A little warning and introduction for this review: I was not a person that received a review console of the PlayStation 5. That’s a bummer, sure, but it’s okay – because in September, I was incredibly lucky and got a pre-order from Walmart.
At approximately 2 pm November 12, FedEx delivered a big ol’ box on my front porch, and I was thrust into the latest generation of gaming.
To say I was excited would be an understatement. I felt like a kid on Christmas unpacking the monster of a console and hooking it up. And let’s be clear – this console is huge. Official specs put this beast at 15.4 inches tall, 10.24 inches deep and 4.09 inches wide.
The PlayStation 4, for comparison, was just 2.09 tall, 12 inches deep, and 10.8 inches wide. Quite a difference, especially when you see them side by side.
A lot of reviews have been done about the PlayStation 5, and people have passed a lot of judgement. But now, nearly two weeks since this beast has been released, I thought I would weigh in on the subject, too, including first impressions, extended use, and more.
Please note, I purchased the standard PS5 model. That is, the one with the disk slot – you can see it above. Yes, that’s my actual desk, and my actual console. (Well, it’s my husband’s desk, too – the console is currently sitting between our monitors.)
All of my review is based on the standard model, and I cannot speak of the digital version at all.
Setup was simple, painless
I was dreading the setup and install of the PS5. I figured if I got the console by 5 pm, I might be able to get some play in before midnight. However, I was pleasantly surprised.
The act of transferring profiles from a PS4 to a PS5 was simple, and it even gave me the option of copying game data and saves from my older console. It took about 3 hours to copy 100 gigs of save and game data from the PS4 to PS5, but I had the whole console itself updated and ready to go within an hour.
I played Astro’s Playroom some while I waited for my information to copy over… and my games to get here. While the PS5 got to my house on launch day, the two games I ordered with the console were delayed by a day. While that was certainly disappointing, it wasn’t the end of the world – and it meant I wasn’t really tempted to play during work on Friday. (Editors note: We would have totally understood.)
I went from pressing the power button to playing Demon’s Souls within 25 seconds. I cannot tell you how impressed I am with the lack of load times with the PS5.
The worst thing about the original Demon’s Souls, of course, was the load times. And I’ll get into my review of the game in a minute, so hang on. But when you launched yourself off the staircase in the Nexus to die before entering a world, it would be a good 2 minute load time until you got to retrieve your souls and continue on your way.
I had seen reviews and even videos showing the load times, but I truly am impressed with how fast and clean everything is. Load screens were actually removed from some of these games because you’ll never get a chance to see any ‘tips’.
This is honestly the biggest improvement over other consoles. And I can’t speak to the new Xbox – I’ve tried, but I have not been successful at securing an order for one. It’s lower on my personal interest list than the PS5, due to the lack of exclusives or really any games at launch, but eventually I will have one.
The PS5 dashboard: familiar
The main setup of the PS5 dashboard is not all that different from the PS4’s, so it was easy to jump in and figure out where everything is. There were a few weird things I struggled with, like figuring out how to stop a running game or find my screenshots, but I picked it up in no time.
By now, I have no issues starting it up, finding everything I need, and using the console in every way.
I think this is the first indication I had that while the PS5 is absolutely an upgrade from the PS4, it is also more of a smoothing out and refining. This new console takes what worked with the PS4 and builds on it, bringing us the best version.
That’s no surprise, considering the PS4 Pro’s came out in 2016, not all that long ago. It really feels like Sony took the best things from the PS4 and made them better, resulting in the PS5. Honestly, I have no problem with this. While some gamers might have been looking for a true overhaul of the system, I think they did an excellent job. It’s the PS4, but make it better.
I haven’t had issues, but…
Here’s the deal: I haven’t had any issues with my console and leaving it in rest mode, though I started shutting it down after news reports came out. I haven’t had to ‘rebuild’ the harddrive, and I have had no issues with freezing. It stuttered once throughout the entirety of Demon’s Souls, which my husband has already platinum-ed.
That said, there are certainly reports of issues. Game reviewer ACG who records some of my favorite reviews in his Buy, Wait for Sale, Never Touch series, had his first review console completely die on him. That’s a big deal.
Sony has already released a patch that is helping some stability issues, and many people have seen improvements.
The biggest, most common bug right now is the rest mode crash, which is a personal issue since I use rest most constantly with my consoles. Rest mode basically keeps the console suspended while drawing very little power.
