The PlayStation 5 takes console gaming to the next level in 2020. The ultimate next-gen experience is mainly fueled by a new user interface, innovative controller features, exceptional graphics and extremely fast loading times.
It’s been seven years since the PlayStation 4 first saw the light of day. The PS4 Pro followed in 2016, enabling 4K gaming on a Sony console for the first time. The PlayStation 5 will finally be released on November 19, 2020. The latest generation brings impressive improvements in performance.
The hardware of the PS5 has received a significant upgrade compared to the PS4. The console can handle a resolution of 4K at up to 120 frames per second, although most games currently only support 4K at 30 or 60 fps. Better contrasts and a nicer color range are made possible by the HDR support. 8K support will follow in the future through an update.
For the first time, console gamers can take advantage of the benefits of ray tracing. Previously, only PC gamers had this privilege. With this technology, reflections and shadows are reproduced in a true-to-life manner. Ray tracing requires a lot of console performance, which means that this functionality cannot always be combined with the highest frame rates. You can set the priority for most next-gen games for either the best graphics or the smoothest displays (Performance/Resolution Mode).
In Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, this difference is very visible. In Resolution Mode, Miles’ suit sparkles and the beautiful New York skyline can be seen in impressive reflections as he climbs buildings in the city. If you switch on Performance Mode you are able to swing through ‘The City That Never Sleeps’ not at 30, but at 60fps. Ray tracing is disabled in this case and the resolution is no longer native 4K either.
Thanks to the built-in NVMe SSD, the PS5 is able to start up very quickly. Loading screens have never been faster on a previous generation console. Where you could normally easily arrange a snack while loading with the PS4, a game like Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales on the PS5 is already fully started before you put the controller down next to you.
The user interface of the PlayStation 5 has had a major makeover. Of course, it will take some time to get used to the new look, especially if you’re used to the PS4’s interface.
Pressing the PlayStation button on the DualSense controller no longer brings up a quick menu. There is now a new menu, where you will find your friends list, (recently) opened games and apps, notifications and Spotify controls. This menu also gives you access to the new Activity Cards. This allows you to easily dive into a particular mission or view game hints. You can also get help finding collectibles.
There are some nice quality of life improvements noticeable in the interface. For example, voice dictation is now possible. You can leave messages using the built-in microphone in the DualSense controller. You can easily switch between different games (and apps), while they can continue to run on the back. This means that a game does not have to be completely restarted every time you switch. This way you can get back into the action even faster.
The PlayStation app for your smartphone has also had a major update. The interface of the app has been completely changed and fits well with the futuristic look of the PS5. When a game or app has finished installing, you will receive a notification via your phone or smartwatch from now on. This way you don’t have to keep an eye on the progress of the installation every time. You will be automatically notified of its completion.
Every PlayStation 5 comes straight out of the box with an installed game: Astro’s Playroom. While this platformer will never win major awards, it’s a nice addition that interactively demonstrates how the new DualSense controller features work.
A number of exclusive games will be available immediately upon the launch of the PS5 on November 19. This is something the Xbox Series X doesn’t have this year. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, Demon’s Souls, Godfall and Bugsnax, just like Astro’s Playroom, cannot be played on an Xbox. In any case, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Gran Turismo 7, Returnal and Horizon Forbidden West will be added in 2021. However, the latter will only appear in the second half of the new year. The other three titles are scheduled for the first six months of 2021.
In addition to PlayStation exclusives, the (upcoming) new AAA games such as Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Hitman 3, Watch Dogs: Legion, Cyberpunk 2077 and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War will be available as soon as they are released. There will of course be a lot more games in the coming years, but during the launch period there is enough for most gamers to choose from.
Of course, you also have virtually the entire game library of PS4 games to draw from. Only a handful of games are unavailable. In addition, when using a PS5, PlayStation Plus members get access to 18 PS4 titles from the PlayStation Plus Collection. These include God of War, Bloodborne, Days Gone and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.
By means of an adapter that can be requested free of charge, you can connect the PlayStation VR headset to the PS5 console. You must have the special Move Controllers or a DualShock 4 for this. A PS4 camera is also required; the PS5 camera is not working.
