The sudden realization that you’ve lost a few hours while sinking into a new game is one of the highlights of the medium, and sticking to immersive experiences is one of the best ways to get there.
Games of any genre can be incredibly immersive, but it’s the games that prioritize the single player experience that really make the attribute stick. These are the games that offer vast alien worlds, rich contextual story, and the backbone of it all – atmosphere.
Look below for some of the most immersive games for the PS4, arguably the best console for single player experiences.
In search of atmosphere, mystery, and a strong narrative? Prey has you covered and then some.
- Keep your eyes peeled on the PS4 deals subreddit as Prey semi-regularly goes on sale for $10 or less.
It’s the perfect match for those that fell in love with the Bioshock series, and criminally underrated. The crux of the Prey experience is making sense of the world around you, navigating the fantastical, and scraping by every step of the way.
This isn’t for those that place action above all else, but then it wouldn’t be half as immersive stripped of its plodding sci-fi pacing.
Some may dub experiences like Journey as meaningless, but it’s exactly the type of artistic blend that’s so sorely missing in most people’s libraries. While short and sweet, its propensity to drive emotional depth comes as easily as the largest AAA games on the market.
- For a game of a similar style to Journey, check out Abzu. You may find you already own it since it was a free game with PlayStation Plus.
The type of peace and tranquility offered by Journey is something that often becomes muddled in the crowd of hyper realistic trend chasers, and it’s also a great palette cleanser if you’ve mostly been caught up in the AAA space.
Ready to jump in? You’ll want to dedicate a few hours to your first play through as it’s best experienced in one shot.
The Witcher 3
- Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch
- Genre: Open world RPG
- Developer: CD Projekt Red
- Metacritic: 92/100
If it’s fantasy strife with fantastic stories you’re after, The Witcher 3 is your next destination. It has everything you need to get lost in each play session – great characters, meaningful stories, pervasive music, a setting with genuine pull, and enough content to satisfy those that consider games a full time hobby.
Where many games offer a world where your character is merely placed in, The Witcher 3 materializes a world you want to be in and learn more about, and this makes all the difference. It’s ability to flesh out the world with meaningful side quests is yet to be matched (though that might change with Cyberpunk 2077).
Horizon Zero Dawn
With one of the most creative settings in recent years, Horizon Zero Dawn is one of the PS4’s best exclusive games, and a giant step forward towards making the console a worthy investment for fans of streamlined open world games.
While a technical masterpiece, it’s the atmosphere, setting, and general art direction that makes HZD a game so easy to become immersed. Bombastic monster hunting and robotic dinosaurs isn’t something you come across everyday.
While PS4 owners that have been with the console since day one most likely know of the flagship exclusive, Bloodborne is a game that’s easy to miss these days with the constant outpour of new releases.
And with FromSoftware’s masterful iteration on the Souls formula, the immersion lies almost entirely with its atmosphere. Bloodborne is drenched, absolutely soaking, with the style on display, and its Victorian era setting is one of the coolest in years.
Detroit: Become Human
Yet another quality PS4 exclusive, Detroit: Become Human shows us that you hardly have to be conventional in order to bring an experience that draws you in.
It’s the third in line of Quantic Dream’s narrative driven experiences, and it’s absolute must play for those that click with games that use player choice via dialogue to move the narrative forward.
Where Detroit lacks in visceral gameplay, it delivers in spades when it comes to making players feel invested and retrospectively wrong.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition
- Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC
- Genre: Open world RPG
- Developer: Bethesda
- Metacritic: 81/100
Nearly 7 years after its initial inception, Skyrim can be played on a total of 8 platforms including the PS4. It’s a bit absurd at this point, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a fantastic experience for those looking to get lost in a fantasy realm.
The latest edition, Skyrim Special Edition, boasts both visual upgrades and mod availability for the first time on consoles.
If you’re new to the console world or haven’t played Skyrim since the Xbox 360 and PS3 days, then diving back in is a great option for immersive play. There’s truly nothing like roaming around for hours, and experiencing all of the sights and sounds the high fantasy world has to offer.
Own PlayStation VR? Do yourself a favor and pick up the full fledged port. It’s a one of a kind experience for newcomers and veterans alike.
The Last of Us
If a top notch narrative is high on your list of requirements for immersion, then The Last of Us is as good as it gets on PS4 (and arguably any platform).
It’s a simple story, but one that expertly crafts an emotional connection between the player and the narrative at play.
When accounting for its particular flavor of music, setting, and art, there’s no denying its a game with immense pull, and it’s an experience you’ll remember long after you’ve finished.
The Last Guardian
Fumito Ueda, director of The Last Guardian, brings a certain signature style to his games, a style that is equal parts divine and dreadfully dull depending on who you ask.
Much of what you’ll find in The Last Guardian will blur the lines of what most consider a traditional game, instead opting to lean on the sensory and emotional experience.
While not as universally praised as Ueda’s earlier works like Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, those that find bliss in The Last Guardian know its power of transporting you to another place.
Some games reel you in by delivering painstakingly relatable worlds, and Tearaway Unfolded is not one of them.
Originally released on the PS Vita, Media Molecule’s latest underrated game offers incredibly charming and unique gameplay. It’s also one of the last bastions of 3D platforming on the system, a genre that is unfortunately withering away outside of a select few titles.
- Media Molecule is best known for The Little Big Planet series and their upcoming game, Dreams, is now in early access.
Tearaway doesn’t bring the realism, but what it does do, and it does it very well, is bring you to an uplifting world.
