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Party Down, Right, Punch: The Best PS4 Party Games
From block parties to gatherings, these games on PlayStation 4 will liven up any shindig.
They say there ain’t no party like a video game party and there ain’t no video game party without a PlayStation 4. Say what you will about Sony relentlessly pushing the PlayLink platform but, it seems to be the only publisher out there trying to bring back good ol’ fashion party games by riffing on the massively successful Jackbox series with a variety of inoffensive games. There’s also the PlayStation VR, which is an absolute party machine (though possible party pooper if you tend to suffer from motion sickness). Then there are plain old local multiplayer PS4 games that let you beat your closest friends senseless while cosied up together on the couch. In this guide, we’ve reviewed the best PS4 party games for every type of get-together.
The first Overcooked from Studio 17 introduced an element to our parties we never knew we wanted: the overwhelming stress of restaurant management and its 2018 sequel takes us back to the Onion Kingdom for more culinary co-op.
In Overcooked 2, groups are tasked with fulfilling a growing list of kitchen orders while the restaurant around them shifts, introducing new obstacles and win conditions as levels get harder. The key to success is to divvy up responsibilities; one person chopping tomatoes, one flipping burgers, one washing dishes and one jack-of-all-trades who slots in where needed. Sounds simple enough but when the heat is on, it’s surprisingly difficult to stay on task. Overcooked 2 will bring out the best and the worst in your friends; there’s often just as much back-patting as there is finger-pointing. Together with the original Overcooked, they’re two of the best PS4 party games money can buy.
|1||Competitive||PlayStation VR and two PlayStation Move controls||$44.95 at PlayStation Store|
On the tin, Beat Saber is a single-player game but like most of our picks for the best PS4 party games, it’s just as fun to watch as it is to play. Beat Saber is what you get when you combine the rhythm-based gameplay of Guitar Hero with dual-wielded lightsabers and an energetic EDM soundtrack. As mentioned, the game is technically single-player but there is a party mode that gives you a local score leaderboard so everyone can one-up each other to prove once and for all who would make the better DJ Jedi.
Word of warning: Beat Saber is a real physical workout and many folks suffer from motion sickness using PSVR so one too many bevvies beforehand could have you tapped out on the bathroom floor earlier than expected.
Gang Beasts is the kind of game that almost looks unfinished at first glance but don’t let the basic character models and wild ragdoll physics turn you away because that’s precisely what makes Gang Beasts so fun.
This colourful beat ‘em up throws up to four players into a stage with the sole purpose of whaling on each other until all but one have been thrown from the edge of the stage. Combat is a simple combination of punches, kicks and grabs and escaping your foe’s grasp is achieved by mashing the buttons. This leads to some nail-biting struggles for power as both players hold their breath and mash those buttons. Gang Beasts is a multiplayer game that will have you cry-laughing throughout the night.
The PS5 is still in its infancy, and as such, there aren’t a ton of PS5 party games available for it that you can’t already play on the PS4. Most of the games on our list can be played on the PS5, albeit with some slight upgrades and changes. There’s Overcooked! All You Can Eat, which is a remastered combo of the two Overcooked! games and all DLC with the addition of stunning 4K graphics and online multiplayer. However, for the rest of the games on our list, you’ll find they’re the same as the PS4 version (last-gen graphics and all), albeit possibly with a few missing features.
If you’re keen to see which non-party games are coming to (or have already arrived on) the PS5, check out our games roundup.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is one of the greatest gifts VR has given to us. You don’t need PlayStation VR to play it but it was created with virtual reality in mind and works best with one person strapped in.
The basic gist is this: The player with the VR headset can see a bomb that nobody else in the room can see. The VR player needs to describe the puzzles and elements of the bomb while the rest of the players in the room consult a physical manual and try their best to blindly guide the bomb defuser through each challenge. There’s a timer and only so many fails allowed. When it’s down to the wire, your trusty guides tend to lose all composure and begin shouting directions over each other while the defuser scrambles to make sense of it all.
Jackbox Party Pack
If you don’t have fond memories of huddling around the family PC for a pop-quiz game show where “high culture and pop culture” collide, we’re afraid to say You Don’t Know Jack. But if you do, it might surprise you to find out the chrome dome taskmaster never really went away; rather a digital hibernation to come up with better jokes.
As of 2021, there are seven Jackbox Party Packs and each one has its own unique set of minigames that are all controlled using players’ smartphones (like PlayLink) and select games allow for up to 8 players at once. Each pack comes with a different set of games, and all of them are ridiculous and fun – it’s no wonder the Jackbox titles are frequently dubbed the best PS4 party games of all time.
There’s a huge variety of games across all four packs but the most popular are the ones that give you the freedom to make risque gags, like the Cards Against Humanity clone Quiplash and Drawful, a Pictionary-inspired excuse for drunk people to draw dongs.
