If there’s one thing that’s always a big event it’s the launch of a new console. Like Sony’s Playstation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One years back, both Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft Xbox Series X launched within days of one another. So the big question is, are they worth it? As a reviewer I want to say yes as they both have a lot more power under the hood, but as a regular person? I don’t know as there still isn’t enough brand new PlayStation 5 or Microsoft Xbox Series X games out yet.
The reason I mentioned both consoles is that I did get both on launch in order to review some of the new ports and potentially get new things such as the revamp of Demon Souls that I picked up off of a shelf as soon as I found one. That said, the Xbox Series X review will be coming out later this week while today is going to focus on both my and Nick’s impressions on the brand new PlayStation.
So physically, as everyone has now heard and or seen, this thing is huge and most of your current setups may or may not support it. I’ve honestly never been one to have my console standing up but with a way that the PlayStation 5 has been designed, it’s easier to have it standing than to have it laying on its side. Horizontally this thing takes up a fair amount of space but it does come with a hard plastic stand in order to help it lay on its side. I did find it a bit odd that you couldn’t simply make that choice without a stand like you could with the PS2, PS3, and PS4, but at least the stand comes with it and is not “sold separately”.
Like its predecessor, the PlayStation 5 doesn’t have as many USB ports as one may want, but thankfully instead of just “two”, the PS5 has a few more and for versatility they can be found both in the front and the back of the console. Having the ports in the back can help to keep your setup clean if you have peripherals such as charging stands as it’ll keep the cables out of sight. Unfortunately, the console, and any added controllers don’t come with a cable to charge or plug in your controller for the first time so you’ll want to make sure you’ve got one or more lying around.
Now while the new case looks significantly different than any other PlayStation we’ve had so far, it’s really the user interface that’s going to take the show. Everything is quick and easy to swap between and even the PlayStation Store has been integrated in so you no longer need to launch an app and then for it to think on the other end. Everything’s just right there ready to go all the time. The only issue that I am currently having with the interface is that they have removed the web browser. Stuck somewhere and you’re not sure? Need to do a quick web search and your phone’s not close by? Well guess what you’re going to have to go get your phone now. Hopefully this is something that they’ll be adding in soon as it doesn’t make sense for the console to not have one.
In terms of issues since we’re on that subject, I have two others which have both been addressed by Microsoft even back on the Xbox One. The first of these is in regards to the controller’s firmware updates. Unlike Microsoft’s Xbox One or Elite Series 2 controllers that can be updated remotely, the PlayStation 5 DualSense actually has to be plugged into the console to be updated. So if you’re across the room and it tells you you need an update guess what? Unless you have cables long enough you’re going to have to get up and go plug it in. Is it the end of the world? No. Is it annoying when you’ve just sat down and put your feet up? Quite.
The other issue that I have is Backwards Compatibility. Yes the PlayStation runs the PlayStation 4 library both physically and digitally very well, but I want to be able to play the rest of my library from over the years. Breath of Fire 3 from the PlayStation, Soul Nomad and the World Eaters from the PlayStation 2 and Folklore from the PlayStation 3 that I have yet to actually finish the B-Side, each of these would be amazing to simply slide in the disk and play. HELL, being able to stream Breath of Fire III to Twitch for a charity event would be incredible. Sadly as it stands now, it doesn’t look like we are getting anything in regards to that level of support anytime soon, or at all, meaning that you need to keep a hold on those older consoles and hope they don’t die on you.
As for the controller itself, it’s a little game changing. I don’t mean this from the tiny gimmicks in which the triggers can be blocked off which is all kinds of cool, which the first time makes you kind of worry as you’re not quite sure if your new and shiny toy is already crapping out on you. What I mean is in terms of the haptic feedback that has been installed. Still using my PS4 depending on the situation and swapping back and forth there’s a clear difference between the rumble features in the DualShock 4 and the haptic feedback of the DualSense where everything just feels much more natural making it a lot more immersive to what you’re seeing on screen.
Physically the controller fits rather well in my hands except for the fact that someone like me may have wished the controller to be a little smaller as my hands do cramp up after about half an hour to forty-five minutes a time. The issue was the same when the PlayStation 4 originally launched and I got around this by stretching out my hands and then getting back to it but I feel like it could have been just a little bit smaller as I can only imagine what people with even smaller hands than me are thinking at the size. Otherwise, I’ve enjoyed both the new integrated microphone and speaker system with an actual physical mute button. Don’t have a headset handy? Don’t need one!
Otherwise, before handing it off to Nick for some of his quick impressions of what he thinks, I just want to leave on the final note that I’ve been loving this new system so far. Izzy and I have been going through Rebellion’s Zombie Army 4 in order to Platinum it while also enjoying the new DLC chapters that have been released and whether playing on two PlayStation 4 units or her on her PS4 and me on the PS5, the cross play has been smooth. Seeing how the PlayStation 5 is designed, the new party system makes a bit more sense as we no longer need to make an invite just just sync up our voice chats for some zombie slaying.
For me, the biggest takeaway so far has to be the speed of the system. It might not have been as notable to me had I not been playing NBA 2K21 first on the Xbox One and then later on the PlayStation 5, but I have spent a lot of time on both versions of the game so far this fall and early winter. Despite the many visual improvements to the PS5 version, it loads so much faster on that system. Sure, it’s nice to see the system boot and shut down more quickly than last generation, but getting into the games as quickly as I can now has been almost startling at times.
I think the visual improvements will be more evident as more titles come out and games are built exclusively for the new platform. Right now a lot of games were built with both consoles in mind, and I don’t know that the PS5 will really get to start flexing its visual muscle until mid next year, but what I have seen is still pretty impressive. Certainly games like Demon’s Souls have benefited from the new hardware.
In terms of the hardware, the console is kind of ridiculous. It’s huge – which is probably good as it doesn’t seem to get nearly as hot (especially behind it on my shelving unit) as either the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 do. I don’t generally worry much about aesthetics, though the white unit and odd fin-like stricture don’t seem very PlayStation-y. I will say however, the controller looks and feels sharp. The trigger feedback has considerable potential (it was a little off-putting for me in NBA 2K21 at first, but the subtle rumbles felt in Demon’s Souls were really immersive, especially when wearing a headset and taking advantage of the audio).
The idea of a built-in microphone is fine, even if it sounds cheap and tinny – the idea of making multiplayer communication more readily available is actually pretty logical. That being said, I can’t say I love all of the ambient noise I get when playing multiplayer in games like NBA 2K21 from other players, and I find myself jumping into the menu to mute them more often than not. All this extra functionality seems to come at a bit of a cost to the controller’s charge, as I seem to need to recharge it pretty regularly (sometimes twice within the same day). Luckily I play with the console close enough to me that I can use my controller wired, but I could see that being a bother for others.