Best Sports Games for PlayStation 4 iMore 2020
PlayStation 4 delivers a robust offering of different sports games from franchises you know and love, to the ones you might not expect. Whether you want to go speeding through icy mountains or get a slam dunk on the basketball court, there are plenty of excellent games to take advantage of. Madden NFL 19 takes the cake, but it's definitely not the only contender for the best game on the console.
- Best Overall: Madden NFL 19
- Best Baseball: MLB The Show 19
- Best Golf: The Golf Club 2019 featuring PGA Tour
- Best Snow Sports: Steep X Games Gold Edition
- Best UFC: EA Sports UFC 3: Deluxe Edition
- Best Soccer: Pro Evolution Soccer 2019: Legendary Edition
Best Overall: Madden NFL 19
It's another year, and football fans can rejoice for the newest addition to the Madden franchise, Madden NFL 19. The basic gameplay remains unchanged, as you play through the season as one team or another. That doesn't mean the gameplay is stale though.
The new addition of Real Player Motion means that every juke and 'Hail Mary' throw is more reactive and fluid than it has ever been before. This new animation package makes the game feel better than ever, and draws you in until you feel like part of the game. This means you have more control in the heat of the moment, giving you the ability to adjust spins, jukes, and passes along the way. The game also just plain looks better than it ever has with graphics that go above and beyond.
Long-time players will also rejoice at the fact that Franchise Mode has been added, letting you create your own draft classes. Once you hit the 3rd week of your season, you can share them online and edit them if need be. This will be a welcome addition for longtime players, and it's a fun way to feel closer to your team as you play through the season. Campaign mode boasts a robust plot this year that feels like a teen drama and lets you connect to the rookies you've come to love. It shows the challenges, triumphs, and failures as young players attempt to break into the big leagues and become stars in their own right.
Madden Ultimate team has also returned in Madden NFL 19. Some of the gameplay here is unchanged, with you collecting cards and putting together a roster to compete online. It gets the addition of solo challenge tournaments which let you play against teams created by Madden, celebrities, and NFL athletes. You'll upgrade (or downgrade) players the more that you use them. Online play is also more fluid than it has been in the past. There aren't any real issues in playing out a game, and lag in minimal when it shows up at all.
- Gameplay is gorgeous, fluid and intuitive
- Awesome campaign storyline
- Franchise mode has arrived
- The plot falls apart in the second half
New year, new rookies, new plot
Madden NFL 19 is back with new additions and a fun new plot to play through the season with. The gameplay itself is what fans have come to expect from the franchise, but Real Player Motion makes gameplay more fluid and reactive than ever before.
Best Baseball: MLB The Show 19
Once upon a time, Baseball was America's favorite sport. While the game has lagged in popularity over the years, MLB The Show 19 brings it to life on your console with excellent graphics and animations, and plenty of play modes to take advantage of. As a PlayStation exclusive, there is also only one system where you can enjoy it.
Under the hood, adjustments bring tons of new animations to gameplay, and physics adjustments make this a more compelling game of ball than it has ever been before. Tons of controls over difficulty also mean it's as easy for new players to jump in as it is for veteran players to get a game that is challenging.
One of the major places where serious updates have added to the gameplay is defensive play. The old animation issues have been largely solved, and new indicators make it easier to see how well a player is fielding their position. Grey and blue indicators show where there may be issues, while gold makes it clear when you have an elite fielder. Outfielders also gained an update and when you're dealing with an excellent outfielder, you'll see the path of the ball as it pops off of the wall. Lesser outfielders won't get as clear of a path, requiring you to work a bit harder for it. Infield animations also have received an update, making gameplay feel more organic than ever before.
Road to the Show, the premier career mode on MLB The Show, returns as well. This time you have more decisions than ever that let you decide the personality of your player as they move from the minors to the Major Leagues. The new March to October mode also lets you play as any number of Major League teams as they seek the glory of winning the World Series. The Moments mode gives you access to amazing games from history, letting you follow the course of history, or change it entirely.
