Since the dawn of video games, sci-fi has been one of the most dominant genres. From Space Invaders and Galaxian arcades, all the way up to today’s high-tech consoles, sci-fi games haven’t skipped a beat. All these decades later, gamers continue to relish the opportunity to explore an alternate reality, one which is usually far advanced from our own.
As PlayStation 4 gamers, we are absolutely spoiled for choice when it comes to science fiction. Narrowing down these titles into a small selection is a tough task, but we’ve done our best! Without further ado, here are some of the best PS4 sci-fi games across several different sub-genres.
Prey immediately became a critical darling upon its release in May 2017, and it’s easy to see why. From start to finish this was simply a sci-fi masterpiece, and easily one of the genre’s best entries in recent years.
We really don’t want to give away too much of the plot, so we’ll just say that you are tasked with exploring a space station – Talos I – which was inhabited by humans before a devastating alien attack. From that point forward, you’ll unravel a fascinating, engrossing narrative which shifts on you relentlessly. This really is story-telling of the highest order, and genuinely belongs in the conversation with Bioshock and Half-Life 2 in this regard.
Throw in some surprising and original enemy types which always keep you on your toes, and a solid skill tree-based progression system, and Prey is an inarguable modern classic of the sci-fi genre.
The setup in Alien: Isolation isn’t dissimilar to that in Prey, at least in the sense that you’re creeping around an abandoned ship/station, and are almost entirely alone. Isolation, however, places a much greater focus on the scares.
You only have minimal equipment with which to survive, with a motion sensor being the object on which you most heavily rely. That motion sensor can go off at any moment as you’re going about your tasks on the ship, signaling the arrival of the dreaded alien. There really is no fighting your enemy, meaning your only option is to find some shelter as quickly as you can and… hide, basically!
Few games manage the levels of tension which Alien: Isolation does. Its simplistic mechanics are perfectly executed, and above all it perfectly captures the general atmosphere and appearance of Alien, which itself is one of the most celebrated sci-fi movies ever made.
The original Destiny – developed by Bungie, of Halo fame – was an enormous smash hit. In fact, based on sales figures it was the most successful new franchise of all time. It also happened to be a brilliant game, of course.
Destiny 2 arguably surpasses it in almost every meaningful way. It’s set in the same brilliant (and gorgeous) sci-fi world, in which humans and various alien species battle for control of the solar system. In the first game, however, the plot unfolded in quite a laborious way, whereas Destiny 2 has a much more engaging story.
The real meat of Destiny 2, however, is of course to be found in its multiplayer. Few developers have nailed multiplayer mechanics quite so expertly as Bungie: there’s a seemingly endless supply of XP to be gained, and weapons and power-ups to unlock, and yet it never feels like you’re having to grind for any of it. The missions are varied, thematically and logistically, ensuring that this is a game with formidable longevity.
Here we have another multiplayer-focused title… albeit one which takes itself a bit less seriously than Destiny!
The plot in Helldivers is generic sci-fi stuff – a futuristic Earth is beset on all sides by hostile alien races – but the joy of this title is all to be found in its gameplay. It’s a top-down shooter, in which up to four players choose from a variety of classes and loadouts before doing battle with endless hordes of enemies.
You can certainly play this game online, but the action – which quickly descends into madness – is even more enjoyable in a classic couch co-op setup. The shooting feels weighty and satisfying, the game moves at a fantastically quick pace, and rewarding elements of teamwork are sprinkled in nicely throughout. In short, it’s essentially impossible not to have fun playing Helldivers! It’s undoubtedly one of the best casual sci-fi games on the market.
It’s fair to say that No Man’s Sky received a panning when it originally launched, from players and critics alike. A large part of this came from the ridiculous volume of hype it received pre-release, which it was never going to live up to. Another part, admittedly, came from the fact that there were a lot of problems with it. Regardless, developers Hello Games have put an incredible amount of work into their game since it was released, and it has truly come on leaps and bounds.
No Man’s Sky essentially tries to make one of the oldest dreams in sci-fi come true: it gives you your own ship, and then lets you loose on an entire universe which is ripe for exploration. The procedural generation system ensures you never stop finding fascinating, bizarre alien planets, and post-release updates have also granted the ability to put down roots on a planet of your choosing, courtesy of some decent base-building mechanics.
If sandbox games are your thing, or you simply crave a game filled with enticing yet relaxing exploration, No Man’s Sky is well worth checking out.