The 8 Best PlayStation 4 Sports Games to Buy in 2017

Shop for the best sports games for the PlayStation 4

Summer is nearly upon us and most of the country is now warm enough that people are getting outside to play real sports, but sometimes it’s more fun to stay on the couch and play virtual ones instead. With a couple years of product released for the PS4, it can be a little overwhelming when you’re trying to decide which sports game to pick up and play. Let us help you choose which games to master with the following list of eight of the best titles on the market (from basketball, to baseball, to soccer and even WWE).

The twelfth game on Sony’s exclusive MLB-licensed franchise is arguably the best to date, complete with detailed stadium replications, perfect player mechanics and the kind of personalized player simulations that we have come to expect from developer SCE San Diego Studio. What’s great about “The Show” franchise is the devotion to replicating what fans know and love about the game. Watch the way sunlight moves across Wrigley Field on a May afternoon. Listen to player-specific cat calls from the crowd. Check out your favorite player’s batting stance perfectly replicated. And, like all great modern sports games, you can dive deep into multiple modes—play a quick game online or a whole season, or start up your own future All-Star with the Road to the Show mode. It is one of those great sports games in that it provides something for everyone, from casual players who just want a nine-inning experience to those interested in franchise management, all the way down to the cost of a hot dog.

When it comes to the physics of sports, which is really the engine that makes a sports game hum, nothing is better than the “2K” series from 2K Sports and Visual Concepts. There’s a fluidity and realism of movement in this franchise that’s unmatched even by juggernauts like “The Show” and “Madden.” The era of unrealistic slam dunks and animations against which it is impossible to defend is over. 2K Sports killed it. Playing through a full season in “NBA 2K17” feels like the real thing, complete with injuries, hot streaks and slumps. And the game has a fantastic My Career mode, directed by the legendary Spike Lee. If that’s not enough, it allows for a little history, letting you play classic teams like ’00-01 Lakers (think Shaq & Kobe) and the ’95-96 Bulls. It’s not just the best basketball game, it’s arguably the best sports game, period.

It’s a Madden World, we just live in it. The Madden franchise long ago transcended being just another video game series to become a cultural phenomenon. There’s a whole generation now that associates John Madden more with video games than actually playing football, coaching it or even being an announcer. And each iteration of “Madden” has been a little more refined than the one before. The latest reflects the real NFL’s emphasis on the QB-WR dynamic. It’s not a coincidence that Odell Beckham Jr. graces the cover. The coolest new addition to “Madden” in years is also in this version—something called “Draft Champions,” in which you do a quickie draft, fantasy style, of players from the past and present to form a new mega team. So, you can have John Elway throwing to Mike Evans. And then you take your dream team through a ladder of increasingly difficult opponents. Everything else is back as well, from quickie Online Play to deep Season Modes. There’s a reason “Madden” is the most popular sports franchise in the world. It’s not just a franchise, it’s a brand.

EA Sports has been making hockey games under the NHL banner for 25 years. By now, they know a thing or two about how to make a hockey simulation, and their latest release is arguably their best. It has incredibly fluid gameplay, and works well for hardcore fans of the sport or those who don’t know what the heck icing is in the first place. Like most EA titles, it’s also incredibly deep in terms of variety, allowing you to control an entire team, just a player, or even just the GM, dealing with the business of hockey, including salaries and negotiations. This one also has the Hockey Ultimate Team, a fantasy-sports simulation in which players collect cards of real-life athletes and build teams with them to play online. You can even form leagues of these imaginary teams, essentially creating your own imaginary hockey league.

And they say soccer will never be as popular in the United States as it is in the rest of the world. To be honest, it often feels like more people are playing EA Sports’ “FIFA” franchise than are watching the actual sport itself. And this one takes a leap forward in terms of equality, introducing female players to the franchise for the first time. Defending and passing feel more realistic in this year’s version as opposed to the past, enhanced by the capabilities of the PlayStation 4. More so than most sports, there actually is a bit of a competition here in that “Pro Evolution Soccer” from Konami has its defenders. They’re incredibly close in terms of quality, but “FIFA” is just more popular, and so you’ll find more friends and online players with whom to have a match, giving it the edge.

There has yet to be a truly great golf game for the PS4 (we're still waiting for EA Sports to get it right or a rival studio steps up and takes a shot at the green). But the Rory McIlroy PGA Tour '16 is great because it offers a variety of play styles. If you’re a casual fan, you can use an arcade style that merely requires you to use the buttons to connect club to ball. If you’re more hardcore, you can up the difficulty and employ a style that turns the control stick into a club, gauging your control, accuracy and force in a different way. The courses are well-replicated, offering you a chance to play 18 holes that you never would be able to in the real world.

Let’s not argue over whether or not pro wrestling is actually a sport. For our purposes, it is, and here’s another series in which 2K Sports has led the way instead of EA. It helps that they’ve been the one to earn the license from the WWE, allowing fans to play as over 120 unique wrestlers from their real life obsession, including current favorites as well as the legends. Speaking of obsessions, “2K” makes it easy to spend hours with their sports games by offering tons of ways to play, including a way to develop your own WWE Universe. You can customize and compete with your own characters, even taking them online. Have you always wanted to be a WWE star yourself? Now you can be.

For wannabe athletes who haven’t been to the gym in a while, pinball can be its own kind of workout. OK, maybe it’s not as much of a sports game as “Madden” or “NBA 2K,” but Zen Studios pinball simulator is one of the best games you can buy for the PS4, of any type, sports or not. It’s just a fun, pick-up-and-play addiction, especially now that they’ve licensed tons of franchises, allowing for gamers to play pinball tables based on “Star Wars,” Marvel, “The Walking Dead,” “Archer,” “Family Guy,” “South Park,” and more! It’s an addictive blast.

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