- Fantastic campaign mode
- Physics adjustments make gameplay more compelling than ever
- Multiple modes of play
- Minigames feel outdated
- Online play can be janky and drop out before you finish 9 innings
Take me out to the ball game
MLB The Show 19 delivers an excellent baseball experience whether you want to play games from history, seek out a World Series win as a Major League team, or traverse the world of baseball from rookie to Major Star.
Best Golf: The Golf Club 2019 featuring PGA Tour
It's been a while since Tiger Woods brought golf games to the masses on various consoles, but The Golf Club 2019 featuring PGA Tour delivers an excellent experience that seasoned players and new gamers alike can enjoy.
With a robust campaign mode that includes tons of customization options for your character and six different real-life courses, there is a lot here to love. For the most part, the gameplay is fluid and gives you a real feel for the sport. It does suffer a little bit from the fact that the PGA Tour license was acquired late in development, but it doesn't ever feel forced.
Different gameplay modes offer different options that are fantastic and easy to enjoy. You can take advantage of team-based matches both online and locally. There is even a driving range which lets you practice your swing, and play user-generated courses which can net you in-game currency.
That in-game currency is how you purchase customization items for your character. Golf Club has never really put a ton of effort into customization options and even now, they're just for aesthetics. You won't ever really upgrade your skills like putting. That doesn't mean you won't improve over time though. As you get more familiar with the mechanics of play, it's easy to see how your scores improve.
An excellent feature of gameplay that has also continued to grow is the ability to build your own course. For many fans of the franchise, this is a cornerstone of gameplay. It's easy and intuitive to use, and lets you set up sessions to play with friends locally or using multiplayer.
- New campaign mode adds depth to play
- Gorgeous graphics
- Challenging but fair game mechanics
- Some gameplay feels choppy
A game that plays well above par
The Golf Club 2019 featuring PGA Tour delivers an excellent golf game with plenty of customization options for you to take advantage of. Whether you're rocking through the campaign mode, or playing online the game feels amazing and lets you enjoy everything golf has to offer, all from the comfort of your home.
Best Snow Sports: Steep
Skiing, snowboarding, paragliding, and flying a wingsuit through the snowy peaks of The Alps sounds amazing in theory. But unless you have a lot of money, time off from work, and an addiction to adrenaline it's out of the question for most people. That is until you boot up Steep.
This game delivers you onto the mountain ranges and lets you swap between four different extreme snow sports with tons of gameplay and an exploration option filled with snowy wonder. Its game modes switch between offering you checkpoint races, and the option to reach a point in the distance, however, you decide to do it.
Paragliding and flying with a wingsuit both get their own set of courses, while skiing and snowboarding share the same courses. As you play through each one there are a variety of ways to snag rewards. These vary from successfully dodging obstacles on the course...to failing and breaking every bone in your body as you careen down the mountain.
Customization options do exist, but unfortunately, they're all aesthetic choices. You can swap out your gear, but it won't help you any while riding the different courses. New boards do become available for instance, but they don't change the feel of playing at any time which feels like a missed opportunity.
One of the ways that Steep really shines is the feeling of speed when you are racing down a mountain. Fast challenges feel intense, as though you could tumble off the track and to your doom at any moment, and each different sport has its own feel and mechanics. Outside of the 100+ challenges you can take advantage of, there is also an exploration mode that lets you take in the world without being stressed about hurtling towards the finish line.
- Four different snowy sports to play
- Dozens of different challenges in the Alps
- Fluid controls showcase great graphics
- Lengthy tutorials fail to address all aspects of gameplay
- No easy way to race against friends
Best Snow Sports
Fast races in The Alps
Steep X Games Gold Edition delivers an excellent game with Skiing, Snowboarding, Wingsuits, and Paragliding all bundled into one experience. Whether you want to explore the world at large, or complete every challenge available to you.
Best UFC: EA Sports UFC 3: Deluxe Edition
The newest installment of EA Sports UFC 3: Deluxe Edition brings all of the pulse-pounding, bone breaking action back to your PS4. Most people don't have the stomach for going into the Octagon as a fighter themselves, but with this game, you can still enjoy the sport. Without shedding any blood in the process.
