The PlayStation 5 has a fair number of RPGs for a console that’s only eight months into what will undoubtedly be a long and healthy life. While it’s true that many of these are enhanced ports of new and preexisting PS4 titles, sometimes the difference between generations can make or break the experience — so if you’re fortunate enough to have snagged a PS5 by now, why bother playing those older versions?
Since proud new PS5 owners will likely be interested first and foremost in the hottest new games, here are five that are no older than the console itself.
5. Yakuza: Like a Dragon
All things considered, the Yakuza franchise can feel pretty intimidating. Yakuza: Like a Dragon is the seventh entry in the long-running series but thankfully it’s also an excellent jumping-in point. For starters, it’s the first Yakuza to transform the series from action-based beat-em-ups to traditional turn-based RPGs. All future mainline titles will follow suit. Yakuza: Like a Dragon also features a new protagonist for the first time in series history. Whereas the first six games followed the life and times of the incredible Kazuma Kiryu, newcomer Ichiban Kasuga takes the stage here after spending a whopping 18 years in prison despite being innocent for his crime. Kasuga is delightfully quirky but also easy to empathize with. Seeing him rise up is sure to bring a smile and the amount of gameplay content in Like a Dragon, from jobs and fights to Dragon Kart, makes Yakuza’s PS5 debut a sight to behold.
4. Disco Elysium: The Final Cut
Disco Elysium: The Final Cut takes a terrific game and brings it pretty close to perfection. The original Disco Elysium has an astonishingly lengthy script, a superb cast of characters, and the kind of narrative that sticks with players for years. Developers ZA/UM doubled down on this by adding over 150,000 more words to the script, several more outstanding characters, and bold new content in the form of unlockable quests that reflect the political leanings expressed through dialogue choices earlier in the game. And then there are the more technical aspects, like improved resolution and a substantially increased frame rate. This is the definitive edition of a generation-defining RPG.
3. Scarlet Nexus
Scarlet Nexus is a brain-twisting sci-fi RPG from Bandai Namco. It’s also one of Bandai Namco’s best RPGs in years. There are seldom any easy answers to the sort of existential questions asked in Scarlet Nexus’ labyrinthine plot, but a lively battle system and a likable cast of characters keep those philosophical quandaries from ever feeling stale. The developers have coined the term “brain-punk” to describe the game’s genre. This seems as savvy a descriptor as any, given that the premise includes humanity tapping into a sort of hyper-awareness network where advertisers spam pop-ups like wildfire and certain individuals have developed abilities that border on the magical. An alien race referred to simply as “the Others” feasts on human brains and makes those magically inclined psychic sorts the frontline defenders of the human race. While the story is well worth the playthrough, the combat is Scarlet Nexus’ breadwinner. Stylish, snappy, and downright addictive, Scarlet Nexus is a joy to play.
2. Demon’s Souls
At launch, Demon’s Souls was the game to get among RPG enthusiasts looking to put their precious new PS5s through the wringer. 100% exclusive to the PlayStation 5 console, Demon’s Souls relishes in the near-instant load times of the system’s SSD (Solid State Drive) and the advanced particle effects made possible by the beefy GPU. Make no mistake — although it’s based on an old PS3 game from an era before FromSoftware hit the jackpot with Dark Souls, this 2020 rendition of Demon’s Souls is a remake, not a remaster. Unlike the clunky 2008 game on which it’s based, the PS5 Demon’s Souls is silky smooth. In Performance Mode, it runs at an almost-perfect 60 frames per second, keeping you on your toes during the game’s many difficult boss battles. Nail-bitingly challenging but ultimately fair, Demon’s Souls is one of the best PS5 RPGs to date.
1. Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade
At the top of the list is one of the best games of the past decade and certainly Square Enix’s strongest single-player outing in years. When it arrived on PS4 last year, Final Fantasy VII Remake was nigh-universally praised as a spectacular JRPG with outstanding combat and, overall, beautiful graphics. In order to keep things chugging along on base PS4 consoles, however, Square Enix needed to cut some corners with the game’s world, leading to infamously blurry backdrops and a certain highly meme-worthy door. Everything looks so much crisper and more detailed now, and whereas the game just chugged along last year, now it shines smoothly. It is as if Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade is the game Square wanted to make but needed to wait a year to release. Best of all, the PS5 version includes a fairly meaty DLC called “Episode INTERmission” which brings fan-favorite original FFVII character Yuffie Kisaragi into the mix. Yuffie is a blast to play as and her introductory adventure here is not to be missed.
The Future Looks Golden
Taking a look ahead, there are some fantastic PS5 RPGs in store for us in the years to come. From Final Fantasy XVI and Forspoken to the next Mass Effect and Tales of Arise, there will be something for just about everybody. That said, do bear in mind that Microsoft has recently gobbled up big-name Western RPG studios like Larian, Obsidian, and (biggest of all) Bethesda. Don’t expect to be able to play hip and happening upcoming RPGs like Starfield and the eventual sixth Elder Scrolls game without a decent PC or an Xbox Series X. A bit of a downer, to be sure, but not enough of one to take away from the fact that Sony’s shiny new toy is still an excellent purchase for role-playing fare.