Like many people on November 19th across the UK (and indeed throughout the world), like some hellish game of Mortal Kombat, I found myself spending endless hours repeatedly hitting the enter key and refreshing the page. First it was Curry’s, then John Lewis, Game and Amazon. That night, I was probably screaming the words ‘out of stock’ in my sleep. The next few weeks brought similar results. Only after a chance drop with BT, was I lucky enough to get hold of the much sought after console. So, a month later, here are my thoughts on Sony’s newest offering.
Let’s start with the elephant in the room, the size of the thing. I’d heard stories about the PS5 being larger than its predecessor, but I was still shocked when I finally got my hands on one. Basically, it’s bloody huge. If you’ve not got much space, this might not be the console for you. There is an option to lie the PlayStation on its side but even then, it takes up about twice the space of the original PS4. Let’s be honest, this console was supposed to be placed vertically, it’s a statement, whether you like the design or not (personally I do) you’re not going to miss it in a room. Sony have provided a handy stand to increase the ventilation and to protect the console. Make sure to attach it before placing down your console (I’m not willing to admit how long it took me to figure out how to attach it).
Once you’ve overcome the initial shock of the size of the console, the next thing you’ll probably notice is the DualSense controller. Yes, after 4 generations, Sony have finally ditched the DualShock for this more advanced and sleeker model. Appearance wise, it’s more or less identical to the DualShock 4. In hand, however, the controller feels bulkier and more premium than any of its predecessors. If you were happy with the DualShock 4, you’ll probably be happy with this. The only real downside that I’ve encountered so far is that the controller’s white colour scheme picks up dirt much more visibly than any of its forerunners. To be honest, the DualSense is what drew me to the console the most; the promises of Haptic Feedback and adaptive triggers have the potential to revolutionize gaming, both in terms of accessibility but also in transforming the gaming experience. More on that later.
But what about the User Interface, probably one of the most crucial aspects in determining the usability of the console? For me, this was something of a mixed bag. Whilst the new UI is for the most part, visually appealing, I have run into a couple of issues when trying to traverse it. For a start, the individual icons for each game are pretty small. I’ve recently upgraded to a larger TV, but when I first started with the console, I was playing on a 22-inch display and the icons were quite difficult to make out. As far as I can tell, there’s no option to increase the scale of these, so if you’re playing on a small display, or have vision problems this could be a problem.
Now, it could just be because I’m a bit slow (if I’m honest it’s probably that), but I did find the new UI slightly fiddly when trying to accomplish basic tasks. On first impressions, it all looks great, with the home screen split into two individual sections ‘games’ and ‘media’. Despite this, it took me awhile to find the friends list which is now hidden beneath a couple of menus, requiring you to press the PS button and cycle along to ‘Game Base’, in order to find the friends tab. The PlayStation button is now used as a hub for controlling a variety of options, from notifications to profile management. Whilst it’s useful to have so many options a button’s press away, accessing a basic function such as the friends tab seems needlessly longwinded, especially when compared to the simplicity of quickly selecting the friends section on the PlayStation 4 home page. So, overall a more polished UI with greater options than before, but some areas need ironing out. It also lacks the level of customisation found on the Xbox Series X and S.
But, what about, you know, the games? In terms of PS5 exclusive titles there’s not currently a huge list though the console is compatible with 99% of PS4 titles but no further back than that. In addition to this, a standard PS5 game can cost a maximum of £70. An eye watering price, I honestly think there is a danger of people being priced out of gaming. On the bright side, there are benefits to sticking with PS4 games, many of which come with a free upgrade. As I mentioned earlier, features such as 3D audio, haptic feedback and adaptive triggers were what brought me to the PS5 over the Xbox series X. Haptic feedback and adaptive triggers allow users to feel different environments and ingame actions through their controller. It’s weird, there’s no other way of putting it. The game Astro’s Playroom, free with the PS5, neatly shows off the controller through a series of levels. At one point, you’ll be swimming through water or travelling across a windy passage, you literally feel the sensation of wind or water *inside* of the controller, no I’m not making that up. Similarly, when pulling against a rope or firing a catapult, you can feel resistance in the triggers. Outside of Astro’s playroom, these features are already present in numerous games (although not necessarily to the same extent). Games such as Assassins Creed Valhalla, Call of Duty Black Ops and even worms 3D feature either haptic feedback or adaptive triggers (some include both).
Sadly, I’ve not been able to get hold of a pulse 3D headset, so I can’t say much about the 3D audio (other 3D audio supporting headphones are also compatible with the PS5). If these features are utilised properly, they have the potential to make gaming more accessible and immersive than ever before.
Aside from these features, the PS5 also comes with an 825GB SSD, meaning games load a heck of a lot quicker than they did on the PS4. But you won’t be able to run many of them. Whilst 825GB might sound like a lot, mammoth games like Call of Duty and GTA will see that space eaten into very quickly. There is the option of an external hard drive for storing PS4 games, but sadly you currently cannot store PS5 games on an external drive.
So, enough waffle. Should you buy the PS5? I would say the answer to that is yes. After spending a month with the console, I can say that I’m happy with it. As outlined above, there are a few issues that need ironing out. Unless you’re desperate for an upgrade, I would say wait a month or two for more games to be released and for the consoles to become readily available. In all, I’m happy with my purchase, Sony is looking to the future, and if current signs are anything to by, the future is largely positive.
These are just my thoughts. Remember, it’s okay to disagree with me — we can all have our own opinions! Let me know yours below.