PlayStation 5: In Review

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Full disclosure, I’m a huge PlayStation fan. Between myself and my dad, we’ve owned every PlayStation home console, and I’ve grown up with PlayStation consoles, spending thousands of hours on them throughout my youth. And as a devout PlayStation fan, the PlayStation 5 certainly does not disappoint. In terms of power, fidelity, speed, and control, the generational leap from the PS4 to the PS5 is immense.

Hardware

The PS5 itself looks like the past’s vision of a future console, resembling the fan-made mock-ups of future consoles from the mid-2000s. It’s also absolutely huge, but its side ‘wings’ give it a relatively sleek appearance despite the size. Initially, I wasn’t the biggest fan of how it looked, preferring the simplicity and smaller size of the PS4, but over time I grew to appreciate it. It was definitely designed to be stood upright, however, with the console looking much better vertically and the stand offering little support when holding the console horizontally.

The main appeal of the PS5 isn’t how it looks, but what’s inside. The first noticeable difference is the SSD, which delivers lightning-fast loads speeds. Games can boot to the main menu in less than 10 seconds, and in-game load times are near-instantaneous. The SSD is also where the PS5 sees one of its largest drawbacks, which is in available space. Although the SSD is 825GB in size, only 667GB of that is useable and size soon becomes limiting. After only a month I’ve had to start uninstalling games to avoid filling it up.

The additional horsepower of the console is also a generational leap. Gaming in 4K is unbelievable, and the step-up in graphical fidelity is outstanding. The 4K rendering is vibrant and crisp and can give games an almost photorealistic appearance in certain conditions, and the difference to 1080p is night and day. The implementation of ray tracing sees, for the first time in years, the next generation of consoles being able to do something not possible in the previous generation. In Miles Morales, ray traced reflections are a huge step up from reflections from previous generations and are a show of the PS5’s power.

The main downside to 4K and ray tracing is the frame rate, which is often capped to 30FPS. Here is where a welcome addition to the next-gen experience comes into play, which is the ability to choose between performance and fidelity modes. Performance modes see resolutions dropped and visual fidelity reduced but at the benefit of 60FPS gameplay. The increased fluidity of 60FPS really benefits fast action-oriented games such as Demon’s Souls, and the difference in graphical fidelity was unnoticeable.

Controller

When its features are used well, the Dualsense is unlike any controller. Its best implementation is in the pre-installed Astro’s Playroom. The haptic feedback is difficult to describe and really needs to be experienced. You can feel the surfaces your character moves across through your controller, and if you closed your eyes, you’d be able to guess the surface you’re on. The adaptive triggers can offer resistance before clicking into place and can vibrate and push back as you’re pulling them. These features are incredible to feel, but their implementation is sadly lacking. Demon’s Souls and Miles Morales offer impressive haptic feedback, but the adaptive triggers are sorely underutilised in both games. Third-party support can be even more disappointing. Watch Dogs: Legion is a notably bad example, with the Dualsense’s features being almost completely absent. As impressive as they are, the new features of the Dualsense won’t be seen as anything more than gimmicks until they see proper implementation in games.

New features aside, the Dualsense is still the best PlayStation controller yet. Its larger size makes it comfortable to hold for hours, which is aided by the textured grips. The sticks seem to have sturdier rubber that’ll hopefully hold up longer than those on the Dualshock 4. The face buttons are slightly more recessed and easier to press, while the D-pad remains almost unchanged. The R1 and L1 buttons have a bit more travel and have a more noticeable click and feel much more substantial than those of the Dualshock 4, and the larger size of both the bumpers and triggers adds to the ease of use.

Games

Console launch titles often aren’t the most memorable, with the PlayStation 4 launch line-up being especially disappointing. This can’t be said of the PlayStation 5 however, with Sony delivering generally great titles for the PS5’s launch, with the standout being Demon’s Souls. Far from the usual remaster, Demon’s Souls was completely rebuilt from the PS3 version while still retaining the excellent core gameplay. Demon’s Souls delivers excellent visuals in both the 4K cinematic mode and the fluid 60FPS, 1440p performance mode. The environments of Boletaria are stunning, whether you’re deep in the mines of Stonefang Tunnel or walking the hallways of the Prison of Hope. The gameplay is unchanged from the PS3 original and still has the punishing but fair difficulty the Souls series is known for, although not as difficult as the titles that came after it.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales is another showcase of the PS5’s power, delivering jaw-dropping ray-traced scenes in 4K. Although not the longest game, Miles Morales builds on the foundations of 2018’s Marvel’s Spider-Man for the PS4, delivering the same great combat and traversal but instead focusing on Miles Morales and a new cast of characters. The addition of the venom powers improves the already stellar combat and although relatively short, the story is still compelling and has some great character moments.

For a more family-orientated affair, Sackboy: A Big Adventure delivers charming platform fun for everyone. Although a spin-off of the LittleBigPlanet series, Sackboy drops the 2.5D perspective and create mode to instead be a full 3D platformer and does so incredibly well. The story, characters, and levels are as charming and cutesy as you’d expect from a game featuring Sackboy front and centre, and the levels set in time to licenced tracks like Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk are particular highlights. Sackboy is a delight to play for all ages and is an absolute blast when playing co-op with friends or family. And if none of the new releases appeal to you, backwards compatibility means that the entire PS4 library is playable, often with the PS4 Pro enhancements giving higher resolutions and frame rates. Standouts include Ghost of Tsushima, which runs at 60FPS in the resolution mode on PS5, and Days Gone, which has been updated to run at 4K, 60FPS.

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