Sony’s Playstation 5 Review: The Future Is Now

Ahead of Sony’s PlayStation 5 release, here’s our review of the PS5, which is feeling like the future of gaming in the palm of your hand.

Sony PlayStation 5

Image via Sony

Sony PlayStation 5

Earlier this year, I had to upgrade my TV. Because Roku TVs are fire on a budget, I blessed myself with the 55-inch 4K HDR option, not even thinking about the next-gen era dropping later in the year. After unboxing Sony's PlayStation 5 and getting it hooked up to my TV, I marveled at the bright lights and sound emitting from the PS5 via my television. The future of gaming was literally in my living room. I may have cried a bit.

Those are my true first impressions; it actually took me back to when I was a kid, and got the first PlayStation for Christmas. That felt like the future—it was—but it also feels like lightyears behind what Sony's done with this beast of a console. You can tell just by looking at it; Sony wanted to make a statement. It's a statement I wish I knew was coming when I planned out my living room set-up. Compared to the squat PlayStation 4, this PS5 is an elegant spaceship of a console that won't fit in the nook the PlayStation 4 was occupying. That (plus the PS5's design compared to its main competitor) told me everything I needed to know from Sony about this phase of their gaming universe: the PlayStation 5 is to be a beacon for the future of video gaming, which, again, is right here in your living room. It's a statement piece—there's no denying that YOU OWN A PLAYSTATION 5 because this monster will need to occupy some space in your domicile, either standing vertically or laying horizontally. (I went for the former, primarily because the aforementioned cubby in my entertainment center just wasn't having it. That said, I probably need a new entertainment center to better accentuate the PS5's size.)

It's also interesting to note that while this massive rig does take up some more space, it doesn't make its presence that known. You barely hear a peep out of this thing; sure, it's new, and things like fans turning on periodically to cool own the machine are always a thing, you wouldn't notice anything in terms of loud(er) noises coming from the console itself. It's almost like a piece of pop art on your mantle that also plays fire video games.

After booting up you're greeted by a much cleaner UI experience. The tabs are still there, but gone is all of the clutter that could clog up the different sections of your PlayStation experience. A quick tap of the PS button on the DualSense controller (which we'll get to in a bit) brings up a menu that lives on the bottom of your screen, allowing you to switch between games/apps, check notifications, configure your audio and mic settings, and more. All of that stuff that used to reside above the tabs in the UI are tucked away for convenience. You can also access all of that in the main Settings icon at the top of the screen, but again, those aspects of the PS4 UI always bothered me, and are much more welcoming on the PlayStation 5.

DualSense controller

Guiding you through all of this is the new DualSense controller, which I am absolutely in love with. I'm actually more in love with the controller than anything else about the PlayStation 5 experience. Why? Because it just feels right. It has a weight to it that I welcomed immediately; compared to the PlayStation 4 controller, or the Xbox Series X|S controller, this DualSense controller is crushing all competition. I mentioned the 3D Audio capabilities, but let me tell you, the best way to get an understanding on how powerful this controller is would be playing the pre-loaded game on the PlayStation 5, Astro's Playroom.

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Like the previous Playroom titles, the idea is to give you an understanding of the capabilities of this amazing new console. And yes, you shouldn't be surprised that the PlayStation 5, which comes out the box with 4K HDR technology baked in, that gaming on the PS5 is going to look better; that's a given, especially when connected to the right hardware. One of the first things the game makes you do, though, is understand the controller. That 3D Audio comes in handy when, as the game's premise suggests, all of the little bots that chill in Astro's playroom congregate inside your controller, allowing you to jostle them around with a shake of the controller (that haptic feedback is real). The L2 and R2 triggers are wonderfully responsive, allowing you to ease up on thrust or firing a gun depending on how hard you hold the trigger buttons down. All of these movements are put to the test throughout the game—you can even blow into he mic on the controller to make Astro's iceberg move in one area of the game. It's actually an addictively fun game—I probably spent a good hour or two extra engrossed in the game it after getting my thoughts together.

The haptic feedback is actually what will be the most interesting to see incorporated in future games. It plays a major part in Spider-Man: Miles Morales in terms of the specificity of your location. What may be dope parlor tricks initially can really help you out later on, knowing that you have another sense that's extremely reactionary to your location in the game is a great tool. Or it can just be used to help you feel more involved in elements of a game, like a train moving across screen being accentuated by the controller buzzing from left to right, mimicking the train's pattern. The 3D Audio feature also allows for different sonic cues; playing Astro's Playroom, there was all kinds of noise in the controller, with the speakers from my soundbar giving me the main audio. The console and its controller are powerful, but a unique developer with a keen eye for detail can turn those tools into vital weapons for the success of a title.

Sony PlayStation 5

The PlayStation 5 is housing what Sony is calling its ultra-high speed SSD, which helps gamers get to the fun faster. You'll not only notice quicker load times on games like Miles Morales, but you're also to save a game from virtually any point in the game's progress. If you're like me, you might not have as much time to invest into longer campaigns, and would much rather break sections down piecemeal. I noticed it with Miles Morales—I had to do something else during a cinematic scene and saw there was a "manual save" option. I figured "oh, it will take be back to the beginning of the sequence," which I wasn't mad at, but no, it took me right to where I'd stopped the cinematic scene. Is that amazing? It was to me.

That also helps when it comes to playing your PlayStation 4 games on the PlayStation 5. I've not amassed a large library of games, but being able to quickly convert my copies of Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption II (both of which are confirmed for backwards compatibility for the PS5 and the Xbox Series X|S) and titles like Hitman 2 to work on the PlayStation 5 has been a lifesaver. It's something I've dreamed of since I first got on the PlayStation wave; young khal would scream!

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Does this mean that you should put your $499 (or $399 if you opt for the Digital Edition) down for a PlayStation 5? I'd say yes, immediately. With that being the pricepoint for next-gen gaming, you won't be able to escape it, but realistically, the machine is that damn good. The DualSense controller itself is a worthy upgrade, but the console's processing power, mixed with the improvements on UI and the overall visual experience? It's Sony's game to lose. My biggest fear, aside from the questions surrounding how storage expansion (which won't be available at launch) will work, is what game developers will bring to the table. The PlayStation 5 is a massive spaceship that could get us anywhere we desire; it's up to those working within the spaceship to make sure it's a smooth ride, and one we will enjoy—and want to ride in for years to come. The ship just needs the right fuel to keep it going, and right now, aside from the games that prove the console's worth (and help us dream about its future), all we have now is a hope that future games will help us really test the PlayStation 5's limits.

Either way, based on the time I've spent with the PS5 so far, it's a beautiful addition to the PlayStation family, built specifically for today's high-end demands in visual quality with some glimpses at the future of video gaming for years to come.

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