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Feature: Throw Out Your Textbooks, The PS4 is More Educational Than You Think

Forget about algebra, European history, and how to operate a Bunsen burner for a few minutes or so. Here’s a burning question for you: what would you take away with you if your source of knowledge was the humble PS4? 

Don’t worry; armageddon isn’t due just yet. I got the text. However, there are some very fundamental transferable skills embedded in your favourite inanimate object. To unlock that juicy goodness, all you have to do is play.

Consider your favourite plastic receptacle of joy, and you’ll soon conclude that you’ve been on field trips to ancient Greece, thwarted psychos and survived mass extinction. Those are things school doesn’t teach you. While Pure PlayStation is pro-education, don’t rule out your favourite past time for life skills. From axe throwing to dictatorship, set pieces to infidelity, the PS4 is daytime TV, prime time and after-hours rolled into one. Throw out your television (unless you’re using it for the PlayStation).

Let’s take a recap on some of the best experiences thus far on the PS4. While not an exhaustive list, it’s a quick insight into some decent titles out there that if you’ve finished your backlog – and we all have one – there will be another gem for you to unearth. Each area is broken down into points for the appropriate subject. You know, for the fun of it.

History

We learn from the past how to handle the present, and perhaps the future. Rubbish. Nothing changes much, but at least dress sense has changed a bit, and we no longer have to don loincloths and fight with titans. Still, if that’s your thing…

God of War

For some, one of the finest games ever made, and you can see why. Explore the fascinating world of mythology, learn about runes and bond with your child. Don’t like any of that? Just smash stuff up. Can’t be bothered to go to your enemy? Throw your axe at them, give a little whistle, and it will be back in the palm of your hands. God of War is far from subtle, and while you won’t be fighting the same size titans from the days of the PS2 and PS3, your fights will be epic. In your face history books: Kratos is what happened. 

Assassin’s Creed

Assassin's Creed - Black Flag

As the reluctant historian, Desmond Miles once showed us: anyone can be an assassin. But it doesn’t mean much in the modern world – we’ve all seen that covered. Instead, transport back to the times of the original assassins and their plight with the templars. Cover ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, the Golden Age of Piracy and much more. This is the quintessential encyclopedia for anyone wanting to know the ins and outs of deception and espionage while keeping your blade sharp.

Red Dead Redemption 2 

Bang bang, I shot him down. The Wild West; from classic small-town architecture to uncovering Tesla’s works, Red Dead Redemption 2 isn’t a simple tale of bullets and beans – there’s some history in them hills. Discover what it was like to be an outlaw without having to leave your house, pimp up your image with some tasty threads and raise the (handle)bar for future hipsters with some of the best facial hair in the western world. 

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Proof that olden times were hard. Not necessarily through poverty and lack of medicine, but red-eyed trolls that will slam you into the dirt or samurai lords on horseback that will make you into a human shish kebab on command. Forget about the romanticism of what it was like to be a samurai, this is how it was: tough, but no second chance. If you thought Dark Souls was hard, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Science

This could be anything really – modern wonders to experimental mishaps, the subject of science is easy fodder for zombies, which we shall cover in the list.

Resident Evil 2

One of the best zombie games, Resident Evil 2, got a remake and was very good. What have we learned from this? Give these reboots a chance as they can be an excellent standalone piece? No. Don’t mess with chemicals. You see what it has done with Racoon City – zombies are everywhere, and it just goes to show that despite how cool it might be, zombie armies are not good. Looking at you, Days Gone.

Marvel’s Spider-Man

Spider-Man

Marvel’s Spider-Man comes under mutation, and there would be an uproar if there weren’t mention of this or any other Marvel character. While zombies are bad, radioactive spiders are good. Pure PlayStation does not encourage you to seek out spider bites, but if you can swing as good as Peter Parker (hello!), mutations can’t be all that bad. Oh, he also works for a scientist in the game, so that makes this relevant. 

Deus-Ex: Mankind Divided

Just because it’s not current, doesn’t mean it’s not a great game. Infusing man and machine could not have been better with Deus-Ex’s take on of the genre. It just goes to show that it doesn’t matter if you want to go gung-ho or sneak about, there are multiple paths in the future, and it need not be one route only. Make sure that you’ve charged your batteries regardless.

Maths

I enjoy Maths as much as having my eyeballs plucked, but it’s a necessary evil. Numbers are significant, as are patterns, as it algebra. Scratch the latter. Algebra does not unlock a platinum trophy.

