Our favorite games for the PS4 meld cinematic, narrative-driven stories with challenging combat systems that inspire us to master them. Dragon Age: Inquisition combines BioWare’s strengths in creating memorable companions and meaningful stories with complex mechanics and an untold number of ways players can craft their own character. Far Cry 4 offers a world bigger and brighter than previous games in the franchise, with a charismatic villain, a protagonist bound by family ties to the game's exotic location, and the ability to set tigers on fire and send them against your enemies. Destiny monopolizes the lives of many of its players, calling them to adventures across a solar system and offering one of the most engaging first-person shooter experiences to date. And indie title Transistor offers a story uncovered through exploration and a robust, unique combat setup. These games are sprawling adventures that beckon you for 30, 40, 80 hours or more, but it’s Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor that captivated us in ways we did not expect, earning it our award.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor isn’t just a Lord of the Rings game. Developer Monolith Productions has taken an IP that has seen some rough times and spun it into something completely fresh, boldly creating their own characters and story set within author J.R.R. Tolkien’s universe. But it’s not just Monolith’s story that’s being told, it’s players’ stories. Through the nemesis system, Monolith’s brilliantly-structured enemy hierarchy, players can bring about an Uruk’s demise or, in dying at their hand, bolster the enemy's prestige. Every action affects the Uruks you are fighting against, ensuring that every time you play the game your experience will be different. It’s a never-ending, ever-giving cycle of push and pull against your enemies that offers endless ways to complete challenges. Not to mention smartly scripted Uruk enemies with unique abilities and weaknesses make your encounters with them entertaining. For all of this and more, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is our pick for the best PS4 game of 2014.