PlayStation Plus could be PS4s most essential launch game

If you’re planning on picking up a PS4 today in North America, or in two weeks’ time in Europe, you’ve likely spent plenty of time thinking about which next-gen game/s you want to buy on launch day. After all, having just spent £349/$399 on new hardware, there’s nothing worse than forking out another £50/$60 for your first game and getting home to find out it’s a dud.

Even Sony’s first party games supremo, Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida, acknowledged this week that the company’s first round of PS4 titles has generated “mixed” reviews. Platforming fans and those looking for a family friendly experience might want to try out Knack (opens in new tab), a game directed by PS4 lead system architect Mark Cerny, although the title has received a cool critical reception. Shooter lovers might opt for Killzone: Shadow Fall (opens in new tab) but although it offers a leap in visual quality, the gameplay is largely rooted in current-gen.

Critical consensus suggests Resogun is one of the standout PS4 launch titles. Billed as the spiritual successor to Super Stardust, Housemarque’s latest game is a lavishly produced, deeply layered, side-scrolling twin stick shoot-em-up. It’s a bargain at $15, but the best way to pick it up is as part of an annual PlayStation Plus subscription, which gives you the game for free.

In fact, PS Plus might be the best investment you could make on launch day.

Resogun is being offered free of charge as part of the latest Instant Game Collection update, as is the PS4 version of Contrast, a decent puzzle title in which gameplay morphs between 3D exploration into a 2D platforming. Oh, and you can throw in free copies of Grid 2 and Guacamelee for PS3, and Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed and Grand Theft Auto Liberty City Stories for Vita.

Sony has already confirmed that a free, stripped down version of delayed PS4 racer DriveClub will be offered to PS Plus subscribers closer to the game’s launch in early 2014. And while it might not be for some time yet, I’d put money on all of Sony’s PS4 launch games headlining future Instant Game Collection updates. PS Plus is a service that pays for itself over time, and you actually need it on PS4 to play games online. Theoretically, you could subscribe annually and have a decent gaming experience without ever directly buying a new PS4 title.

For me, the PS4 launch line-up isn’t terribly exciting. I’ve already got many of the key third party games on PS3 or Xbox 360, and when it comes to retail games there’s a distinct lack of new IPs. But consoles are often sold on the promise of yet to be released content and features, and it is here that I know PS Plus will deliver.

The service is (near enough) guaranteed to offer something for all types of player down the line. And not just content you think you want–you’ll also more than likely end up discovering a gem you would have walked past in the shop. If you want to get the most out of PS4, both at launch and in the future, I reckon picking up a PS Plus subscription is a no-brainer.

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