Not everyone is happy with the design of the PS5. First, it’s a giant console. The dimensions are approximately 390 x 104 x 260 mm (width x height x depth). The baking beast also weighs about 4.5 kg. Due to its large size, the console does not easily fit in every TV cabinet. This is something to consider, but it’s not a deal breaker.
For the first time, a Sony console has a two-tone design: white and black. The curved caps on the sides and the color scheme give the console a futuristic look. On the inside of the covers are a lot of tiny PlayStation characters (triangle, circle, cross, square). The standard PlayStation 5 has a slightly different shape than the Digital Edition. Due to the lack of a disk drive, this digital version is identical on both sides.
When the PS5 is turned on, a blue LED light illuminates on the inside of the caps, which then changes to white. The color also changes to orange when you put the console in rest mode. The white caps encase a black, glossy piece of plastic. The material is very sensitive to scratches. Not very handy, since there is a USB-A and USB-C connection on the front.
At the back there are two USB-A ports, an HDMI 2.1 connection, a power port for the power cord and an Ethernet port. Enough ports to connect your headset with USB dongle, charge your controller and (in the future) connect an external hard drive. Only PS4 games can be played on this. Adding additional SSD memory is currently still blocked by Sony. An update in the future should make it possible to use this.
The DualSense controller turns the PS5 into a true next-gen worthy console. The controller has innovative ingenuity that you will not find in other controllers. The haptic feedback makes you feel the difference between various surfaces extremely well, such as rooting through beach sand or floating in the ocean.
Adaptive triggers allow developers to adjust the resistance of the triggers to the actions you make with the controller. For example, pressing a gas pedal in a racing game can be simulated in reality. We can imagine that drawing Aloy’s bow in Horizon Forbidden West creates resistance on the triggers. Unfortunately, we have to wait a while before this game appears.
Both of the new technologies just mentioned are extremely exaggerated in the showpiece Astro’s Playroom. Other games seem to take a more subtle approach. In Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, a slight drag in the triggers is noticeable when swinging through New York. With Godfall you feel every blow you make with your sword shoot from one side to the other through the controller.
They may seem like small, meaningless additions, but they do offer a very immersive experience. However, it is up to each developer how they deal with the new controller technologies. When playing PS4 games, the controller vibrates in the same way as we are used to from the PS4 console.
The predominantly white colour of the DualSense controller could make it look dirty more quickly. However, after three weeks of intensive use, this is not yet noticeable. The PlayStation characters are also on the back of the controller, near the grips. They are so small that you don’t notice them if you didn’t know they were there.
To get the most out of the impressive performance of the PlayStation 5, a 4K (Ultra HD) television with 120Hz, HDR support and an HDMI 2.1 connection is recommended. However, if you already have a 4K television, upgrading is probably not (yet) necessary. You will also notice a big difference between the PS5 and PS4 with an HD television (1080p). Whether you want to purchase a new television with the console is therefore entirely dependent on your own preference (and budget).
Not all peripherals and accessories you purchased for the PS4 will work on the PS5. For example, the DualShock 4 controller can be connected to the PlayStation 5 (by means of a cable or via Bluetooth), but you can only play PS4 games with it. A DualSense controller is required to play PS5 games. This makes sense, because these games make use of the new haptic feedback and adaptive triggers.
However, the lack of this compatibility can be annoying if you are used to a controller (from a third party) with back buttons. For example, because you play a lot of shooters. Thankfully, for the Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War cross-gen bundle, there’s the workaround to boot the PS4 version of the game. You will not get ray tracing, but you can use your old trusted controller.
Headphones using a USB dongle can be connected to the console and headsets with a 3.5mm jack can be plugged into the controller. The console does not have an optical port. If necessary, you can purchase an external adapter for this. The Tempest 3D Audio works with all connectable headphones, although the quality will of course vary per headset. So it is not necessarily necessary to purchase Sony’s wireless 3D Pulse headset.
For seven years we have had to wait for the new PlayStation console from Sony. For five hundred euros you get very impressive performance. You won’t find a PC with similar specifications for the same amount of money. With the arrival of the PlayStation 5, console gamers can now also enjoy all the beauty that PC gamers have known for years. The next-gen console offers excellent graphics through ray tracing and a fast refresh rate. In addition, you get impressive loading times that let you jump into a game in no time. Throw in the innovative DualSense controller and you’ve got the most immersive console experience you’ve ever seen.