Gran Turismo Sport
The racing genre has been on a steady decline for years, but for PS4 loyalists there is no better option than Polyphony Digital’s latest, Gran Turismo Sport.
- GT Sport has come a long way since launch thanks to countless free updates, but it could still use improvements like a fleshed out campaign and time trial leaderboards.
While games like Skyrim and Horizon Zero Dawn offer sprawling worlds, GT Sport offers a literal one track mindset. Although limited in scope, you’d be hard pressed to lose focus when attempting to overtake someone in Sport mode.
GT Sport requires unwavering attention, and with some of the best graphics in the genre, it’s all the more immersive for it.
Dragon Age Inquisition
Developed by Bioware, and the third in line of the Dragon Age series, Inquisition is an open world RPG that often gets overlooked in the shadow of new releases.
- Despite Anthem flailing like a fish out of water, it seems as though the sequel to Inquisition is alive an well.
It’s somewhat akin to a single player MMO in the way it handles questing, so some content may be tedious, but it also delivers a world that’s incredibly pleasing to be in.
The combination of the art style and overall aesthetic makes it a treat to get lost in for any fans of high fantasy and open world RPGs.
Shadow of the Colossus
Yet another monolithic effort by Fumito Ueda, and considered by many to be the best Team Ico game, Shadow of the Colossus is available once again exclusively for the PS4.
- PS4 Pro players have the option of dynamic 4K or 60 frames per second thanks to the consoles beefed up specs.
While the original release is over 10 years old at this point, the Shadow of the Colossus remake offers an incredible experience whether or not you’ve played the original thanks to the amazing work by Bluepoint Games.
Like The Last Guardian, this is a game that offers a non-conventional way of playing, and much of your time will be spent traversing the vast landscape on your horse. In the end, it’s these empty moments that make it so otherworldly in the best way possible.
If you’ve ever dreamed of Skyrim with guns and a post-apocalyptic setting, the Fallout series is your pick.
Fallout 4, the latest release, offers a great escape for those that dream of constant mystery, exploration, and grotesque landscapes.
- If you’re one to get invested in RPG aspects of games, Fallout: New Vegas is well worth checking out if you have access to last gen consoles, an Xbox One, or PC. Developed by Obsidian, the game is generally regarded to have a stronger sense of player choice and more meaningful questing.
Like Skyrim, it’s a game that a player can literally lose hours to simply walking around. It’s also a game that allows you to go anywhere and do almost anything. From villainous murder to exploration, the sandbox at large is what makes the game great for most.
Grand Theft Auto V
- Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, and PC
- Genre: Open world action
- Developer: Rockstar Games
- Metacritic: 97/100
Grand Theft Auto V continues to be a bestseller to this day, and Rockstar’s reimagining of Los Santos still stands as one of the most fully realized open worlds.
- GTA V was lauded as the most profitable entertainment product ever back in 2018. It probably doesn’t hurt that many have purchased the game 15 times.
Aggressive monetization aside, GTA V makes for the definitive sandbox game, and roaming around a fictional California shows an obsessive level of detail at every turn.
Becoming fully immersed at a moments notice might as well be as legitimate feature as hijacking pedestrian vehicles, and it’s no wonder it takes Rockstar Games so long to release new games.
Already played it on Xbox 360 or PS3? The PS4 version offers upgrades to visuals, performance, and most importantly, a first person mode to make the satirical romp that much more engrossing.
Red Dead Redemption 2
- Platforms: PS4 and Xbox One
- Genre: Open world adventure
- Developer: Rockstar Games
- Metacritic: 97/100
Red Dead Redemption 2 was the game to make me giddy on the thought of next-gen consoles, and it’s contribution to open world games has created new standards in more ways than one.
Slow is the pace to sublime, and it’s what inspires so many moments of awe in the dense world.
Rockstar has managed to bring a living, breathing world in a way that no game has done before, and is flush with organic and emergent moments of western life.
No Man’s Sky
- Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, and PC
- Genre: Procedural based adventure
- Developer: Hello Games
- Metacritic: 77/100
It’s been a wild ride watching the evolution of No Man’s Sky with each passing update, and there’s still more to come with the addition of VR. Despite all of the flak the game received at launch, it’s hard to deny the scope of exploration brought to the sci-fi genre.
There’s simply nothing quite like diving into the unknown in No Man’s Sky, and although its graphics are simplistic, it offers a gameplay loop perfectly aligned with getting lost.
Alterations to core content by way of multiplayer, combat, and systems improvements make No Man’s Sky much meatier in 2019, but it’s always been a great game for those that appreciate aimless space exploration.
PSVR: the immersion trend setter of consoles
A game that draws you in with deliberate use of atmosphere, setting, sights, and sounds is no doubt one that has the potential for immersion, but the PS4 has something no other console does when it comes to maximizing that effect, and that is the PlayStation VR peripheral.
If you’ve yet to experience the renaissance of virtual reality for yourself, do yourself a favor and head to the nearest kiosk, or a friends house, to try it out for yourself.
Yes, there is still much room for improvement, but with games like Skyrim VR, it’s incredible to go from the duality of traditional games to shattering the proverbial wall with a VR headset.
The best VR games truly do make you feel like you’re there, and instead of seeing a visual space, you are one with the space you’re visiting.
There’s still a ways to go in terms of making the tech fully realized – wireless implementation, eye tracking, and higher resolutions to name a few – but it’s always been worth it for those looking to get in on the ground floor of gaming’s next step.