5 games to play first on your new PS5

Congratulations: You got your hands on a PlayStation 5! Nearly three years after launch, the PS5’s global shortage is a thing of the past and the console is selling better than ever. Now that you’ve finally gotten Sony’s latest gaming console, there’s just one simple question: What do you play on it first? Don’t sweat it. We’ve got the answers.

The PlayStation 5 has amassed a sizeable library of exciting games to play since it first launched back in 2020, from spectacular first-party exclusives to terrific third-party releases. Here at Polygon, we’ve put together our top picks for which games new PS5 owners should play first in order to get the most out of their new console.

There’s a ton more games to choose from than just what’s on this list, as our exhaustive list of the best games on PlayStation 5 can attest. These are our recommendations of where you should start before gaming to your heart’s content.

Captain Astro on top of a DualSense controller in Astro’s Playroom Image: PlayStation/Twitch

Everyone with these two traits loves Astro’s Playroom. First, they have a copy of Astro’s Playroom and second, they’ve played that copy of Astro’s Playroom. Normally there wouldn’t be much distance between those two traits; however, Astro’s Playroom comes bundled with the PlayStation 5 and, as a result, I often worry it goes unnoticed because Big AAA Game is the priority.

So I’m here to make sure that you, as someone with refined tastes, do not make that mistake. Fire up Astro’s Playroom and be rewarded with a charming, three-ish hour journey that is equal parts PlayStation 5 tutorial and PlayStation history tour with just enough precise platforming that you may find yourself going back to clean things up for … make that four, no five hours. And when it’s sadly all over, you can queue up the soundtrack on repeat (shout out to “I’m Your GPU”) and begin the long, painful process of awaiting its successor. —Christopher Grant

V, the player character in Cyberpunk 2077, driving away from a police car in pursuit while firing a weapon in Cyberpunk 2077. Image: CD Projekt Red

CD Projekt Red’s open-world first-person role-playing game set in the dystopian world of Mike Pondsmith’s Cyberpunk tabletop universe has been on a wild journey over the past three years. A notoriously buggy and broken initial release in 2020 turned to critical reappraisal following the game’s 1.5 patch and the effusive reception to the game’s first (and only) expansion. Cyberpunk 2077 has undergone one of the most dramatic redemption arcs seen of any game of the past couple years. After all that’s been said and done, you likely have only two questions: Is Cyberpunk 2077 worth playing? Is the game finally ‘fixed’?

The answer to both questions is yes, and there’s never been a better time than now to play it. Cyberpunk 2077: Ultimate Edition comes complete with the original 60-hour base game in addition to this year’s Phantom Liberty expansion, as well as all the subsequent fixes, updates, and free content added to the game post-launch. Tear through the dark future of Night City’s streets and make your name as a legend among the city’s mercs. —Toussaint Egan

Cloud slashes at the Air Buster boss in a screenshot from Final Fantasy 7 Remake. Image: Square Enix

The PlayStation 5 glow-up version of Final Fantasy 7 Remake includes not only the award-winning original game but also the PS5-exclusive DLC starring Yuffie, a hyperactive teen girl activist with way more emotional energy than the moody Cloud Strife. But if you’re a new PS5 owner who didn’t play FF7 Remake on the PS4, Intergrade is even more of a must-have. Despite having the word “remake” in the title, FF7 Remake is much more than that, as it’s a total reimagining of the original 1997 RPG’s story. —Maddy Myers

Satchel Paige of the Kansas City Monarchs tosses a baseball in the air at dusk in MLB The Show 23’s Storylines mode Image: SIE San Diego Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment

If you’re a baseball fan who owns a PS5 (or an Xbox Series X, or a Nintendo Switch), I have to imagine that you’ve already tried Sony’s perennially terrific MLB The Show series. But I’d strongly recommend 2023’s edition regardless of your feelings about the sport, thanks to its terrific new mode Storylines, which lets players learn about and relive the history of Negro League baseball.

The mode tells the stories of Negro League legends like Satchel Paige through sequences where you play as them in period-accurate uniforms and ballparks. These segments are accompanied by educational videos narrated by the charismatic Negro Leagues Baseball Museum president Bob Kendrick, which provide more color about these athletes’ careers and lives — without shying away from the awful reality of life under segregation. Major League Baseball is undertaking a long-overdue effort to acknowledge and grapple with this shameful history, and doing it in a video game makes MLB The Show 23 a truly special work. —Samit Sarkar

The Nemesis boss fight in Returnal Image: Housemarque/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

Returnal is one of the must-play games on PS5 simply because there’s nothing else like it on the platform. There’s nothing else like it anywhere, frankly. Most bullet-hell games give you the benefit of a bird’s-eye view — far enough away that you can weave through the deluge of projectiles from a removed distance, hopefully safely. Returnal, meanwhile, throws you right in the thick of it.

The “thick of it,” in this case, is an exoplanet whose biomes look like playable heavy metal album cover art. Pretty much everywhere you go, some jerk alien is lobbing a ceaseless torrent of energy globules toward you. Without fail, whenever you think you’ve dodged everything and eliminated your aggressors, you will die, and then you will die again, and then again (and again). Eventually, through grit and perseverance (and possibly a replacement DualSense controller or two), you won’t die. And the subsequent feeling of victory? It’s one of a kind. —Ari Notis