Help Me Pick Games and Accessories for a Playstation 4
February 7, 2019 8:01 AM   Subscribe

My sons (age 14 and 11) have convinced me to buy a Playstation 4 for the family. I am probably going to buy the Spider-Man bundle (but could be convinced to buy a different version). What I am really looking to know is what games should I get to start with, and what accessories do I need?

For instance, I am sure I need to get a second controller. Any particular one I should buy? What about those charging stations?

Is the VR kit worth purchasing?

What games should I get? I have the budget to get 4-5 games right now (more if I buy used). I would prefer games that my kids can play together and that are not too violent. What do you recommend?

Is that Spider-Man bundle a good one? Is there any real value to a "Pro" version?

My kids do not have lots of game experience. They have played a number of the Lego games (Harry Potter, etc.). We currently have a Nintendo 64 retro system. My older son has played Fortnite.
posted by bove to Technology (23 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Get an official Sony PS4 Dualshock 4 controller. The official Sony charging station is nice, works well, and keeps the controllers tidy when not being used.

Do you have a 4K TV? If not, you don't need the pro. Even if you have a really huge beautiful UHD TV, you probably don't need the pro. But you certainly don't need it if you have a regular TV.

I love my VR, but there are studies to suggest it may be a Very Bad Idea for children that age to use VR regularly, due to eyesight/balance development issues. So I'd skip that.

Spider-Man is great, and Divinity II and Rocket League both have great couch co-op. There are a lot of cheaper games on PSN which have local co-op, and are mega fun.
posted by Jairus at 8:15 AM on February 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

the new kingdom hearts is out and is reportedly delightful. overcooked 1 & 2 are cooking sims that are fun and silly. idk if either of them can be played with 2 people at once on the same system though.

you don't need a charging station for the controllers, they can plug into any micro usb charger, so i use my phone charger for spare controllers. i go though a lot of them bc i have hand grip issues but they stand up to a lot of beating.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:17 AM on February 7, 2019

I would prefer games that my kids can play together and that are not too violent. What do you recommend?

Rocket League - football (soccer) with cars. Can be played 1v1 up to 4v4 (vs bots) offline splitscreen.
Minecraft is a classic, and has co-op splitscreen.
Sonic Mania is a decent platformer (but can be pretty hard), has co-op mode.
Tricky Towers is an excellent Tetris-esque puzzle game with very good vs modes (up to 4 players).
Table Top Racing is a decent arcadey racing game.

PSVR is good, but I wouldn't get it for kids that young. Aside from eyesight issues it's not something they can play together really.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:22 AM on February 7, 2019

This is great. I don't have a 4K TV, so I won't get a Pro. It also sounds like I should skip the VR.

Any advice on sports games? If I just got one sports game, what would it be?
What about Tomb Raider?

Rocket League sounds great. I will have to look into Divinity II.

Are there any downsides to buying used games?
posted by bove at 9:14 AM on February 7, 2019

My kids love Fortnight, Steep and Hue. Steep and Hue are downloads only on the PS4 I think.

Both kids insist that headphones with microphone are necessary equipment. They go through them like water. So frustrating.
posted by Ftsqg at 9:18 AM on February 7, 2019

Don’t Starve Together is an amazing and challenging co-op experience, fairly tame, only violence is cartoony.

Also Spelunky has great co-op gameplay. Both of these games can be played for many years do to procedural aspects an difficulty.

Swords of Ditto is a great cute Zelda-Esque randomized adventure

Downwell is a great old-style procedural shooty game (again, not really violent in the same way that eg looking down a scope to shoot realistic humans in the head is.)

All of these are inexpensive ($3-10?) and are among the best games out there, you can buy all of them for the price of one flagship game, and the procedural content is good for learning young minds.
posted by SaltySalticid at 9:26 AM on February 7, 2019

Overcooked can be played by multiple people on the same system.

Little Big Planet 2 is amazing and up to four people can play at a time with controllers.