The campaign mode gives you control over your ascent to super-stardom. Before each fight, you'll have to spend some time training to increase your attributes for the most damage, and promote your upcoming fight to build a following of fans. Of course, that can go wrong if you go down hard early in the fight. However, it can start to feel fairly formulaic after you get through the first dozen fights or so.
Online play is equally fun and brutal, with matchmaking that means that you'll always be fighting against players of equal skill. Microtransactions are a significant part of online play, but there are a variety of ways to pick up in-game currency without spending real-world money in the process.
- Excellent fighting mechanics and graphics
- Robust career mode
- Fun online play
- Gameplay quickly becomes repetitive
- Weird minigames feel disconnected to the fights
- Microtransactions unbalance some online aspects
Feel every punch in the ring
EA Sports UFC 3: Deluxe Edition delivers pulse-pounding fighting that is brutal and well animated to boot. Whether you're playing online against adversaries or taking advantage of the Career mode a solid physics system makes every fight feel real and balanced.
Best Soccer: Pro Evolution Soccer 2019
Soccer is easily one of the most popular sports around the world, even if most places refer to it as Football. Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 delivers a great experience, even if licensing issues mean that some teams you might expect to find aren't there anymore.
From fluid graphics to excellent mechanics Pro Evolution Soccer delivers an all-around solid experience that fans of the sport will fall in love with. While there aren't a ton of new features, the ones that arrive are worth the wait. Visual Fatigue adds the feel of run-down stamina as players field the ball, resulting in less powerful kicks and overall performance issues. However, you can now easily switch out players to deal with this issue when it occurs.
One of the best new features is the addition of Magic Moments. There are 39 different traits that are spread amongst all of your players giving each one a bit more personality, and solid pros and cons to work with. These change gameplay by letting you utilize these traits to score a killer shot, give players more energy even when fatigue sets in, and chase down opponents more effectively. While casual players might find these traits to be a bit random, hardcore football fans will recognize the traits from skills the real-life players possess on the soccer pitch.
Playing styles adds to Magic Moments as well. These are distinct character behaviors which mean that some players will stick close to the box, while others race for the ball when there is an opening. It's something that integrates into gameplay beautifully because it's most evident when you are playing against the computer AI. Where Pro Evolution Soccer does miss the mark a bit, is defensive playing. Referees call fouls on plays that should be free and clear in a full-contact sport, and cards are handed out in what seems like a willy-nilly fashion.
Master League has also received a few updates which make for more fun while you're playing. Specifically, team roles now make a serious difference to your performance. There are 22 different roles from Workhouse to Legend and each own delivers its own boosts to your team. In some cases that might mean an increase in overall stamina, while others bring in bigger crowds or more money. You can also search for players who fit a particular role and filter them by abilities so that your team becomes the powerhouse you always knew it could be.
- Robust career mode
- Excellent gameplay mechanics
- Gorgeous fluid graphics
- Several major leagues are missing due to licensing issues
- Weird mix of real and made up players
Don't get out of sorts, or you'll get a red card
Pro Evolution Soccer 2019: Legendary Edition delivers excellent gameplay, awesome mechanics and a ton of fun. New features add depth to the field and let you feel like you are really kicking a ball across the green.
PlayStation 4 has a variety of great sports games for anyone who wants to enjoy their favorites in the offseason. While everything on our list ticks off multiple boxes, Madden NFL 19 easily rises to the top of the pack with awesome new features, excellent animations, and fantastic online and offline play.
This year's entry in the Madden series brings the best entry in the franchise to date. Madden Ultimate Team has gotten updates with new customization options, the gameplay itself is more fluid and realistic than ever, and online gameplay is smooth. All together it delivers the best sports game experience available on PlayStation 4.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Jen Karner is an avid gamer who has been mashing buttons for twenty years on every console from her original Sega Genesis to the current generation of systems. She's also spent way too many hours playing golf games. Really.
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