GTA 5

So, I was struggling with this subject, but think about it: how are you going to be able to afford that penthouse, feed the dog or keep up the payments to your psychiatrist? Money. You need to make it and lots of it. While GTA doesn’t teach you about trigonometry, fractions or the importance of the decimal point, it does help with the real-life skills of budgeting. I won’t be able to afford that new shirt and the uzi, I’ll have to compromise. Of course, one of the options is to steal everything but a) that just isn’t cricket and b) would lead us to obtain a fail in our Social Studies coursework.

Nioh

Yeah, this isn’t a subject that you’d associate with mathematics, but if you crunch the odd number here and there, you can create the perfect build to slay this game. Me? I just winged it, and according to my PS4 stats of 2019, this was the game I played more than anything else (including online). Did they not see my Death Stranding stats? Anyway, there is a genuine science to making the perfect build. While it isn’t on par with the technicalities of Dungeons & Dragons, i.e. Baldur’s Gate, it’s enough for the brainiacs out there to work out the probability of survival. I say rely on your online buddies.

Geography

You don’t have to leave the house to see the world – even if it’s a fictitious one. Be it The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the open world of GTA V or something as low-key as Just Cause, exploration is always encouraged in the digital sandbox. You just have to choose the right destination.

The Witcher 3

Anyone new to the Witcher series – where have you been? Forget booking a holiday with a company that’ll abandon you at a resort once the pot runs dry. Instead, grab your trusty stead and head for the mountains, the rivers or open plains and understand how Mother Nature should be experienced. At least in digital format. If you’ve had a glimpse at the Witcher lore through the books or the Netflix series, go for the better material, and experience it in the gaming world.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

‘See the world’ should be the promotional material for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare — the same as any service looking to sign you up. Thing is though, as realistic as it is, it’s not real warfare. We know that war isn’t fun, but when it’s a multiplayer that some fame-hungry Twitch streamer is promoting, you need to get on that plane and see the world. Also, make sure you get a headshot on said streamer. No one likes a show-off.

The Outer Worlds

This could easily be one of the Fallout titles too, but the internet doesn’t like Fallout ’76, so let’s go with The Outer Worlds. I haven’t played it still as I’m trying to manage my time when I’ll be able to commit to it. As Cyberpunk 2077 has been delayed, that might give me a bit more time to give it a try, but for now, I suggest you read the review by Kyle.

Religious Education

We’re going to have to focus more on cults than religion, as it’s not covered that much in video games for sometimes, obvious reasons. Take into account Assassins Creed, but that’s on the syllabus for almost every subject. Also, there’s no appearance of Silent Hill on the PS4, and we all know what happened with PT.

BioShock: The Collection

So BioShock: The Collection is a cult really, following the initial leadership of Andrew Ryan and what a rascal he was. Explore his underground metropolis and behold the sights that his disciples have created, just stay away from the Big Daddy heathens and later brethren of Atlas.

Assassins Creed again

Let’s stick with Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey here as that was a bizarre cult, right? No spoilers here, but forking off of the assassin/templar path, this ritualistic cult was a welcome addition to the franchise. It made it all a bit more mysterious and perhaps dangerous from the real-life groups of the time.

Doom

On dangerous ground with religion, let’s keep to the cult side of things and see what happens when you bring hell into the mix. For those forewarned about using Ouija boards, they’re child’s play compared to the hellspawn unleashed. Learn survival techniques that are destroy before being destroyed. Run out of bullets? Rip them apart! With Doom Eternal on the horizon, things are on the up. But nothing good comes from these cults unless it’s In Living Color’s – Cult of Personality. You GTA San Andreas boomers will know.

Physical Education

Arguably, this is covered in almost every title from running across rooftops to fisticuffs in undergrounds lairs – punches all around! So let’s look at some of the mainstays (from a British perspective I’m afraid) and start with football.

FIFA 20

Love it or hate it, we’ll be going into FIFA 40 at some stage. While each new title has only had its nipples tweaked just ever so slightly to produce something slightly more polished with the odd feature here and there, it’s fundamentally the same as all the titles before it. Except for controversy and too much money to shake a stick at, football remains the same.

UFC 2

This is a bit of biased entry here as I’m a martial arts fan. Emphasis on martial arts – as in discipline and life skills, not smashing someone else’s brain into the floor. Still, the physics and control system in UFC 2 (3 is essentially the same, only a slightly different roster) is unique and learns a few tricks from Fight Night that preceded it. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you tire of sonic booms and ripping out people’s spines, a good old fashioned ground and pound is good cardiovascular work. Take that, calories.

