So you’re a dad who loves video games, especially the best PS4 games. It’s easy to get kids psyched for video games, but harder to find games that are appropriate for them. That’s becauase most PlayStation games are engineered to suck you into hours of violent mayhem, mindless button mashing, or overly complicated strategizing. So save Red Dead for after your kid goes to sleep and fire up a game specifically designed with kids in mind. The best PS4 games for kids and families are fun, imaginative, and occasionally incredible.
While we don’t recommend spending hours in front of the TV playing one of these masterpieces, we do encourage you to steal an hour here or there to play with your kid. Each of these games has a co-op mode: they can be played by two or more people working together at the same time, creating a space for parents and kids to bond. The other thing we looked for: imagination. A good video game for kids should be like a novel or Pixar movie: it should be creative and thought-inspiring. With those criteria in mind, here are our top picks for the best PS4 games for kids and parents.
This superhero is busy fighting crime in New York City, while also struggling to balance his crazy personal life.
Pros: So your kid (or, ahem, you) loves Peter Parker? Then sling your way into this PS4 game, which has stunning graphics that let you traverse with parkour, and engage in new combat and action moves. It’s got some violence in it, so it’s better for older kids.
Cons: The storyline is a little overly cobbled together.
This side scroller is a great value, as it comes with four different characters with mechanics to master over more than 100 different levels.
Pros: The premise of this game is silly and appropriate for kids of all ages. It also doesn’t have any in-game purchases, so once you buy it you’ve got everything (and your kids won’t be bugging you for the credit card number).
Cons: Some users complained that the levels don’t seem well thought out, a factor that probably won’t matter to younger kids but could be annoying to more sophisticated gamers.
In this latest version, Sora, an unknowing heir to a spectacular power, who is joined by Donald Duck and Goofy to stop an evil force known as the Heartless.
Pros: This combines all the games into one combo pack, so you can own every game in the series. Your kids already know and love the characters in this PlayStation 4 game, from Goofy and Donald Duck to the Disney princesses to Woody and Olaf.
Cons: It’s a nice package, but not much new about it.
This PlayStation-exclusive title is the definitive baseball game, and for good reason: its graphics, gameplay, and level of detail are unrivaled.
Pros: Baseball is all about minor tweaks to myriad variables, things like shifting an infielder over a step or two or getting an extra inch of break on a curveball. The Show captures this aspect beautifully, and this year’s edition bringing even more control to the defensive aspects of the game.
Cons: If your kids don’t like baseball, the odds of them liking this game are slim to none.
Rayman Legends is a gorgeously drawn and rendered kids’ game that pits you (Rayman) against an array of monsters, including dragons, toads, and… lunchdores (we had to look that one up). Run, jump, and fight your way through a series of mazes, puzzles, and breathtaking art.
Pros: Four-person co-op is awesome, and the Rayman Legends PS4 game lets players change in and out without interrupting the game. Online challenges let your kids — or, let’s face it, you— compete and rank internationally. But what we really love is the excellent, vivid art and the adorable story.
Cons: It could get a little childish for older kids, who’d rather jam on Battlefield and the like. And for younger ones, it can be a tough game to play — some of the puzzles and mazes get rather complicated rather quickly.
You know it. You love it. Or, you love to hate it. Either way, you can’t beat the undeniable draw and cultural cachet of Minecraft. This legendary game offers modes that can get both kids and parents really into it: Creative Mode lets up to four players create (or dismantle) their own pixilated world, and Survival Mode lets the family come together to fight the Creepers.
Pros: The key to co-op Minecraft is creativity — so while you may think some PS4 games melt your kids’ brains, Minecraft actually makes them think in the abstract and long-term. It gives you an opportunity to create something cool with your kids.
Cons: Minecraft has been long known for its robust online community. While that’s an awesome opportunity to play different kinds of people from many places into the world, a kid going into it solo can lead to negative interactions with strangers. Be sure to play with you in the room.
Rocket League is basically soccer, but with futuristic cars instead of people. Up to four players can create their own cars, drive around, and battle it out to knock the ball into an opponent’s goal. Nominated for over 150 “Game of the Year” awards, Rocket League is a modern classic for the whole family.
Pros: Customizing vehicles with paint jobs, accessories, and power-ups means this game is super fun before you even start competing. It also adds a creative dynamic to PS4 gameplay. Once you’ve logged some matches with your kids, leaderboards show off who’s the best. Once you’re ready, log into eight-player online mode and take on the neighbors down the street.
Cons: The ball can be tough to kick, so get ready for a little learning curve. You also want to be careful when members of your family play against each other; competition can get heated and kids who don’t deal well with losing might be tempted to throw a controller (or a tantrum).
Lego Worlds is all the fun of the classic toy without the unbearable pain of stepping on a brick. The game drops you and your kids into a world made entirely out of LEGO bricks and lets you manipulate it however you want to. Build, destroy, explore: whatever floats your boat. The only limit is your kids' imagination.
Pros: Like Minecraft, LEGO World forces you and your family to use some serious creative juices. Two-player split screen allows you to collaborate with a family member in this PS4 game, and online multiplayer lets you play with your kids remotely.
Cons: The game can be pretty complicated, so we don’t recommend it for really young ones. Lots of cutscenes and tutorials force you to sit a bit before playing around, and the lack of a plot might bother some more narrative-minded gamers.
What’s more fun than watching a game show? Being in one, clearly. Knowledge is Power gives you, well, that power. This one has a twist, though. You can use your smartphone or tablet to answer questions, power play over your opponents — such as tapping through ice before they can answer a question — and much more. Fun for the whole family.
Pros: Naturally, like a game show, you and the fam will have to use a lot of brainpower. The interaction with the smartphone/tablet also gives your kid some exposure to a phone in a way that’s not all about the phone.
Cons: Things can get heated in competition. It may prove too difficult for younger kids as well — those with a less vast knowledge base. A few of the questions feature references to concepts like the Oedipal complex that you may not relish having to explain to your kids.
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