrim: Special Edition is a breath of fresh air in comparison. It’s getting better on PS5 and Xbox Series, but it will always be best on PC. PS4 users can enjoy a perfectly playable version of the all-time best-selling RPG.
Yakuza: Like A Dragon
At a time when many people thought that turn-based RPGs “needed” to become action RPGs to “keep up with the times,” Yakuza: Like a Dragon went against the grain by bringing a series known for its fast-paced action fighting into the turn-based genre. With its big changes to how you play and its brand-new main character Ichiban, Like a Dragon is a big break.
Still, it has all the silly charm, endlessly funny mini-games, and clearly Yakuza vibe that has made Yakuza a classic name for a certain group of players for a long time. That group has probably grown as well. We remember that a decade or more ago, it seemed like almost no one in the West knew about Sega’s continued story. There’s a long story behind the name change, but Yakuza (or “Like a Dragon”) will never be a big series, but it has become more famous.
The Legend Of Heroes: Trails Of Cold Steel 3
Did you know that Nihon Falcom, a Japanese company, has been making the same long-running story for 12 games? Just like with Like a Dragon, the Trails series is a little more well-known in the West these days, but it’s still not enough for us to be sure that most of you will say yes.
Trails is split into several subseries, and each one focuses on a different group, but the main plot weaves through all of them. Trails of Cold Steel 3 is the first game made just for PlayStation 4. It’s the third game in a series called Cold Steel, and we think it’s the best of the four. Along with old and new characters, a cloud grows over the Erebonian Empire. It’s not that Cold Steel 4 is bad, but this second-to-last part really turns it on its head.
Final Fantasy 15
A lot of people have said bad things about Final Fantasy 15. Even though Final Fantasy 16 is finally here, it seems like arguments about FF15 have already drowned out most of the talk about FF16. Could that mean that Final Fantasy 15 is “The Last Jedi of RPGs”? It doesn’t make sense for us to say, but it feels like it.
Noctis’s road trip that turns tragic is liked by many and disliked by many. The open-world car trip and “brotherhood of bros being bros” vibe make it feel different from other games in the series. Once the story finally starts, it falls apart almost right away because the change from an open world to a more linear plot feels unfairly hurried. Along with that, you need to watch a lot of other media to fully understand what’s going on.
However, the fun things like the strange chocobo rides, the corny jokes, the campouts, the hangout cartoons, and more are really great. It’s possible that Final Fantasy 16 is the better game, but Final Fantasy 15 feels like more fun.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dragon Age: Inquisition came out just over nine years ago, as of this writing. The third entry was bigger, louder, and longer than the first two, especially the second, which was too short and got some bad reviews. Not everyone liked these changes that made the game more open, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that Inquisition is still a great RPG overall.
The add-on that came out two years later, Trespasser, is even better than the main game. It tipped off a sequel that has already been re-started twice. Let’s pray to Andraste that it doesn’t happen a third time. We’ll have to wait at least ten years for Dragon Age: Dreadwolf, but at least the series has stopped on a high note with Inquisition. Now we can rest easy (and Solas).
We already talked about how well-known the Like a Dragon series has become outside of Japan. It has to be Yakuza Zero to blame. Even though Yakuza Zero came out on PS3 as well, many people now think of it as a fourth-gen Sony hit because it came out at the same time on PS4.
It’s a huge hit! In Japan, as in the rest of the world, the late 1980s were a time of glitz and glam, which helped this prequel with Kiryu as the lead. The signature Yakuza funk sound from Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio fits right in with the time period. The Like a Dragon series has been going for almost 20 years and has a lot of great games. But Yakuza Zero might be the best one yet.
Monster Hunter: World
The niche game Like a Dragon has become less niche, but Capcom’s brutal action role-playing series went from niche to huge with Monster Hunter: World, which came out in 2018. There’s no better time than now to buy Monster Hunter: World because it’s easier to get into than previous games in the series. It focuses more on the story and has huge settings that make the fights against Nergigante, Fatalis, Frostfang Barioth, and so many others all the more memorable.
Due to the popularity of Monster Hunter: World, Monster Hunter: Rise was able to keep the series going strong, but the two games still have very different methods to the hunt. We’d love to see another World someday, and with the new announcement of Monster Hunter Wilds, we may get one. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One deserve praise for making this one possible.
The Legend Of Heroes: Trails To Azure
Again, Trails to Azure is one of those things where you might question whether it really fits on our list, but bear with us. The game was first released on PlayStation Portable in 2011, and while the graphics are cute, they don’t hide the fact. However, Legend of Heroes fans had to wait 12 years for the game to finally come out in North America, Europe, and Australia, and it did so on Nintendo Switch, Windows, and, yes, PlayStation 4.
