The PlayStation 5 is finally here! Well, kind of. A shortage of stock on launch day has meant that, for a lot of people, the next generation of console gaming is still some time away. However, Sony has confirmed that more units will reach Irish shores before Christmas. Tesco has already started calling people who missed out on the initial first round to confirm that they will be receiving some of this latest batch. But for those of us who were lucky enough to secure a pre-order the future is now. So here it is, the good the bad and the mind-blowing of Sony’s latest console.
Introduction To Sony’s Next-Gen
Let’s get the biggest downside of any new console out of the way, the price. As we broke you, what feels like many moons ago, the PS5 ain’t cheap. The disc version of the PS5 will run you €500, with the disc-free version only being €100 less at €400 and we at goos3d.ie reckon this version is the best value for money of this current generation of consoles. For half a grand you would expect the PS5 to be a true revelation in terms of what it can offer the player and I can confirm that it absolutely is (probably more than Apple’s headphones will be).
My Life With The PlayStation 5
As a disclaimer, this review will focus on the disc version, but rest assured that outside the obvious lack of an optical drive and a requirement for a lively internet connection, there’s no difference between either version of the console.
Unboxing and Setup
Getting the PS5 home and out of the box, I noticed one thing immediately. It’s big. Like, really big. At nearly 40cm tall it probably won’t fit in many TV units (mine is on top, next to my TV). As with every PlayStation since the PS2 you’re given the option to stand it upright or on its side. Thankfully, the stand that comes with the console can be ingeniously configured to support either. Personally, I prefer the upright look, the sleek curves of the outer shells flanking the powerful core of the machine. It’s clear from the moment you start it up that this shape is designed with one thing in mind.
The fan runs whisper-quiet most of the time with little to no heat coming from the top, sides or back of the console. Already a massive improvement over the PS4’s jet-engine like run volume.
Even Higher Definition
As with practically anything that connects to your TV the PS5 comes with its own HDMI cable. However, this isn’t your dad’s HDMI. This is HDMI 2.1. This is the true secret to the PS5’s graphical prowess. Put simply, this is the next step in HD technology, with the cable being capable of transmitting resolutions of up to 10K at a rate of 120 frames per second. Not many TVs support this yet, but it’s a great piece of futureproofing on Sony’s part to get themselves ready for the next leap in display technology.
One call out though. The cable is a bit short, so if you’ve had to manoeuvre your console into an odd position you might be going online to find a longer cable.
I’m In: Let’s Get Gaming
Once the system is on, the setup couldn’t be simpler. If you already have a PSN account just pop in your details and you’re away, or you’ll be prompted to set one up via a couple of quick text boxes. If you have a PS4 and want to transfer over your downloaded or installed games (as well as any save data that hasn’t been uploaded to the cloud) the PS5 gives you this option too and you can either transfer over your own Wifi or via a network cable (Sony recommend this option so as to keep the transfer nice and quick!).
My only complaint about this process is the need to switch between your HDMI channels to initiate the transfer on both consoles. For some users, this may even mean connecting and disconnecting each system in turn if your display only has one HDMI port. But once you’re happy with your setup you’re right into the menu and ready to enjoy!
The Same but Different
The main menu is not too dissimilar to the PS4’s, though it’s a little more streamlined and easier to navigate (there are separate menus for games and media for example). As before, your most recent apps are kept in a mini timeline at the top with more available on the far right in a larger menu. One very welcome addition is a new PS+ section that allows you to download your monthly games directly from there (as well as the new PS+ Collection which I’ll get to in a bit). In fact, the store is now integrated seamlessly into the menu as well, instead of being a separate app that was more complicated than it needed to be on the PS4.
PS5 Games At Launch
You may have seen that the PS5 comes with a “pack-in” game, Astro’s Playroom. Kind of like why Windows ships with Solitair, the “pack in” game demos the console’s capabilities. If you’re like me and had already bought a game like Spider-man to play on day-one you may have initially skipped this little distraction.
But I’m telling you right now that I made a mistake.
Even though it’s really just a tech demo to show off the capabilities of the new Dualsense controller, it really is a fully-fledged game. After a quick introduction to all the new features of the new controller you’re launched into the CPU plaza, a hub world that allows you to go to one of four larger worlds that are based on the different parts of the PS5’s internal hardware; GPU Jungle, SSD Speedway, Memory Meadow and Cooling Springs (the fact that the system’s cooling was given its own zone is another hint that it was a major focus for the console).
Trust me this is a great experience that really shows off the capabilities of the new Dualsense. It was reminiscent of a short Spyro game if I’m being honest! And the final Easter Egg awarded for completion is absolutely worth the hour or so it takes to complete!
Next Gen Through and Through
When it comes to the main event though, the PS5 really lives up to its next-gen gaming reputation. As we shared here, Spider-Man Remastered is a promising look at what we can expect from the PS5 in the graphics department as a direct comparison to its predecessor.