What sport game you get them depends on what sports they are into. FIFA is the leading soccer/football game, for instance. Madden for American football. Rocket League counts as a "sports game" though and sounds perfect for that age group.
posted by tofu_crouton at 9:28 AM on February 7, 2019

Oh, all the games I mention are downloaded through the online store. That’s where most of the best games are imo, but if you’re buying expensive AAA games, buy used for sure.
posted by SaltySalticid at 9:30 AM on February 7, 2019

My sons are also 11 and 14 and we are a PS4 family. I would say: skip VR, get an extra Sony Dualshock controller or two (if your sons have friends over you're going to want extras) and I agree that the charging stand is worth it if only because it frees up an outlet.

Fortnite is downloadable for free and if your house is like mine it will devour all other games and you won't be allowed to use your own damn PS4 on your own damn TV in your own damn living room to play Spider Man or God of War which is all you want after a hard day's work. But you're not bitter.

Anyway, Spider Man is an astonishingly good so by all means get the bundle. Our one sports game is FIFA 2019, but that's going to depend on what sport your kids like.

There's a ton of couch multiplayer games in the PS store. Among the best are the classic Spelunky (which is a must buy) and the hilarious and magnificent Towerfall.

Couch multiplayer is probably the best thing about the PS4 and there are a number of other games I could recommend if you want more. Importantly, you're going to want a paid PS Plus subscription. It's an absolute necessity.
posted by The Bellman at 9:32 AM on February 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

I personally think the recent Tomb Raider games are too violent for an 11 year old, and, in all honesty, probably too violent for a 14 year old. There's one moment of exceptionally unpleasant violence in the second one that really made me question why the developers thought anyone needed to see that while playing a jumping game.

Nthing Rocket League. It's just a really good fun and welcoming game with an enormously long skill curve. There's no real limit to how much better you can get, but equally, no real loss of fun if you don't get much better. If they like sports games at all, RL should offer exceptionally good value for money.
posted by howfar at 9:33 AM on February 7, 2019

By the way, if you buy "small" multiplayer indie games like Spelunky and Towerfall (and Nidhogg, oh my god, Nidhogg) you'll get a lot more bang for your buck than buying the big AAA releases.
posted by The Bellman at 9:35 AM on February 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

I didn't even know that there were downloadable games. So this is all really helpful.

Are these downloadable games all like Fortnite where you are playing against other people online?
posted by bove at 9:36 AM on February 7, 2019

All the "indie" games I mentioned are local multiplayer games that you can play with friends on the same system on one screen. Some games (like Diablo 3, which happens to be my personal jam) can be played either local multiplayer or online multiplayer. If you're buying a game from the Playstation Store (that is, buying it online to download rather than buying a physical copy) it will say whether it supports local multiplayer, online multiplayer or both.
posted by The Bellman at 9:43 AM on February 7, 2019

I'm a bit of a zealot, so I'll be contrary and say that PSVR might be worth buying. I used to use my PS4 pretty much for only playing Dark Souls 2 and 3. Since getting my psvr in 2017 Nov, I've played about 3 hours of "flat" gaming. It's not "recommended" (i.e. conservative Sony lawyers say to exclude) for under 12 - so your 11 year old will soon be old enough that even risk averse Sony lawyers don't feel like saying he shouldn't play.

Possibly see if there's a PSVR demo in your area, or if you know anyone who has it. Some people are "meh" about the experience, but many people, upon actually experienceing VR immediately consider it a must have/future purchase. Apparently Sony is continuing to plan for the VR and reasonable "leaks" claim that the PS5 will have the hardware of the breakout box in the console itself (I.E. it will be more integrated, making future headsets slightly less costly). I.E. VR isn't a gimick that will die with the PS4.

