The next generation of console gaming is off to a great start. Whether it’s Sony’s sleek, space-age PS5 or Microsoft’s understated yet immensely powerful Xbox Series X, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to great gaming experiences. Unfortunately, due to a worldwide chip shortage, it’s been hard for many consumers to actually obtain these machines. If you are lucky enough to own either of them, though – or if you’ve got one of Nvidia’s next-gen RTX 30 chips – you’re in for a treat. Here are the top 10 next-gen games you can play right now.
Demon’s Souls (PS5)
No list of the best current next-gen games would be complete without Demon’s Souls. Bluepoint’s remake of From Software’s 2009 action RPG is both faithful and audacious; it doesn’t deviate significantly from the classic Demon’s Souls gameplay, but the visual sheen of the PS5 version needs to be seen to be believed. Some might say this polished version has lost some of the original’s atmosphere, and while that may be true, it’s still a must-play in 2021.
The Medium (Xbox Series X|S, PC)
Bloober Team’s fixed-camera horror homage is only playable on Microsoft’s next-gen machines or a significantly beefy PC (although it is headed to PlayStation in September). That’s because it’s a staggeringly beautiful game, but it’s also due to the clever rendering of two worlds at once – the real world and the spirit world. The Medium is a meditation on trauma wrapped up in a classic key-hunting horror game, so if you loved Bloober’s other games, this is one to check out.
It’s official: we’re now at the level of gaming technology where Pixar movies are playable. Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart may have ditched the series’ trademark edgy humour, but its visuals are so breathtaking that it almost doesn’t matter. The gameplay is fully intact here, too; you’ll be blasting all kinds of crazy weaponry at your enemies, and with all of it upgradeable to a second, even more devastating form, Rift Apart should keep you busy for some time to come.
Resident Evil Village (PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC)
After Resident Evil 7: Biohazard brought its increasingly ridiculous series back to basics, Village injects some of that ridiculousness back in, although to great effect. In essence, Village plays like Resident Evil 4 crossed with Resident Evil 7, and while it never reaches the heights of either of those franchise highlights, it’s an immensely playable, occasionally terrifying action-horror experience. Points off for the ending, but points back on for -that- dollhouse section.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC)
Assassin’s Creed is an RPG now. If you can’t accept that fact, then unfortunately, you’re out of luck, as this seems to be the dominant direction Ubisoft is taking with its open-world stealth franchise. If, however, you love the new stats- and gear-based approach to Assassin’s Creed, then Valhalla is an embarrassment of riches. It’s huge, compelling, and well-crafted, with plenty to explore and lots of unsuspecting guards to assassinate.
Gears Tactics (Xbox Series X|S, PC)
Who’d have thought XCOM-style gameplay would work so well with the Gears of War universe? The basic turn-based strategy blueprint popularised by Firaxis’ XCOM reboots is here given a more violent, fast-paced makeover, resulting in a strategy experience that almost feels like a third-person shooter at some points. The story is throwaway and some of the difficulty spikes are a little harsh, but Gears Tactics is essential for anyone who loves tactical masterminding as much as they love blastin’ grubs.
Sackboy: A Big Adventure (PS5)
Nobody expected Sackboy: A Big Adventure to be quite as good as it is. While it’s true that the LittleBigPlanet franchise is one of the unsung heroes of the PlayStation lineup, Sackboy transposes that adorable craft aesthetic to a Super Lucky’s Tale-style 3D platformer and pulls it off with aplomb. The unquestionable highlight of Sackboy is its musical sequences; we won’t spoil them here, but they’re delightful Rayman Legends-esque representations of some of the most iconic pop songs of the last decade or several.
It Takes Two (PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC)
“Collaboration is key”. So goes the catchphrase of Dr. Hakim, an animated book talking to two parents who appear to be inhabiting the bodies of dolls created by their daughter’s tears. If the setup sounds offbeat, don’t worry – It Takes Two is, at its heart, a classic platforming adventure, albeit one that uses co-op mechanics in an unprecedented way. The gameplay here is immensely satisfying, and while the story is no great shakes, you’ll marvel at the ingenious way each challenge presents itself.
Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition (PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC)
2019’s masterpiece of spectacle-fighting gameplay returns in a Special Edition that packs in plenty of extra content. Playing through Dante, Nero, and V’s adventure on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S feels incredibly fluid and satisfying; the graphical fidelity is impressive, but it’s the speed and smoothness of the gameplay that you’ll be marvelling at. Devil May Cry’s story has never been particularly deep, but we have to admit that V’s goth aesthetic and constant quoting of Paradise Lost won us over.
Astro’s Playroom (PS5)
A free pack-in game really has no right to be as great as Astro’s Playroom undeniably is. This 3D platformer celebrates PlayStation’s history; if you remember a certain peripheral or phenomenon related to PlayStation, it’s almost certainly here. The gameplay is delightfully slick and responsive, and the DualSense’s features are used to their fullest, but it’s the homages to PlayStation games of old that had us misty-eyed. Is there some dust in the room?