PlayStation 5 Review: A Platinum Trophy of Its Own

Now that hours upon hours have been spent with it, we can safely say that the actual experience of playing the PlayStation 5 is quite honestly a delight. What I suspect will come to define the new generation of consoles, regardless of which one you're talking about, is relatively simple: beautiful graphics and seriously decreased load times.

Swapping between games, moving within them between levels and fast travel destinations, and every action with the PS5 is snappy and responsive. If you're used to your PS4 turning into a jet engine and chugging while struggling under the weight of whatever AAA title you've popped in most recently, there is good news and bad news. The good news is those days are gone, but the bad news is you'll need a new white noise machine.

There are plenty of games still to come for the PS5, and this is absolutely from a general consumer perspective with some expertise but no serious technical knowledge. I'm not going to be the one to split hairs between what is and is not 4K; there are others far better suited to it. But in terms of what it was like to actually experience the console for the first time as someone that's put a lot of time and effort into previous PlayStation generations, well, it turns out there's still plenty to say.

The Design and Setup

The physical aspect of the console is, as expected, a bit awkward. The size and slight flaring of the outer shell basically means it'll need to find a dedicated spot all its own to sit. And while there have been some reports about the heat that next-gen consoles put off, running the PS5 in performance mode on Miles Morales for several hours never made it hot enough to cook eggs, but it was certainly very warm to the touch. Even with all of the cooling power under the hood, you'll want to make sure wherever it's stored is well ventilated.

One further thing to note is that it is not immediately intuitive as to putting discs into the PS5. Maybe I am just especially dense, but I more than once put a disc into the drive upside down only to receive an error telling me it couldn't be read. This will likely only be further compounded depending on which way you decide to stand the console, vertically or horizontally.

Speaking of which, we need to talk about the little included stand. While the teardown video made the process of switching seem fairly straightforward -- and it is, relatively speaking -- it is an absolutely obnoxious bit of kit. These sorts of stands were traditionally relegated to third-party companies in the past when it came to PlayStation consoles, but if you're looking to make sure the awkward bundle that is the PS5 sits level and without considerable wobble, it is an absolute necessity here.

The PS5's UI, meanwhile, is both reminiscent of the PS4 while doing its own thing. The activity bar that greets players after booting up should immediately feel familiar, but nearly every other aspect of the interface has been given a facelift or otherwise been fiddled with. The only truly unusual bit is trying to get PS4 saves over to the PS5, which is a complicated process. Everything else more or less explains itself well in the console's initial sequence.

The Launch Lineup

Here is a non-exhaustive list of video games I have spent a good chunk of time with on the PS5: Spider-Man: Miles Morales, God of War, and Dragon Age: Inquisition. Miles was and is a digital PS5 video game, God of War came from the new PlayStation Plus Collection, and Dragon Age: Inquisition via a physical PS4 disc that I've owned for years and years. I've put some time into Astro's Playroom, but not nearly enough to comment beyond "neat" at this point.

Of the group, Miles made the absolute best impression, then God of War, and last and also least, Dragon Age: Inquisition. I haven't had a chance to give Demon's Souls a go as of yet, so I can't speak to how it plays on the PS5, but Miles Morales is a triumph. Swinging through New York has never felt better, and having played through a sizable bit of Marvel's Spider-Man on PS4 and all of Miles Morales on PS5, I don't know if I could go back.

God of War also seemed to be significantly more impressive, but as a PS4 title specifically compatible with the PS5, it didn't blow me away in the same manner. Still, I did catch myself sometimes just sitting still to see how many scars and little details on his outfit I could make out. Dragon Age: Inquisition, however, was… well, kind of a glitchy mess. But it's hard to say how much of that is the PS5's fault given that EA hasn't said anything about optimizations and the like, and PlayStation itself has even warned that despite a library of 4,000+ PS4 game being playable, there's the possibility that not all of them will work as intended.

The Controller

It's hard to say just how much of an influence the DualSense controller will be for the PS5. While Astro's Playroom is basically a large proof of concept for the controller, my experience with Miles Morales basically left me wondering if I'd messed up my settings somehow. Barring the occasional "thwip" sound emanating from its speaker, and some very subtle rumbling when, for example, taking the subway, it didn't seem to play much of a factor in my experience.

We also know that, for accessibility reasons, players will be able to tune this down or disable it entirely, which means all games will have to account for not using it anyway -- not just third-party titles releasing on other platforms. To be clear: this is not a bad thing! More accessibility options are essentially, universally good. But it remains to be seen if this sort of thing will be lumped in with the gimmicks of yesteryear or more of an important feature.

Overall, the DualSense controller feels just a bit bulkier in your hands than the standard PS4 controller. It's by no means uncomfortable, and while there's absolutely an adjustment period if you're moving from one to the other, it's by no means lengthy.

The Verdict

At this point, it's hard to say whether I would have personally shelled out the $499 to buy a PlayStation 5 myself. I don't think it's wild to say that a lot of people are currently in a position where that much money is an even more serious ask than usual. The promise of next-gen gaming is, however, extremely alluring, and I can safely say that after a largely positive experience with the PS5, it feels like the sort of thing where I would have absolutely eventually caved given some time to save.

Everybody's situation is going to be different, of course. If you're looking to really maximize your gaming experience, want to experience the best version of Miles Morales, are looking forward to games like Demon's Souls and Final Fantasy XVI, and have the cash? The PS5 seems like a good get this year.

The PlayStation 5 is set to release on November 12th in the United States and November 19th globally, with the version containing a disc drive running $499 while the all-digital console will cost $399. Pre-orders for the PlayStation 5 are currently live, if you can find one, and don't expect to line up at physical retailers this year as Sony has gone online-only for launch. You can check out all of our previous coverage of PlayStation here.

A PlayStation 5, with the disc drive, was provided to by Sony alongside code for Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales for the purposes of this review.