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The Golden Age of PS4 Sports Games

Greetings, gamer! Have you heard the news? The era of the mighty PlayStation 4 is slowly but surely drawing to an end. I know, I know, it‘s bittersweet. This epic console has brought us so many groundbreaking sports titles over the past eight years. But the future calls as the ultra-powerful PlayStation 5 bursts onto the scene!

Fear not, friend. Even as the PS4 rides off into the sunset, now is an excellent opportunity for us to revisit some of the greatest sports video games ever made for this legendary system. With over 117 million units sold worldwide, Sony‘s last-gen console amassed a massive catalog of games. Let‘s dive into the absolute best PlayStation 4 sports titles of all time!

Sony‘s fourth PlayStation home console arrived on shelves in November 2013 and proceeded to dominate the gaming landscape. Throughout its lifecycle, the PS4 received a steady stream of high-quality exclusive sports franchises like MLB The Show, genre-leading third-party titles including FIFA and Madden NFL, and fresh indie games.

Reviewers consistently praised PlayStation 4 sports games for their breathtaking visuals, precision controls, diverse modes, and authentic simulations of real-world sports. These engrossing virtual experiences allowed players to feel the thrill of competition right from their couch.

In terms of sales, PlayStation 4 sports games flourished led by perennial chart-toppers like FIFA. For example, FIFA 18 sold a staggering 24 million copies worldwide as fans flocked to soccer‘s premier video game series. Several PS4 sports titles ranked among the console‘s top-selling games each year.

Now in 2022 with the PS5 taking center stage, PlayStation 4 sports games remain appealing for their accessibility, replay value, wealth of content, and ability to tap into nostalgia. Let‘s explore the absolute cream of the crop when it comes to PS4 sports gaming excellence!

Kicking off our list is a skateboarding classic revived to perfection. After years away, Tony Hawk‘s Pro Skater returned in full force with the stellar remaster Tony Hawk‘s Pro Skater 1 + 2. Developer Vicarious Visions expertly blended the first two Pro Skater games into one package brimming with content and playability.

Released in September 2020, Tony Hawk‘s Pro Skater 1 + 2 became the fastest game in franchise history to sell 1 million copies. It earned a metascore of 89 on Metacritic, indicating universal acclaim. Reviewers praised its fluid controls, varied modes, and faithfulness to the originals.

So what makes this remaster so special? It walks a fine line, modernizing the experience through sharper visuals and quality-of-life changes while retaining the classic feel. Ripping around the enhanced levels with their newfound visual pop brings back waves of nostalgia.

Under the hood, Vicarious Visions revamped the animations and handling to make performing combos and chaining together tricks feel intuitive. New mechanics like the revert lengthen combos and give experts creative tools to push their high scores ever higher through multi-million point marathon sessions.

Speaking of high scores, the return of online leaderboards lets you compete globally and test your skills against the best. Local multiplayer also allows friends to join in on the couch. The improved Create-a-Park mode provides a canvas for designing dream parks complete with wacky ramps and rails.

For trophy hunters, Tony Hawk‘s Pro Skater 1 + 2 packs plenty of challenges like collecting the legendary skaters secret tape items in each level. Approachable yet deep, this remaster scratches that classic Tony Hawk itch while feeling fresh in 2020.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 Sales

Tony Hawk‘s Pro Skater 1 + 2 sold over 1 million copies within 2 weeks. Source: Activision

EA Sports‘ dominant soccer simulation franchise continued its winning ways with FIFA 14, one of the PS4‘s launch titles. Released in September 2013, FIFA 14 wowed players with game-changing improvements to gameplay, presentation, crowds, and animations.

Powered by EA‘s proprietary Ignite engine, FIFA 14 demonstrated the instant leap in visual quality during the PS4‘s launch window. Player faces reached new levels of realism while kits and stadiums popped thanks to higher resolution textures.

Reviewers praised FIFA 14‘s flowing animations that better replicated the explosiveness of real soccer stars. Enhanced ball physics added unpredictability. Hundreds of new moves gave players creative ways to beat defenders one-on-one.

However, FIFA 14‘s most stunning achievement was the atmosphere produced by its 3D crowds and living stadiums. For the first time in a sports game, crowds visibly rose and fell reacting to the on-field action. Players felt immersed in the energy of a raucous stadium environment.

Overall, FIFA 14 represented a quantum leap for console soccer games. It laid the groundwork for the outstanding FIFA series on PS4. Buoyed by glowing reviews, FIFA 14 sold over 7 million copies across PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

FIFA 14 Sales

FIFA 14 sold over 7 million copies on PS4 and Xbox One. Source: EA Sports

While FIFA rules the roost, its long-time rival Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) also flourished on PS4 with excellent iterations. PES 2016 stood out as a high watermark through its compelling on-field action, presentation upgrades, and refined FOX engine performance.

Released in September 2015, PES 2016 earned a metascore of 87 on Metacritic based on universally positive reviews. Critics lauded its authentic soccer simulation and improvements to passing, shooting, and player individuality.

On PS4, PES 2016 ran smoothly at 1080p resolution and 60 FPS frame rate thanks to an optimized FOX engine. The gameplay‘s precision and responsiveness made executing plays feel natural. Kinetic motion replicated the explosiveness of real-life soccer.

Konami enhanced PES 2016‘s broadcast presentation significantly. Pre-match scenes like player entrances were overhauled. New animations and reactions after fouls and goals enhanced the experience.

