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Review: PlayStation 5 – A serious next-gen feel

Review: PlayStation 5 is powerful, contemporary and even unique game console that gives you feel of a serious next-generation feel.
4.4/5 - (50 votes)

Shortly after the launch of the Xbox Series X, Sony also kicks off the next console generation with the release of the PlayStation 5. It is clear that Sony focuses on other facets than Microsoft does.

Looking forward to a new game console always has something special. It may have been more in the past than is now the case, but nonetheless it still boosts the gaming landscape in general. We have now seen what next-gen means for Microsoft, so it’s time to take stock in Sony’s camp with the PlayStation 5. The basis of both consoles is relatively the same, but it is clear that Sony is focused on different things. concentrated.

While at Microsoft it is mainly about making the technological improvements visible (through functions such as Smart Delivery and Quick Resume) and therefore all kinds of things around the games, at Sony it is more about the way you experience the games. In this review, we don’t put the PlayStation 5 too often next to the Xbox Series X , because we also want to assess the console as a stand-alone product. But in some cases we cannot get out of it. So much for the short disclaimer.

Just like with the Xbox Series X, your TV also has a lot of influence on the way you experience your games graphically. At the time of writing, the PS5 is still missing a few aspects, such as support for VRR or 1440p screens, but if all goes well those things are still coming . In any case, it is good to consider that you can sometimes encounter a different experience on your own television screen, because it is better or less good than the OLED model here.

Design

Since the announcement of the PlayStation 5, nobody has spoken about it: the design of the console. Several people have already made fun of it. For example, the PS5 resembles a PlayStation 2 with two white a4 pages on the side or a gigantic router. One thing is certain: the console will attract attention in the living room, bedroom or gaming room. There is not a single console quite like the PS5, just as no console has resembled the PlayStation 4 line. That design now seems almost conservative, while gamers were not really happy about it at the time.

There are two large white blades on the sides of the console. The well-known and sleek PlayStation logo is on the outside at the left rear, making it unmistakably a PlayStation. The disc version is here next to the Series X, so there is an opening for the discs on the right. As a result, the console is not symmetrical at all. That detracts slightly from the design, which comes into its own much better on the digital model. In the middle, between the white sides, is a black, glossy part where we find openings for the fans, as well as a USB and USB-C port. You can connect the controllers to this, for example for charging.

A valuable addition are the two buttons that we find below. With those buttons you turn the PlayStation 5 on or off and you can eject the disc. These are just standard parts on a game console of course, but we are very happy with them. On the PlayStation 4 (Pro) it is the case that the buttons cannot really be pressed (properly). In fact, it is always fiddly to get something done. It is impossible to press the buttons without looking at what you are doing. Fortunately, that is now possible. And the buttons feel solid, thankfully; you don’t feel like you’re pushing it all the way into the PlayStation 5.

There are enough vents on the back so that the PS5 can easily lose its heat. The console is also nice and soft and does not get very hot, so those openings do their job well. There are also two USB ports here, to which you can, for example, connect an external hard drive (for your PS4 games) or the PSVR glasses (do not forget to request the new box from Sony , which is still completely free) . There is of course also a port for the power cable, as well as an HDMI port. There is no opening on the back for expanding the SSD memory; Sony will also announce more about this at a later date. Finally, there is an ethernet port.

While the PlayStation 5 is not a fingerprint magnet, it is a magnet that finds a lot of dust. The shiny exterior of the console shows when there is dust on the console, especially when the sun is shining on it. This also applies to the white plates. Moreover, we do not understand why you want to make a console white. In combination with the design, it looks futuristic and in that sense it is useful, but we fear the day it will turn yellow by itself (although we don’t smoke here).

All in all, we really like the daring design of the PlayStation 5, but we miss an aspect that we encountered with the PlayStation 4. That sloping design ensures that you can keep the cables out of sight much better, while still enjoy the design. If you now place the PS5 slightly at an angle, you will see the cables. The same applies if you place it horizontally and you just look diagonally from above.

Performance

The PlayStation 5 features an AMD Zen 2 processor, clocked at a maximum of 3.5 GHz. The graphic processing unit is able to produce 10.8 teraflops. The Xbox Series X can make it a bit more with 12 teraflops. But compared to the PlayStation 4 Pro, with 4.2 teraflops, it’s more than double. Despite the fact that the number of teraflops in the base seems like a nice comparison tool, unfortunately this is not the case. It’s about what you do with that graphical power. The current figures only show the maximum achievable. There is also 16 GB of RAM and a 4k blu-ray player. The internal SSD has 825 GB of space, of which 665 GB can be used approximately by the player.

665 GB of internal storage may seem like a lot, but unfortunately it isn’t. Games today are getting bigger and bigger, so you can only install six to eight games on your console. Sony has ensured that you can expand the internal memory with an SSD unit, but at the time of launch that function was disabled by software. Even if you were to install your own SSD in that location, you still do not get access to extra space. That’s a shame, since you often end up in a situation where you have to delete games to make room for new ones. You can install PS4 games on an external hard drive and play them on your PS5 games, so that will ease the pain a bit, but PS5 games need to be installed on the internal SSD. Only then are all new technical highlights possible.

