Best PS5 games Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi’s round-up the best P55 games you can buy in 2021.
While the PS4 launched with something of a whimper in technical terms, boasting support for neither 4K nor HDR, the new PS5 is vastly more cutting edge (here's where to buy a PS5). In fact, Sony's next-gen supports features such as 4K at 120Hz and (following an upcoming firmware update) variable refresh rates (VRR) that actually track ahead of what most current TVs can manage.
Impressively, even though the PS5 is still practically a newborn in game console terms, there are already a number of games available for it that leverage its power to deliver true next-generation experiences guaranteed to put the best TVs, surround sound systems, and headphones through their paces.
We've played through the PS5’s current gaming crop in search of the most dazzling AV experiences the console has to offer. Get a few of the games we recommend here in your collection and any residual guilt you may be feeling about splurging so much money on your new PS5 will instantly evaporate into the 4K mist. Just don’t blame us if you end up deciding you need to upgrade your TV as well.
Read on, for our pick of the best PS5 games for picture and sound...
Call Of Duty: Black Ops Cold War (4K, HDR, 120Hz, Sony 3D audio)
The latest instalment in the Call Of Duty series pushes the PS5’s graphics engine to some pretty extreme places.
For starters, it supports 4k at 120Hz in high dynamic range (HDR) - and we can confirm that this makes an enormous difference to the gaming experience. Especially during online play, where panning around the gorgeously rendered maps at speed with so much more fluidity genuinely makes you a better player.
You can also choose to play at 60Hz, where you get more textures and subtle details. At 60Hz you also have the option to turn on ray tracing, which subtly introduces more sophisticated lighting to make some locations look slightly more three-dimensional and realistic. We preferred this option while playing the Campaign.
Supporting Cold War’s crisp, detailed and engagingly solid graphics is a PS5 3D Audio mix that proves emphatically that Sony’s new sound system can do bombast as well as atmosphere.
Demon’s Souls (4K, HDR, 60Hz, Sony 3D audio)
The PS5 remake of PS3 hit Demon’s Souls recreates the game’s spectacular and haunting fantasy world from the ground up to take full advantage of the new console’s vastly superior capabilities.
The graphics can run in two modes: native 4K at 30fps, or 60fps running at native 1440p resolution but upscaled to 4K. Pixel gluttons that we are, we're happy to sacrifice a little aiming precision in favour of the native 4K setting - though in truth the dark beauty and epic scale of Demon’s Souls’ impressively varied settings is as irresistible as the game’s difficulty is brutal.
Joining the stunning visuals is the finest use yet of Sony’s new 3D Audio sound design (only available via headphones for now). This encases you in a gorgeously rich, evocative and detailed audio environment that elevates the experience from irresistible to inescapable. Which in this case classes as a very good thing.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales (4K, HDR, 60Hz, Sony 3D audio)
If you thought swinging through New York at the end of a web was glorious on the PS4, wait till you experience it on the PS5.
The PS5 version of Miles Morales introduces ray tracing at 4K/30fps, or 4K/60fps with no ray tracing - and both options are pretty transformative.
The extra realism and beauty provided by the ray tracking and extra detailing available at 30Hz is truly a sight to behold - an aesthetic experience we found hard to let go of until we’d spent a good few hours just exploring the landscape.
Sightseeing over, though, switching to 60Hz injects more adrenaline into your web-swinging antics that feels better suited to pursuing the game’s actually quite focused story.
A solid 3D Audio mix rounds out the sense that you’re hurtling around a living, breathing city, with plenty of well placed whooshes, traffic noises and the like.
Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla (4K, HDR, 60Hz, Sony 3D Audio)
While Odyssey remains the all-round most sumptuous and evocative world in the Assassin’s Creed canon, Valhalla delivers a stirring showcase of what the PS5’s new graphics engine can do. Compared with the glitchy PS4 version, pretty much every aspect of the presentation looks better, from its lighting effects and colour dynamism through to a clear uptick in texture and resolution that helps the landscapes feel consistently more grand and the horizon feel that bit more distant.
Following a recent update you can now choose between a more detailed 4K at 30fps mode and a more fluid but lower native resolution 60Hz mode. It’s a tough choice between the two, but probably the 60Hz option has the edge - at least if you’re about to go into a combat situation.
