PlayStation Plus has gone through several 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 PlayStation 4 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 it was 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 catalogs. 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 gets three games this month: two with PS5 versions and one with a PS4 version. Here’s what you can play this month:
Nioh 2 (PS4, PS5)
The big hitter for this month is the most popular of the Souls-inspired games, Nioh 2. This includes the base version of the game for PS4 players, as well as the remastered edition for PS5 owners. This entry lets you create your custom character to face off against deadly Yokai in ancient Japan during the Sengoku period. Collect, experiment with, upgrade, and master hundreds of weapons of various qualities that drop from foes while mastering the fast yet deliberate and punishing combat system.
Lego Harry Potter Collection (PS4)
If you somehow missed or just want to relive the Harry Potter experience, this is your one-stop solution. This package bundles years one through seven together so you can follow Harry and his friends on all their adventures in Hogwarts, only presented in Lego form. Lego games are notoriously full of content and a blast to play in co-op, and Lego Harry Potter Collection is no exception.
Heavenly Bodies (PS4, PS5)
Ever want to experience what it would be like to try to live and work in space? If so, Heavenly Bodies will either completely dash those dreams or just give you a good laugh. Either way, this physics-based game puts you in the shoes (or space boots) of various astronauts in different scenarios inspired by actual events in space exploration history. You’ll struggle to deal with weightlessness as you try and accomplish your goals on the orbiting research station.
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.
The last PlayStation exclusive game we’ll get from the very talented team at Arkane, Deathloop earned huge praise and many perfect scores upon release. This time-looping adventure pits you in a cycle of death until you can learn all the details about the island of Blackreef and the eight targets you need to eliminate to break the loop. But another assassin, Julianna, is hunting you down and can appear when you least suspect it.
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age — Definitive Edition (PS4)
There is actually a decent chunk of Dragon Quest games in the Extra tier, but we’re going with Dragon Quest XI as the essential pick for JRPG fans. If you want a classic JRPG from top to bottom, this is your answer. The story is a classic, straightforward tale of a group of unlikely heroes saving the world from evil with traditional turn-based combat, leveling, and side quests. It’s a cozy good time for fans of the genre.
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 about the sequel, or the VR spinoff coming soon, you absolutely need to start here.
The entire Kingdom Hearts series (PS4)
As massive Kingdom Hearts fans, it was once very difficult to recommend the series when so many important entries were scattered across platforms. Now, not only are they all in convenient bundles, plus remastered and include each game’s Final Mix content, but all of them are included on PlayStation Plus Extra. That makes it the easiest it has ever been to go through this epic crossover series from start to finish (at least until Kingdom Hearts 4 comes out).
What can we say about Inside? Without spoiling anything, you play as a lone boy in a dark, dangerous world that is better left discovered than described. You will do some light platforming and puzzle solving, but the real draw is the narrative you pick up through bits and pieces, which all come crashing together at the conclusion. It’s a short one, but not a game to pass up.
Red Dead Redemption 2 (PS4)
If you ever wanted to know what it was like to 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.
The first game launching day and date on the new PlayStation service is the adorable indie cyberpunk adventure starring a fluffy feline. Stray was an indie that Sony gave a lot of attention to, showing it off many times since its reveal in 2020. The bright orange protagonist instantly captured the hearts of fans from the trailers alone, seeing the perfectly animated tendencies of a cat play out in-game. This adventure title is a love letter to cats and the people who love them and having it available here is almost as good as a real cat curling up for a nap in your lap.
Skyrim – Special Edition (PS5/PS5)
Whether you’ve played it or not, Skyrim always has more to find. This massive open-world RPG has been re-released numerous times since it originally came out in 2011, and somehow is still just as addictive to play. Create your own hero and forge your own adventures, only now with better art, effects, lighting, and more enhancements that come with the special edition. It might be over a decade old, but this remains the peak of western RPG design and scope.
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 collectibles and suits to unlock. This is a full-on Spider-Man experience in a tight package that doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Yakuza 0, Kiwami, and Kiwami 2 (PS4)
The first three games in the Yakuza timeline are hitting all at once, with the remaining to be added later in 2022. This lets players begin Kiryu and Majima’s story in 0, then experience the original first two games via their Kiwami remakes for PS4. All three of these games are brawlers set in the criminal underworld of Japan. The level of mystery, drama, and politics involved are on the level of the best of prestige TV writing, but with the unique Yakuza flavor that you won’t get anywhere else.
Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade + Episode Intermission (PS5)
Aside from being an absolute mouthful to say out loud, Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade is the best way to play one of 2020’s best games on your PS5. This already graphically impressive PS4 title has been upgraded to take advantage of your PS5 by doubling the frame rate to 60, improving lighting and textures, and cutting down load times. Plus, this version also comes with the Intermission DLC starring Yuffie which takes place during the events of the main game. With Rebirth looming on the horizon, this is the perfect way to catch up on how the story is changing.
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.
Trials of Mana (PS4)
A remake of the 1995 SNES classic that never got a proper western release, Trials of Mana is a JRPG where you get a choice of six protagonists with their own unique quests with the goal of finding the Mana Sword to save the world. Unlike many JRPGs from that time, the gameplay here is completely real-time. It isn’t an overly long game, but the number of characters and classes make it a blast to replay and experience all the differences. The remake even adds new post-game content and additional class.
Assassin’s Creed Origins (PS4)
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. Assassin’s Creed Origins was the first to break the series’ established formula and become essentially a full western RPG. Set in ancient Egypt, which is as faithfully recreated as any setting from the series, you will learn the origins of the legendary Assassin order as well as follow the personal tale of the new protagonist Bayek.
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 shortlist 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, 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 are so good you’ll be pulled through to see Selene’s journey to the finish.
Best PS Plus Premium games
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.
The Sly Collection (stream)
Sly Cooper was one of the biggest PS2 franchises and mascots for the system at the time, right up there with Ratchet and Jak. This trilogy brings the entire comic-themed, noir-styled, and charmingly witty series together. Start from the humble beginnings of the Cooper Gang in the first, see the evolution into a less linear style with the second, and experience the culmination of it all with even more members in the final chapter (made by SuckerPunch, anyway) in the thrilling conclusion. This is one series worth reliving from start to finish.
LocoRoco Midnight Carnival
If you enjoyed the LocoRoco games but didn’t have a PSP to play what is essentially the third game in the series, it’s time to fix that with LocoRoco Midnight Carnival. It has all the vibrant shapes and colors of the main series, plus retains that unique style of music gameplay, though it can be a little more challenging than the previous games. While the art style makes it a perfect conversion from the small to the big screen, the game is still notably short, which could be a good or bad thing depending on your tastes.
From the same team that would go on to make Inside, Limbo could really have the exact same description of that game, only the art style is more contrasted and murky. Limbo is also slightly more puzzle-focused, and the world is unsettling in a different way, but again, it’s a short but sweet experience.
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 analog 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 remains not only iconic but wildly diverse and fun. This fighter is deep but also very approachable for those who aren’t veterans of 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 to escape with a young girl you find there. Neither of you speaks 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.