Lately my son and I have been playing Beat Saber together in party mode. We'll do 10 minute turns, and then play to the end of the song. This allows us to cool off while the other plays, and allows less time swapping the headset than if we changed every song (which would also suck if you fail at a new song/difficult 30 seconds in). It's fun to watch someone else attempt, especially knowing what the experience is like. That said, the rule is the PSVR is "mine" so it's only used with me around, or explicit permission for easy limits, even though my son is 15.

On a note of VR, if you reconsider it I would *strongly* recommend getting a PS4 pro. Some of the VR games are specifically optimized so there's anti aliases subsampling, and larger textures are used making a good visual difference. And even tho others games in theory don't have a direct boost, as one who went from PS4 to PS4pro, things "felt" a bit better for me after the upgrade (I.E. I'm someone relatively highly prone to VR sickness, and I experienced significantly less via pro. It could have just been my mind body making some adaptations; or perhaps there's a tiny latency issue that made all the difference for me).

Along with VR, the moves are a great accessory for many games. Being able to "use" your hands is super immersive for games like Super Hot. Also, Beat Saber is moves only. If you're not getting VR, the moves aren't worth buying IMO.

The Aim controller is really nice for the few games that support it, but because there's so few games, definitely wait to get the Aim. Again like the moves, the Aim is only a good mix with PSVR.

On the note of downloadable games, as PSVR has a smaller audience (estimated 4 million units sold), and publishing physical disks is expensive, something like 90% of VR games are download only, so if going with VR, you don't want a 500GB system. Watch the sales, most of the games after a few months will go on sale at 40-50% off, occasionally up to 75-90%. However in the same vein of thought, while disks tend to steadily drop in price after release, excluding sales and a very rare permenant price decrease digitial downloads prices don't have the slow free fall.

The only reason to get a ps4Pro is if you're getting PSVR, or you have a golden eye, and you've got a 4k TV , probably with HDR, and you'll gripe about anything that's "only" 1080p.
posted by nobeagle at 10:12 AM on February 7, 2019

Not to abuse the edit window, but the game that my kids (including the 19 year old who comes home to play) have been playing co-op together most is minecraft.
posted by nobeagle at 10:15 AM on February 7, 2019

How about a two-dollar goddamn kitchen timer so there's an audible bell when it's time to turn the thing off?


My son only plays his XBox via XBox Live, so when I asked him about buying extra controllers he just squinted at me like confetti came out of my mouth. (That may be a consequence of his group only playing Fortnight and Call of Stupid Duty. *shrug*)
posted by wenestvedt at 10:29 AM on February 7, 2019

The PS4 Pro is not only about 4K. There are a fair number of games that suffer annoying juddering from dropped frames on a standard PS4 even in 1080p that don't do that on a Pro.

Some people find it super annoying, others don't. For me, it depends entirely on the game. It mainly bugs me in racing/flight simulator type games, not so much in open world games where a bit of judder during a big explosion or something feels less intrusive.

That's not to say you need to buy a Pro, just that it bears consideration.
posted by wierdo at 11:36 AM on February 7, 2019

You might want to buy a Playstaton Plus (aka PS+) subscription. It's required for playing online for almost every game out there. (The exception, remarkably, is Fortnite Battle Royale; that does not require PS+.) One nice thing about PS+ is they give you two free games a month, so that takes the sting out a little bit.

You'll get a free month of PS+ with the console, plus probably a coupon in the box for a discount. Ordinary price is $60/year or there's usually a Christmas sale for $40/year.
posted by Nelson at 12:55 PM on February 7, 2019

Are these downloadable games all like Fortnite where you are playing against other people online?

Not at all. Almost every game available is available to download. This is both good and bad because it means you don't need to drag your ass down to the store to get a new game, but it also means that your kids could run up an unholy debt or your card. Put a PIN on your account so that nobody can buy anything without your help. Make it something they can't guess.
posted by East14thTaco at 12:57 PM on February 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Little big Planet 3 is fun, and can be played by 1 to 4 (I think) people at once, if you have enough controllers. (little big planets 1 and 2 are great too, but aren't available on the ps4)
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:04 PM on February 7, 2019

Spider-Man is fantastic, if the bundle saves money over the standalone pieces go for it.

