Sony’s PlayStation 5 (SNE) is almost here. The company’s first entirely new console since the PlayStation 4 launched in 2013, the PlayStation 5, or PS5, which launches on November 12, is about as impressive an upgrade as you can ask for.
It features an unorthodox design, awesome new DualSense controllers, and plenty of tech upgrades and additions, including ray tracing for better lighting in games, and an SSD drive for faster load and boot speeds.
Like Microsoft’s Xbox Series X (MSFT), the PS5 starts at $ 499. A digital-only version, which doesn’t have a disc drive, starts at $ 399, making it more expensive than the less powerful Xbox Series S, $ 299. But for PlayStation fans, what matters is how the games are played. And the answer to that, in a nutshell, is: fantastic.
A wild design and an even wilder controller
I can’t talk about the PS5 without discussing its design first. It’s nothing like the previous generation consoles, or anything you’ve really seen before. To be frank, the PS5 looks like the kid in love with an alien and a VCR.
Its outer shell is made up of two large white panels and features a spectacular clam-shaped design. Between the shells is the heart of the system wrapped in a black case with massive fan grilles on either side. I also don’t want to underestimate the size of the PS5’s cooling system.
In a recent teardown video, Sony showed off the PS5’s gargantuan heatsink and fan intended to remove heat from its internal components, and they appeared to make up 25% of the entire system. This is all meant to keep the console’s custom AMD CPU and GPU nice and cool.
These cooling solutions also add to the ridiculous footprint of the PS5. At over 15 inches long, the PS5 eclipses all modern consoles on the market, including the new 11.8-inch Xbox Series X. It doesn’t make so much of a statement as shouting “I’m here!” directly into your ear.
All of this volume needs to be placed somewhere, and for most people, it will probably be in their entertainment center. You can hold the PS5 up in the air using its included stand, but chances are it won’t fit your space. I set up my review unit so that it sits on its side which certainly helps to make it more manageable. However, you will also need to use this included stand in this orientation, as the system itself does not have a flat base to sit on.
To match the futuristic white and black aesthetic of the PS5 console, Sony has also redesigned its controllers. I love the PS4 controller and was a little nervous when I saw the PS5s, but after using them I can confirm that these fears were unfounded.
Yes, the PS5’s DualSense controller is bigger and heavier than the PS4’s DualShock 4, but there’s a reason for that. You see, Sony has added improved haptic feedback to the DualSense, along with brand new adaptive trigger buttons.
You’ll notice the improved haptic feedback when doing things like running on certain surfaces in games or bumping into objects. Rather than a big buzz, the controller can now vary the type of feedback in a more granular fashion, making each feel different from the last and adding realism to the gameplay.
But it’s the adaptive triggers that will blow your mind. Triggers work by changing the amount of pressure required to press them, making it look like you’re pushing against an object. So let’s say you’re playing “Spider-Man: Miles Morales”, using your web shooters to roam the city. Every time you cast a new well you will feel a little resistance. Or say you’re playing “Astro’s Playroom” and you need to get something out of the ground. As you work harder to pull, the tension in the trigger will increase until you finally grab what you wanted.
It’s a feature that I see working well for racing and fighting games, as well as horror titles. I just hope the developers embrace it soon.
I loved the PS4 interface. It was simple, with a horizontal row of my most used games and apps, and a series of menus available if I wanted to dig deeper into system settings. The PS5 largely builds on this design with the same type of horizontal row appearance, but separates games and media into two sections.
I found the separation to be a welcome change, as I often have to scroll past Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video to access my games on my PS4. There is also a new quick action menu at the bottom of the screen accessed by pressing the PS button on the DualSense controller.
Rather than taking you back to the PlayStation home screen, the quick action menu will give you a series of options ranging from switching between recently used apps and games to checking to see if your friends are online or when the system is completely deactivated. Overall, it feels like a more streamlined interface that can only get better over time.
What about the games?
Alright Alright. Games. Well, I’ve been playing “Spider-Man: Miles Morales” and “Astro’s Playroom” for several days now and I can confirm that both are absolutely spectacular.
“Spider-Man” in particular appears to benefit from the enhanced capabilities of the PS4 by allowing more on-screen action at once. In a swinging game in the Marvel version of New York City, the more pedestrians and cars on the sidewalks and streets, the more alive everything is. Add to that the enhanced lighting effects thanks to the ray tracing capabilities of the PS5, and New York has never looked better on a console.
“Astro’s Playroom” meanwhile is more of a lightweight platform and, as such, doesn’t require a lot of realism in terms of appearance, but the amount of on-screen animation, whether it be. flowers blowing or non-player characters moving in the background, is truly impressive.
I’ve also launched some of my PS4 games on PS5, including “Tony Hawk Pro Skater: 1 + 2” and “Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s about time”, and the overall performance has increased dramatically. I mean it takes a while for “THPS” to load on the PS4, but with the PS5 I felt like I could jump into games in an instant.
Speaking of speed, the PS5 starts up much faster than the PS4, and with the ability to quickly switch between games, you can play without too much downtime.
Should you get it?
The PS5 doesn’t come cheap, and it’s not small, and its design certainly won’t suit everyone. But as someone who owns all Sony consoles from the original PlayStation, I can safely say that you are going to want to get the PS5.
Graphics and quality of life improvements such as its high-speed hard drive, as well as the new DualSense controller, make it worth it, and that’s before you consider Sony’s enviable stable of proprietary franchises that you can’t. play only on its consoles.
In other words, the PS5 is great in every way. And more than worth it.
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