While I was sorting through some old articles, I had a stunning realization: I’ve now had the PS5 up and running in my apartment for more than a month. The big white behemoth already seems like a fixture in my home, and as such, I’ve started to take certain things for granted — how it looks, how it runs and what kinds of games it can play.
Now that the initial novelty of having a next-gen console has worn off, I can safely say that I’ve mostly enjoyed my time with the PS5, and that some of my problems with the system still persist. If you’re still trying to get your hands on a PS5, here are some features that you can look forward to, as well as some caveats to keep in mind.
And if you already have a PS5, read on to see if you found the same pros and cons that I did.
PS5: What we like
The loading times: From its very first hardware reveal, Sony has sold the PS5 as the console that will put long load times behind us forever (or at least until developers start overloading console games with complicated lighting and textures in a few years). If anything, Sony actually undersold how well this feature works.
First-party games like Spider-Man: Miles Morales can go from main menu to gameplay within seconds; third-party titles like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla still take less than a minute. Fast travel is almost instantaneous. Backwards-compatible PS4 games are faster than ever before. It’s hard to overstate just how much time you’ll save, especially in games that demand frequent reloads. (We’re looking at you, Demon’s Souls.)
The PlayStation Plus Collection: Sony doesn’t have a definitive answer to Microsoft’s incredible Game Pass service yet, but the PlayStation Plus collection is an excellent start. PS Plus subscribers can download and play more than 20 hit PS4 games, from first-party fare like God of War (2018), to third-party favorites like Monster Hunter World.
It’s a fantastic way for newcomers to get caught up on beloved Sony franchises, and veterans to fill gaps in their gaming backlog. The PS Plus Collection has the potential to be so much more, so I hope this is just the first step in a comprehensive subscription program.
The launch library: While I was initially somewhat dismissive of the PS5 launch library, the games won me over in a big way. Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a worthwhile follow-up to Insomniac’s first Spider-Man game; Astro’s Playroom is a delightful showcase for what the PS5 and its controller can do; Demon’s Souls is one of the absolute best games of the year, and takes full advantage of the PS5’s unique features.
If this is indicative of the first-party quality we can expect going forward, then I can’t wait for Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart and God of War: Ragnarok.
PS5: What we don’t like
The design: When Sony first revealed the PS5’s physical design during one of its summer showcases, I thought it was the ugliest console I’d ever seen. Time has done nothing to wear down my opinion, nor has seeing the console in person. The standard PS5 is a garish, asymmetrical device; the PS5 Digital Edition is symmetrical, but still garish.
The system is too big for its own good; the front of the console is prone to fingerprints; the removable stand makes it difficult to transition the console from horizontal to vertical configurations. The PS5’s inevitable redesign in a year or two will have a lot of flaws to fix.
The interface: I don’t mean to romanticize the PS4 interface, which had its own problems, but there’s a sense that the PS5’s navigation isn’t quite as clean. Your streaming apps are all hidden away in a separate home screen; checking trophies is a royal pain; trying to determine whether you have the PS4 or PS5 version of a cross-platform game is an ordeal. While the PS5’s interface isn’t broken or impossible to use, it’s also not nearly as straightforward as the plain Jane Xbox Series X menus — or maybe it’s just not as familiar.
The launch library: I loved Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Demon’s Souls. I also realize that Spider-Man: Miles Morales is available on the PS4, and I played Demon’s Souls a decade ago on the PS3. While the PS5’s launch games are generally great, there’s also no killer exclusive, which feels like a missed opportunity. Cross-platform games run better on the PS5, sure, but having toyed around with Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and similar third-party titles, the difference in performance isn’t night and day — particularly if you’re coming from a 4K-capable PS4 Pro.
PS5: What we’re still not sure about
The DualSense: The DualSense controller very nearly made it onto my “dislikes” list, as I usually find the resistant triggers, subtle haptics and constant sound effects more distracting than immersive. But recently, I had a revelatory moment in Demon’s Souls when I saw that the DualSense can be just as ambitious as advertised. For the moment, the DualSense often takes me out of a game — but it at least has the potential to draw me further in, so I’ll reserve further judgment until the next big round of exclusive titles debuts.
And that’s where I stand on the PS5! I’ve played a handful of great games, cleared off more space than I’d like in my entertainment center and waffled back and forth on the controller. I’m ready for the next PS5 exclusive, and I’m OK focusing on other systems until then. (Truth be told, I’ve been gaming mostly on Xbox Series X for the last week or two, so the pendulum has finally swung the other way.)
At the very least, I hope this provides some panacea for the dedicated gamers who are struggling to find a PS5 amidst the pre-order and restocking disasters. The system is good, but it isn’t perfect, and its best days are probably at least a few months away.