PlayStation Plus has gone through a number of iterations and changes since it was first introduced. Originally, the service wasn’t required for online play at all, and rewarded subscribers with extra discounts and free monthly games. Once the PS4 generation began, it was required for online play, but still offered those same benefits. Eventually Sony introduced PlayStation Now, a streaming and download service for PS4, PS3, and some PS2 games for a separate subscription price. While rocky at launch, this service would eventually become great, though clearly in need of some kind of rebranding to get people interested.
Now, PS Plus and PS Now have been combined into three different tiers of subscriptions to keep everything under one unified PS Plus brand. The basic tier, PS Plus Essential, still gets three games per month added, while the Extra and Premium tiers will have a varying amount added to their catalogues. Starting with hundreds of games already, and more coming in and out all the time, even the most dedicated gamer won’t be able to play everything. To get the most bang for your buck, and so that no hidden gems go under your radar, here are all the best games to play on PS Plus Essential, Extra, and Premium right now.
Best PS Plus Essential games
As is usually the case, everyone with the lowest tier of PS Plus get three games this month: two PS4 titles and one PS4 and PS5 game. Here’s what you can play this month:
The reboot of the classic series that scored near perfect reviews and sold millions is free… again? Technically this game was already part of the PS Plus Collection, but that perk is only available to PS5 owners, making this the first time the game is fully available to download for PS4 owners who just have PS Plus. Play as the god of war himself in a new, Norse-inspired realm, as Kratos travels with his son on an intimate journey through the wilds. This reboot doesn’t require you to know the prior games, though it does lend more weight to the story.
Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Striker
Believe it! This game bucks the usual 3D fighting trend of past Naruto games, and most anime fighters in general, to focus on 4v4 online battles. You can pick and play as your favorite characters from the hit anime, all with their unique and iconic outfits and ninjutsu. This is the base game, but if you like it, there’s tons of DLC you can add on to expand the package.
Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl (PS4/PS5)
Last up, just in time for the update that adds voice acting, is the Smash clone that lets you play as all your favorite Nick-toons. If you’re familiar with the Smash formula, you’ll be right at home here. Boasting a cast that includes SpongeBob, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Invader Zim, and deeper cuts like Powdered Toast Man and Oblina.
Best PS Plus Extra games
The Extra tier is where you can download and play a massive library of both PS4 and PS5 titles. These games cycle in and out every month, though you never know how many will be added or removed at a given time. Here are some of the best ones available right now:
Demon’s Souls (PS5)
Souls games have never been more popular, and this is a remake of the game that really started it all. Not only is this remake just astoundingly beautiful to look at, but is as mechanically faithful to the original as possible. The only changes are to quality-of-life features, leaving the challenge of besting the levels, and bosses, all on your shoulders. It’s a little clunky in some ways, but holds up remarkably well for a game over a decade old thanks to the new coat of paint.
Sticking on the Souls train, we have the other PlayStation exclusive from developer FromSoftware, the fan favorite that they refuse to update in any way: Bloodborne. This title is much more focused on aggression than the others in the series, as well as boasting a unique and detailed world that just oozes with mysteries and intrigue. You usually can’t tell where a Souls game’s story is going anyway, but this game goes places you’d still never guess.
Death Stranding: Director’s Cut (PS5)
Hideo Kojima’s first game after breaking up with Konami was about as off the wall as everyone expected it to be. While some dismiss it as a walking simulator, the act of walking, climbing, scrambling, and tumbling across treacherous, but stunning, landscapes is actually far more engaging than it may look. In many ways, it is quite a therapeutic experience, so don’t come expecting a high-action thriller (though there are moments of it here and there). The story is uneven, but the highs are very high, making it a journey worth taking.
Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4)
Perhaps the biggest new IP of the PS4 generation, and with the sequel recently released, this is the perfect way to get caught up on this robot dinosaur hunting adventure. Even though it’s from 2017, this game still looks amazing. You get a nice, big open world to explore, although there are some frustrating limitations on just how far you’re allowed to carve your own path, along with hours of quests and tasks to complete. If you’re excited for the sequel, or the VR spinoff coming soon, you absolutely need to start here.
Red Dead Redemption 2 (PS4)
If you ever wanted to know what it was like the actually live in the Old West, Red Dead Redemption 2 would probably be the closest you could get to that experience. Set before the events of the previous game, you play as Arthur Morgan, a member of Dutch’s old gang. Being a Rockstar title, you can expect a fantastic, albeit very guided, main story across dozens of hours, locations, and mission varieties. On the other hand, the entire open world is yours to explore on horseback, soaking in the beauty of an untamed west.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales (PS4/PS5)
As it turns out, this slightly smaller-scale Spider-Man tale is the perfect size for a game like this. Acting as an introduction to playing as Miles’ Spider-Man, this game redecorates the entire map from the base game in a winter setting, adds new side missions and events, plus a gripping and personal story that could only work for Miles’ character. Everything you loved about the first game is back, from the swinging, combat, and upgrades to collectables and suits to unlock. This is a full on Spider-Man experience in a tight package that doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut (PS5)
It’s reductive to say, but if you wanted an Assassin’s Creed style game set in Japan, you need to check out Ghost of Tsushima. The game is so much more than that, however, thanks to a strong narrative with strong characters and an open world that doesn’t waste your time with hundreds of collectibles and repeated side content. The main point of discussion this game brought up was its use of a guiding wind to direct players rather than waypoints and mini-maps. By simply following the direction of the wind, you can fully focus on your samurai quest across the stunning island of Tsushima.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (PS4/PS5)
While we did rag on Assassin’s Creed games a moment ago, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a time or place for them. Sometimes a big, fat, checklist-style game is just what you want, and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is the best of the bunch. You get an enormous world, tons of skills to unlock, gear to find, upgrades to unlock, and hours upon hours of content in the base game alone. While the story of these games have kind of fallen to the wayside, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla ramps it up with great combat and traversal, plus a setting not often seen in gaming.