When users are putting their PS5 in rest mode, however, especially while playing Spider-Man Remastered or PS4 games, the console is hard crashing. It’s also apparently happening with lesser frequency on games like Demon’s Souls and Godfall.
The PS5 controller was the thing I was most worried about. Not for myself, of course – I was pretty sure I would like it – but for my husband. It seemed more similar to an Xbox One controller than a PS4 controller, and he hates that. He likes the smooth, slimmer design of the PS4 controllers.
That said, the PS5 controller is surprisingly comfortable! It fits in my hand very nicely, the buttons feel responsive, and the design is comfortable to use for an extended period of time. The trigger’s are a little odd, as you have to push harder than you think you do, but overall it’s a great design.
I did think that the controller was supposed to have PlayStation buttons on the back, as a textured grip, but I can no longer find anything that references that. Also, it does not. But despite that minor disappointment, I’m very happy with the controller and the feel of it.
We also got the PS5 headset with the console. Well, it came at least a week ahead of time – but we were able to use it on both of our computers while we waited, which is nice.
The headset is adjustable and comfortable. The noise cancelling is great (maybe a little too great, let’s be honest) and sounds are crisp and clear. It fits both my normal-sized head and my husband’s larger-than-average head without any issue.
Overall, I’m not entirely convinced the headset was worth $100, but I do like headphones quite a bit and I’m happy with the quality of the headset.
I picked up two games at launch – Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Ultimate Launch Edition and Demon’s Souls. I also have a PlayStation Plus membership, so I snagged Bugsnax for free.
Why these two? Well, they were the best launch titles by far. Watchdogs: Legions looks good but not great, and I would pick that up on PC anyway.
Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla has mixed reviews, and honestly, I’m sort of over the AC games in general. Godfall looks like hot garbage and I refuse to pay $70 for it, though when it drops down to $10 (and you know it will) I might pick it up.
There’s also Astro’s Playroom, a preloaded game on all systems that is free. I had low expectations, but as it was the only thing I had to play launch day, I fired it up.
And boy, did it not disappoint!
Look, it’s a pre-loaded game. I’m not expecting GOTY or anything! But it’s adorable, light-hearted, and the graphics are well done. Gameplay is smooth, and it’s a great way to ‘learn’ how the controller works. There’s a section where you zip up in a little suit and roll around like a ball, introducing you to the touch pad.
I mean honestly, look how cute they are!
As you jump, run, and spin around the world, you collect relics from past consoles. From controllers to memory cards, you add these memories of past systems to your collection as you move through the levels. Different ‘sections’ of the game reference older PlayStation hits, like the Infamous series or Uncharted.
While you shouldn’t buy the console for this, it’s really fun to play if you have to wait for games, or you’re looking for an introduction to the console. Or you’ve got nieces or nephews begging to play, or you just want to relax with your new console.
“Do you think they just add lighting? Like, with a new generation of games, the game themselves are the same, they’re just brighter?” -My husband, watching the opening scene of Demon’s Souls.
If you’re somehow unaware, Demon’s Souls is a FromSoftware game that came out in 2009 for the PlayStation 3 originally. It started the Souls genre, which has since become wildly popular. Souls games, including Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, Sekiro: Shadow’s Die Twice, and Bloodborne.
The first game was dark, gritty, and punishingly hard. This new one is better-lit (my husband’s not wrong), gritty, and punishingly hard.
Bluepoint Games took the 2009 game and remade it for the PlayStation 5. It’s arguably the biggest draw for most gamers, and probably the reason we bought the console day 1 to begin with. I know we’re not alone.
Bluepoint kept a lot of things the same. They claim they didn’t change the AI (though the fight with the Maneater tells me they did, as he just… flew away the first time my husband faced him. My people need me!), but the graphics got a huge update. Gameplay feels good and responsive, despite the way my husband yells at the screen.
This is a short video from ElAnalistaDeBits that produced a side-by-side comparison back in October. It’s pretty clear the difference is staggering.
I ran Demon’s Souls on Fidelity, which just means that the graphics are better at the ‘sacrifice’ of framerate. I say that, but you have to realize – there is no real sacrifice. Throughout the entire game there was only one time the frames noticeably dropped. Otherwise the 2-3 frame drops (from 60 to 57, say) were completely beyond what I could even appreciate or be concerned about.