Valhalla’s 3D Audio track is immersive and detailed too - albeit a bit ‘low-fi’ at times compared with some rivals.
Dirt 5 (4K, HDR, 120Hz, Sony 3D Audio)
Codemaster’s latest arcade racer offers three different graphics modes on the PS5. The most exciting on paper is the 120Hz one, which duly delivers high speed racing around the game’s varied and HDR-enhanced tracks with really breathtaking fluidity and stability.
While you should definitely try the 120Hz mode, though, if your TV supports it, to see just how buttery smooth racing games can get, the step up in detail and effects you get by changing to the 60Hz Resolution mode provides the most all-round most gorgeous ‘next gen’ experience.
The Image Quality mode, finally, marginally increases detail and effects even more, but drops frame rates a little too much for comfort.
Dirt 5 features some surprisingly effective use of Sony’s 3D Audio system, too, in the way ambient effects around the track feel almost surreally accurately positioned in your headphones.
Sackboy: A Big Adventure (4K, HDR, 60Hz, Sony 3D Audio)
Unless you’re Nintendo, platformers - especially launch-day platformers - don’t typically prove to be spectacular showcases of a new generation of gaming hardware’s capabilities. Sackboy: A Big Adventure, though, is a gorgeous exception to this rule.
Its ultra polished 4K visuals bring the charm of Sony’s miniature hero to life like never before, while the addition of some lovely HDR lighting and effects gives joyously full expression to the gleefully varied levels Sackboy finds himself jumping around in. Best of all, everything runs so slickly at a seemingly locked 60Hz that it ruins platforming at lower frame rates forever.
As you’d expect with an ‘inhouse’ Sony release, the irresistibly cute graphics are joined by a detailed, pristine 3D Audio mix that makes Sackboy’s adventures feel even more endearing.
Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition (4K, HDR, 120Hz, Sony 3D Audio)
The shiny new edition of Devil May Cry 5 offers so many graphics options that it almost feels like it was deliberately designed to showcase the many strings to the PS5’s graphics bow.
Remarkably you can choose to engage in epic combat at 120Hz if you wish - though while this feels luxurious at its best, it doesn’t feel especially stable right now. Maybe the arrival of variable refresh rate support will make this mode more effective.
There’s also an option to deploy ray tracing in 4K at 30Hz. Though for some reason this doesn’t add as much to the experience as you might expect. Which leaves the pretty much glitch-free, super-slick and impeccably detailed 4K/60Hz option as the way to go.
Sony’s 3D Audio system is on hand once more, too. And in this case it helps you figure out where different demons might be hiding better than the ‘standard’ audio you get without your headphones on.
NBA 2K21 (4K, HDR, 60Hz)
The annual NBA 2K updates have always tended to look cutting edge on whatever generation of hardware they appear on. NBA 2K21 keeps this tradition rolling in spectacular style.
It runs at a stable native 4K resolution at 60Hz, for starters. This - together with uncannily realistic new animation standards and a clear boost in the way lighting effects are applied - makes the game look even more photorealistic than it’s ever looked before. As if you’re watching an actual 4K sports broadcast.
There’s nothing particularly new going on with NBA 2K21’s audio, but you’ll be too busy ogling the graphics to care.
Borderlands 3 (4K, HDR, 120Hz, Sony 3D Audio)
Its mixture of memorable characters, fast action, anarchic humour and beautifully stylised graphics made Borderlands 3 a 2020 gaming highlight even before the next-gen consoles arrived. The upgrades it enjoys on the PS5, though, make it nothing short of heroic.
In theory the most exciting addition is the new 120Hz mode. This reduces resolution to Full HD, but a game as frantic as Borderlands 3 is crying out to be played at such elevated frame rates. Unfortunately, though, the game struggles to hold on to 120Hz - and there’s currently no variable refresh rate support that might help out.
Happily, the 4K 60Hz mode is a more than acceptable compromise. The frame rate feels more stable and still makes combat way more enjoyable than it is on the older consoles. And while the game deploys a dynamic resolution system, the extra eye candy it delivers versus the HD 120Hz mode is abundantly clear.
Sony’s 3D Audio system rounds out Borderlands 3’s showcase potential by doing a great job of helping you hear where enemies are shooting/approaching from. As a result, you’re able to use the onscreen map less and focus all your death-dealing vision on the action instead.
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