There was a time when the PlayStation brand had me the most excited I'd ever been about video games, and that feeling has returned with the launch of the Sony PS5.
Released on November 12, the Sony PS5 is perhaps the most sought after product in video games right now. And every time I power mine on I understand why. The PS5 has made me fall in love with the PlayStation brand again, and Sony did an excellent job at cultivating that feeling in its users.
Now that isn't to say the PS5 is perfect in every single way (it's not), but Sony has done a pretty good job at creating a wonderful console. Despite the bugs, it's still exciting to power this thing on every day and jump into a game. Which is a feeling that I haven't felt for a long time with the PS4.
But how does the PS5 stack up compared to past PlayStation consoles? How does it perform? That's what this review aims to break down.
The Sony PS5 is the super chonk you love to love
We've all seen the memes. The PS5 being compared to tower fans. Yes, the PS5 is a beefy big boy. But it's a super chonky big boy that you love to love.
Jokes aside, the PS5's bold design actually works. I'm sure not everyone will agree with me here, but I'm also sure that there are plenty that will. The PS5 stands out.
But I'd venture to say it does a better job of fitting in than limited edition versions of consoles that have a more boxy and reserved design.
Like the Cyberpunk 2077 version of the Xbox One X for example. While consoles like that are cool, and I certainly appreciate them because I like that kind of stuff, they're not for everyone. A lot of consumers that buy consoles don't want anything super flashy.
Super flashy is not how I would describe the PS5's design. A little bit unorthodox maybe, but not flashy. And it's just regular enough that it can still appeal to and be appreciated by the gamer that definitely intends to play it but isn't all about video games.
The design of the PS5 is kind of a happy medium if you will. It's towering monolith build definitely gets it noticed. But the matte white side panels and glossy black mid piece help bring the overall look back down to a more normal state.
At least that's how I personally feel. The design is just different enough to be eye catching but not in a lingering sort of way.
Aesthetics aside, the design of the console has a few notable improvements. Such as physical power and eject buttons. If there's one thing that needed changing from the PS4, it was the awful touch buttons.
Extra ports are a nice touch
One of the more minor issues with the PS4 was its lack of ports. There were only two. Which made it a bit of a challenge for someone like me who had the Sony licensed external storage drive plugged in at all times. This left me with one port. Which I could either use for charging the controller or plugging in a wireless headset. But never both at the same time.
On the PS5 there are four ports. One USB-A port on the front in addition to a USB Type-C port. And two USB-A ports on the back. Now I can keep a wireless headset dongle plugged in at all times. And because two of the ports are on the back I have the front ports readily accessible.
Not to mention that when Sony finally does enable expandable storage, it'll be internal via the expandable NVMe slot which means I won't have to use up a USB port again to have more room for games. This little change is a vast improvement.
It's so quiet, that sometimes you'll forget it's on
Coming from an original PS4 fat model, the difference in how quiet the PS5 is compared to that console is utterly astounding.
Sometimes I forget it's on. Not while I'm actively playing it mind you, but while I get up to do other stuff during a break. This is one of the best things about the PS5 in fact. Because the original PS4 was so loud I could swear it was about to take off and shoot into orbit anytime a resource hungry moment popped up in games I was playing.
With the PS5, I could run this thing all night and never miss a minute of sleep because the fans don't sound like a jet engine. While this won't matter to everyone, it cannot be overstated how much of an improvement this is over the PS4.
Whether or not the PS5 still sounds this quiet in 5 years remains to be seen. But even my PS4 never ran this quiet when I first got it. So that tells me that Sony did some wizardry here to make this happen. And it's appreciated.
Cleaning out the dust couldn't be easier
Part of the reason the older PS4 models could end up being so loud after a being used for a while is because of the dust build up. The fan and cooling system in that console wasn't terrible but it certainly needed improvement.
The one in the PS5 is worlds better. Not only because the fan is a lot bigger, but it's a dual-sided fan which means it can pull in air from both sides to help cool things down. This is probably going to lead to more dust buildup.
But Sony implemented two dust catchers that PS5 owners can easily access to clean the console. All you have to do is vacuum out the dust catchers and you're good. Which I think is an genius idea and one that is likely going to help the longevity of the PS5. Provided people actually clean out the dust from time to time.
To access the dust catchers, simply remove the PS5 stand and then lay the console on its side with the disc side panel facing down. Remove the panel facing you and the two triangular shaped dust catchers will be located underneath.
And when you're all done, place the panel back on and reattach the stand. This is a simple yet thoughtful inclusion that really does deserve a lot of credit. Because it seems like it will be a highly underrated feature.
Markedly better performance and super fast load times
So the design's great, the console is quiet even when working overtime, and the dust is easy to clean. But how's the performance? Excellent. Really.
You can easily tell how good the performance is when playing a game like Demon's Souls or Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales. But, you can really tell how good the performance is when playing last-gen games. Especially if you played those games on the original PS4.
I spent nearly a month playing Ghost of Tsushima on the original PS4. I never upgraded to the PS4 Pro, so the original is what I had to work with. It played games just fine, and Ghost of Tsushima still looked good. But not as good as it could have.
