This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl.
We're here to give you a review of the PlayStation 5 when it goes on sale on November 12, 2020.
With an overview of the product and actual numbers, this article documents how it has changed my gaming life as a result of using it regularly as my main PlayStation to replace the PS4, and from the perspective of using it in conjunction with a gaming PC and other game consoles. Or, it's like a dripping poem of consciousness.
To sum it up in three lines.
The tactile capabilities of the DualSense controller and the gorgeous, fast-responding UX are enough to give it a "next-generation feel".
Not to mention optimized PS5 games, just as comfortable as a PS4/Pro replacement
Dramatically improved drive noise compared to the PS4 Pro
The bundled game ASTRO's Playroom is great in many ways. The world view of the game as "a heaven/hell for historical in-house hardware", which SEGA couldn't achieve, is addictive.
The unit is a "five-dimensional" concept object
First, let's talk about the unit. As we all know, the PS5 is the largest super-sized console of all time. Not only is it large in terms of volume, but it's also thin, so it takes up a lot of space in terms of both height and depth, and it's not always possible to install it in place of a conventional PS4 or PS4 Pro.
Because it is tall and heavy, it requires an attached base (stand) to prevent it from tipping over when placed upright. Due to the complex curved sides, the base is necessary to stabilize it when it is placed horizontally. A single base can be used for both vertical and horizontal installation, and the shape of the base can slide, rotate, and deform and lock.
(The base when placed vertically may slide forward as the nails are just caught on the back of the unit when it is just placed on top. Be sure to use the provided screws to fasten it in place, as it may slip and fall to the floor if it is placed on a desk.)
As well as the size, the PS5 is a clear change in industrial design direction from the boxy PS4, with a black body covered in a white shell, almost like an object work of art in an expressive form. The reason for the limited placement of this is not simply because of its size, but also because of this aggressive design.
Although it is certainly large compared to PS4 and traditional game consoles, it is noticeably smaller than the average size of air conditioning and air purifiers, and it is not as large as a gaming-grade desktop PC, and it is not so large that you cannot put it in a real environment. In the past, there used to be a very large VCR sitting in a rack underneath the TV.
It may have been this peculiar design, rather than its absolute size, that has made the PS5 such a hot topic of conversation since its appearance was announced. As I wrote in a previous preview of the body (only), it's a design that's not just derived from the convenience of heat exhaustion, but is clearly characterful and a step in the direction of a worldview. The design was done by renowned designer Yujin Morisawa, who has worked on a number of Sony products in the past.
If you think that at the first glance the product is eye-catching, uncomfortable, and has a strong presence, it can be said that it has already played a role in conveying a sense of "good looks" or, if taken positively, has already played a role in arousing excitement for the next generation, there's no need to supplement the design intent or concept with words, but according to the designer's intent, the overall theme is "five dimensions". Suddenly we have a keyword that is closer to the worldview of the creator of PS.
To sum it up as far as I could interpret it, it seems that they've arrived at a multi-dimensional image from being able to repeatedly live in another world, another self, another time and space through the game, a "5-dimensional" concept that can also be associated with PS5's 5. That being said, the simple and complex curvature of the cover can be seen as a mathematical conceptual diagram.
The black body sandwiched between a cover means that the black body is a high-energy, other-dimensional entity, and the white shell is the interface they created to communicate with humans or users, he says.
(An aside. Speaking of Mr. Arito Morisawa, he worked on the SJ33, a music player model of CLIE (Sony's version of Palm) long ago. It was designed as an electronic organizer, with a colorful, round, translucent flip-top cover. His intention to design the relationship between the product and the user through its shell and its contents has not changed.)
Of course, this does not mean that unnecessary boards were added to this 5-dimensional story, but rather that the design satisfies the thermal design needs, such as protecting the intake ducts and ensuring air flow, and creates an "energy that is transmitted from a powerful being in another dimension" to convey a worldview and a sense of strength.
Whether or not you want to place an object in your room that strongly expresses its worldview is a matter of personal preference in terms of interior design and "worldview", and I suppose there are people who just want to play games and don't care about the expressions of famous designers. However, the fact remains that some kind of box is needed to achieve the performance of this hardware design at this point in time. If you must have a huge box, the decision to make it a more assertive object seems reasonable, considering that this is the first model that gamers who like PS so much like to buy.