Super Meat Boy

Super Meat Boy

No one knows how to stretch and get the heart racing than Super Meat Boy. This chap wears his heart on the sleeve (well, the outside, like everything else). If you thought you had the reflexes of a cat ninja, think again. You’ll never look at salt again in the same way.

English

This is a vast subject, so let’s focus on narrative in this section as that means we can fill in any blanks for titles that don’t necessarily full into any of the above.

Uncharted

Take your pick; they are all fantastic games, but my pick is hands down Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. It’s not just the fact that this one is best in terms of graphics, it’s the character lead story that pushes it. The relationship between Nathan and Sam is as good as Naughty Dog’s other fantastic title, The Last of Us with Joel and Ellie. Arguably one of the best narratives of this generation.

Inside

Another non-exclusive, but warrants multiple purchases, even it if is scandalously short. It goes to show that less means more and that even without any form of spoken word, you can have a compelling narrative that draws you in throughout and even after the experience, you may be questioning what you just witnessed. That, my anonymous friends, is storytelling to the bone.

Bloodbourne

Coming back to the lack of a spoken word, you can still create a story, more so lore without having to spell it out. The Dark Souls trilogy were the polar opposite of Naughty Dog in that the less that is explained, the more you want to know. Unless you couldn’t handle the difficulty in Bloodbourne, in which case, you’re missing out. But don’t expect all the answers even if you have finished it multiple times.

Technology

Science fiction, or science fact? Technology is as limited as one’s imagination, and with the gaming world, it doesn’t even have to exist. But it seems so real, right? We’re absolutely spoilt for choice when it comes to technology-based games, but the following is just a few examples of those that set a new standard or have a few memorable quirks that have us frowning at our current ‘supposed next-generation’ gadgets in disappointment.

Watch Dogs

Own a mobile phone? Of course, you do. Other than the powers that be are spying on you when you’re snap chatting your nuts, do you know how much potential is in your hands? Aiden Pearce got it, and utilising his mobile to unlock a wealth of surveillance opportunities is the closest to the modern-age god. To some degree.

Horizon Zero Dawn

There aren’t too many tremendously disappointing games, but once in a while, there is a title that one or two people have a dislike for. There’s a split here between Pure PlayStation’s Chris and Kyle – Chris despises it, where Kyle loves it (quite possibly more so because it annoys Chris). To this date, I still haven’t played it, so I can’t jump in, but just look at the tech: this is what it’s going to be like for the UK after Brexit: bow and arrows and robotic dinosaurs. Well, that’s probably a lot more exciting than reality.

Death Stranding

Death Stranding

3D printers are witchcraft. I still fail to grasp the concept that you can print a 3D model in real-life with a printer. Yes, yes, there’s a science to it, but ignorance is bliss. But the future isn’t about learning to programme in Scratch in ICT; it’s about being able to print roads or watchtowers right before your very eyes. And the internet? Pah! That’s so 21st century. We’ll be on the chiral network before you can explain the plot of Death Stranding to an acquaintance who wears socks and sandals.

Detroit: Become Human

Do androids dreams of electric sheep? Well until Skynet gets that firmware update, it’s hopefully not an answer we’ll get. In the meantime, why not check out Detroit: Become Human’s attempt at cyborgs trying to meat bags. The tech is far more advanced than the glowing pocket rectangle you may currently be reading this from, and it’s one more observation on what defines us as human. Deep.

Business Studies

Tropico 6

Possibly a crossover with maths, Tropico 6 teaches all about economics with a hands-on approach. You’ll get to understand politics and how to keep people happy, or you can take the path of you’re always right and doing it your way. Spoiler: this may lead to social unrest. Prepare for rebellion, but at least you’ll earn some transferrable skills out of it. Just make sure that you give Steve the school leaver adequate breaks at work, as in real-life, rebellion is the least of your worries.

Cities: Skyline

If you want to downsize the experience of managing a country in South America, how about a much more manageable fictitious city? Sounds a little smaller, but it’s all in the details and Cities: Skyline is extensive in its approach to open planning. If time is on your side and you want to experiment with taxes and budgeting, this may be the life experience you require.

Bus Simulator

Behind the wheel, first person view, following a truck

Clickbait to another review, but a worthy one at that. The next time you jump onto the bus to head into town, for a job interview or the adrenaline rush, consider what goes into that bus trip. Someone has to painstakingly plot out the most efficient route, trial it with multiple drivers, set the fares, collect the tickets, consider those requiring wheelchair access and most of all, for your passengers to have a pleasant journey. So before going through that new Selena Gomez playlist, think about the bus driver. Then tip them.

Modern Languages

Depending on where you’re from, your second language may differ to mine. Instead of targeting English, French, German or Spanish, let’s collectively include all languages.

