A little less than 24 hours after the Xbox Series X review, the next-gen picture is completed with that of PlayStation 5. Finally, we can tell you about the new Sony home console and also, in this case, we remind you that the one you are about to read can be considered an initial review, as we will return to this issue in the coming weeks.
PlayStation 5 will be officially available starting from November 19 (in Europe) for 499 euros for the version with the optical reader – the one we reviewed – and 399 for the exclusively digital one. Let’s see what the characteristics of Sony’s proposal are.
DESIGN AND MATERIALS
Let’s start with the design: PlayStation 5 was built following a completely different philosophy than its direct rival. As you can also see in our video comparison with all the other PlayStation, PS5 is the largest console ever made.
Its dimensions are important (390 x 104 x 260 mm and 4.5 kg weight for the model with the reader, 390 x 92 x 260 mm and 3.9 kg for digital). It is good to consider this when d purchase, as it may not be easy to place it on cramped shelves and cabinets, or at least it is not obvious that it can be placed in the same space previously occupied by PlayStation 4 and PS4 Pro.
The important dimensions are joined by an undoubtedly extravagant design. Also, in this case, Sony has made choices diametrically opposite to those of Microsoft: if the Xbox Series X tends to blend in and disappear in the living room – thanks to its shape that allows it to disguise itself more easily -, PS5 instead tends to impose its presence without worry about grabbing attention.
As we all know, the console comprises three main aesthetic elements: the two side plates – an off-white colour – and the black central body. The latter has a glossy finish on the front, while in the back, it becomes opaque and adopts a much more irregular shape that recalls the one we found on the first version of PlayStation 4.
The glossy part is certainly the one that most lends itself to scratches and makes the passage of time evident (think of all those micro-scratches that can be created due to the incorrect insertion of a USB device).
PS5 is also full of small details that reveal the care taken by Sony in creating a completely different project compared to the previous ones: the inner side of the plates – is removable to be able to access the expansion slot for the additional SSD and the dust collector compartments – features a bas-relief texture depicting the classic PlayStation keys.
We also find the same texture on the back of the DualSense; this is one of the elements contributing to increasing the controller’s grip.
The console’s underside also reveals a small plastic cap that can be removed to secure the PlayStation 5 on its base, which allows it to be more stable when held vertically. The base is equipped with rotating support, and paying particular attention to it is essential to use it if you want to position the console horizontally.
Although it is still possible to place PS5 vertically even without its support – which is not recommended, as its stability is reduced -the same is not possible horizontally. This is because the base is designed to keep the console raised and prevent the rounded shapes of the sides from creating instability.
In addition to this, placing it horizontally without the base, there is a risk that the console’s weight could deform or break the upper flap since this would eventually turn into one of the support points. The base also deserves attention as regards the inclusion of a small compartment in which it is possible to house the plastic cap I mentioned earlier and the screw needed to fix it with the console. In short, care and attention have been paid to avoid losing elements.
Overall, the design of the PlayStation 5 is certainly divisive because it breaks with the square and geometric shapes of the past to offer us something that strongly recalls its nature as a gaming machine. PS5 certainly cannot go unnoticed, and its lines always remain there to remind us of its presence. I do not particularly appreciate the asymmetry created by the presence of the optical reader, which helps to make one side more clumsy than the other, something that is not created with the exclusively digital version.
Finally, remaining on the aesthetic theme, I confirm that the presence of the double status LED is not particularly invasive, unlike what one could guess from the first renderings. The lighting scheme reproduces exactly that of the PlayStation 4, so we find a blue light when switching on, white during normal operation of the PS5 and orange when it goes into standby.
NOISE AND DISSIPATION
So we come to one of the themes most felt by anyone considering updating their sole: is PlayStation 5 silent? Warm? I have not encountered any problems with managing temperatures, which seemed very similar to those of Series X, especially concerning the heat produced by the air from the console.
As far as noise is concerned, PlayStation 5 has made significant progress compared to PS4 and PS4 Pro, and it is finally possible to play without having that annoying background noise caused by the fan.
In the case of PS5 – unlike Series X – the test of the console took place using both Astro’s Playroom and Spider-Man: Miles Morales, therefore two titles designed to take advantage of the console’s hardware in a more intense way than PS4 games (in any case, starting The Last of Us Part II does not involve the activation of the Boeing 747 mode), but even here the final judgment is postponed to the Demon’s Souls Remake test, as it can better represent the needs of the next-gen.
PlayStation 5 is, therefore, much more discreet than PS4 Pro (also thanks to the removal of the very noisy mechanical hard disk it was equipped with); it does not reach the peaks of silence touched by Series X. Still, it can be considered closer to One X: if we position ourselves at one meter from PS5, it is possible to perceive that the console is on and in operation.