What kind of things do you have to think about? Play games in native 4k (which was not technically possible on PlayStation 4 Pro), 60 fps or higher and of course support for the technique called ray tracing (for lifelike reflections and more). If you want to see what that looks like, all you have to do is start one of the two Spider-Man games on your PS5 and you immediately get a next-gen feel. Such techniques are very impressive.

The difference in graphics quality is larger on paper between the PlayStation 4 Pro and the PlayStation 5, compared to the Xbox One X and the Xbox Series X. But in practice it is still the question what you will notice when you do not have the right TV. Without ray tracing, Spider-man: Miles Morales looks almost the same on the PS4 Pro as it does on the PS5, for example. The PS4 version therefore looks very impressive, while the PS5 version actually meets the new standard. Again: ray tracing is what really makes the difference.

It is striking that the PlayStation 5 now does not support things like VRR (variable refresh rate) and resolutions like 1440p. These are things that can be added later (VRR is coming, for example) and things that Xbox already arranged better at the launch. It is not clear why Sony chose this course of action. But this, and the fact that you cannot use external SSDs yet, suggests that the PS5 may have been released a little too early. Admittedly, these are things that only a small part of gamers can really suffer from, but that doesn’t make it any less strange.

As a result, you may run into a variety of issues apart from issues that affect gamers worldwide. A quick Google search learns that consoles, for example, crash or stop working altogether, but that didn’t bother us. Sometimes it also depends on the game you are playing. However, no support for VRR means that there are games that can suffer from it screen tearing and no support for 1440p means some TVs or monitors will automatically switch back to 1080p when 4k is not supported.

Software and new features

It is nice to see that Sony is releasing a new interface for the PlayStation 5. Basically this is similar to what you get on a PlayStation 4, but things work slightly differently. Different enough to give it a new feeling. And that is very important for a next-gen experience. The Xbox Series X is a little less successful at conveying that feeling the moment you turn on the console. That is the advantage, but the disadvantage is that things are also in different places. Nothing insurmountable, after a few weeks of playing you have probably familiarized yourself.

In some cases it is difficult to find what you are looking for. For example, there are personal settings that you can standardize, such as a level of difficulty. Then you set it once that you want to play everything on the most difficult setting. Any game that takes that into account then uses that information. But it took some searching before we found that institution. In addition, it is difficult to find out which version of a game you are currently playing. For example, we have been playing Miles Morales on the PlayStation 4 Pro for quite some time, which we then play on the PS5 via a hard drive. Although it is indicated that you are playing the PS4 version, you do not immediately see it. In addition, this game also includes a PS5 upgrade for free with the purchase. You must first boot the PS4 version to get an explanation of how to upgrade; that is nowhere properly explained.

And when you have reached the point where you have installed the correct version, then it is difficult to see which version you are playing. But it works like this. You will always see the last played version on your home screen. Your library always contains the most recently played version. If you sort your library in a different way, the game icon may just show the PS4 or PS5 version. If there is no PS4 logo on the icon, then you are playing the PS5 version. Such confusion can throw a spanner in the works for gamers who just want to have a good time playing. It takes some action that you have to pay attention to. This is an irritation that will hopefully be addressed.

If you play a PlayStation 4 game that is on your external hard drive, you will not benefit from faster loading times, unfortunately. When you play a PS4 or PS5 game on the SSD, you just see those loading times dwindle. In some cases they are almost absent (but we don’t get rid of them completely). Within seconds the console or a game is started. Unfortunately, the PS5 does not have an option like Quick Resume, so there is still room for improvement in loading times. But the loading times are considerably shorter than on the PlayStation 4 Pro.

What the PlayStation 5 really needs are changes to the user interface (the home screen) and the things that you adjust behind the scenes (such as the standardized options). For example, the home screen is divided into Games and Media, so you do not endlessly scroll through a load of square icons. Moreover, the settings can really provide a personal feeling, because you do not have to constantly adjust the same things.

It is striking, however, that the PS5 does not make optimal use of the maximum bandwidth of HDMI 2.1 (if you already have one). We’re not making it a big technical story here. But the bottom line is that there is a lower color resolution applied by the console, despite the fact that the chipset can handle a lot more. This ensures that texts are sometimes more difficult to read when the font is very small, but otherwise it does not bother you. Unfortunately, it is not clear whether this problem can be solved with a firmware update. But here too we feel that Sony has launched the console too early.

The new controller

The showpiece, however, is the PlayStation 5’s unique controller: the DualSense. The layout has largely remained the same. This means that on the right we find the four known action buttons, on the left the four-point push button and in the middle the two analog bats. Above it is a nice large touchpad, with buttons on both sides for sharing content and pausing games. The PlayStation button is located between the sticks. Note: you now have to press it a little longer to return to the main menu. That really takes some getting used to.