There’s a large swathe of partygoers who flock to the closest microphone after two or three tequila slammers, like moths to the flame. For these born-again Michael Boltons, karaoke isn’t just a key ingredient to a fun night out; it’s absolutely vital. Thanks to these vodka crooners and the popular party game Singstar, there are still millions of PlayStation 2s still getting a workout every single weekend.
If you sold your PlayStation 2 and Singstar microphones on Gumtree after a particularly bad rendition of Avril Lavigne’s ‘Complicated’, there’s a way you can recapture that magic with nothing other than a smartphone and a PlayStation 4.
SingStar Celebration is the PlayLink version of the popular party game that uses your phone microphone, rather than an extra peripheral. Now you can belt out boozy ballads like Adele’s ‘Hello’, ABBA’s ‘Dancing Queen’ and Oasis’ ‘Wonderwall’ without forking out for the extra kit. Spectators can also cue up the next song from their smart device.
Sportsfriends is a delightful party game that features four competitive minigames: BaraBariBall, Super Pole Riders, Hokra and Johann Sebastian Joust.
BaraBariBall has a bit of a Super Smash Bros. slash Kung Foot (Rayman Legends) vibe. Two teams stand on opposing sides of an island. Players must dunk the ball in the other’s side of the ocean without falling in themselves. Hokra is a minimalistic evolution of Pong with four corners/players and obstacles to bounce the ball off. Both great fun, but the stars of Sportsfriends are Super Pole Riders and Johann Sebastian Joust.
Super Pole Riders is a game from Bennett Foddy (Ape Out, Getting Over It) that feels like 1v1 basketball and pole-vaulting had a baby and raised it exclusively on Tekken. Johann Sebastian Joust, on the other hand, doesn’t use the screen at all. Instead, players are each handed a PlayStation Move controller which they can only move as fast as the tempo of J.S Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos (playing through the PlayStation 4). When the tempo picks up, players must use the opportunity to psych out their opponents and break their composure. When it slows down, players must slow their movements to a crawl to stay in the game.
Guitar Hero Live
Most musically-minded folks would recommend Rock Band over Guitar Hero but we’ve always found the latter much easier to teach people who have never touched a videogame controller, let alone a guitar.
You might have purchased the peripherals for this game one too many times which is great for a party sure but terrible for the environment. If you do get a sudden urge to shred, might we suggest picking up a peripheral second-hand on Gumtree? Because there’s nothing more metal than sustainability.
It’s also worth mentioning; the latest Guitar Hero has had some iffy legal issues. Activision had to offer refunds for the game after its Spotify-inspired song streaming feature “Guitar Hero TV” shut down.
That still leaves you with the game’s 42 base tracks but not much else.
The musical platforming chaos of Rayman Legends might not look like much of a party game at first glance but it is (detached) hands-down one of the most energetic and best PS4 party games you can play with a small group of friends.
This might not be the kind of game you play at a raging house party but it’s the perfect choice for smaller gatherings of 4 to 5 people. It also helps if the people playing grew up in a household with direct access to platforming games like Super Mario World or even old school Rayman. While it’s easy to learn, the rhythm-based stages (set to the tune of licensed tracks like Black Betty) push you to perfect them and not miss a single beat.
There’s also Kung Foot, a 1v1 soccer game using Rayman characters and their attacks. Dumb, simple fun.
Possibly the best thing to come out PlayLink, Hidden Agenda is a choice-based narrative game from the Supermassive brains behind Until Dawn. In Hidden Agenda, you play as various characters involved in the hunt for the Trapper Killer, the creatively named criminal who… kills people with… traps. Look, we’re not saying Hidden Agenda has the most original plot but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun with it. In Story Mode, up to six players vote on dialogue and character decisions playing out in real-time on the screen. The twist is, Hidden Agenda asks you to answer questions based on your team’s personality traits to drive the decisions forward. For example, the game might ask who out of the group is the bravest, the person most people voted for will get to override the group’s collective decision.
Then there’s competition mode, which plays out like games of deception such as One Night Werewolf and Secret Hitler. At the beginning of the game, one player has a “Hidden Agenda” sent to their mobile device. From then on out, it’s their job to derail the decision-making and pull strings without getting caught. Hidden Agenda’s ongoing narrative makes it more suited to repeated plays, so this one is best enjoyed with roommates or friends and family you see on the regular.
Playing videogames with randoms can be a way to forge new friendships, it can be a way to establish new enemies or it can be a way to weird people out with your over-competitive nature. It’s a lucky dip at times.
The first time I played Death Squared was at a conference with three complete strangers of different ages and experience. We didn’t say hello or goodbye and we never spoke again but for a good 30 minutes, we were whooping and hollering like we’d known each other for years. Death Squared can be played by anyone who knows their left from right and the main controls are purely directional but as you rapidly progress through the game’s short and clever puzzles, a deeper challenge is revealed and the only solution is rock-solid teamwork.