We’ve seen quite a fine launch line-up for action-adventure games on PS5. Between Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Immortals Fenyx Rising, Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition, and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales (Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered, too, if you bought the Ultimate Edition), we've had a lot to choose from.
These games won’t suit everyone’s tastes, but thankfully due to backwards compatibility on the PS5, next-gen owners can also take advantage of Sony’s enormous PS4 catalog. From Red Dead Redemption 2 to The Last of Us Part II, there’s no end of options to choose from.
Better yet, depending on the title, playing via PS5 can also offer better performance, increased resolution, and shorter loading times. Many titles can now be found on the cheap but some are completely free via the PS Plus Collection, which is exclusively available for PS5 owners, provided you’ve subscribed. As such, here are our top recommendations for the PS4 action-adventure games you should play first on PlayStation 5.
Shadow of the Colossus
There’s no denying that Shadow of the Colossus is an absolute classic. Focused on the story of Wander, we find our hero traveling across a strange land to slay Colossi, seeking to bring a girl named Mono back to life. Facing 16 of these giant creatures in total, each with their own specific weaknesses, and Wander has his work cut out for him.
Initially released on PS2 by Team Ico of (unsurprisingly) Ico and The Last Guardian fame, this remake was instead brought to us by Bluepoint Games, who recently undertook the PS5’s fantastic Demon’s Souls remaster. It’s incredibly faithful to the original, which isn’t always to its advantage, but there’s an unforgettable experience here you won’t want to miss.
In our review of the game, we said "Shadow of the Colossus is still a great game despite its game design becoming repetitive and the fact that some of its mechanics can be quite irksome. There still isn't a game out there that can match its dreary atmosphere, simple but effective storytelling, and outstanding boss fights. It's a one-of-a-kind game that still holds up and that PS4 owners should check out..."
Assassin's Creed Origins
Assassin’s Creed might be one of Ubisoft’s biggest franchises, but few could argue that when it reached Syndicate, it started getting rather stale. Having previously seen annual releases, Assassin's Creed Origins bucked the trend by skipping 2016 and releasing instead in 2017.
This time around, fans travel to ancient Egypt, with the narrative focusing on a centuries-old conflict between the forerunners to the Brotherhood of Assassins and the Templar Order. Incorporating an open-world style, it adopts more distinctly RPG-esque gameplay, which Odyssey and Valhalla later expanded upon.
Though it was criticized for poor pacing, critics considered it a necessary reboot to Ubisoft’s hit series and even now, it remains worth a look.
We said that, despite some technical issues, "Assassin's Creed: Origins is a fantastic game that takes all the best elements of the action-RPG genre, (such as hunting, crafting, archery, etc.) and gives you total freedom to use it all in the grand and absolutely gorgeous world of Ancient Egypt."
Days Gone arrived at a time when Zombie fatigue had set in for a lot of players, but as another free PS Plus Collection game, it deserves a second look. Developed by SIE Bend Studio, Days Gone takes place in the Pacific Northwest after millions have turned into zombies following a global pandemic that destroyed civilization.
Traveling across this open world via motorbike, you play as Deacon St. John, who discovers that his wife Sarah could still be alive. Of course, there's plenty of action to be found along the way.
Quite noticeably, Days Gone on PS5 is improved over its PS4 counterpart, now playable at 60fps with dynamic 4K resolution. So, if you were ever curious to try it out but haven't yet gotten around to it, playing Days Gone on PS5 is undoubtedly your best option yet.
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
We’ve all seen the argument over whether games can be considered art, but if there’s any game to make that case persuasively, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is certainly in the conversation. Taking its inspiration from Norse mythology and Celtic culture, this story revolves around Senua, a warrior intent on making her way to Helheim to save a loved one.
We strongly rated it at the time as "a unique game that intriguingly captures mental illness and offers a punishing-yet-fluid set of mechanics, all wrapped inside a compelling journey through a vibrant world." Hellblade was further praised by critics for its delicate handling of psychosis, helped by developer Ninja Theory’s work with those suffering from such conditions and mental health experts.
