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PlayStation 5 review

PlayStation 5 review

Pros

  • Great graphics
  • Faster load times
  • Design looks great

Cons

  • Storage may not fit everyone’s needs
  • Minor interface changes take away some convenience
  • Digital Edition may not be great value

After years of rumours, months of slow build revelations, and pre-order fiascos aplenty, the day has finally come. The PlayStation 5 is here.

But after all the hype and expectation, can Sony’s latest console even come close to measuring up? Let's find out.

PlayStation 5 prices: Disc versus Digital the price and pitfalls

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The PlayStation 5 comes in two forms, the PlayStation 5 and the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition. The digital version retails for £359.99 while the disc system comes in at £449.99.

As is implied by the name, the digital edition console comes without a disc tray. At first glance you may think that a lack of the disc tray is a small price to pay for a knockdown price, but tread carefully.

It is true that the saving looks reasonable, but in practice we fear that you will ultimately lose out. This is because digital users have fewer places to purchase their games.

The PlayStation store is a convenient place to spend your money, but you will be subject to their whims and will. You may struggle to find alternative purchase options outside of the PlayStation Store.

Games are going to be expensive for the foreseeable future, however there will come a point when retailers offer deals and the second-hand market comes into its own.

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The disc user will have the opportunity to not only shop at a multitude of game providers, but also buy and sell second-hand games. Digital users on the other hand cannot take part in the second-hand market.

Those who plan to go digital should also ensure that their internet connection is up to the task. For example, to play the subscription service PlayStation Now, Sony recommends a “min connection speed 5 Mbps”.

Obviously, the faster the internet speed the better the overall experience will be. You can read our guide to find out what's the best broadband for gaming.

PS5 broadband speeds

As a PlayStation user you are highly likely to be using the internet to get things like the PlayStation Network, updates, or to use services like Netflix. In the Digital Edition’s case you will have to download the game itself from scratch.

With the physical disc, the basic information is already on board and does not need to be downloaded. It is still likely that you’ll have to go through an install process, and download the latest update for the game to run at its best.

If you have data usage to consider, your internet connection is hit and miss, or you just want to save as much time as possible, the disc version is for you. This is before we even consider the added advantage of having a 4K Blu-ray player in the house.

If you’re willing to accept the potential for a higher cost in the long run, or work hard to combat it, then the digital format might be for you.

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First impressions and design

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As we remove the console from the box we get our first look at the sheer size of the PlayStation 5. Small TV cabinets need not apply. For those that need them the dimensions for the standard PlayStation 5 are 15.35 inches (width), by 10.23 inches (depth), by 4.09 inches (height).

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Its size and weight may prove a burden, but it’s look is certainly easy on the eye. The PS5 has a minimalist white design on it’s top side, with only the PlayStation logo.

Placed horizontally the console has a nice futuristic vibe to it. The top and bottom white casing is separated by a sleek black middle, that appears to curve round.

If you’re utilising the more expensive disc version, then you’ll find two buttons on the left-hand side. One is the on/off switch and the other is to eject a disc. To the right of the buttons you’ll find a USB-C port and a USB-A port. The disk drive sits underneath the black bank.

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Sony has included a stand inside the box to help stabilise the console either vertically or horizontally. This initially feels like a bit of an inconvenience to set up, but it doesn’t actually take that long and will ultimately make your PlayStation safer.

The PlayStation 5 looks awesome in more ways than one. It is a behemoth of a gaming system, but there is certainly beauty in this beast.

Once you have managed to find a home big enough to house it, you’ll be able to truly appreciate the visual upgrade on its predecessor.

User experience and performance

  • Graphics look great
  • Games load quickly
  • Inbuilt storage may not be enough for all

Spider-Man Miles Morales PS5

Put simply, the PlayStation 5 experience is fantastic. Graphics look great, games appear to load at lightning speed and the user interface has been further streamlined for convenience. The PlayStation’s resolution can run as high as 2160p, which is in 4K HD territory. If you fancy delving into the technical distinction between 2160p and 4K, we recommend you check out Help Desk Geek’s guide on the subject.

If you would like to marvel (pun intended) at the console’s capabilities then you should definitely invest in Spider-Man: Miles Morales. As we swing round the concrete jungle of New York, it’s impossible not to notice the graphical beauty.

From the Avengers’ headquarters, to an amusing Jay Jonah Jameson baby poster, and the excellently designed craft of each character’s face, the graphics are top-notch. The graphics not only allow you to see the detail and nuance of the open world but buildings and faces look sharp. It’s not real-world quality, but it is a definite step up.

While playing Spider-Man we found the best results when we switched to the Performance mode in the game’s settings. This option boosted the frame rate and made the action look much clearer and smoother.

One of the device’s most notable features is that of the Solid State Drive. It’s a newer, faster type of drive that has been making its way into laptops and computers over the last few years. The tech has finally arrived in the console sector and we don’t know how we ever lived without it as games load in a flash.

On NBA 2K21 we selected our teams, pressed play, and the game was ready to go within two seconds. From the PlayStation menu, we were at the game’s options screen within 20 seconds. Astro's Playroom managed similarly impressive results.

While playing we noticed no lag at all and no obvious loading. In the few seconds it took Astro to whizz through a sparkly tunnel the next world had loaded.

