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PlayStation 5 Review: The Next Gen King?


PlayStation 4 was launched in 2013 and I have had it since that very day, the console has been working flawlessly for me and is able to run any game you throw at it, that is until a few months ago when it has started to show its age. The PlayStation 5 replaces the PS4 with a new design, power, games, and so much more.


A Bold Design

Sony has taken a bold move with the PlayStation 5's design making it one of the largest video game consoles ever with a height of 390mm (15.4 inches), a depth of 260mm (10.24 inches), and a width of 104mm (4.09 inches). Since its dimensions are so big that it requires some careful planning regarding whether or not it will fit into a person's current entertainment/gaming setup.


Sony has designed the PS5 in such a way that it can be displayed vertically as well as horizontally with the help of the included circular stand. Talking about the stand, it feels like cheap plastic but keeps the console very sturdy. Down the middle runs a shiny plastic strip that is a dust and fingerprint magnet, but the white panels surrounding the console are removable making it easier to clean the internals as well, removing the panel on the right side of the console also gives the user the access to a second NVME SSD storage expansion slot that can be used to expand the storage on the PS5 (storage expansion is coming to the PS5 with its 2.0 System Update and is currently in beta), which seemed simple enough to me, though not as easy as the Xbox Series X. PlayStation 5 by default comes with a total capacity of 825GB of fast NVME SSD out of which 667.2GB is usable and the rest is reserved for system data which is not sufficient for modern games.

The consoles feature a range of ports including three USB-A ports (two on the back and one in the front), a USB-C port in the front, an Ethernet port, and an HDMI 2.1 port in the back which allows playing games up to 4k 120fps on supported devices. Even with all this power the PS5 runs completely silent and does not give off much heat either which is surprising since the PS4 used to sound like a jet engine whenever I tried to play a graphically intensive game.

Sony has finally given its controller a new design and is now called as DualSense. Talking about the design Sony has introduced twin-sticks which is a subtle change from their previous controller. DualSense may be slightly larger and heavier than the DualShock, but still very comfortable with its dual-tone design that goes along with the PS5, the same button layout as the PS4, the touch panel, and the shoulder button have become slightly larger. The controller charges via USB-C and offers 6-7 hours of playtime on a single charge similar to the DualShock 4.

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Most of the big changes are towards the inside of the controller and now feature adaptive triggers with variable tension which offers physical resistance depending upon the in-game task. The controller also supports haptic feedback with more subtle vibrations to have a better sense of what's happening in a game.


Sony with every PlayStation 5 bundles a game by the name of Astro's Playroom, a third-person game designed to showcase the abilities of the DualSense controller. When I started playing the game I could immediately feel the haptics, as the main character Astro moved, the controller was able to mimic his left and right footsteps. The haptics change as per the surface on which Astro was moving.


Even the adaptive triggers are not just some basic buttons they change their role as per the game sequence like in Astro's Playroom when I picked up a bow & arrow, I was able to feel the tension as I pulled the string. All these new controller features are hard to explain in words. Astro's playroom is a pretty basic game, but the controller elevates the gaming experience.

The best part about the adaptive triggers or haptic feedback is that a developer does not have to modify their games to support these features, but rather it is automatically adapted to the game.


A Gaming Powerhouse

The PlayStation 5 is far more powerful than its predecessor with its all-new AMD-powered GPU with can process 10.28 teraflops vs 1.84 teraflops (Teraflops/TF represents 1 trillion operations per second) in the original PS4. The console with the right hardware also supports 4K HDR gaming at up to 120fps with variable refresh rates. Spiderman Miles Morales can be taken as an example that takes place in the city of New York which greatly describes the PlayStation's power with how the sun reflects off the various surfaces.


The games also run at 60fps by default and in some cases, the game also gives the user a choice of what they want to focus on. For Example, in Spider-Man Miles Morales there are three visual options present i.e., "Performance" which provides a smooth 60fps experience, "Fidelity" which enables ray tracing, but drops the frame rate down to 30fps, and the last option is "Performance RT" which provides 60fps gaming along with ray tracing while adjusting the scene resolution, reflection quality, and pedestrian density. Switching between these modes I was easily able to feel the difference in my gaming.

Performance is one thing, but loading times have also seen a major improvement on the PS5 due to Sony's ultra-high-speed SSD. The difference in loading times varied between games like Spider-Man Miles Morales loaded in 17 seconds whereas the loading screen did not exist when I was playing Ratchet and Clank Rift Apart.

Sony has also introduced a new feature called Activities that allow the user to dive into particular parts of the game directly from the main menu and start from that specific point of the game. I personally did not use this feature, but Epic Games the developers behind Fortnite say that they will utilize this feature to allow the player to directly boot up into a particular game mode.


PlayStation 5 is also backward compatible with many PS4 games and playing these games on PS5 is also really easy. All the games that are present in the PSN account show up immediately and can either be downloaded to the PS5's internal SSD or an external HDD (Only PS4 games can be played using an external HDD), these games show a little "PS4" badge to easily differentiate from the PS5 versions of the game.


An Easy to use Interface

Sony has completely redesigned the UI for the PS5 which is a huge leap forward from that of the PS4. The new UI is more streamlined with data divided into two categories Games and Media. But it is not perfect all the games and applications are displayed as per the most recent activity from left to right, they cannot be rearranged or added into folders that were available on the PS4.


Selecting a particular game reveals a lot more information about it like the various activities, trophy progress, scan through live Twitch and YouTube streams of that particular game. There is also a guide feature present depending upon the game where the user can select a particular activity which may have a help icon attached which will then bring up a quick tutorial video to help get through tough spots and it even supports picture-in-picture.

The DualSense controller also has a built-in share button with some slightly revamped sharing tools being a quick press that brings up a new menu that gives a few options like gabbing a screenshot, recording the last few minutes of gameplay, start recording or start a live broadcast. Long pressing the button still takes a screenshot that can be edited without leaving the game, the same applies to the video.

The home button menu has also been redesigned, pressing the PS logo button on the controller displays a small overlay from the bottom giving quick access to some common features like notifications, volume adjustment, battery status for the controller/headphones, or choose to steam. There is also an app switcher but it does not work as the Xbox Series X's "quick resume" feature. Instead, it just shows a list of user applications and switches between them suspending the current one.


Conclusion

The PlayStation 5 is a remarkable console with its more than capable hardware, new easy-to-use UI, and the new DualSense controller which makes the gaming experience more immersive. The activity feeds even though I have not used them too much seem to be interesting especially because of the quick tutorial video feature.


The internal SSD provides remarkably faster loading times compared to the PS4. The only downside that I could find was its big size as it will not fit in most entertainment units, it certainly did not fit mine.


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