PES 2016 perfected core gameplay mechanics like passing movements, space creation, and ball control. Combined with strong AI, matches delivered back-and-forth contests where goals felt rewarding. With excellent optics and satisfying gameplay, PES 2016 was named Best Sports Game at E3 2015 and Best Sports Game at Gamescom 2015.

PES 2016 Metascore 87
Best Sports Game E3 2015 Won
Best Sports Game Gamescom 2015 Won

PES 2016 won multiple "Best Sports Game" awards in 2015

The NBA 2K franchise dominated basketball gaming on PS4, with NBA 2K17 representing a high point. Released in September 2016, NBA 2K17 impressed with enhancements to presentation, controls, animations, game modes, and overall polish.

Graphics reached new levels of realism with accurate player scans, smooth animations, and broadcast-quality television presentation. Commentary, pre-game shows, crowds, cheerleaders – every detail reflected an authentic NBA experience.

On the sticks, NBA 2K17 added several control options catering to all play styles. Advanced moves like bounce passes and in-air fakes provided players with expansive toolkits to break down defenses creatively.

The deep MyCareer mode returned, allowing you to guide a rookie through the NBA journey. Off the court, building your personal brand through endorsement deals, connections, and training shaped your superstar‘s legacy through a compelling RPG narrative.

With excellent production values and diverse play, NBA 2K17 captured the allure of pro basketball. It remains one of the PS4‘s defining sports franchises, amassing over 5 million copies sold.

NBA 2K17 Sales

NBA 2K17 has sold over 5 million copies worldwide. Source: Take-Two Interactive

Sony‘s acclaimed baseball sim MLB The Show continued its winning tradition on PS4 with MLB The Show 22. Tuned gameplay, modes for all skill levels, and cross-platform play made MLB 22 a home run.

Building on past iterations, hitting got a satisfying boost through refined bat/ball dynamics. Fielding also became more responsive with a larger gap between average and elite fielders. Customization expanded greatly with the new Stadium Creator.

For solo players, Moments challenged you to replicate famous plays while March to October let you guide a team through a full MLB season. The card-collecting Diamond Dynasty mode enables you to assemble fantasy squads and compete online.

Cross-platform compatibility marked a watershed moment as Xbox and Nintendo players could hop online against PS4 users. With cross-play and progressions synchronization, MLB The Show‘s community grew larger than ever before.

Critics praised MLB 22‘s realism, customization, and variety catering to both veterans and newcomers. It remains the premier MLB video game experience on consoles.

MLB The Show Sales

MLB The Show games have sold over 50 million copies lifetime. Source: SG Gaming Report

American football is synonymous with Madden NFL, and Madden 16 shined on PS4 through improved controls, smarter AI, and authentic presentation. Released in August 2015, Madden NFL 16 built on what worked while striving for greater gridiron realism.

A key upgrade was the new receiver/defender interaction system for aggressively contested catches. Intricate new animations delivered nail-biting battles in the air. On the ground, upgraded running captured the explosiveness and physicality of NFL rushers.

For defense, you could execute assignment-specific strategies like QB containment or man coverage adjustments before the snap. Smarter AI improved positioning and decision-making, resulting in tighter contests.

Various modes catered to all NFL gaming appetites. Ultimate Team let you build fantasy squads through card collecting while the new Draft Champions mode offered quick 10-round drafts for custom teams.

Madden NFL 16 marked an evolution for the landmark series. Enhanced gameplay and features made it one of the most well-rounded Madden titles of the generation.

Madden NFL Sales

The Madden NFL series has reached over 130 million lifetime sales. Source: EA Sports

Beyond these stellar titles, the PlayStation 4‘s sports library runs deep. Here are some more all-time favorites across various leagues and disciplines:

FIFA Games

  • FIFA 15 – Introduced emotional/physical player attributes
  • FIFA 18 – Powered by the Frostbite engine for a graphics boost
  • FIFA 19 – Added the Champions League and new shooting mechanics

Pro Evolution Soccer Games

  • PES 2017 – Deeper tactical control and upgraded presentations
  • PES 2019 – Finessed ball control and player individuality

NBA 2K Games

  • NBA 2K16 – Revamped Pro-Am mode and lifelike facial scanning
  • NBA 2K19 – Improved Takeover moves and new neighborhood hub

NHL Games

  • NHL 15 – First current-gen engine showcased excellent physics
  • NHL 19 – Introduced outdoor hockey through the new World of CHEL

WWE 2K Games

  • WWE 2K19 – Returned to form with deep creation suites and fluid action
  • WWE 2K22 – Modernized gameplay and overhauled graphics engine

This just scratches the surface of the PS4‘s excellent sports catalog!

As we prepare to leave the PlayStation 4 generation behind and embrace an exciting future with the PS5, now is the perfect time to revisit the fantastic sports experiences this console provided. PlayStation 4 sports games delivered innovative features, stellar production values, and addictive gameplay across every sport imaginable.

Titles like Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1 + 2, FIFA 14, NBA 2K17, and MLB The Show 22 represent the pinnacle of sports gaming on PS4. Their accessible and deep gameplay make them rewarding even today.

The PS4 era was truly a golden age for sports fans. While the road ahead promises cutting-edge experiences, the classics of the past should not be forgotten. Whenever you need a sports gaming fix, the PlayStation 4 catalog offers hundreds of hours of fun. Just grab a controller, pick a sport, and enjoy!

Let me know if you have any other thoughts on the absolute best PlayStation 4 sports games of all time! I‘d love to hear your favorites. Game on!