In short, a great job on this front – considering where we came from – but it probably offers further room for improvement with the next revisions. However, the times when it was necessary to play with a pair of headphones to isolate yourself from the noise produced by the console are gone.
Staying on the subject of dissipation, the solution studied by Sony is not affected by the console’s orientation; you can use PlayStation 5 vertically and horizontally without affecting the internal airflow capabilities.
Even in the case of PlayStation 5, we will not go into the details of the technical specifications, which we have discussed in depth over the last few months; you can find the complete technical data sheet just below in case you want to review some particular features.
However, it is necessary to dwell for a moment on the allocation of ports and keys, as we have not had the opportunity to do so previously. The front of the PS5 houses the slot dedicated to the 4K Blu-Ray player (obviously absent in the digital one), the first USB type A port (a 2.0), a Type-C (3.1 Gen 1) and the keys for turning on the console and disc removal. The latter are clickable and not touch-sensitive.
On the other hand, the back has the other two USB A ports (3.1 Gen 1), the HDMI 2.1 video output (the cable in the package is compatible with this standard), and the gigabit ethernet network connector and the one dedicated to the bipolar socket. The power supply is integrated: 350W in the disc model and 340W in the digital one.
As for wireless network connectivity, Sony has updated the console’s Wi-Fi module by introducing support for Wi-Fi 6, thus making PS5 compatible with the standard, gaining ground more quickly. This guarantees significantly higher transfer speeds and lower signal latency by using a router that supports the specification; however important improvements can also be appreciated under traditional networks.
In particular, I finally managed to leverage my gigabit network effectively, downloading the 52GB of Spider-Man: Miles Morales in just over 10 minutes. Finally, even a PlayStation manages to offer good connectivity!
PlayStation 5 also has a high-speed 825 GB SSD (667 of which are available to the user) that allows access to very low loading times. One of the test benchmarks is represented by Spider-Man: Miles Morales, which starts in about 7 seconds and offers a practically instant fast travel feature. The advantages are also applicable to PS4 games copied to internal memory.
Still, we must always remember that none of the last generation titles will be able to fully exploit the features of the PS5 SSD: they will be able to improve uploads, but it will not be possible to achieve results comparable to those of a game designed from the ground up for the new architecture.
Unfortunately, PlayStation 5 does not support a feature similar to the Quick Resume since the Switcher (the name of the dedicated function) allows you to pause only one game at a time, still offering us a list of recently played titles to access them immediately.
3D AUDIO – FIRST CONTACT WITH THE TEMPEST ENGINE
With PlayStation 5, Sony has decided to invest heavily in the 3D audio theme thanks to the development of the Tempest Engine, a chip dedicated to managing this kind of calculation that allows you to produce high-quality 3D audio without burdening the CPU. This feature can only be used using a pair of headphones connected to the DualSense. Sony is still working on the right calibration for more complex devices such as surround systems and speakers integrated into televisions.
The speech is quite simple: the headphones give Sony the certainty of knowing exactly the position of the speakers – exactly above the user’s ears – while in the case of TVs and systems, various factors come into play (the distance of the speakers from each other on TV of various polliciaggio, or the arrangement of the individual speakers in an environment) that make implementation more complicated, at least in this initial phase.
We know that a future update will enable 3D audio functions in many more scenarios, but at the moment, you can only enjoy it with a pair of headphones.
The work done so far is particularly convincing, especially regarding its implementation in Spider-Man: Miles Morales. The New York City scenery is full of sound sources from every direction, from traffic noise to police sirens, to the crowd’s chatter and all the city’s background noises. By dangling at high speed from one building to another, we can credibly cross all these sounds, which reach our ears from the right directions and with the correct intensity (the doppler effect is particularly noticeable when we approach and pass a noise source. Like the dialogue of a passer-by – at high speed).
DUALSENSE: THE STRONG PIECE OF PS5
But let’s get to the real star of this review: the new DualSense controller. As highlighted in the comparison between the various PlayStations, the DualSense represents a radical change in the design of Sony’s pads. Excluding the new lines – which undoubtedly make it the best controller ever made by the Japanese company -the real novelties lie in the features supported. The feedback can provide to us during the interaction in the games.
As for the first aspect, the DualSense integrates a microphone that allows you to take part in voice chats immediately, without using a headset with a microphone, as happened on PS4. The introduction of this component involved the addition of a button dedicated to deactivating it; press it once to make the orange light appear, indicating that the microphone is blocked. I point out that the tasty are much quieter than those of the DualShock 4 and the Xbox controller, so their noise shouldn’t be heard when using the microphone.
The behaviour of the Create button (Share on PS4) also slightly changes, which now allows you to launch the creative menu with a single press, capture a screen with a long press and record a video clip with a double press (functions that can be remapped according to your priorities. As for capturing and sharing multimedia elements comes the possibility to record game clips in 4K, choose the duration of the video clips of recent gaming experiences (from 15 seconds to 1 now) and quickly start a YouTube or Twitch stream.