Control: Ultimate Edition (PS4/PS5)
If you’ve ever spent the entire night reading through those fascinating SCP documents, or other creepypastas, online, then you’ll love Control. Set in the Federal Bureau of Control building, you explore a non-euclidean space filled with people corrupted by something called the Hiss. Along the way you will pick up dozens of documents detailing psychic objects and phenomena that are all deeply interesting. Oh, and the metroidvania-style third-person shooting is very satisfying as well. With the Ultimate Edition, you also get all the DLC, including one that ties in with Alan Wake ahead of its upcoming sequel.
Hollow Knight (PS4)
The competition for best indie game is essentially impossible to determine, but Hollow Knight would no doubt be on the short list for contenders. This game mixes a hand-drawn art style with buttery smooth movement, Souls-like combat, narrative, and boss fights, and a massive metroidvania map. This is a game you can get to an ending in within 20 hours, or spend twice that exploring every inch and tackling every challenge it has to offer. While it is a world of insects, it plays and looks so good you won’t want to leave it.
Coming from developer Housemarque’s arcade shooter roots, Returnal transplants the gameplay of a bullet-hell game into a third-person shooter with rogue-lite elements. That may sound like a little bit of a mess, but it all comes together in a smooth, satisfying, but testing game. Running through randomly generated rooms, you will blast some of the most bizarre creature designs ever animated in fluid 60 FPS action, picking up new tools, and slowly completing each zone and learning a bit more about the story. Runs are not as short as your traditional rogue-lite, and there isn’t a huge amount of synergies to discover, but the core movement and shooting is so good you’ll be pulled through to see Selene’s journey to the finish.
The Premium tier’s exclusive games are all the PS1, PS2, PSP, and PS3 games you can download and stream. The lineup of PS1, PS2, and PSP games was fairly limited at launch, but will grow as new games are added monthly. For that retro hit, here are the best games from past generations to try out.
Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits (Download)
Arc the Lad is a long-running, but criminally overlooked JRPG series. The PS2 entry, Twilight of the Spirits, is a great game with an amazing concept: You play as two brothers who are each human-deimos hybrids raised in different parts of the world. Deimos are the monster society of the world that uses magic, while humans use technology, but both racially judge the other. The journey swaps back and forth between these two perspectives, each overcoming their own plots until they finally intersect and have to put their biases aside to face a true evil. It’s great JRPG storytelling with a fantastic battle system.
Bioshock Remastered (Download)
If you haven’t played Bioshock, now there’s no excuse. The underwater dystopia of Rapture is still a magical, if not terrifying, location to explore. While it is something of a spiritual successor to the System Shock games, Bioshock is still a linear experience for the most part, with experimentation more limited to combat than other aspects. Even so, aside from a slightly annoying hacking mini-game, this game holds up extremely well, and the remastered version only enhances the experience.
Ape Escape (Download)
One of the first games to require the dual analogue controls of the original DualShock controller, Ape Escape is a charming action-puzzle game that helped put PlayStation on the map in its infancy. You run around trying to recapture escaped apes using various tools to snare them. Of course this is still a PS1 game, so don’t expect the visuals to hold up, and the controls are slightly clunky, but completely serviceable. You may not be so engrossed that you beat the whole thing, but it is certainly worth a download for nostalgia’s sake.
Tekken 2 (Download)
OK, it may not be Tekken 3, but it is basically the next best thing. When fighters started to go in the 3D direction, the Tekken games paved the way and showed the rest how it was done. The roster of characters remain not only iconic but wildly diverse and fun. This fighter is deep but also very approachable for those who aren’t veterans to fighting games since you don’t have to memorize tons of motions or commands to have a good time.
Wild Arms (Download)
JRPGs with an Old West setting are basically nonexistent, but Wild Arms paved the way for this odd mishmash of cultures in a fantastic JRPG that old-school fans will absolutely love. You play as a trio of characters, letting you get to know each of them intimately, with each having their own ability to use outside of battle for traversal and puzzle solving. It features a classic turn-based battle system, but with a dynamic camera thanks to being in 3D, and plenty of strategy and depth to work out. It isn’t the longest game, either, making it an easy entry point to JRPGs as a whole.
The first game by the developer of the same name, ICO is cited more than almost any other game as being a primary inspiration to some of the biggest games today. This game came before the same developer’s Shadow of the Colossus, and because of that is often overlooked But it’s just as emotionally resonant and will give you that same sense of loneliness, wonder, and curiosity. You play as a horned boy who is locked away in a castle as a kind of sacrifice, only to attempt and escape with a young girl you find there. Neither of you speak the same language, so you travel around holding hands and fending off shadowy monsters with not much more than a stick trying to find a way to freedom.
This one is for all you FPS lovers out there. F.E.A.R. is a strange concept of a horror FPS where the shooting is actually some of the best still to this day. This is all thanks to the implementation of slo-mo, which is not as rare as it was when this game first came out, but even now some shooters still get the feel of it wrong. In F.E.A.R., every bullet, every impact, animation, dust particle, and crack of your gun just looks and feels amazing. The environments are a bit bland by today’s standards, but only because they’re so reactive to everything you do in them. If you want to shove a shotgun into an enemy soldier’s gut, flick on slow-mo, and watch them turn into a cloud of red mist, F.E.A.R. remains the best way to do it.