This isn’t a comprehensive review, so I’m not going to keep gushing too much – but honestly? I am incredibly impressed at the game, and the way it came out. Bluepoint did an incredible job, and I can’t wait to see what they do next.
Once again, this is a situation where they have added lighting and it has truly improved the game. Again, I ran this on Fidelity, and have experienced no true framerate drops that are noticeable.
Let’s just be clear, this game was great even before it was remade. Probably one of the best games on the PS4, Spider-Man was truly a work of art. The gameplay is smooth, fun, and easy to get into.
Graphically, this very visually attractive game is even better looking. Shadows are deeper, reflections are more ‘real’, and the lighting is great. This really feels like they took a great game and made it even better.
If you’ve already played Spider-Man on the PS4, you’re probably not going to get a ton out of this. It’s pretty, yes, but… you know, it’s the same game. If you somehow missed this release on the last generation, however, this really is a must-buy. It’s a great game.
One note: In case you’re not aware, when doing the remake they changed Peter Parker’s face.
It’s. You know. A choice.
I’m not going to pull any punches – I hate it. I hate Parker’s face now, I hate that he looks like he’s 12. At one point Black Cat makes a comment about having a child and Peter thinks it might be his. Does that face look like a grown adult who could have a kid floating around?! No!
He looks like he went to bed early on Sunday because he had to get enough sleep for his AP Chemistry test on Monday.
It doesn’t affect gameplay at all. The game is still smooth and fun and the best Spider-Man game ever made. But… c’mon. Look at that face.
Do you believe that version of Peter Parker is older than Miles?
Neither do I.
Spider-Man Miles Morales
I was very excited about this, I’m not going to lie. I obviously loved Spider-Man, and I truly believe that Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse was the greatest animated super hero movie ever made.
That said, while the game is great, I don’t think it quite holds up to the original.
The main character is Miles Morales, and he’s working with Spider-Man while learning his new spider powers, juggling a cute girl, a complicated family situation (RIP), and a tech-god best friend.
The swinging was animated like it was in the movie, which is great – it gives it a blocky, almost choppy feel of someone learning how to swing and glide. This is amazing, and just like Into the Spiderverse, it is a really wonderful touch that shows how well thought out the game and the universe is.
However… it also feels like a backwards step in some regards. Controls feel tighter and less smooth. Quality of life things are not thought through – when you complete a mission, for example, Miles completely freezes until you dismiss the screen.
This is real annoying when you’re, say, in the middle of swinging through the city and suddenly you fall like a sack of bricks into traffic.
The upgrade tree isn’t clear from the beginning, leading to some frustrating side missions that I should have waited to do until I was better equipped – but I didn’t know that, so I just pushed through. This led to some rage-quitting for a bit.
It also isn’t all that long. I understand that when you consider a new PS5 game is $70, the $40 price tag on Miles means that it’s not going to be the same length. But this very easily could have been a DLC addition for the game, and no one would have blinked twice at it.
That said, I haven’t beaten the game yet – it could go on longer than I think. But I’ve also read other reviews, and they’ve said similar things.
So… is the PlayStation 5 worth it?
This is a question no one but you can truly answer. Sony has already said PlayStation 5’s will be sold out throughout the end of the year, and any restocks on either the official site or third party sellers like Best Buy and Amazon will be minimal.
“Everything is sold. Absolutely everything is sold,” CEO Jim Ryan said in an interview with Tass. “I’ve spent much of the last year trying to be sure that we can generate enough demand for the product. And now… I’m spending a lot more time on trying to increase supply to meet that demand.”
Apparently, even if there wasn’t a global pandemic hurting supply chains, the PS5 would be sold out.
If you don’t have one by now, there’s a good chance you’re not going to nab one until the New Year. By that time, there will be more games for the console – including Cyberpunk 2077. Hopefully.
If you’re interested in trying the Spider-Man remake, you love Souls games and want to play Demon’s Souls, or you get violently mad whenever you get long load times, then the PS5 is a great choice for you. But are you missing out on anything by not waiting? Not really – especially if you don’t care about those games.
I don’t regret our PlayStation purchase at all, but with a slim lineup of launch titles, if you aren’t the type of person who needs the latest-and-greatest, you’re not missing all that much.
I think in a year, this console is going to absolutely dominate. But right now? Sure, it’s better than the Xbox with launch games, but not by all that much. It’s worth it, but only for a certain type of person.