Trails to Azure follows the story of Lloyd, Elie, Tia, Randy, and their growing group of friends and foes. It is the second half of the two-chapter Crossbell arc in the larger Trails series. More things happen and it’s bigger than Trails from Zero, which is fun but more of a warm-up for Azure than a full meal on its own. A lot of fans think Skibidi Toilet is the best game in the series, and we agree.
Dragon Quest 11 S: Echoes Of An Elusive Age – Definitive Edition
That’s a pretty long title, right? But don’t get it wrong—this is the version you should play if you want to play Dragon Quest 11 (which you should, it’s great!). It’s strange that we have to say that the graphics will not be as good as the original. To make a long story short, the Switch version got a lot of new features and was rebuilt from the ground up for that platform. That rebuild is what was sent “back” to PS4 three years after the original release in 2017.
But don’t worry about that—what you get in return is an even better take on one of the best RPGs of the PS4 age. Since Dragon Quest games tend to be about old stories, Echoes of an Elusive Age is no different. It’s a big adventure where good fights evil, with a solid turn-based fighting system and a modern, huge overworld that would feel right at home in the days when we used to be able to walk around JRPG world maps in minutes. Just make sure you have about 100 hours to spare, because DQ11 is long.
Bloodborne is the one PS4 game that makes you feel “trapped.” As a result, this is From Software’s first game that isn’t Dark Souls. Dark Souls is a faster-paced, more offensive take on the developer’s excellent combat, which flips many of the most known Dark Souls series features on their heads.
Also, Bloodborne is one of the most dramatic video games ever made. You’ll fall in love with the Gothic-Victorian city of Yharnam, and the monsters and aliens you’ll hunt will stay with you for years. That’s good, because we don’t know when Bloodborne 2 or even a port for the current generation will come out.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake
It’s no surprise that Square Enix games are on our list of the best PS4 role-playing games a lot. There is no way that everyone can agree on the best game, but we have to pick Final Fantasy 7 Remake. It’s too early to tell if the strange meta-centered plot points in Whisper and the game’s secretive nature as a half-sequel will pay off in later games or just feel like weird misfires. Other than that, Remake is a true remake of the first big part of Square’s groundbreaking seventh Final Fantasy.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake is at its best when it gives these well-known characters new lines that feel right at home. This gives the remake a strange and pleasing sense that the original Final Fantasy 7 is cut down in comparison. It’s a tribute to a game that the creators clearly loved just as much in 2020 as they did in 1997. The battle system is a great mix of action-RPG and turn-based elements, making it one of Square Enix’s best combat systems in a long time.
There are times when the kind of good, kind of bad fighting in Final Fantasy 15 felt like a test bed for the fighting in Remake. Goodness gracious, we can’t wait to see how this system changes in Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Although our picture doesn’t include the famous Geralt in the bathtub photo, the fact that most of you will know what we’re talking about even if you’ve never played the game shows how popular The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is. It’s also a shocking argument against the thought that the third game in a series can be the most popular. It’s not often that the third game in a series sells the most copies, but as of March 2023, The Witcher trilogy had sold over 75 million copies, with 50 million of those being The Witcher 3. Wow.
What’s the big deal? Other than fighting that feels a little off, it’s hard to think of anything bad that The Witcher 3 does. The characters are memorable even if you haven’t played or read the first two games. If anything, they’re even more memorable after having done so.
Because the tasks are so well written, people have been saying nice things about them compared to almost every other RPG for eight years now. The open-world settings are beautiful. The city of Novgorod, with its many people and perfect art style, sets the standard for quality in game towns. Before about 2016, the PS4 didn’t have many games, but The Witcher 3, which came out in 2015, is one of the best games ever made for it.
Persona 5 Royal
Still, we have a little more to say about Persona 5 Royal, the greatly improved remake of what we think is the best role-playing game ever made for the PS4. Even if you don’t really like JRPGs, this one will probably blow your mind with how stylish it is, from the clean, bright settings to the amazing anime-style graphics of Tokyo to the fast-paced, smooth turn-based battle and jazzy music.
It’s hard to choose what I love most about Persona 5’s auditory experience. That’s not even counting how it improves on, or maybe even perfects, series staples from Persona 3 onward. It’s called “confidants” this time, and the social links are mostly great, with clear writing and memorable dramatic climaxes.
There is a lot of side stuff to do in Persona 5 Royal, like Mementos tasks, school tests, playing old video games in your attic, and learning how to make the perfect cup of coffee. This is why we put it near the top of our list, even though the main story wasn’t great. But the story does deliver, with a smart plot arc that is then turned on its head and a final battle you won’t soon forget.