If you're not a PS fan who is happy to have this as the centerpiece of the room next to your TV, happy to get a next-generation console, happy to get a cool object for the price of a console, and happy to see your room become a PS world, and if you feel depressed that the console makes too much of a statement, place the PS5 in a place where it's hidden out of your line of sight.
The drive noise has been dramatically improved from the previous generation
Current next-gen consoles have thermal design difficulties with the heat source being concentrated in the main SoC, and the PS5, in particular, is supposed to be highly clocked and generate a lot of heat. However, the PS5's overall drive noise and "loudness" to the ears are much improved over the PS4 Pro, probably due to the full-throttle thermal management efforts of the huge fan, the liquid metal TIM (thermal interface material), and the massive size of the device, which were highlighted in the official video.
In particular, the main fan noise is audible but gentle, and the lack of noticeable wind noise contributes to the overall quietness, a far cry from the PS4 Pro's complex mix of high-pitched, fluctuating, urgent sounds that have been likened to the exhaust of a jet plane.
The only thing I noticed is that if you dare to listen to it near the PS5 under high load, there is a mixture of high resonant sounds like " buzz" or "beep" apart from the low airflow sound.
This buzzing sound seems to be directly related to the drawing load of the console, and it can fluctuate like an analog instrument when you move the camera. If you dare to listen to it, you can hear it as if it's beeping on and off when you put your ear close to the device and open and close the map in Horizon Zero Dawn, for example.
I've checked this on multiple units, but it could be due to individual differences and variations in the assembly process. Also, depending on your age, the audible range may be lowered and the high-pitched component may not be a concern.
The sound itself is not loud, and should not be a problem in situations where you are playing from a couch away from a large screen TV, for example, or where the game is making noise. If you do notice it, it's either someone who is particularly sensitive to sound or, for example, if you're playing a game with headphones late at night when it's quiet and you take them off in a high-load situation.
Either way, the general noise level, and comfort level are big improvements over the PS4 Pro. While not the sound of the unit, the DualSense controller has a mild sound on the D-pad and buttons as well, and it's nice to know that it's not too loud, even if you're playing late at night.
General User Interface
Next, let's talk about the PS5's menus and general UX. The basic layout with icons on the left and right sides hasn't changed since the PS4 days, but the UX is now based on 4K HDR and is even more responsive and light, making it look gorgeous and active all around.
Just moving focus left or right quickly switches the entire screen background to a single picture of each game or app, and content and new information smoothly unfolds as you move up or down without having to make a decision and open it, which is a comfort and smoothness that's far removed from the previous generation, where there was a lot of small waiting.
Control Center and Activities
What's new in the PS5's UX is that pressing the PS button opens the Control Center, which overlays the current game and app screens, rather than returning to Home. The Control Center has quick menu-like icons like controller settings and volume at the bottom and the new concept of activity cards at the top.
To return to the traditional Home screen, you must either press and hold the PS button or select Home from the icons at the bottom of the Control Center to decide.
It's a subtle tweak, but it makes sense from a philosophy of keeping the gaming experience as uninterrupted as possible, with single presses for quick checks and changes and long presses for switching back to home without feeling pulled out of the game and put back in.
Gallery: PlayStation 5 UX PS5ユーザー体験 | of 7 Photos
The new concept of "activities" and cards are like shortcuts to the next content or action you'll access in that game, or in that context, next.
They're lined up with in-game challenges, stage transitions, a view of the capture you've just taken, notifications, and multiplayer sessions you can participate in, and when selected you can jump to that activity with an overview and description. To take advantage of the PS5's fast loading speed, it's provided as a way to jump instantly from content to content and to whatever you want to do.
It's a new mechanism, though, so it's currently only used in some PS5 games as a shortcut for jumping between stages. In most other games, it's lined with trophy items and achievements, etc., and doesn't require much access.
It's neither novel nor super useful at this point, but in the new Spider-Man game Miles Morales, for example, you can access warm-up-style challenges that are separate from the main story at any time. And for games like the console's pre-installed ASTRO's Playroom, which has a collectible element for each stage, it's comfortable to have access to them in tiny chunks.
As a developer, you'll need to support setting up shortcuts to missions and modes that were previously accessed in-game by opening menus or from the map as activity cards.
Once introduced, players who are used to PS5 may be able to press the PS button and get instant access to what they want to do without having to learn and think about different menus for each game.
Shift to a global standard of "X button to select" in Japan
Speaking of the PS5 interface, there has been a major change in Japan since this generation, where the select is X and the cancel is ○. At the point of setup, you are preemptively warned to press the X button instead of the circle button in order to proceed.
