The best games for your new PS4, Xbox One, or Wii U

Are your thumbs ready?

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You finally have it! That video game console you ogled on Amazon all years has been transported at last to your living room. You were so consumed with desire for the hardware that you forgot a console is only as good as its software. It's time to choose which game to play first.

To introduce you to some of the best games for each console, we've created lists for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Wii U. Each list highlights five games, and names a eight others worth your attention. And if you have time, I recommend you browse The Verge's gaming section. Our writers have published years worth of impressions, reviews, and essays on hundreds of games not featured here.

You have the console; now go enjoy the games!

We've rounded up our favorite and most-used apps and utilities for the technology we use every day. Check out our picks for iPhones, Android phones, PCs, Macs, and game consoles. We've also listed our favorite games for iOS and Android from this year.

The best games for the PS4

Bloodborne

An intentionally difficult video game set in a Lovecraftian universe from the makers of Dark Souls hardly sounds welcoming, but with Bloodborne, this formally niche sub-genre of role-playing became accessible. Bloodborne’s candlelit corridors and ghoulish villains are at times more complex and manageable than the fantastic castles of its spiritual predecessor, making it the best entry point into one of the most interesting corners of the medium.

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection

Remasters of Xbox and PlayStation 3 hits have served as stopgaps while Sony and Microsoft developed sequels and new properties for their newest consoles. Occasionally, though, a remaster manages to feel as fresh and vital. Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection doesn’t add any new stages or groundbreaking features, but it shows a level of care only comparable to Rockstar’s fantastic port of Grand Theft Auto 5. Naughty Dog’s set pieces — like a fight on a moving train and escape from a collapsing building — are just as thrilling today as they were years ago, largely thanks to looking and handling as good as its modern contemporaries.

Rocket League

The surprise hit of the year, Rocket League is a tangible meeting point for the many important changes happening throughout video games. Initially available for free to PlayStation Plus subscribers, it spread like wildfire to a healthy player base. Its "soccer with cars" gameplay made it one of the most digestible e-sports on the market. And an abundance of user-made videos highlight a trend in which the best marketing has nothing to do with an official marketing strategy. Rocket League earned its success by being one of the most intelligently designed and accessible games on the market, a fact communicated from player to player via clips, GIFs, and impassioned tweets.

Until Dawn

"The best horror movie of the year might just be a video game," wrote Andrew Webster in The Verge’s review of Until Dawn. A modern take on choose your own adventure novels, Until Dawn is one of the less traditional games on this list. There’s no wrong decision per se. Risks are taken, characters die, and the game powers toward the conclusion of your making, with or without the core cast alive.

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The best games for the Xbox One

Ori and the Blind Forest

In our feature on the future of Xbox, Microsoft Studios general manager Shannon Loftis spoke about the company’s plan to grow "seed IPs" from small games to larger, ongoing franchises. Ori is a choice example. The warm, colorful jaunt gradually ramps its difficulty, transforming unsuspecting players into experts — and in some cases, hardcore fans. While no sequel is officially announced, don’t be surprised to see a bigger follow-up sometime in the not-so-distant future.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Released on the same day as Fallout 4, Rise of the Tomb Raider was largely overlooked. That’s a shame. While the game doesn’t evolve the series to the extent of its predecessor, Rise of the Tomb Raider has one of the year’s best stories in a blockbuster video game. The latest adventure of Lara Craft also feels markedly more polished than the role-playing game that vacuumed up all of the attention in November. Supplementary modes provide plenty of reason to replay the game, an uncommon addition in a one-and-done genre.

Rare Replay

Before video game developer Rare was assigned to making sports titles for Microsoft’s Kinect, the studio spent decades creating iconic video games. While this collection doesn’t include the Donkey Kong Country series or N64 fan-favorite Goldeneye, it does feature Killer Instinct, Battletoads, Perfect Dark, the Banjo Kazooie series, Blast Corps, and many others. Legally speaking — we’ll ignore emulators here — Rare Replay is the best way to play most of the studio’s games on a modern television.

Forza 6

Forza rivals Gran Turismo titles by doing what that series won’t: releasing entries with regularity, and expanding with the Forza Horizon brand. Forza 6 is a lovely and inviting racing game both for car lovers and those of us who only care about pretty things moving fast. In the words of our own Chris Ziegler, "if you have even a passing interest in cars and you own or are planning on buying an Xbox One, you should have Forza Motorsport 6. There is no debate beyond that. It’s that good."

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The best games for the Wii U

Super Mario Maker

Pitched as a tool for making your own Super Mario stages, Super Mario Maker has warped into a bizarre and hilarious video game streaming phenomenon. My pal Patrick Klepeck has been recording a series of YouTube videos in which he tackles increasingly difficult stages made by his peers. Watching the stream months after the game’s release has led me to an unusual epiphany: while I love playing the game, I equally enjoy watching others comically suffer through oddball design.

Splatoon

If you had told me in 2010 that Nintendo would make the most innovative online shooter of the next five years, I would have assumed you were raving fanboy and asked you to please get off my lawn. Yet here we are. Splatoon is a shooter in which the best strategy isn’t always to shoot other players. It trades the muted browns of the genre for neon blues, green, pinks, and oranges. There’s a debate to be made that its squidkid characters are the most charming Nintendo creations since the glory days of Super Nintendo.

Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse

Released on the Wii U in the final days of 2014, Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse missed the publicity of year-end lists like this one. Developer WayForward Technologies has been honing the series for over a decade, while not busy making branded games for properties like Adventure Time and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. A passion project, the care and thoughtfulness shows in every stage. Shantae deserves a place alongside more popular platformers like Sonic and Mario.

Yoshi’s Wooly World

Too easy, repetitive, and saccharine, there are so many ways to trash Yoshi’s Wooly World. Yet, if you open yourself up to this slower, cheesier game, you’ll be reminded of what made Nintendo's early games so special: an unflinching sense of sincerity.

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