The Lego games are always a good choice and the older ones are pretty cheap. You may want to pick up some that you haven't already played.

Tomb Raider is probably more violent than you want for that age. When Lara dies it shows unnecessarily realistic/graphic animations of her getting impaled by spikes or whatever, they're really gross.

Get Tetris Effect. Yes, it's an updated version of an old game (the bestselling game in history, I believe) but it is incredibly cool the way the graphics and music moves with your falling blocks. If you *do* get the VR, I have heard that Tetris Effect is spectacularly good in VR.

Minecraft is a perennial classic for a reason. Fun to play alone, fun to play with friends, imaginative and creative, can be as intense or chill as you like.

For other games, a lot will depend on what sort of games they like. The PlayStation is the console of choice for JRPGS; I think Persona 5 is probably too adult for them but they might enjoy a Final Fantasy, either 15 or one of the recent remasters of an older classic one like X or 12. Other RPGs... Horizon: Zero Dawn was a PS4 exclusive and it's very good. You can get the "Game of the Year" editions of games that are a year or two old that come with a lot of extra content that you originally had to pay extra for, so keep an eye out for that. Skyrim has been released on everything but the kitchen sink, but that's because it's really good, so if your family likes sword & sorcery Western RPGs that might be a good one to pick up. Possibly Fallout 4 if you skew more SciFi in your taste though Fallout might be too intense for the kids in terms of showing blood etc.

I'm mentally running over what I've been playing on my PS4 in my head...
-Life is Strange series: so so good but probably for the grownups more than the kids due to some quite disturbing plot developments. Also it goes right for the feels.
-Hitman and Hitman 2: oddly enough if you're good at Hitman, it's much less violent than a lot of other games because you're supposed to sneak in, kill one or a couple people without being seen, and sneak out again. They're really very good as stealth environmental puzzles and have a lot of replay value but... maybe in a couple years.
-Bloodborne: It's great but so not a kid game. Tons of blood and body horror monsters.
-Jurassic World Evolution: Do they like sim games? do they like dinosaurs? if so, this game where you run a dinosaur theme park may be just what they want. Worst it gets is your dinos can escape and eat guests but it isn't bloody at all, just sort of shows them getting swallowed whole.
-Spider-Man: get Spider-Man, it's fantastic.
-Maybe consider No Man's Sky. It's a little like space Minecraft. Got panned at release, spent two years developing fixes and features, and now is quite a fun space exploration and base building game.
-There are a lot of good indie games and smaller titles available for download on the PS store, as well as re-releases or remasters of older games.
posted by oblique red at 2:39 PM on February 7, 2019

What about Tomb Raider?

gory, scary, and the one previous to the current one has an unskippable attempted rape scene that repeats over and over if you don't time your button presses correctly. it's totally inappropriate for children and i don't say that about a lot of things.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:36 PM on February 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

The recent Tomb Raider trilogy is well-made but also quite violent and definitely not for kids. The first one was perceived to have a scene where Lara fought off sexual assault, but upon release it turned out the fail state was just a good old wholesome murder by a creepy guy instead. As stated above, her death scenes are fairly frequent and quite grotesque.

If you have any concerns about the content of any game you are considering, the ESRB rating (like MPAA ratings) are a good general guide and sites like Common Sense Media drill down further into the content and age-appropriateness of titles.

If you want to sample teh broad selection of titles that are available, there's the Playstation Plus service that was brought up and there are also services like Gamefly are like the Netflix disc-in-the-mail, where you can play something and send it back if you're not into it, or purchase it at a around the same price you'd find titles used at game stores. If they have friends who also have a PS4, discs can be swapped or borrowed to save money as well.
posted by subocoyne at 10:16 AM on February 8, 2019

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