So far no major changes. And that’s fine, because the layout is just right. However, it doesn’t take long to find out exactly what is new about the DualSense for PlayStation 5. It now has a built-in microphone, so you can game and chat together without a headset. With an extra button it is possible to switch that mic on and off. In addition, the triggers and shoulder buttons have been renewed. The shoulder buttons have been made a bit larger, so there is more room for your fingers. And those triggers are really special.

They really give feedback this time. That means that at times you have to press the buttons harder with your fingers to get something done. Depending on the context of the video game, the input can change on the spot. Sometimes you suddenly have to press the triggers very gently and sometimes you feel the resistance that a gun can give when shooting. Be sure to play the included title Astro’s Playroom, since that game is designed to show what the controller has to offer. Furthermore, the rumble is also very extensive and detailed this time.

There is also now a USB-C port and you can charge the controllers wirelessly when you buy a charging station. Fortunately, Sony also supplies a (short) charging cable. Those are all great additions, which for the most part actually deepen the gameplay. Not only because you get more feedback, but also because you sometimes have to perform a different action to get something done in a game; but with the same triggers that you have been pressing for years. One drawback is the fact that the PlayStation 5’s controllers are mostly white. Again, they can yellow and you just don’t want that.

Games and media

Games you should play right away to see what the PlayStation 5 has to offer are, surprise, Astro’s Playroom and Spider-Man: Miles Morales. As mentioned, Astro shows exactly what the controller has to offer. On top of that, you will be presented with a cute and fun adventure, with more than enough challenge to not make getting to know each other boring. Graphically the game looks fine, but this is not the strongest point of the game. The frame rate is stable and the graphics are also tight.

Astro’s Playroom is actually a kind of tech demo, meant for the controller. Spider-Man: Miles Morales is actually a glorified tech demo, but for the graphics. Yes, Miles Morales is basically a short full-fledged game, but it’s really way too short to justify a $ 60 or more price tag (if you don’t plan on going for the trophies). That aside: the game looks spectacular and shows very well what ray tracing can be used for. The same goes for the multiplatform title Watch Dogs Legion, but we talked more about that in our Xbox Series X review. The same pros and cons also hold true for the PS5 version.

The PlayStation 5 is almost fully backwards compatible with all PlayStation 4 games. More than 99 percent is playable on the console. The one percent that is not playable, few people will mourn (except for a single Assassin’s Creed fan, probably). It is not possible to play games from your PS3 or PS2 by inserting the disc. You also cannot install them digitally. What you can do is download or stream the games via PlayStation Now. But that’s an extra subscription with games that don’t belong to you. As the PlayStation boss is asking himself why people would want to play older PlayStation 2 titles on their modern hardware, we don’t expect backward compatibility to expand anytime soon. Fortunately, the games that you can play on it look very sharp,

Unfortunately, the PlayStation 5 lags behind Xbox Series X in terms of media playback. There is support for HDR10, but not for Dolby Vision. Dolby Atmos and DTS: X are also absent. The console supports speaker configurations in the form of 5.1 and 7.1. This is unfortunate for people who already use their game consoles in media centers, as they are missing out on a lot. Perhaps this will still come in the form of a software update, but that is a matter of time.

Conclusion

We have said it a few times in this review: we have the idea that the PlayStation 5 has been released too early. Basically, the Series X and PS5 are fairly similar, but the moment both consoles go their own way, a unique and unique experience is created. In some cases this works out well, but in a number of cases also unfortunately less well. For example, it is not yet possible to install an external SSD, the console attracts a lot of dust, we miss a function such as VRR, the interface can sometimes be unclear and important audio and video formats are missing.

On the other hand, there is a powerful, contemporary and even unique game console that has arranged extremely well in terms of games. Because we can complain about the interface, but it is now part of the serious next-gen feeling we have from the moment we start the console. The SSD and the working memory also play a major role in this: not only does the console feel super fast, games also load very quickly and we are gradually leaving the loading times behind us. Not to mention the controller: the true revolution when it comes to experiencing and controlling games. It doesn’t matter whether you play first or third-party video games.

Where the Xbox Series X is causing a furore with superior hardware, functions that make the next-gen transition easy and extensive backward compatibility, we see that Sony focuses on things that are important during gaming. The controller feels incredibly unique and literally and figuratively gives extra weight to your gameplay sessions. Add to that the exclusive games that you can play on your PS5 right away (so you don’t have to wait for anything), and you have a console that just screams to be turned on. Yes, you should take that design for granted.

Pros

  • Fast loading times
  • Exclusive games
  • The fantastic controller
  • Play PlayStation 4 games
  • New interface
  • Personal settings

Negatives

  • Interface sometimes unclear
  • Design and color are not for everyone
  • No 1440p and VRR
  • HDMI 2.1 specifications not fully utilized
  • Missing audio and video formats

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