Since X has always been select overseas, I'm not lying when I say that this is a measure for Japanese users, which is good because it eliminates the cost of setting up a Japanese counterpart for content and the confusion of foreign-made content, but it is, well, confusing in the beginning.
In terms of my personal situation, I didn't have a problem with the international versions of the PSP and PS4 as I had been using them for a long time, in fact, I thought it was finally becoming that way. However, using the PS5 regularly as a replacement for the PS4 Pro, I naturally spent a lot of time playing PS4 games, and I often got confused by mixing games that were still ○ to select and games that were replaced by X to select.
This is not because PlayStation did not simply hardcode physical buttons and functions, but because there was a systematic concept of " select buttons" separate from the physical buttons, and each console had its own " select button" that corresponded to "this console is the Japanese version, so the select button is ○" or "the select button is X because it was changed in the settings". In fact, it was possible to set the button to select in X on the PS4 as well.
Ideally, as long as the game is configured with the "select button" to select, you should be able to switch to gracefully and unify the select button locally, whether the select button is ○ or changes to X.
However, since the games are often set to X to select or ○ to select in the first place, you can't actually switch your head to "PS4 so ○ to select" thanks to this setup. For PS4, there is both ○ to select and X to select. It's a game-by-game situation, so we don't know.
You'll have to get used to it anyway, and time will not rewrite the games of the past. Rather, once the PS5 becomes popular, I think the Japanese will start using checkmarks in terms of selection. I was irresponsible.
Loading is super fast. Game switching blues and hope
The PS5 is a gaming console that, despite being the so-called next-gen console, sells storage read/write speed, not graphics performance, as its biggest selling point.
(Historically, due to the increasing complexity of games and the generational shift to optical media, games started up slower and slower with each generation, so there were circumstances where speed was not a selling point.)
This fast loading speed is powerful for fast travel in the game, for example, or when you choose your save data to load or die and have to re-read it. In Spider-Man: Miles Morales, when you select your save data, and it goes dark, it starts suddenly and stuns you.
My only regret is that no matter how fast the SSD loads, the splash screen that can't be skipped when the game launches remain the same. It's that one with the publisher's name, the animation logo of the development studio, a notation of licensed tools and assets, and a warning not to steal the game.
If you're only going to continue with one game, the interrupted resumption doesn't bother you at all, but even if it's just a long, single-player game that you want to sit down and play, and a short game that you want to play quickly for a change of pace, or a multiplayer game that you play when you're invited to, it's going to be a pain to be shown that animated logo every time because the rest of the game is so fast.
In the previous generation, the splash screen was used to buy time while loading on the back, which certainly didn't change the startup time if you could skip it. But at a nominal 100x loading speed against the PS4, at least the same level of splash screen as the previous generation shouldn't be necessary as a load hiding technique.
In Miles Morales, for example, it takes about 30 seconds to display the PlayStation Studios, Insomniac, and the familiar MARVEL logo. In contrast, it takes about 3 seconds to load from the title and start the game.
While I think it's fair to say that's not a problem with the PS5, a personal reason why this splash, which wasn't much of an issue before, has become even more of an issue is that the same next-gen Xbox Series X/S also has a Quick Resume feature that allows you to interrupt and resume multiple games.
Shortly after the Xbox Series X/S announced its much-hyped super-fast storage velocity architecture, the PS5 turned out to be faster in loading RAW data than the Xbox's compressed uncompressed loading as well; it should have fallen behind the PS5 in terms of SSD speed. But when it comes to comfort when switching between games, the reversal is that a system that is supposed to be slow is significantly faster.
It's a shame that we're having to wait here for the PS5, which is supposed to have eliminated the "wait" thoroughly, and I wonder if it's the same with every generation. However, there is hope that you don't have to wait for the introduction of the Quick Resume equivalent feature in the future, for example, to get more comfortable.
That's because some games, such as the aforementioned Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Remastered, have introduced a launch screen that skips the splash and suddenly takes you to the title. Here, it takes 9 seconds from start-up to the title and up to a dozen or so seconds faster until the game starts. Considering that Xbox's quick resume isn't always enabled and can result in a cold boot, this is also more reliable, even though it doesn't allow you to go back into the game but back to the title.
Sometimes the first boot after powering off is a full boot, and sometimes it doesn't get to this shortened boot after booting several times, but once you get used to the shortened boot screen here, it's so fast that it's comfortable and fast that you get a rejection when you see a splash.