Returning to the functions of the DualSense, there are two that most distinguish it from the competition and all its predecessors: the haptic vibration and the variation of resistance of the L2 and R2 triggers (whose intensity – for both – can be changed by the settings).
In no uncertain terms, the sensory experience offered by the DualSense puts it above anything you’ve ever tried before, as – for the first time – we can pick up a piece of hardware capable of giving us back tactile feedback. What is happening on the screen?
The haptic vibration allows you to reproduce every single interaction in a credible and precise way, such as the steps and impacts of all kinds, but not only. It is possible to faithfully reproduce the effect of an object moving inside the pad, sliding from one side to the other, or even the sensation experienced in passing through sand or snowstorm.
The vibration offered by DualSense, therefore, represents a clear departure from the past and – effectively – introduces a turning point for what may be the future of the vibration feedback offered by a controller. In this sense, DualSense sets a new standard.
Equally important are the dorsal triggers with adaptive resistance, which manage to complete the immersion given by the haptic vibration by adding a variable physical response that makes us perceive DualSense as an active element of the gameplay and not as a simple means. I’ll explain.
In Astro’s Playroom (which I’ll talk about shortly), you can use different weapons, including a bow and a submachine gun. When holding the bow, the resistance of the triggers becomes more and more intense as we increase the pressure, thus simulating the fatigue that the character feels in pulling the string. On the other hand, when we use the submachine gun, the resistance suddenly increases and decreases with each shot, thus creating the effect of a real trigger that returns to its position with each bullet fired.
The combination of these two features produces an effect that we had never experienced before and which can be one of the main differentiating factors compared to the last generation and Series X.; the unknown is represented by the support that will be given to both functionalities from third-party developers.
Surely Sony will make the most of this workhorse in all major productions, but likely, even the partners do not want to miss the possibility of giving more depth to their productions.
All the new features, of course, involve a greater energy expenditure than usual and the battery (not removable, as on DS4 and DS3) from 1,500 mAh does not offer a very long duration; these days, it seemed to me to be inferior to that of the DualShock 4, however recharging takes place quickly via the Type-C port and the cable (USB-A / Type-C) present in the package. Overall, the DualSense is more ergonomic than its predecessor, thanks to slightly larger dimensions that favour a much firmer and more comfortable grip.
ASTRO’S PLAYROOM: THE DUALSENSE TEST BENCH
Already mentioned at least a couple of times, Astro’s Playroom certainly deserves mention in the PlayStation 5 review, as it is the main laboratory where you can experience the features of the new console and DualSense. The title is, to all intents and purposes, a small platform, so it is not a demo from the point of view of the contents. However, the role played is precisely that of a technical demo of the unique PS5 technologies.
In the game, extensive use is made of adaptive triggers, haptic vibration, the speaker and the DualSense microphone and motion sensors to allow the player to get carried away with each of these features and understand how they can enrich the gaming experience. Astro’s Playroom is also a small title celebrating all the PlayStation generations, as each scene Rio is full of references to games and historical events significant to the brand.
So expect to take a dip in the past, rediscovering high-definition trophies and models of the most famous consoles and peripherals, all while the little bots at each level have fun imitating the most famous mascots in the PlayStation world.
Sony has made a good choice by including the game pre-installed in every PS5, as it allows everyone to have that test bed necessary to fully understand the potential of the next-gen. Astro’s Playroom, in fact, also showcases part of the PS5 hardware: of course, it is not the most complex title in the world, but it allows you to immediately appreciate very high-definition textures, lighting effects and very advanced reflection management and so on. Away, all for about 10GB of weight (can be uninstalled).
NEW UI: RENEWED BUT STILL INCOMPLETE
PlayStation 5 completely changes its face compared to PlayStation 4, thanks to a completely redesigned and simplified operating system. The main screen is divided into two tabs, Games and Multimedia Content, to clearly distinguish applications and games from video playback apps.
The main page of each tab offers us immediate access to the last 10 open applications, while the others are available in the Game Collection item. From here, it is possible to access all the titles in our collection – therefore, even those we have not installed – and those installed on the internal or external memory.
The logic behind the new PlayStation 5 operating system is very different from that of PS4. It will take time to master all the functions and understand where the various elements have been relocated.
Overall, the password is simplified, so we find a better categorisation of the various settings. For example, pressing the PlayStation button of the DualSense will not return directly to the Home. Still, the lower bar will open that allows you to manage aspects such as access to the Switcher (the function that keeps track of the latest titles started), notifications, Parties, music playback, streaming sharing, audio and microphone settings, the controller, the online status of our account, the shutdown menu and the shortcut to return to the Home.
All these functions are performed within small pop-ups that appear superimposed while the game action continues in the background; this is particularly useful if we want to change some settings while we are in an online game – for example – and don’t want to lose sight of what is happening on the screen.
