There was a time when gaming consoles didn’t need to have any UI at all — you would pop a cartridge in, power up, and start playing. Now our consoles are essentially full-fledged computers, with internal storage, apps, and web connectivity, so you necessarily spend a lot more time poking around menus than you used to. Fortunately, Sony recognizes this, and allows for users to re-skin their system menus with custom themes for the PlayStation 4. These range from simple color swaps to fully animated, “dynamic” themes, inspired by your favorite games.
To install a theme after you’ve purchased it from the PlayStation Store, simply navigate to Settings, then Theme Settings, and simply select your chosen theme from the list and press X.
If you want to give your PS4 menus a new look, but need a little help making a decision, we’ve put together a list of our favorite themes.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Launch Dynamic Theme (Dynamic, Free)
Why wait until you’re actually playing Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 to start feeling like you’re playing it? With the Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Launch Dynamic Theme, your entire interface looks like it came from the game, and selecting an icon will give you the same sound effect you hear on the game’s menu. Characters from the series are also visible in the background.
Red Dead Redemption 2 Dynamic Theme (Dynamic, Free)
An understated dynamic theme that fits with the tone of the epic western, the Red Dead Redemption 2 Dynamic Theme replaces the system’s standard music with bitter strings, and drawings of the major characters can be seen as they appear in manuals and box art. One of them is particularly hated, however, so you might get angry looking at the theme for too long.
The Last of Us: Part II Ellie Theme (dynamic, $3)
The Last of Us: Part II isn’t out yet, but this dynamic theme will help get you pumped for its release. Featuring spooky music and a shot of an older Ellie holding a rifle in the woods, the theme sees Ellie float around the screen, partially covering menu items but never obscuring your ability to get to the icon you want.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey Theme (dynamic, free)
The dynamic Assassin’s Creed Odyssey theme puts protagonists Kassandra and Alexios on your screen, with the two swapping places as you work your way through the menus. The gold trim around the outside perfectly matches the Ancient Greek setting, as well.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Shipwreck Theme (dynamic, $2)
Even if you’ve never gone out in search of antiquities with Nathan Drake, this animated underwater shipwreck inspired by the Uncharted series of cinematic action/adventure games will give your console a nice atmosphere of adventure.
Laser Cats from Space (dynamic, $3)
People love space, cats, and lasers, so combining the three seems like an easy win. This fun, animated theme in which cats shoot lasers out of their eyes while floating in space might be a call back to one of SNL’s early digital shorts.
Firewatch (dynamic, $3.50)
One of the most serene options we’ve seen, this theme based on Campo Santo’s excellent narrative title Firewatch features a beautiful vista from the game with trees swaying in parallax in addition to music from the soundtrack.
Rocket League (static, free)
Rocket League‘s position as a modern classic is unassailable at this point, so if you’re one of the millions of devotees to Psyonix’s automotive soccer game, you might as well show it with this slick theme featuring some dramatically framed stills and nice blue icons to match.
Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty (dynamic, free)
A lot of the themes available for your PS4 are abstract and minimal; this is definitely neither. This animated theme based on the classic Oddworld series of platforming adventure games features plenty of active elements, like Mudokons trudging through the back, or Ave polishing your screen.
PlayStation 20th Anniversary (dynamic, free)
Longtime PlayStation fans may get a nostalgic kick out of this original PlayStation (PS1) anniversary theme in the image of Sony’s original console. The light gray background is subtly textured with the PlayStation’s iconic four button shapes, which also periodically fly across the screen in colorful, 3D form.
Journey (dynamic, $2)
Thatgamecompany’s Journey is one of the most iconic PlayStation-exclusives of all time, so it makes perfect sense to bring those gorgeous visuals to your system’s UI. Starting off all your gaming sessions with this sweeping vista will make all of your adventures a little more epic.
3D Retaliation Rampage (dynamic, $2)
Countless themes available for the PS4 reference games, but this is one that’s actually a game, too! Bad guys run at your character in silhouette, and you can use the thumbstick to kill them, Tarantino-style. A kill counter racks up in the corner and you get a special victory screen for hitting 100.
Dark Souls III: Transitory Lands (dynamic, free)
Where many game-derived themes simply port their visuals directly, this Dark Souls III theme takes a more stylized approach, with beautiful results. Rendered in black and white, illustrated visuals on a weathered parchment texture, a knight wanders from left to right, encountering various iconic locations from the game.
Transistor (dynamic, $3)
Supergiant’s Transistor had some interesting gameplay, but stood out to us the most for its gorgeous visuals and music, both of which translate beautifully into this dynamic, cyberpunk-style theme. Even if you’ve never even heard of the game, this is just a marvelously slick, sci-fi skin for your PS4.
Life is Strange (static, free)
Where many themes from games feature dramatic scenery, this static theme from episodic adventure Life is Strange instead has a hand-made, drawing and collage look right out of the journal of artsy teenage protagonist Max. Throw on some shoegaze and get ready to feel your feelings.
DRIVECLUB (static, free)
In stark contrast to some of the more animated and visually busy themes, we love this free theme from the racing game Driveclub for its bold simplicity, featuring graphic images of cars emblazoned across a clean, red background.