PS5 Spider-Man Miles Morales

This is easily the PS5’s best achievement. It’s brilliant to be able to play within seconds or have environments load without leaving a trace.

The PlayStation in theory offers 825 GB of storage. This is a theoretical number because a large portion is taken up by integral software that cannot be removed. In reality you will actually have about 667 GB at your disposal.

After our first three games had been installed, along with six media apps, we had used 167.4 GB.

The amount of storage on offer isn’t ideal given that a game like 2K21 takes up over 100 GB. For the serial gamer, space is going to evaporate quickly. For those that purchase and play their games at a more casual pace, this will suffice for a while.

However, the day will come when you’ll have to agonise over what data to delete and game to uninstall.

PS5 screen

For those facing sleepless nights while trying to decide what to remove, we have good news and we have bad news.

The good news is that external storage is an option. The bad news is that not all forms of storage are compatible with the set up. You will need a Sony sanctioned form of storage to house your PS5 games.

The console has many marquee or high-end items, but you would be forgiven for forgetting a fundamental part of the package. We are of course referring to the home screen menu.

Initially, it might seem as if we are overdoing this point, but bear in mind you’re going to have to interact with it for years to come. A clunky interface can well and truly sour the mood.

Fortunately, the menu is anything but clunky. Much like other aspects of the console it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, so much as take the next logical step.

PS5 Review user experience

The user has the two main tabs of games and media. In the latter you’ll find access to apps like Amazon prime, Netflix, and YouTube. The former meanwhile, is divided into subsections. You can choose to see installed games, your overall collection, as well as subscriptions to things like PlayStation Now.

Upon bootup games are clearly visible, and the user can easily slide across to access them. When the user does land on a chosen game there is a good chance they’ll hear a snippet of music from the title itself.

As you scroll down from a game’s menu card, you can access achievements, news and live broadcasts of other users in action. Some games also allow you to jump directly to a specific aspect of the game.

For example, while playing basketball we were able to jump from the menu directly to the WNBA section of the game. It was simple, and almost as quick as a standard launch.

One minor gripe we have with the menu set up is how it responds when the user presses the PlayStation button on their controller. In the PS4 days a short press of the button would bring up the main menu and another would put you back in the game. Long pressing would bring up options like power off.

On the PS5 this has been flipped around. This isn’t bad in and of itself and could be quite useful. You can customise what options appear with a short press. You can also access a tabs option, to quickly take you between your apps and games.

Sadly, while a long press will take you to the PlayStation menu screen, long pressing again will not put you back in the game. This is not the end of the world but it does take away much appreciated convenience.

PS5 controller review

  • Builds on what you know and love
  • An improved physical experience
  • Haptic feedback shows promise

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Aesthetically the latest control doesn’t break the mould. It sticks close to all the buttons you will have seen on the PlayStation 4 controller.

Despite a familiar form, the mechanics under the hood have received an upgrade. As we played the likes of Playroom and NBA 2K21 the control appeared to be a much more relevant part of the action.

We have felt past iterations rumble and vibrate, respond to motion, while even occasionally making a bit of noise. With its latest offering the Japanese company has further bolstered these tried and trusted elements, while levelling up with a fresh innovation.

As we advanced up the court on NBA 2K21, we noticed the device actively stiffen the Adaptive triggers. As we pushed towards the opposition defence the intensity grew. When we switched to defending our own basket, pressure eased.

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Astro's Playroom also placed an emphasis on light and full presses. As our robot monkey grasped for the wall in the GPU Jungle, his crystal grip broke away. It was only when we gave R2 a gentle tap that the monkey finally escaped to safety.

The intention of this type of approach is to immerse the user more fully in the experience. Now when you fire a gun, you will be able to feel the considerable difference between the trigger on a small handgun and a rocket launcher.

As we tried it for the first time it certainly felt novel and fresh. It adds a new feel and dynamic to the experience. You can no longer just tap the back buttons but must work that little bit harder.

In 2K21’s case the role of the haptic triggers was not entirely obvious. It was only after some research that we discovered that they convey fatigue levels and some physical contact.

Once you know that you can begin to notice a bit of a difference between fresh players and those who have been on the court longer. As we get used to the new approach it would be handy if games like NBA 2K gave visual or verbal hints.

That is a very minor drawback to what is a promising aspect of this new generation. Let’s hope developers take a liking to this new tech and make full use of it in future games.

Upcoming PS5 games

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Although, the market hasn’t exactly been flooded by next-generation games just yet, there should still be enough to suit most tastes.

If you enjoy your sport, then NBA 2K21 will have you on the court with the stars of the National Basketball Association. If football is more your thing, then you’ll be pleased to know the PS5 version of FIFA 21 is set to debut on December 4.

If action is your style then perhaps an adventure with Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales or Assassin's Creed Valhalla, will hit the spot.

Don’t forget that your console also comes with a game preinstalled. Astros Playroom will have you exploring the fantastical world of PlayStation, with everything from the GPU Jungle to the Network Speed Run.

This is a bright and breezy introduction to all the tricks the control has up its sleeve. Plus, it has the added advantage of being completely free.

The latest generation is sure to showcase some great stories and incredible graphics.

PS5 value and verdict

The PlayStation 5 has been a long time coming but it was definitely worth the wait.

The user experience is comfortable and straightforward, games load as if at warp speed, and graphics look great. If you have the cash to spare and can find one, then a PS5 is easily worth your time.

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