Way back in September, after 6 hours of dealing with online shopping hell, I was lucky enough to be able to pre-order a PlayStation 5. I was very excited as this is now the first generation that I am in right at the start. I didn’t get a PlayStation 4 until way late in its life cycle, same with the Xbox 360. After putting the system through its paces I am happy to report that the PlayStation 5 is an excellent piece of video game hardware that excels in virtually every aspect. Whether it is worth it to get right now though is another matter, which we will get to in a bit.
Getting the unit out of the box was very easy. However, if you are planning on using the handle to carry your PlayStation 5 that comes attached to the box, don’t. It feels very flimsy and I would not recommend supporting the entire weight of the console on one lone plastic handle. Especially since this system is BEEFY. It is, as the kids say, an absolute unit. Coming in at 15 inches tall and 10 inches wide, it is easily the biggest console we have yet to see. I highly recommend doing some measurements in your entertainment system beforehand, just to make sure you have the clearance space. It is also fairly heavy, so make sure to handle with caution. Which you should be anyway when handling any expensive electronic equipment.
The box comes with an HDMI cord, power cord, one DualSense controller, a charging cable for the controller, and a base. Whether you place the unit horizontally or vertically, you need to use the base and the instructions are clear and easy on how to set it up either way. My console is set up vertically, and it took less than 5 minutes to attach the base, no tools required. The console also comes pre-loaded with Astro’s Playroom, a tech demo that highlights everything the DualSense controller is capable of, as well as being a charming platformer that is a massive love letter to PlayStation. When you first boot up your system, definitely give Astro’s a go. You can beat the game in about 5 hours, but 100% completion will probably add another 5 to that.
I (Dual)Sense great things in the future
The DualSense is the best controller PlayStation has ever had. It feels sturdy, and its bigger size and deeper base feels great in my hands. Since I have bigger hands, it is easy for controllers to feel flimsy, which was definitely the case with the PlayStation 4’s DualShock 4 controller. Not here though, as it feels great to hold and nestles nicely into the contours of your hands. The analog sticks feel mostly the same compared to the DualShock 4, but the center is indented with raised edges around it. This makes clicking them down feel easier and requires a more deliberate action.
The d-pad also feels great and is a huge step up from the DualShock 4. As someone who plays a lot of fighting games, it feels great when executing special moves, and will be fantastic for those who play charge style characters like Guile in Street Fighter V. The buttons also feel great and click down with just the right level of resistance. The adaptive triggers are one of the biggest highlights, as they have different levels of resistance that make it easy to distinguish between holding down, lightly tapping, or even lightly holding. The real highlight though is the haptic feedback. It is made apparent right away in Astro’s but the feedback feels amazing. Whether it is revving up Nero’s sword in Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition or feeling the subway tracks bump by in Spider-Man: Miles Morales, the haptic feedback is next level, and I can’t wait to see how other games utilize it.
As for the system itself, the first thing I did was transfer the games from my PlayStation 4 that I wanted to keep. It took a few hours, but I was able to transfer the games and save data for Genshin Impact, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, Street Fighter V: Champion Edition, and Dragon Ball FighterZ without any issue. Also, if you are a PlayStation Plus subscriber, you get access to 20 games from last generation completely for free. This includes titles like God of War, The Last of Us: Remastered, Bloodborne, Persona 5, Monster Hunter: World, and Resident Evil 7. If you missed out on any of these games when they came out, then this is a great addition on top of everything else. You can find the full list of those games here.
Spittin’ hot fire
One of the biggest concerns I saw leading up to release was cooling for the system. The reason the PlayStation 5 is so huge is mostly due to the enormous cooling system it has. When running games with ray tracing and other fidelity enhancing features on, the system does heat up in the back considerably. However this is what it is supposed to do, and is akin to a higher end PC getting a little toasty running a settings-intensive game. I was a little concerned at first when I felt the back playing Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition for the first time with ray tracing on, but it is clear after a while that it was made to run like this. Just keep your PlayStation 5 in a well ventilated area, away from walls, and not on carpet or a similar surface. Which, again, is good advice for any piece of high end electronic equipment.
The second biggest issue is storage. After updating, the 825GB SSD begins with 667GB of storage space. Which, granted, isn’t a lot. However I was able to download all the PS4 games I mentioned earlier plus Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Spider-Man Remastered, Godfall, and Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate and still have 180GB left over. Unless you’re playing something like Call of Duty: Warzone, which is infamous for the amount of storage space it takes up, you should be fine. You can also buy extended storage for the console if you want as well.
The two features I want to highlight the most are the SSD drive and ray racing. Which were the two most touted features by Sony, and it is easy to see why. Games with ray tracing on like Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition and Spider-Man: Miles Morales look absolutely amazing. Light sources and reflective surfaces enhance the environments in ways we haven’t really seen before. When stopping a car jacking in Miles Morales you can see the lights of New York reflecting off the speeding car in real time. Every game with it on so far also receives a general graphics overhaul to just look amazing in general.
So long load screens!
The SSD drive has been called the death of load times and that was without hyperbole. Games load up so fast that in titles like Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition it asks if you want to have a button prompt between missions to start because the load times are so fast you might need a break between missions. When playing Miles Morales, I went to use the subway fast travel system to see if the game had any of those charming cutscenes from the first game, only to then realize after 5 seconds of loading “oh wait, load times don’t exist anymore.” It was a fantastic realization to come to. Also, older games just play better on PlayStation 5. Games like Street Fighter V and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 look better than they ever have before and load blisteringly fast. I was getting into matches in Street Fighter V so fast, it really took me by surprise. Similarly, arcade mode in UMvC3 loads within 10 seconds. We are truly living in the next generation.
Which brings us to the final point. The PlayStation 5 runs good, looks good, and games play great on it, but should you buy it? Right now that honestly depends on your preference in games. Chances are you won’t be able to find one anyway, but in a month or so when they become readily available, you will be asking yourself if it is worth the plunge. For me personally, I don’t have a gaming PC, so all of these titles being available on PC doesn’t mean anything to me. Also, Godfall and the Demon’s Souls are the only games technically exclusive to PS5.
Even though games like Miles Morales are available on PS4, they look and run much better on PS5. So it is up to you whether these features are worth it to you right now. However, before long, once the library of games increases, it will definitely become worth it to you eventually. At that point, whether it is now or later, you can rest assured that the PlayStation 5 is a system that is absolutely worth having and is a great way to step into the ninth console generation.