At just a little over a month, Sony’s PlayStation 5 console has been making waves in the market. Everyone wants one and retailers can’t keep them in stock, boding well for Sony’s new next-gen platform. Despite the difficulty of getting one, luckily, many of our GotGame writers have managed to obtain one at launch. With several new features and a new UI, how is the console stacking up compared to the Xbox Series X?
Upon obtaining the PlayStation 5, one thing is definitely clear: this console is MASSIVE. Despite seeing size comparisons before the release, I was not prepared for the size of Sony’s new console. I had space to spare, but standing vertically or lying down horizontally, the PS5 is a beefy system. The box makes this pretty clear, and the weight backs it up. As for the presentation, it’s a little lacking. Unlike Microsoft’s consoles, the PS5 comes in a giant box with no promotion, and the internal packaging is just plain white cardboard. While the console is the main attraction, the Xbox felt like you’ve just been granted a lovingly wrapped gift. The PS5 just feels like a product.
Setting up the console is pretty straightforward, and actually somewhat similar to the Xbox. You’ll have your HDMI 2.1 cable and power plug, which is pretty standard fare. There’s also the DualSense controller and accompanying USB-C cable, which we’ll get to later, though you’ll plug it in for the setup. You’ll go through basic display settings and choose a power mode for the system, either optimizing the power output or opting for low energy consumption. One thing that’s nice for the disc version owners is the option to put a disc in during setup and automatically start installation. Once connected to the internet, the system will also automatically start downloading the excellent Astro’s Playroom.
Moving on, you’ll do some updates for the console and the controller, and you’ll have the option of signing in with your credentials, or by using the PlayStation app and scanning the QR code. It’s a nice option, and it really makes the setup smooth. Moving past that, you’ll do more personalization settings, mostly involving your social presence. For PlayStation 4 users, they can transfer data wirelessly to their new console as long as it’s on the same network. This is of course as long as your PS4 has the update that allows the PS5 transfer. What’s nice here is that not only is this transition pretty seamless, but like the Xbox, an external drive moves over seamlessly too. Just plug it right in and it’ll recognize the content. No need to reformat, and no complicated setup.
After everything is setup, you’re good to get started on your brand new PlayStation 5! One of the first things you’ll notice is the all new interface. Unlike the Xbox Series S or X, which recycle the Xbox One interface, the PS5 opts for an fresher look. It’s a pretty sleek design that really makes you feel like you have something new and exciting. It also highlights games exceptionally well, leaving very little clutter to obscure the beautiful 4K artwork. Games and media are now separate sections, and functions like the store are seamlessly built into the UI. Your game library also works similarly to the PS4, though now it offers more organized filters.
Some things to take note of with the new interface change: the PlayStation home button brings up an additional menu. This new menu offers a lot of the things that were their own tab on the PS4. That includes friends and messages, downloads, notifications, controller battery level, and your profile. It’s also where you’ll find the power options like turning off or restarting the console. I’m still getting used to it, as the PS4 had you hold down the button to access a shortcut for this. On the PS5, you press the button once to bring up the menu, while holding it down just makes hums at you. One new feature is the Switcher function, which saves recently used games and apps in one convenient location.
Another great feature is the activities option, where the PS5 can instantly take you to a part of a game to fulfill a mission. This could be something like a time trial in Astro’s Playroom or a challenge in Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales. While PS4 games unfortunately can’t take advantage of this, it’s a very welcome feature. It makes getting around in certain games pretty easy and makes completing side content a breeze.
While the interface takes some time to adjust, it’s an overall solid look and feel for Sony’s new console. It can get a little confusing with some features though. With the ability to use most PS4 games with backwards compatibility, the PS5 offers a game version selection. This leads to the chance of accidentally installing and starting the wrong version of a game. The best option here would be to delete the PS4 version, but sometimes it’s easy to download the wrong version. Maybe Sony will implement a feature that makes this a bit less of an issue, like a toggle that automatically plays the PS5 version. At least the backwards compatibility boosts previous PS4 games, making them look and play even better. It’s good to see that the system can still download multiple things at once, unlike the Xbox.
While the PS5 does have the ability to do multiple downloads, it’s not without issue. One of the biggest issues I’ve had with the system is update errors. For whatever reason, certain games would not update, requiring me to uninstall them and reinstall them completely. A recent firmware update seems to have addressed this, but it’s hard to know if the issue will still persist. That wouldn’t be the only issue though, as there seems to be problems with external hard drives and rest mode. Currently, I’m not using rest mode simply because I’ve had multiple crashes while booting up from it with my external hard drive plugged in. Since making that decision, I haven’t had any crashing problems to date.
Speaking of the hard drive, one area that seems to hurt to PlayStation 5 is the storage situation. As it stands, the system has an 825GB SSD, which while fast, doesn’t offer a lot of storage. Coming off a 2TB PlayStation 4 Pro, not to mention comparing to the 1TB Xbox Series X, it’s a little disappointing. It doesn’t help that the usable storage is only 667GB. I pretty much have to use an external drive for my PS4 games just to keep some space for PS5 games. With games getting larger and larger in file size, it’s strange to launch a system like this. Even stranger to launch without offering the option to use external storage for PS5 games. Hopefully by the time that update rolls out, the storage options won’t be too expensive.
Finally, last but certainly not least, we have to talk about the DualSense controller. This is one of the major features of the new system, and it becomes apparent once you play Astro’s Playroom. It takes what the DualShock 4 had to offer and evolves it into an incredibly innovative controller. This is all thanks to the haptic feedback triggers, which feels like a perfected version of Nintendo’s HD Rumble. When playing certain games, you really feel the impact of your actions. I can feel a spring tightening, or the rain drops pattering. Using a gun in games like Call of Duty is more realistic than ever. There was an issue with charging the controller in rest mode at launch, but it seems to be fixed now.
While the PlayStation 5 launch hasn’t been without hitches, it’s still a strong platform. The launch title selection is pretty impressive and the games look fantastic. It would’ve been nice to have more storage, or at least more expansion options, but time will resolve this issue soon enough. With a fresh new interface and an impressive controller, this is still a great system to have. If you manage to get lucky enough to get one for the holidays, you’ll likely have a lot to love. I look forward to seeing the system evolve over the years and see how things adjust. Until then, I’m going to enjoy playing my games with the power boost.
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