Shenmue 3

Entering the shopping district

You know the story now; Japanese teen stuck in a cave for almost two decades, mixes with the locals and goes about his day-to-day routine, occasionally thinking about revenge. When you’re running back and forth from place to place, picking up plants to earn money to buy food so you can keep running, you don’t want to be reading the text each time someone speaks. That’s what books are for. But, have you heard the English dub? Switch it over to the Japanese language version and train your ears and learn a new language. With Shenmue 3, it’s pretty predictable. Just learn sumimasen (excuse me), and you’ll be able to have a full conversation with a Japanese person. Probably.

Far Cry Primal

A curveball here as it’s not a modern language, nor is it elvish. The language spoken in Far Cry Primal is Wenja, Udam and Izila and as likely as there’s someone on a forum somewhere saying that the acting was weak, chances are they don’t speak it like the characters. How do I know of these languages? I Googled it. I needed more languages than English and Japanese.

Untitled Goose Game

The power of the honk. So the facts are, Inuits have 50 different words for snow. On the other hand, geese have just the one honk, but it has so many nuances that us humans (making the assumption) are unable to figure out what it is they want. The reality is that most geese are kleptomaniacs and the honk is their equivalent of sleight of hand to get you looking one way, while half inching your slippers the next.

Yakuza series

Another Japanese tale, and a favourite for many of us at Pure PlayStation. I speak for myself when it comes to the audio as it has to be the original language for me. Ignoring the fight scenes, the pace is comfortable enough to stop and read through the exchanges. Who knows – you might pick up a word or two, but don’t call anyone kisama. It’s a bit old hat. The best title is still arguably Yakuza 0.

Social Studies

Loosely based on psychology, there a handful of standout titles on the PS4 that are a must for your collection. Be it a commentary on society or a game that bears resemblance to a gritty psychological drama that is fast-tracking its way to Oscar nomination (or the gaming equivalent), there are more than enough titles that will teach you about various archetypes.

Catherine Full Body

Catherine

While you’re taught sex education at school, they don’t teach you so much about relationships, just basic morals that you can pick up in most Cartoon Network shows. Not too familiar with how to commit to your other half? Don’t follow in Vincent’s steps unless you like the dark. That said, it remained my game of the year for 2019 and taught me everything I now know about women. And sheep. 

Control

I still haven’t played Control, despite it being the game of the year for most people that play games. Oh well. Anyway, it sounds terrific, and it perhaps teaches the skills to understand others and how to act around them. If that fails, throw them to the hounds.

Fortnite

Sure, it’s not a PS4 exclusive, and there will be a lot of haters out there, but it’s hugely popular and teaches social graces. Back in the day of Halo, it used to be about throwing a sticky grenade on your opponent then graciously tea-bagging them. Not in today’s society. Now it’s about emotes and dancing.

Art

One of the slacker subjects for most, but from my stable (a.k.a. family), it’s arguably one of the most important topics and vital to communication. After that poor intro, dad, let’s skip to some titles that aren’t just pretty.

Concrete Genie

It’s been mentioned multiple times, but Concrete Genie is for those who want to draw on the walls without being arrested or worst; grounded. While short-lived, it’s a stunning title worthy of your time and if you’re going to take things further, Casanova, there’s a fantastic book out on the art of Concrete Genie. 

Firewatch

Firewatch

I was racking my brain on an art-themed game that was worthy of inclusion. While I recently review Art Pulse, that was too literal and not something I would conclude in this fictitious syllabus. Instead, I’m going to go with the art style. In this case, Firewatch. Hands down this was one of the best indie titles I played in recent years, and even though the artwork is borderline cartoon-like, it was compelling enough for me to believe I was in the national park — one of the best representations of the autumnal season, in my book.

GRIS

Not one I’ve played yet, but on the list based on the many glowing testimonials. GRIS has an emphasis on delicacy and not penalising the player for their actions. Their path isn’t set in stone and gives them the creative freedom to experiment with the array of puzzles on offer. Yes, that’s quite formal, but I gave the disclaimer that I haven’t played it yet. For a more accurate interpretation, read our review.

What have we learned today? Stay in school, kids. However, for all that downtime, push Netflix and your social life to one side and indulge in an open-ended world catered to your own tastes. Whether you’re a knucklehead who wants to focus on sports and sports only or a recluse who wants to perfect their A-game, there’s something for everyone and you know what? You might even learn some transferable skills out of it. No word of a lie*, I threw an axe at a Draugr today and I think it may have saved my life.

* While not technically a lie, it was in God of War, not at the local supermarket.

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