This week it was announced that the PS5 is the fastest-selling console in history. Yet PS5 restocks are still a complete disaster due to the demand for the console being unbelievably high that Sony cannot manufacture units quickly enough.
By basically any metric, the PS5 is a smashing success. And yet all I’ve heard about the console over the last few weeks is its problems, and how in various ways it doesn’t stack up to the Xbox Series X.
Recently, it seems like almost a tidal wave of negativity is smashing PlayStation from all sides. Fueled by fanboys on social media and op-eds from my fellow journalists pointing out all the console’s flaws, from its supposed inferior value compared to the Series X to its half-baked backwards compatibility features. My own colleague even wrote about his issues with the DualSense controller.
To be clear, I’ve been just as quick to highlight the PS5’s issues as anyone else.
However, even though I own an Xbox Series X and thanks to Xbox Game Pass have a backlog that probably won’t be cleared by the time PS6 is out, the only console I want to play day after day is the PS5. It’s lead me to start wondering, is the PS5 actually in danger of becoming underrated?
Its own worst enemy
There’s no denying that much of PlayStation’s recent bad press has been brought about by Sony itself. Making rash decisions like deciding to close the PS3/PS Vita store this summer, while Microsoft continues to offer unrivaled support for legacy games, was just a PR nightmare waiting to happen.
Thankfully, Sony walked back store closures this week, so gamers still clinging to their PS3 or PS Vita will be able to continue buying games on the systems for the foreseeable future. Flippant comments from PlayStation boss Jim Ryan in relation to backwards compatibility didn’t help matters either.
Further fuel was thrown onto the anti-PlayStation fire in the wake of a report claiming that Sony’s obsession with blockbuster titles was causing friction at its first-party studios.
The story took on a life of its own and became another excuse to hate on Sony. Now, I’m not trying to leap to the defense of a multi-billion-dollar corporation, but Sony’s slate is anything but homogenized; its PS5 exclusive lineup is extremely diverse and has been since launch.
Since November, Sony has released the following PlayStation exclusives: Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Demon’s Souls, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, Astro’s Playroom, Destruction: All-Stars, and Returnal. Which ever way you slice it, that’s a diverse lineup of games with plenty more to come throughout the PS5’s lifecycle.
PS5: True next-gen experiences
My reflections on whether the PS5 is getting the credit it deserves came to a head this week when I was fortunate enough to be given access to the upcoming PS5 exclusive Returnal. I can’t divulge too many details (saving them for my full review) but it’s the first time this generation that I’ve felt like I’m experiencing something that no other platform could offer.
It’s not just that Returnal looks good, and believe me, it looks absolutely marvelous, it’s that it combines all of the PS5’s technology advancements into one slick package: Almost instant loading times thanks to the speedy SSD, 3D audio that has me terrified that monstrous creature might be lurking in dark corners, and the best implementation of the DualSense’s feature like haptic feedback and adaptive triggers since Astro’s Playroom.
Yes, Returnal is only one game, but to me, it’s a demonstration of what a generational leap the PS5 actually is. If Demon’s Souls at launch was the rough sketch of what the PS5 could do, then Returnal is the full proof of conception. It’s a game that confirms that the PS5 is the next-gen console to beat because it’s a game that couldn’t exist anywhere else.
Competing with Xbox Game Pass
You basically can’t discuss the PS5 vs Xbox Series X without two words coming up: Game Pass.
It’s a fantastic service, that much isn’t even really a debate at this point. I rate the service so highly that when I purchased my Xbox Series X earlier this year I bought three years of Game Pass at the same time, so I’m a full covert.
However, PlayStation’s own subscription services are doing an admirable job of giving players plenty of play each month. The PlayStation Plus Collection genuinely doesn’t get enough love, it’s a library of seriously high-quality games; there’s basically not a bad title in the bunch, yet I rarely see anybody talking about it.
Furthermore, PlayStation Plus, which is nearing 50 million subscribers, gives out great games every single month. Just this year alone the service has included Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Control: Ultimate Edition, Final Fantasy VII Remake and Days Gone. Those are worth the cost of a year of PlayStation Plus alone, and we’re not even halfway through 2021 yet.
Yes, it does sting quite a bit that over in Xbox-land first-party exclusive titles are launched simultaneously on Game Pass, whereas PS5 they will cost $70 a pop, but with the news that Sony is planning a “counter-punch” in the future perhaps Microsoft’s ace is about to lose some of its power.
PS5 is really the best place to play
Sony’s PS4 marketing slogan may have been a tad cheesy, but I would argue that right now the PS5 is the best place to play in the console space.
Both next-gen consoles are fantastic machines, and the Nintendo Switch isn’t a bad little device either, but the combination of a fantastic exclusive lineup and unique next-gen features (I never want to use another controller now I’ve played with the DualSense) make the PS5 a machine that I rarely want to turn off.
My Xbox Series X may offer me more titles than I could possibly ever even think about playing, but my PS5 is where I’ve ultimately ended up investing almost all my gaming time so far this gen and in my eyes is firmly the console to beat.
Of course, it’s all well and good me waxing lyrical about how wonderful I think the PS5 is but it’s not much help for those who are still struggling to get hold of a machine. Thankfully we’ve got a where to buy a PS5 guide if you’re still on the hunt, which can make the seemingly thankless task a little easier.