Particularly annoying, however, is the fact that we cannot access the shutdown menu by pressing the PlayStation button for a long time since we are forced to navigate to the dedicated icon. It is not excluded that this may change in the future, as the whole interface gives us the feeling that something is not complete but that it is an initial version destined to be expanded.
The idea I got in these days of testing is that Sony has prepared the simplest possible version of the new UI to avoid bugs and additional problems typical of the newly launched products.
This is perceived by the absence of some functions, such as the ability to move PS5 games to external memory for their storage (coming soon), the absence of support for additional SSDs through the dedicated slot, the lack of Game Boost mode settings to improve the backward compatibility of PS4 games (the feature is active on a selection of games, but you cannot choose whether to activate it or not, as is the case on PS4 Pro), the removal of quick access to the gallery of images (you have to go through the Create button) and so on.
In short, the feeling is that the operating system has been released in a provisional version and is destined to become more complete over the next few months. Regarding the backward compatibility issue, Sony confirms that – at launch – the only non-working titles will be those listed on the official website.
In the course of my test (I tested Final Fantasy VII Remake, Crash Bandicoot 4, Bloodborne, and Super Street Fighter 4), I did not find any differences compared to the execution of the titles on PS4 in terms of graphics, except for the significantly improved uploads and a more stable frame rate in Bloodborne.
I confirm that you can use your PS4 library installed on an external hard drive without any problems, without further steps: disconnect it from PS4 and connect it to PS5 (using the USB on the back or the Type-C) to start playing without making other installations.
As for The Settings menu, on the other hand, the layout is very similar to that of the PlayStation 4 menu itself, offering us a list of the various categories and different branches to access the various advanced functions.
Among these, we point out the possibility of calibrating your profile for 3D audio, using the network transfer to copy data from your PS4, managing the energy-saving functions, accessing the settings of each notification, manage spoiler alerts (PS5 integrates a system, still not active, which allows you to see short films that guide the player in obtaining the trophies), configure the Bluetooth accessories (the console is equipped with 5.1 connectivity) and much more.
Overall, PlayStation 5 is a promising next-gen platform that immediately manages to make us understand the path taken by the Japanese house. As already anticipated in the Xbox Series X review, the next generation is still far away, despite the consoles already here, precisely because of the lack of experiences dedicated to new platforms, which can highlight the generational leap.
Sony plays its cards better from this point of view, offering a handful of titles that cover different roles: Astro’s Playroom is the laboratory in which to discover all the news of DualSense, and Spider-Man: Miles Morales is the cross-gen title capable of showing us what the immediate and tangible improvements can be compared to PS4, while the remake of Demon’s Souls has the task of being the forerunner of the next-gen, at least from a visual point of view, waiting for the arrival of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart.
PlayStation 5 also solves some of the chronic problems of PlayStation 4 (especially the Pro), thanks to a new dissipation system that guarantees a level of silence that we have been waiting for for some time, even if not at the top of the category: Series X represents the best at the moment. In this field.
Also appreciated the choice to completely overhaul the console interface, which is now more modern and responsive in every area, even if it is necessary to spend some time to understand how some elements have been repositioned – such as turning off the console – and the logic behind the new game layout. In these respects, PlayStation 5 brings with it a breath of fresh air for all PlayStation 4 users.
On the services front, there is no big news compared to the last generation, if not the inclusion of the PlayStation Plus Collection or a collection of 20 very important PlayStation 4 titles that can be redeemed immediately by new PS5 users who have a subscription to the Plus These games remain linked to your account and can be used as long as the subscription is active, so they do not have a time limit.
This is certainly not an offer that can rival the Game Pass, but it undoubtedly offers a solid base from which to start for all those who are new to the world of PlayStation. Among these, we find:
that PlayStation 5 remains very anchored to the concept of the traditional console. We can perceive this in different areas, from the lack of native support to 1440p, passing through the choice to manage the transition to 120Hz in a completely intuitive way (there are no options in this regard) and the disappearance of the integrated web browser, which is now accessible only by the applications that use it (such as the user guide), making it impossible to use the console to browse the internet, the latter a step backwards compared to previous generations.
You will have noticed that themes such as the new store and the multimedia features of the console have not been touched, all aspects that are still under embargo and on which it will be possible to return later, o; one reason to consider this review as the first contact with PS5 and not a final verdict.
On the other hand, it is known that the judgment on a console can only arrive at the end of its life cycle – or in any case, at a very advanced stage -, so even in this case, we can take note of what PlayStation 5 offers us to date to imagine what. Will be able to do it in the future. The only difference from its direct competitor is that Sony made sure that a taste of this future could already materialise at launch.
We remind you that we are live on Twitch to discuss the review with you and to show you Astro’s Playroom; just below, check all the references to reach us.