I had to check back to see when I got this beast of a machine, and I was shocked to see it had only been two weeks. Truth be told, it feels like I’ve had it for a month, because I have logged a ton of time on this thing. I didn’t even think I’d be able to secure one, let alone have the time to make any sort of real progress on the massive backlog of games I’d missed, yet I’ve been hammering out a few hours every night once the little one goes to bed. Really, it’s been ages that I’ve been absolutely obsessed with something like I am with my PS5, and it’s been nearly two decades since I’ve had a modern console with this sort of comparable power.
As I didn’t think I’d even get close to finding one, I hadn’t considered what may happen to my gaming priorities if I were to get one, but let’s just say that since cracking open this beautiful behemoth of a machine, I have had very little desire to return back to the games I was in the progress of playing. The memes you’ve seen are true – this thing is absolutely enormous! Here’s a goofball shot my wife took of me shortly after opening this thing (which by the way, arrived a full five days before the estimated date, which was ultra super cool, thanks PlayStation Direct Store!).
We didn’t have any bananas for scale, but here’s a grown man for scale:
Guys, I am not a small man, but the PS5 is the size of my damn torso, and the thing is thicker than a bowl of oatmeal and almost as thick as my toaster. Let’s compare it to the rest of my consoles:
Mother of pearl, this is a large machine. But let me start this off by saying, there is immense power contained within. It’s got excellent PS4 backwards compatibility, and I think I know why – because I’m convinced an entire PS4 slim lives in there. Anyway, yes – immense power.
Seriously – I cannot believe how fast this machine actually runs. I cracked it open, got ‘er started up, and took a look around the user interface.
The User Interface
I must say it’s very, very clean. Peaceful; serene even. It makes you want to live in the user interface, a feeling not unlike the one I had upon first using the original iPhone. This is a journey into the new generation of video game consoles, and even though the Switch was released a mere three and a half years ago, the PS5 makes it look like a Fisher Price toy.
Anyway, I booted the thing up, plugged in an Ethernet cable, and got signed up to PS+. Oh yeah – I should mention: I bought zero games for this thing, and I don’t have any PS4 games. That’s how unprepared I was to receive my PS5 on that Saturday. I was aware that Astro’s Playroom came pre-installed, and as a huge fan of 3D platformers already, I figured it was a great place to start – with the highly rated tech demo for the controller.
Words cannot express how well this launch title was done. Sure, at it’s core, it’s a tech demo for the amazing DualSense controller. But it’s a collect-a-thon that has you recreating the history of the PlayStation – essentially we are talking about collecting nostalgia points, and then ingesting them not unlike crack. You literally collect parts of PlayStation history – controllers, camera attachments, multi-taps, and of course, the consoles themselves. Furthermore, you find puzzle pieces that fit together to form a gigantic wall banner displaying the entire history of PlayStation. Wow!
Of course, this isn’t all about nostalgia, and although it’s a great reason to bask in nostalgia, the real purpose is to demonstrate the capabilities of the DualSense controller. By now you’ve surely read about the “haptic feedback” – well I’m happy to report it’s all that it’s cracked up to be. The triggers have these incredible feeling to them that somehow beautifully mimics the behavior on screen – firing an automatic weapon throws the feedback you would expect from the kick of an automatic weapon. Squeezing a crane game ball until it breaks provides a degree of resistance in the R2 trigger, until it breaks, and you feel the resistance disappear. The best way I can sell this is to simply say “try it yourself and you’ll get it,” and although that’s possibly insensitive given the freaken scarcity of this machine, it’s really the only way to get the point across.
I had a blast with Astro’s Playroom and ultimately finished it to 100% completion in about ~5 hours. I didn’t finish it in one go, of course – but the thing is, when you have a fresh new system, you naturally want to check out some more games. The problem was, I didn’t have any – I then quickly learned that I could instantly play and download, piles of highly rated PS4 games if I subscribed to PS+. So, that’s what I did!
The Experience of the PS5 Interface
I cannot explain this, but something about the snappiness of everything on the PS5’s operating system makes you want to download absolutely everything. Look – I’m never going all-digital here, and especially not streaming – but I totally get it. The operating system here is well-equipped for the digital landscape. It’s a multi-tasking machine. I was able to start downloading The Last of Us, load up a Twitch stream of someone playing The Last of Us, put it into Picture-in-Picture mode, then open up Astro’s Playroom while it downloaded and blast through another level. All at the same damn time, with absolutely no loading times or system slow-down.