According to Sony, this fast launch is something they are introducing for certain titles to take advantage of the PS5's speed. In other words, if it's a push on Sony's part, and a third party introduces the omission of splashes if you're booting from rest mode after this second boot, we'll be able to get the full effect of the PS5's speed without the need for Quick Resume.
While it has been introduced in the two Spider-Man games, the pre-installed PS5-only game Astro's Playroom doesn't provide it (or at least I haven't seen it), so it doesn't seem to be uniformly effective just because it's PS5, but I sincerely hope that this shortened boot screen is widespread.
The DualSense is a new generation of the controller, a complete change from the DualShock, which has been around since the original PS. From the outside, it has the same "black core and white outer shell" as the console, which is noticeably different from the DualShock.
Haptic feedback, which can now transmit subtle vibrations, and adaptive triggers, which can change the resistance of the LR trigger to replicate weights and snagging, are summarized in detail separately.
The ASTRO's Playroom, which fully embraces it, is a lot of fun, but as a function, it seems to play a supporting role in contributing to the immersive experience of being integrated with the visuals and sound, rather than being a focus in its own right, but it's a great supporting role, that's for sure.
(Even though you can feel the water, mud, and even the texture of the material, it's a sensation that comes from being integrated with the graphics and sound, and the vibrations alone can only tell you whether it's a strong clatter, buzz, or light roughness. You can't feel the cold or wetness of the ice. That's not surprising. (Next time, let's add cold heat stimulation with Peltier, too).
I thought it was enough of a side feature that I wouldn't be too unhappy without it, but it's present enough that when I'm playing a game where a warrior is wielding a hatchet on another platform, I can't help but wonder if adaptive triggers and haptic feedback would have conveyed the impact of hitting the armor, the feeling of cutting flesh, and the feeling of stopping when it hits bone.
It remains to be seen how far developers will be able to take it, and how well Sony and the game engine will support their assets, but it's a feature we can expect to see in the future.
Game Lineup and General Commentary
The launch lineup, or the number of games you can buy at the same time as the console's release to enjoy the next-gen capabilities, is not all of the big names, but we can say that there are a number of games that are available. Horizon: Forbidden West is launching late next year, but the new Ratchet & Clank and Gran Turismo will be playable in the first half of 2021.
In terms of the weird concept of "exclusive or not" in some ways, Miles Morales is also available for PS4 and Demon's Souls is a remaster. However, the PS5's vastly improved graphics, the comfort of loading that can be described as another dimension, and the difference in feel due to the DualSense mentioned above, give it a next-gen feel in spades.
We'll have to wait and see about a truly innovative design concept for a game that can't be delivered on older consoles, even if its graphics are dropped. I'm looking forward to the new Ratchet & Clank game with a system that allows you to cross over to another dimension in real-time.
However, it's not true that the majority of gamers don't expect or won't play Cyberpunk 2077, for example, because it can be played on the original PS4 or Xbox One. And conversely, just as the beauty and comfort of the next-gen version alone are noteworthy, it doesn't mean that the game isn't "next generation" or worthless because it can be played on the previous generation. Rather, this generation is less of a disconnect from the previous generation on an architectural level, a progression that's more akin to a PC upgrade, a developmental succession.
A nice measure as a developmental successor that allows you to play the previous generation's games even more comfortably is the PS Plus Collection, which allows you to play about 20 popular games at no additional cost, including God of War, Detroit Become Human, Monster Hunter World, and more, if you subscribe to PlayStation Plus.
These are games that were PS Plus free-to-play benefits, so for gamers who have been subscribed and added to their library since PS4, they may already have them all, or rather, they may have all been bought at full price before they joined PS Plus, but for gamers returning and debuting on PS5, it's very Big attraction. It feels a bit like a game pass.
Gallery: Sony PlayStation 5 | of 11 Photos
In the medium to long term, PlayStation's biggest draw is PlayStation Studios' line-up of pompous exclusive games. While the company has begun to sell its signature titles on the PC, like Horizon, they're not all available at the same time, like Microsoft's. Considering that you'll need a PS one way or another to play the PS's flagship titles, the PlayStation's rock solidity is unassailable.
Indulging the PS5 and PS4 generations of exclusive titles, enjoying third-party multi-titles with comfortable loading and, in some cases, DualSense support, and having a front-row seat to the fledgling console's features, updates and initiatives rolled out by Sony's gaming division, the PS5 is a device that any self-respecting PS fan can't afford to buy early.
This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.