It’s hard to believe that the PlayStation 5 officially launched back in November of 2020. Pandemic-related supply chain issues have made Sony’s flagship console difficult to come by, and it’s an expensive piece of hardware. After months of waiting for my local Best Buy to have them in stock, I (Jonathan) finally got my hands on the digital edition. Was it worth the hundreds of dollars I shelled out? Read on for my first impressions and overall review of the PlayStation 5.
Let me start out by saying I’m a casual gamer. I’m drawn to story-driven role-playing games (RPGs) a la Mass Effect and Final Fantasy, which don’t release as frequently as other categories of video games. My gaming happens in waves. Aside from gaming, I use my consoles as entertainment hubs. The whole bevy of streaming services lived in my trusty PS4 for 5 years. All of this is to say that my usage might look different than yours, so please keep that in mind.
This thing is fast. Application and game load times are warp speed compared to my old PS4. Screen transitions are liquid smooth and of course the graphics look crisp and vivid. My PS4 experienced noticeable performance degradation in the last few months, so that may have heightened my sensitivity to this aspect of the new console.
Setup was a breeze. I transferred my data from my PS4 without a hitch and got logged back into all my streaming apps with very little effort. Setting up multi-factor authentication proved equally simple, and I liked that I was able to use my existing Microsoft Authenticator app for that purpose. The setup assistant reminded me of getting a new Apple product–it’s that user-friendly.
We’ve all seen the memes likening the PS5’s appearance to Barad-dûr (Sauron’s fortress). I happen to like the new form factor. It was obviously designed to look appealing whether you position your console horizontally or vertically, and the ambient lighting emphasizes the curved projections in a pleasing way.
While I like the shape, this console is big. Some rearranging was required to get it positioned on my entertainment center. Also, making it pure white was a choice, and I’m not sure it was the right one. My first thought when unboxing the controller was: “This isn’t going to stay pristine for long.” And sure enough, it didn’t. About ten minutes later, I dropped the controller, and it now has a lovely brown scratch on the touchpad. I can only imagine what this looks like after young children or pets get a hold of it. Given my experience with the stark white, I’ll likely invest in a controller that doesn’t show wear so easily.
Speaking of that controller, Sony made a big deal about how it had improved the gaming experience through next-generation haptic feedback. All I’ve noticed is that the controller vibrates more, which surely takes a toll on battery life. The correlation between what’s onscreen and the type of vibration produced also isn’t great. Vibrations vary in length, but not in intensity. At least, not in the games I’ve played thus far. This is a cool idea that feels half-baked.
On the subject of games, the selection of titles developed to take advantage of the PS5’s advanced hardware is still rather lean. That’s what I get for being a (relatively) early adopter, I suppose. This will change over time. Just know that if you’re selective about what you play, you might have long dry spells between releases.
The PlayStation 5 represents an evolution, not a revolution. It builds on the core strengths of its predecessors while offering significantly improved performance in daily use. I can’t help but feel that its full potential has yet to be realized, but I look forward to seeing that happen over time as new games are released. Unless you’re chomping at the bit to play Hogwarts Legacy, my opinion is that you can keep rocking that PS4. Do you agree? Let me know in the comments!