A sequel was announced last year, Senua's Saga: Hellblade II, though due to Microsoft’s acquisition of Ninja Theory in 2018, that one sadly won’t be making its way to PS5.
Remedy Entertainment have gained a dedicated following over the years because of the popularity of games such as Alan Wake, Quantum Break, and Max Payne. Now with Control, arguably their best title yet, they've connected them all via an intricate multiverse.
In Control, we play as Jesse Faden, who has been searching for her missing brother since they were separated as children. Being made the Director of the Federal Bureau of Control (FBC), Jesse's adventure takes us through the FBC’s headquarters, a.k.a The Oldest House, a building that can morph and change shape, reaching into alternate realities.
Finding The Oldest House under threat from a mysterious entity called The Hiss, one that’s infected nearly every one in the FBC headquarters, Jesse must fight her way to the truth using both guns and her supernatural powers.
Control packs a surprising challenge and we strongly recommend trying it out, saying "[it's] undoubtedly Remedy's biggest and weirdest game yet. In many ways, it's also their best, all while it paves the way for a Marvel-like connected universe."
It’s due to arrive on PS5 next year and comes as a free upgrade if you own the Ultimate Edition. In the meantime, it still plays beautifully via backwards compatibility on the PlayStation 4.
Ghost of Tsushima
Sucker Punch Productions established themselves with series like Sly Cooper and Infamous, so it was quite surprising when they revealed their next title after those would be an action game set within feudal Japan. Launched earlier this year, Ghost of Tsushima puts us in the role of Jin Sakai, a samurai warrior that seeking to fend off the Mongol Empire’s invasion of Tsushima Island.
Learning to defeat these tough invaders through both traditional and non-traditional means, stealth and direct conflict, Jin calls into question everything he thinks he knows and must decide between a rigid code of honor and saving his home.
Ghost of Tsushima's open world is one of the most beautiful on the PlayStation 4, and it's full of things to do, from liberating villages to writing haiku. Its story and mechanics ultimately make for another winning first-party game that’s well worth looking into. It helps that Ghost of Tsushima gets a performance boost on the PS5, running at 60fps for smoother gameplay, and recently saw the addition of co op multiplayer in Ghost of Tsushima Legends.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2 has been an undeniable success for Rockstar Games. Released back in 2018 and selling 34 million copies, this story is a prequel to the original Red Dead Redemption, where we take on the role of Arthur Morgan, member of the infamous Van Der Linde Gang.
Set in 1899 during the waning years of the Wild West, RDR2 shows the gang at its peak as federal agents track you down, tying into the story of Red Dead Redemption's John Marston.
Another open-world title, Red Dead Redemption 2 offers hundreds of hours of content. Whether it's the well-written narrative or one of the game's many free-roam activities, RDR2 is a game that players can come back to over and over again, finding, if not something new, something entertaining each and every time.
Like many other PS4 games on this list, we thoroughly enjoyed RDR2 and while it doesn't see a huge performance boost on PS5, players can expect to find improved load times and fewer framerate drops.
The Last of Us 2
Even now, months after release, The Last of Us 2 keeps making headlines. Recently mopping up at The Game Awards, winning seven of the 10 awards it was nominated for, including Game of the Year, it stands as one of 2020's best, and most divisive, games.
Experiencing some major story leaks and anti-progressive backlash, Naughty Dog’s juggernaut held firm back in June. Set four years after the first game, TLoU2 starts by showing fans that Ellie and Joel have built a new life in Jackson, Wyoming, but it's one that's soon turned upside down.
Without going into any spoilers, The Last of Us 2 features a story we called an “emotional rollercoaster” when we reviewed it earlier this year. While it doesn’t always land, its narrative and mechanics make it a spectacular experience that’s worth playing.
God of War
We’ve seen franchise reinventions before, but God of War gave us something that defied all expectations. Developed by SIE Santa Monica, 2018's pivot takes us away from ancient Greece to a quieter (and colder) Scandinavian setting, utilizing Norse mythology as its inspiration for a more nuanced tale.
Having destroyed the Greek gods, Kratos is a much older version of himself in God of War; he's started a new life in Midgard, and we find he now has a family. After his wife Faye’s tragic passing, Kratos and his son Atreus head on a journey to spread her ashes, incurring the wrath of Baldur in doing so.