When I launched it on the PS5, the visual improvements were immediately noticeable. And it didn't take long to notice the performance improvements.
What's really awesome though are the load times. Games appear to load lightning quick compared to the PS4. And paired with Sony's UI design for the PS5 it takes less time than ever to jump into a game and start enjoying it.
It's not going to hold a candle to a top-notch gaming PC. And no one should expect it to. In the console world though, the PS5 performs exceptionally.
The DualSense is a thing of wonder
Everyone is trying to figure out how to make games feel more immersive. And right now I think Sony is the frontrunner. Mainly because of the DualSense controller.
The DualSense is Sony's next iteration of the PlayStation controller, and it's far and away the biggest change Sony has ever made in this area. What really sets it apart and makes it a magical controller to use are the adaptive triggers and the haptic feedback.
With the adaptive triggers, Sony designed them in such a way that they give you feedback that adapts to different things happening in the game. For example, in Astro's Playroom, squeezing the triggers requires more force when Astro needs to use his foot thrusters to boost up into the air.
You can actually feel the force feedback from the triggers as your fingers push down on them. With the haptic feedback, the vibrations adjust to feel different based on the type of surface you're walking on. Using Astro's Playroom as an example again here, the vibrations from the haptic feedback feel different when Astro walks on glass surfaces compared to when he walks on wood or sand. The idea is that haptic feedback is emulating what it might feel like to walk on those surfaces.
Now just imagine these features of the DualSense controller in other games. Like a first-person shooter. The adaptive triggers could require you to apply more force when initiating a longer draw on a bow.
And the haptic feedback could feel less intense when your character trudges through snow compared to walking across asphalt.
The incremental improvements shouldn't be overlooked
Aside from those things, the DualSense provides other nifty improvements. Like USB Type-C charging for quicker charge times. There's also now a mic included, though it isn't used for voice chat. Rather, it's used for more of these immersive features in games. Like blowing into the mic to make something move.
Overall the DualSense also feels very comfortable to hold and it has a tad bit more heft than the DualShock 4. Which makes it feel more durable. Even the rigid back makes it feel like there's slightly more grip compared to the DualShock 4. And if you look closely, that rigid design on the back is a bunch of small classic PlayStation iconography that players have come to know and love.
That last bit isn't really an improvement, but it's a nice little attention to detail for PlayStation fans. And because the icons are small they don't make the controller look brash.
New UI features enhance gameplay
Love it or hate, Sony's new PlayStation UI on the PS5 provides many benefits over that of the PS4's. Some of the better ones are the ability to pin videos and live streams to the screen as you play.
There are a few ways this can enhance the experience. But for most people it's likely to be useful in the form of the video tips that some games will offer. These tips are there to help players if they get stuck on a particular part in a game.
And the ability to pin these videos to the screen make it possible to have them there at a glance as you play through the content yourself.
Since it's also possible to pin live streams, this could be very useful for anyone playing multiplayer games with a friend. If you're both streaming, you can bot pin each other's streams to the screen. Giving you the capability to see where each of you are at a moment's notice.
Stadia does this with certain games. Like Ghost Recon: Breakpoint. It's a specific feature that developers have to work into the game though. With the PS5, all you have to do is stream your game. It doesn't matter what game it is.
It's also now way easier to see things like trophies, or in-game tasks that you may need to complete. Simply hit the PlayStation button and a navigation bar pops up at the bottom of the screen instead of exiting you out of the game.
We go a little more in depth on it here. But in short it just makes it so you can keep the game front and center while still accessing other stuff. Sony has made sure that games are the main focus with the PS5.
The Sony PS5 is not without its flaws
Sony has done a lot of things right with the PS5. That doesn't mean the console is not without its flaws.
Players have noticed a number of bugs that are causing issues. Like game crashes, console crashes and more. Some have speculated that game and console crashes are linked to a bug within the rest mode.
It's not entirely clear if a bug within rest mode is the cause, but it's a risk that isn't worth taking. Which means at this point you're better off powering the PS5 down every time you're finished using it. This isn't a huge deal, but it does lock you out from charging the DualSense in this state and it means you can't quickly jump back into games.
Some users have also reported issues with the console bricking by using the back ports for the data transfer when moving content over from the PS4 to PS5. All in all the PS5 has a few missteps. But this is a launch day version of next-gen tech.
So you almost have to expect that there may be a few issues Sony would need to resolve through software updates. Is this the way it should be? No. Probably not. But the last time I remember buying a launch day console that didn't have issues was probably the Super Nintendo. The PS1, PS2, Xbox, PS3, Xbox 360, and PS4 all had issues until newer batches came out after Sony had applied fixes.
So the PS5 is not alone in this sense.
The verdict – should you buy one?
There's a lot to love about the PS5. A LOT. And yes I would highly recommend that if you love to game on console, you should buy one.
Even if you favor Xbox when it comes to platforms, you should still buy one. Because the PS5 offers experiences that are unique to the PS5. While it is tough to get a hold of one right now, it's definitely worth buying once the stock problems iron out.
If not for the awesome exclusives that the PS5 will have, definitely for the integration with the advanced features of the DualSense controller. They're something that you really have to feel to fully grasp, because saying the DualSense is amazing just doesn't do the features justice.