That is seriously impressive. Ok, sure, you can do that on a PC, but this is not a PC.
It also lets you play Spotify right from the user interface, right over your game, which is something I’ve really been enjoying while playing Ratchet & Clank Remake. I can plug in my headphones to the controller, and play a game late at night while my baby is asleep, with music and the game audio beamed perfectly right to my ears. It’s a very addicting proposition to someone who has only played under-powered and/or handheld consoles for the past nearly 20 years. Hell, it’s almost over-stimulating.
I have a FiOS gigabit connection, and I was downloading entire games to the point that they were ready to play (because apparently that’s a thing – you don’t even need the whole damn game installed to start playing it) in less than 3 minutes. Of course, that’s dependent on your Internet provider availability, but the point is, the PS5 is there to harness that ludicrous amount of speed, while other consoles might throttle and lag during a download. After all, downloading at high speeds like that eats up CPU cycles. Still, nothing brings this machine to its futuristic knees.
Overall, the interface still needs some tweaks. The store is really weird and difficult to navigate. There’s also no way to sort games by Demo availability, which is a big miss for Sony – it’s also something they can very easily fix in the future. Heck, even Nintendo added the option in their eShop search box.
As for the games? Currently, I’ve been “test driving” games on PS+, then buying them for stupidly low prices if I plan on continuing to play them (seriously, I haven’t paid more than $10 for anything). It sounds silly, but I still enjoy the collecting aspect here, but I am playing them digitally installed, and it’s amzing how fast you can jump between games. Is this the digital convenience I keep hearing about?
Digital Games Finally Make Sense To Me
It’s true – I’ve railed against the preaching of “convenience” when it comes to digital games. “How hard is it to swap a disc?” “It’s not convenient when they pull the games off the service!” And while those arguments still hold true, I’ve never used a PS5 before two short weeks ago. This thing boots up games so ridiculously fast, I feel like the only load screens I’ve experienced have been that period of time when the load screen transitions in and then back out.
Granted, I’ve only played two PS5 games (Astro’s Playroom & Bugsnax, but more on those in another post), but both of them loaded basically instantly, and the PS4/PS5-Enhanced titles I’ve played also booted up impossibly quick.
Not only that, but resuming games is a great experience, albeit this is for digital as well as disc games. You can put the PS5 into Rest Mode which still provides USB power (to charge your controller), downloads updates and games, and suspends your currently game. Resuming a game from Rest Mode takes ~10 seconds from turning the machine back on to being right back in it.
There was an interesting piece over at PushSquare that echoes a lot of my feelings on the subject, and while I’m not onboard with “all digital,” I certainly understand more of the appeal, now more than ever.
Psh, come on. It’d be impossible to say “this is not worth $500.” If anything, I’m shocked they could even get the price so low in the first place for this type of performance. So much custom technology went into these machines and they all work together to provide an experience unlike anything I’ve ever had before. I haven’t taken a look at the numbers, but I can’t imagine they’re not taking a huge loss on every machine sold.
That being said, it’s all worth it for them. It’s been tough playing around on my Switch lately, and I’d lost interest in a few other titles I was playing, but whatever Nintendo follows up with is going to have to really impress me. As it stands, when it comes to non-first party Nintendo games, I’ll spend my money on the PS4/5 version instead of the Nintendo version. My Switch may end up turning into a strictly “Nintendo game” machine. And that’s fine!
What I’m really missing at the moment is the lack of a good Remote Play option. Sure, I can use my MacBook, tether a controller and my headphones to it and play it elsewhere but it’s still a bulky method. I bought an adapter that holds my iPhone on top of the controller, but until Apple pushes out iOS 14.3, the PlayStation DualSense controller is not yet supported by the iOS Remote Play app, and it’d be just silly to buy a DualShock 4 simply to play in the interim before Apple’s iOS release.
Sony did an incredible job with this system, and while I’m still stuck in PS4 game land (and loving every minute of it), I can’t wait to load up more titles and keep using this thing. This year has had it’s very-highs (like having a baby!) sandwiched by many, many lows, but truly looking forward to relaxing with a shiny new toy is a feeling I’d missed. Keep up the good work Sony, and I can’t wait to see what 2021 holds.
Hopefully for the sake of the legions of PS5-less fans out there, it’s more freaken PS5 consoles!