Similarly, the 12 seconds it takes to load the game from the PS5 menu is staggeringly quick. This is even more impressive when you consider a good 4 or 5 seconds at least is taken up by Marvel and Insomniac’s branding splash screens, so the true load time is probably even faster!
Let’s step away from the console and focus on the controller. Some commentators have said that there are two next-gen consoles but only one next-gen controller and I have to say, they’re right! The Dualsense is almost unrecognisable next to its predecessor. The white and black motif of the main console carries over to the controller, as opposed to the flat black of the Dualshock 4. There’s more heft to it too, weighing a full 70 grams more than the PS4’s offering. It also fits far better in the hand thanks to a slightly bulkier design.
As someone who prefers a bigger heavier controller (I use the X360 Special edition controller for my PC gaming because it’s heavier), it really feels that the Dualsense was designed with me in mind. The piece de resistance from a design perspective though is that the textured grip on the handles is actually made up of thousands of tiny PlayStation button symbols the mainstay buttons of the PlayStation controller. Something that you’d barely notice but is a gorgeous detail, nonetheless.
It’s What’s on the Inside that Counts
This thing is jam-packed with tech. The speaker and touchpad from the Dualshock 4 are back again with a slight improvement in quality. A microphone has even been added above the speaker, so you won’t necessarily need a headset if you’re chatting to your friends in a party. The lightbar has now been split in two, flanking the touchpad in the centre. The charging port has also been upgraded to USB-C, the current charging standard. All nice to haves, but inside is where the Dualsense really comes into its own. It’s been equipped with a new Haptic Rumble feature not dissimilar to the Nintendo Switch’s HD Rumble feature. This really goes a long way to immerse you in the gaming experience. From the buzzing of Spider-Man’s phone to Astro’s footsteps on the sand of Cooling Springs, every different action gives a different vibration that draws you into the world you’re playing in.
These improvements all go a long way to help the Dualsense cement its place as the best controller on the market right now (a topic that’s hotly debated in the gaming community) but the real showstoppers here are the adaptive triggers. A first in gaming tech, the L2 and R2 buttons now recognise the current state of a game you’re playing and will become harder or easier to pull depending on the situation.
So, putting tension in spring in Astro’s Playroom will cause the triggers to be harder and harder to pull, while free-running as Spider-Man will see them pull towards the controller with ease! It’s going to be thrilling to see how this is used in some of Sony’s big first-party titles. Aloy’s bow in Horizon springs to mind or changing how far Kratos might throw his axe in God of War: Ragnarok, and who knows what it’ll be used for in Ratchet and Clank, chaotic as that series is! We do know that everything the Dualsense has going for it will make for some of the most riveting gameplay experiences of the coming years.
Xbox fans will probably point to the PS5’s lack of a “Quick Resume” feature as one of its weaknesses in the newly renewed console wars and they kind of have a point. Quick Resume is seriously impressive. However, PS5 has something that I would say is even more useful. The Activities feature. As someone who plays a lot of open-world games, I often get frustrated with the sometimes hundreds of objectives scattered across the map with no easy or timely way of reaching them.
Those days are a thing of the past now. The Activities tab in the PS5’s game menu allows you to jump into any mission or side-quest you’ve unlocked at the touch of a couple of buttons. For example, in Spider-Man the Activities tab suggested I do a Demon Gang Warehouse mission and even though I was halfway across the map, it let me skip the journey, the preamble and even the repetitive cutscene and get right into the action. Take that, Microsoft!
Never Too Late to Join the Party
The PS5 is even a perfect starting point for new players, offering near-complete backwards compatibility with PS4 games as well as the new PS+ Collection I mentioned earlier. The PS+ Collection is, quite simply, twenty games that Sony has selected as the best titles of the previous generation (it’s no Xbox Gamepass but Sony seem to be building up to retaliate on that front soon). They range from First-Person Shooters like Call Of Duty or Battlefield to story-driven epics like God of War or The Last of Us (check out the full list here). These titles can be played whenever you like as long as you have an active PS+ subscription, and they all reap the full benefit of the PS5’s lightning-fast load times and graphical prowess. An absolute must for new players, as well as any returning players who may have missed a title or two on the PS4.
PlayStation 5: The Verdict
With the hope of more units coming to Ireland in the coming weeks and Sony’s jam-packed release schedule for 2021, there has never been a better time to start thinking about upgrading from your old gaming rig or starting afresh in the current generation. From the jaw-dropping graphics and the blink and you’ll miss it load speeds to the wealth of innovations in the controller and a best-of from years passed at your fingertips from the get-go the possibilities really are endless. It comes as no surprise that the PS5 is living up to every measure of its marketing slogan. Play has no limits.