The Playstation 5 has finally launched, just over seven years after it’s predecessor. Boasting an SSD, double the RAM, and one of the most sophisticated controllers on the market it is clear that Sony has invested a lot into this leap into the Next Generation. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I finally got my order confirmed. As a fan of the Playstation brand for as long as it has existed, I knew this system would be a purchase for me. But it still begs the question, “Is it worth it?” In short, I would give it a resounding Yes, but let’s take a look at some specs and features to give you an idea if it’s right for you.
Specs & Set Up
As I said before, the Playstation 5 comes with an SSD (Solid State Drive) with 850GB of storage, 16GB of RAM, and 10.64 Teraflops of GPU. All of that sounds pretty impressive, but what does it actually translate to in practice? The first thing out of the box that I noticed was the ease of setup. A simple guide walks you through fitting the base on the console (I went with on it’s side). Once that’s done and you turn it on, the tutorial is a breeze. They even allow you to download streaming services during setup so you can watch tv while you wait for game transfers. All in all it took me roughly five minutes from hitting the on the button to finishing the setup. Granted, I did not do a data transfer from my PS4 which would have added considerable time to the process.
But it doesn’t matter how easy the setup is if the performance is poor. Well, based on my firsthand experience I can attest that the promises of rapid loading are entirely true. For example Destiny 2, a title available on the PS5 at launch has had its loads reduced to single-digit seconds in some cases. Where before traveling from planet to planet could take as long as a minute, now it happens in moments.
The same goes for the next-gen titles on the system as well. On Demon’s Souls, a launch title, I was able to go from booting the game to playing in less than 30 seconds. This is in addition to graphical upgrades and performance boosts to ensure that games are running at a smooth 60fps. I wish I could comment on the higher end of the graphical fidelity, but without a 4K TV, I wasn’t able to observe the improvements.
I’ve never been particularly impressed with console controllers in general. Generation after generation they promise new features and immersion that seems to fall flat. They always felt like a means to an end, that end being to play the game, rather than a feature, but the Dualsense 5 has changed that. With sophisticated haptic feedback, a built-in speaker and microphone, a touchpad, and motion control, it feels like something out of science-fiction in your hands.
The vibration and speaker pair brilliantly to make games more immersive. This can range from a change in vibration feel when you walk on new textures, to light and varied buzzes to match the rainfall in the game. This is often coupled with the speaker playing sounds relating to these vibrations. It is fascinating to experience and brings a level of immersion that developers have been promising from controllers for decades. The suite of features that the controller brings to the table are highlighted wonderfully in Astro’s Playhouse. There you can see how sensitive the built-in microphone is (by blowing into the controller naturally), and feel the surprisingly responsive nature of the touchpad.
At the time of launch the PS5 has six first-party titles: Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Demon’s Souls, Bugsnax, Godfall, Astro’s Playroom, and Sackboy: A Big Adventure. While this lineup is fairly svelte, there are also several third-party titles like Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War available as well.
Fortunately, if money is a little tight (especially after buying a 400-500 dollar console) there are still options. The system comes bundled with Astro’s Playroom, which is a delightful tech-demo and a solid platformer in its own right. If you have a Playstation Plus account then you will also have access to 20 PS4 games to download for free. And not just any games, but a who’s who of PS4 classics like Uncharted 4, Bloodborne, God of War, and more! Which leads to the question, how is the backwards compatibility?
The answer: It is good. Very good, in fact. Not quite as deep as the Xbox that hearkens all the way back to the original console. But in Sony’s words “virtually every” PS4 game is backwards compatible on Playstation 5 and will experience the performance enhancements that come standard with the console. This extends to any games you may have owned on the PS4 as well. In fact, once you pair your account, you have full access to your library of purchased games to download (very quickly) to the PS5.
No console is perfect, and the PS5 is no different. With only 850GB of storage, (of which only about 650~ is available after accounting for the system data) space for games can be scarce. Additionally, the new layout, while very streamlined and attractive, can be a little confusing to navigate. The focus on simplicity and keeping games at the forefront is nice, but the tutorials explaining use come few and far between. As a result, certain things that were once as easy as two clicks, like making a party and picking friends to invite, have become more complex.
But the largest issue by far is the chunky controller. While it does not give me problems personally, it is a bad fit for accessibility. This is best explained in the accessibility review written by the wonderful folks over at Can I Play That? Suffice to say that the weight of the controller, mixed with its size can cause a lot of problems for folks with disabilities. Fortunately, it appears that the artificial resistance that the haptics on the controller triggers come with can be disabled.
I have loved my time with the Playstation 5. It feels next-gen the way the PS4 did at launch all those years ago. The new changes are more than just bells and whistles. The quick loading for games is revolutionary. The features in the controller are brilliant and dramatically improve immersion, even if it is on the large and heavy side. It has enough horsepower to play beautiful games smoothly and, best of all silently.
I’ve had this thing running regularly since I got it Thursday morning and I haven’t heard a peep from it. If you own a PS4, then you might understand that as the highest praise of all. Yes there are some hiccups with the UI, but once you figure out how to best navigate it then it quickly becomes second nature. All in all, I’m so excited to witness the dawn of the next generation of console gaming. The Playstation 5 has shown me what the future can hold, but somehow I feel like it’s also only given me just a glimpse.
The Playstation 5 is technically available to buy now, but they’re out of stock.
All in all, I’m so excited to witness the dawn of the next generation of console gaming. The Playstation 5 has shown me what the future can hold, but somehow I feel like it’s also only given me just a glimpse