Well, it only took 500 years but it finally showed up! I got my PS5 this past Friday and played it all weekend, and now I have some thoughts that I’ll be sharing. Unlike games, which have an artistic quality to them, hardware is a lot more defined, so I’ll be harkening to the old “GRAPHICS, AUDIO, GAMEPLAY” style of reviews this time around and split this piece into a few categories:
- The Console
- The Controller
- The UI
- The Experience
- Should I Get One?
Without further ado, let’s dive in!
I know it’s a meme, but it really does not hit how much of a damn chonker the PlayStation 5 is until you have to carry the box up a flight of stairs. Taking it out of the box was also difficult. Holding it was difficult. Moving it around was difficult. It is a gigantic piece of hardware that pictures do not do justice to. I don’t really care about how big the thing is because it’s now settled in the resting spot it’s going to be in for the next 11 months, but I’m going to curse about it again when I start packing for a move.
I have the PS5 lying on its side because I have never trusted a vertical console in my life, but I think it’s more aesthetically pleasing vertically to be honest. Getting it onto its stand was relatively easy, but I regret not getting it plugged in first — it’s very slippy-slidey and clearly not meant to be jostled about too much when on the stand, lest you risk it getting pushed off.
I know some people think it looks hideous, I get that, really. But I love it. I love how hopelessly weird this thing looks. My sister keeps saying that the aliens will be breaking into my house to get it back soon. I’m lucky in that all of my furniture is white, so it doesn’t actually stand out that much in my room, but I can see why people don’t like the color. Sadly, I can’t ignore how dusty it’ll get, so I’ll be wiping it down weekly.
The second best part of the console is that the buttons are physical, so I don’t have to go on a Dora the Explorer adventure just to find the Disc Eject button. The best part of the console is that it’s quiet. Honestly, if that was the only upgrade the PS5 brought to the table I’d still be happy. The PS5 might look like it’s about to take off, but the PS4 sounds like it’s about to take off, and that is significantly more annoying. I actually didn’t realize how much space the PS4’s fan occupied in my brain. I can never go back after the beautiful silence that comes with the PS5.
So no joke, this thing slaps. It is already my favorite controller ever. You might have a different first opinion if you have small paws but I have big meaty claws and the DualSense fits very snug in my hands. The whole thing is wider, so my giant thumbs don’t knock together like they used to on the PS4 (and even more-so with the PS3) controller. The buttons are all satisfyingly clacky without being too loud, and the triggers feel nice. The light-bar is a lot less intrusive in the way it shines as well. Also, I for one am still happy that the trackpad stuck around because it’s useful for Final Fantasy XIV.
Also, the grips have little Xs and Os on them, which is cute.
The coolest part about the new controller is the titular DualSense feature. This is some real next-gen stuff, more than anything else I mention in this post, to be honest. Astro’s Playroom, the delightful game that comes bundled with the Playstation 5, shows off everything it’s capable of, and what it’s capable of is a lot! The feedback that comes from the triggers when aiming Astro’s bow, the way the controller vibrates to stimulate rain and Astro’s footsteps is all incredibly cool. I very much hope that games take good advantage of this feature if it’s easy to develop for because I’m a huge fan of it.
My main two worries, though, are that the DualSense will have, like, an hour of charge in it with all this fancy wizardry going on, and that the adaptive triggers won’t last for very long. Only time will tell!
I miss themes. I know they’ll probably come back eventually, but still. I don’t care about seeing a splash screen for whatever game I want to play. I want to see Tifa hanging out on the water tower in Nibelheim!!! Bring her back, Sony!
Anyway, other than that (and one other flaw that we’ll get to) I’m pretty fine with the PS5 UI, mostly because it’s extremely snappy and every loads up fast. I love that I can trim and upload videos through the share button without having to completely suspend a game now, which was a pet peeve of mine. Everything is butter smooth in comparison to the PS4, which is a huge plus.
It took a moment to get my footing, but once I did I was cruising along without much trouble. I do think some things take way too many button presses, like when trying to put the PS5 in rest mode. I also miss being able to use the Home button as a quick way to “pause” games. Now it takes you to Cards, which are nice enough, but most of the information doesn’t pertain to me that much, seeing as I’m not a trophy hunter. I liked how games on the PS4 would often be suspended. Very specific to my weird habits, though, so not a dealbreaker.
What is a dealbreaker is that the PS5 does not have folders. At launch. Again. All due respect but what the hell Sony. Here you can see that they were rushing to get this thing out before the holidays because that’s just inexcusable from a UI perspective in 2021. Get it together, and bring those back ASAP.
That brings us to actually playing games on the thing. As I mentioned, Astro’s Playroom was a delight to go through, but one thing I immediately noticed is that load times were basically non-existent. From launch to start everything loaded in at lightning speed, 3 seconds or less, and that even included fast-traveling between areas. This doesn’t seem like a huge deal at first, but the main reason I was even willing to get a Platinum Trophy for Astro was because zipping around to complete all the stuff I missed after my play-through was quick. Not having to sit through loading screens is a feature that I hope the PS5 maintains as the generation goes on because I love it. The same is true for PS4 backwards compatible games like FFXIV: a trip to Eulmore used to take 55 seconds for me to load on the PS4, but now only takes 12. I’ve become less prone to pulling out my phone after a few hours of playing the Demon’s Souls remake because the time from a death to a restart is ridiculously fast. The more time I get to spend playing, the better.
One thing that I was surprised to enjoy in particular is Game Help. I fully believe this to be a feature that only First Party titles will really use, but the ability to look up a missing trophy or secret item after struggling to find it without having to pull out my phone to scrub through a 10-minute YouTube video is extremely cool. I was worried it’d be a clunky feature, but the snappiness of the PS5’s UI made the whole process super easy to pull off.
The next generation’s graphical prowess means nothing to me, even if Demon’s Souls is breathtakingly beautiful. What I find myself most impressed by is the quality-of-life that comes reduced load-times that let you spend more time in the game and less time waiting around. That time really starts to add up, and makes the idea of playing a huge open-world game or games where you expect to have to restart often a lot more palatable.
So Should I Get One?
I got a PS5 because I got a new job and it was my gift to myself. But even putting aside the fact that it’s hell to get one right now, I don’t know how worth it it is.
If you’re a person with a base PS4, I’d consider it. You’re going to be making a 7-year upgrade, and you’re going to feel it. But if you have, say, a PS4 Pro, I don’t see the reason to get one just yet. It’s nice to be able to play all my old games with faster load-times and more stable frame-rates. But as of now that’s pretty much all you’re getting. The PS5 line-up is currently non-existent beyond Demon’s Souls, a remake of a game you might have played already with a sort of niche fan-base, and Godfall, a game that is not worth the $70 price-tag.
Overall, I like the PS5 quite a lot, and I’m excited to spend more time with it and for its roster to expand. But as it stands, it’s not a can’t-miss piece of hardware. Maybe it will be in six months — and hey, maybe there’ll actually be stock six months from now too.
That’s all for now! Do you have/want a PS5? Tired of Sony’s pathetic inability to handle stock? Let me know on Twitter @mintplaysthings! And if you like my writing, please consider donating to my Patreon or Ko-Fi. Thank you!