Narratively rich and featuring some truly fantastic combat, God of War is one of the best games this decade. Since it's a complimentary game in the PlayStation Plus Collection for PS5, there's no excuse for not playing it. A sequel is expected next year, so there’s never been a better time to get started.
Horizon Zero Dawn
It's been almost four years since Horizon Zero Dawn first launched and honestly, it still holds up beautifully. Developed by Guerilla Games, it brought us a primal-futuristic adventure, where wild machines now roam a post-apocalyptic world. It follows the story of Aloy, an outcast shunned by her tribe, as she sets out to discover who she is.
With a group of cultists corrupting these machines, it’s up to Aloy to uncover what's destroying this wonderful world. Of course, she becomes entangled in a wider mystery that unravels the mysteries of this world in the process. It made for a fantastic adventure and with Horizon Forbidden West currently on track for a 2021 release, we’d highly recommend taking a look at the first game in preparation for it.
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
No one can deny how much Uncharted helped shaped the PS3-era for Sony and when Naughty Dog revealed a fourth game for the PS4, expectations were high. Released in 2016, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End takes place several years after the third game, seeing us play as a now-retired Nathan Drake, former treasure hunter.
Quickly finding himself pulled out of retirement, this adventure takes us on a search for Henry Avery’s long-lost treasure, taking Nathan all the way to Libertalla. It was yet another strong winner in our books and is another freebie via the PS Plus Collection. If you enjoyed A Thief’s End, you’d do well to also check out its standalone expansion, The Lost Legacy.
Batman: Arkham Knight
It’s strange to think that for a long time, Batman had quite a poor reputation with video game adaptations. That was until Rocksteady Studios came along. Having won over players with Batman: Arkham Asylum in 2009, we haven’t seen a new entry for five years now in this Arkham series but Batman: Arkham Knight made for the best one yet.
Set nine months after Arkham City, Gotham City is under attack from Scarecrow, who forces a citywide evacuation and is aided by the elusive Arkham Knight, all to try and finally defeat Batman. We thought it was one of the best Batman games yet and as a free PS Plus Collection game, there’s absolutely no excuse not to play.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
We’ve seen some mixed results from Star Wars since EA obtained the license but if there’s one game you shouldn’t ignore, it’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Taking place five years after Revenge of the Sith, we play as Cal Kestis, a Jedi Padawan who is being hunted by the Galactic Empire in the aftermath of their Jedi purge.
Marking the only action-adventure Star Wars title on last-gen consoles, this single-player experience wasn’t perfect but still offered a great time for fans. If you’re looking for a cheaper way to play, Fallen Order isn’t a PS Plus Collection game, but it is available via the EA Play subscription service at $4.99 a month, so that’s at least worth a browse.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Lara Croft will always be one of gaming’s most iconic protagonists and though Tomb Raider games haven’t always hit the mark, we found a damn fine effort within Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Launched in 2018 and developed by Eidos- Montréal, it marks the third entry in the rebooted franchise, following on from 2016’s Rise of the Tomb Raider.
This time around, Lara is traveling between Central and South America, exploring the lost Inca city of Paititi whilst fighting a paramilitary organization. We thought highly of it, though some critics believed that after three entries the formula was getting stale. Either way, if you aren’t tired of raiding tombs just yet, this adventure should prove quite satisfying.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
While we continue waiting on the elusive Elden Ring, it’s as good a time as any to take a look back at Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Developed by FromSoftware, it marked a departure from the studio’s previous work on Bloodborne and Dark Souls, featuring fewer RPG elements and no online multiplayer, though it, of course, retained the signature Soulslike difficulty of its predecessors.
Playing as the disgraced “one-armed wolf” during Japan’s 16th century Sengoku period, we find a tale of revenge as he goes after the samurai clan that attacked him and kidnapped his lord. Utilizing a retinue of refined ninja skills, stealth, and head-to-head combat, Sekiro is absolutely worth a look if you’re up to the challenge, but it’s not for the easy-going.
Do you agree with the games we've laid out here in this list? Sound off in the comments below.