PlayStation 5 review: A powerhouse video game console with innovative controls
In the PlayStation 5, Sony has found a new way to generate buzz.
Sony’s new video game console, available Nov. 12 for $499.99, represents a significant step for the PlayStation brand after nearly 26 years. It delivers a whole new look, a new way to interact, and a potentially (forgive the pun) game-changing controller.
Much like the Xbox Series X and S, which comes out Nov. 10, the PS5 is going to solve some of the annoyances console video game players face. You spend less time waiting to load your games and more time immersed in those ever-dynamic virtual worlds. However, the key difference between PS5 and Xbox is the device in your hands: a controller capable of helping you feel what’s happening within a video game.
DualSense: The best controller available
The DualSense wireless controller uses haptic feedback, or a vibration effect when playing games. The concept behind haptics isn’t new. Our smartphones have them, and console video games have incorporated them in some form ever since the Nintendo 64 and the Rumble Pak.
The haptics on PS5's DualSense are the most advanced ever for a video game controller. The left and right adaptive triggers offer resistance, mimicking an action that might require more tension. And the controller will also offer haptic feedback specific to every situation, not just a generic rumble with any action.
Its potential is best reflected in the game "Astro's Playroom," a free PS5 game starring the charming robot Astro. Combined with the audio speaker built ino the DualSense, you can feel every step Astro takes. You feel snow crunching under your feet, and water as you perform each kick and stroke. During one stage, it rains and Astro pulls out an umbrella, allowing you to feel every raindrop pitter-patter above his head.
But you even get it in games like "Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales," feeling every "thwip" of web Spidey shoots out. The DualSense has the potential to add a layer of immersion we have yet to experience in console games.
The DualSense, slightly bigger than the PS4 controller, also adds some bonus wrinkles, including lights that better signal how many players are present. Also impressive: The controller maintains the same 4 to 6 hours of battery life as its predecessor.
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PS5: The interface is new, too
As for the PS5 itself, it boasts a futuristic black and white design. It is also enormous, even bigger than the original PlayStation 3 at launch. Fortunately, it comes with a stand to place it vertically. The stand also works horizontally, although the PS5 feels wobbly in this position.
Despite its size, the PS5 is really quiet. If you owned its predecessor, the PlayStation 4, then you may have heard loud sounds resembling an aircraft preparing for takeoff when you turn the console on, or during play. On the PS5, if not for the white power light, it's hard to tell whether it's turned on.
The interface undergoes a significant overhaul. It's much sleeker and allows you to get to what you want more quickly. When you hit the PS button on the controller, you open up a quick menu featuring a series of actions players can take, including a Launcher to quickly switch games, friends list, battery life on the controller, power and more. This menu is also customizable.
The main games screen is streamlined to feature fewer recent games and more immediate access to your game library. Media is also split into a separate tab, instead of the TV/video app featured on PS4.
With PlayStation 5 you can diss the disc
The PlayStation 5 Digital Edition $399.99 looks exactly like the standard PS5 – and performs the same – but costs $100 less and doesn’t have a disc drive to play Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs. The PS5 with a drive can also handle standard Blu-rays, DVDs, and PlayStation 4 games. (The PS5 does not play music CDs.)
As you set up your PS5 using the PlayStation app, the console creates a library of your current games, which you can download onto your new system. For instance, my PS4 games such as “The Last of Us Part II” and “Doom Eternal” were in my Game Library ready to be downloaded.
You can also transfer games from your PS4 to PS5 wirelessly or via Ethernet cable or by moving them to an external drive.
Voracious gamers may find themselves quickly in need of even more storage; the PS5 Digital Edition has the same-sized 825GB solid-state drive as the PS5 console with a disc drive.
Adding "Spider-Man: Miles Morales," "Ghost of Tsushima," "Tetris Effect" and "Fall Guys," along with the entertaining "Astro’s Playroom" (11 GB) quickly added up to 100 GB, leaving just more than 545 GB for more games and apps (some drive space is taken up by operating programs).
Both PS5 editions have a bay where you can expand solid-state storage, but it is not something the PS5s will recognize on Day One. An update is expected soon. You can also store older games on an external hard drive, even the one you might currently use on a PS4.
As with Xbox Series X and S, the PS5 does suffer from a lack of experiences specific to the console. Most older PS4 games are supported here, which should help bridge the gap, as will games as "Astro's Playroom" and "Spider-Man," but players may find themselves waiting to find more experiences built specifically to PS5.
However, right out of the box, thanks to its innovative controller, PS5 provides a fascinating glimpse into the future of video games.
Follow Brett Molina on Twitter at @brettmolina23 and Mike Snider at @MikeSnider.