Positive Twist Gaming Blog

ps5-6-months-in

The PlayStation 5, six months in

All iimages captured via PS5 share feature

Six months have passed since the PlayStation 5 was released to the world. Gamers everywhere will remember the build-up to its release, with news trickling in for years. Some of it was genuine, while most was mere speculation that spread throughout the wildfire that is the internet. I vividly remember reading an article back in 2018 detailing the possible release window for the next generation of hardware. I was travelling from Derby to Birmingham at the time and read the post about five minutes into the journey, allowing me plenty of time to ponder over the fact that yet another PlayStation/XBOX would be entering the fray within a few short years. Part of me almost didn’t want another console so soon. But, by the time the reveal came in June of last year, I was hyped up and prepared to throw my money at the first pre-order available. Funny thing about those pre-orders… they were a complete shambles! Despite the botched method Sony went for regarding allowing their consumers to purchase the new gaming box, I managed to get my hands on a PS5 on release through the catalogue retailer ‘Argos’ in the UK. This was entirely due to luck, with my purchase going through minutes before they were out of stock. Over the next two months, I eagerly awaited the release, and so on the 19th November 2020, I arrived home from work to find a ridiculously large parcel in the hallway. Inside was the behemoth of a system that looks far more impressive in your hands compared to the images and videos online. I had two games ready to install, Spider-man: Miles Morales and Call of Duty Cold War. And, so this was the beginning of the next six months.

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The setup process breezed by, and within minutes I was looking at the new UI for the PS5. Everything appeared refined, somewhat simplified and reasonably easy to understand. The image above I took recently but still contains practically everything the day one interface had, warts and all. To use one word to sum up the changes from the PS4 to PS5, I would say ‘condensed’. Whether this is for the better or worse is up to each person. I missed having my own theme in the background with music to accompany it. No longer was the background comprised of artwork from your favourite title; instead, every user will have the same visuals welcoming them when they start up the system. Avatars for your profile still remain but using your own folders and themes to create a sense of customisation has been removed. Is it a big deal? No, and I quickly became accustomed to the change. Having folders allowed me to organise what games I have (for example, all PS2 titles in one folder, all indie games in another, and so on), which I miss from the PS4 UI especially. Now you have to scroll through your library of games to see what titles are installed, making it all feel a little cluttered. I am confident I am not the only one hoping for a future update in which more customisation is added.

Pressing the central PS symbol on the controller brings up the control centre that displays several icons at the bottom of the screen. With the use of the SSD, this doesn’t lead to any slow down or lag whatsoever. Navigating the entire UI is seamless and buttery smooth, for that matter. Do you want to join a voice chat as you delve deeper into Demon’s Souls? Within around 5-10 seconds (depending on how fast you are with the controller), you will have done that without any hiccups and can continue to lose yourself in the Valley of Defilement. Perhaps you want to pass the time while waiting for Warzone to find enough players? The control centre also features cards with trailers for you to watch as an additional tab on the screen, so watch the RE8 trailer and simultaneously bear witness to the countdown for Verdansk while Lady Dimitrescu bares her claws. It is honestly a fantastic experience that once again demonstrates how much the system is capable of doing at once. I have not observed the system even stutter while exploring the menus, not even when I accepted an invite to spectate my friend’s gameplay through screen sharing! I sat in an online lobby while at the same time watching my friend play Spider-man in real-time, all on the same screen. I loved the feature then, and I still adore it now. Overall, I believe the UI to be a case of taking steps forward and then one step back. A lot has been improved and is now almost hassle-free to use, with it only being a brief learning curve. But, a few changes seem to undo what was working on the PS4 so hopefully updates will iron out the kinks with time. The only issue I’ve had with the interface is my uninstalled games remaining along the top in a locked state. This happened with Little Nightmares 2 and only just fixed itself with the latest major update for the system. Fingers crossed it is now an irritating issue of the past.

The vital factor for any console is the games available for it, and this is where the PS5 is quite a mixed bag. Although I had two games ready to play, neither of them took the spot for my first game played on the system. That, of course, goes to Astro’s Playroom that came preinstalled with the system. I will refrain from gushing about my love for the introductory title here and instead mention I have a review for it already available on the site if you are interested. After completing that little darling, I jumped back and forth between the two titles I had ready. In an effort to conserve time, I will quickly break down each of the seven games I have for the system on disc.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales – The game is available for both the PS4 and PS5. If 2018’s Spider-Man was an experience you enjoyed, then its spin-off entry is better in almost every way, bar one exception. On current-gen hardware, the game looks phenomenal, and never before has New York seemed so well designed and replicated for a video game. The amount of detail packed in is incredible, and everything from Miles’ animations as he zips through the city to the way snowflakes land on land on characters clothing add to a level of precision few games can match. The story feels less impactful and as emotionally riveting as the first game, with the overall playtime being at least halved. But, it was released at a cheaper rate to somewhat accommodate for this. It still makes for a fantastic time, and with the side objectives and the endlessly fun web-swinging, this is a must-play for everyone. Perfect soundtrack also.

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Call of Duty Cold War – Available for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S. Yet another over-the-top blockbuster that impresses in every department. Say what you will about the Call of Duty series, but they are among the best FPS games available and have been for many, many years. The graphics are stunning, and the gameplay is as solid as ever. Even on the hardest difficulty, you still feel like Rambo (albeit maybe 70-year-old Rambo) and wipe out entire platoons on your own. But that is what is to be expected now. The story isn’t half bad, and after a few much-needed updates, the multiplayer may be all some players need to keep themselves busy for dozens of hours. The health bars above enemies, amongst other aspects, does give the game a more ‘arcadey’ feel to it, which may prove unpopular to some. Zombies are back, and I must say that the mode hasn’t been this fun for many years, in my opinion. It doesn’t deviate much from the usual formula, and so you can be assured it will welcome both long-time and new fans alike.

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Demon’s Souls – Exclusive to the PS5. Without question, this has been the game that stood out from the rest, and for a good reason. BluePoint Games took the original game, now 12 years old and spruced it up to make the best launch title for the system. Any and all complaints from the original have been dealt with to create the definitive way to play through the game that started it all, allowing Dark Souls to become the icon it is today. The visuals and animations combined make for arguably the most beautiful game to be available on the system. Of course, expect the usual unforgiving difficulty and the infamous ‘You Died’ screen time and time… and time again. But expect the exhilaration to be even greater when you deal the final blow to that troublesome boss. The gameplay is modernised without altering what made it so brilliant in the first place. The story is subdued and paper-thin for anyone that doesn’t read every bit of text or avoids delving into the rich lore. However, that can be set aside, and you will still find so much to enjoy within the game. The Souls series is not for everyone, but I’d urge you to try this remake when/if you get the chance.

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Planet Coaster – Available for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S. A park management simulator that brings back the feel of the original Rollercoaster Tycoon games, something I have wanted on consoles for years. Planet Coaster delivers on every level here. It even manages to take the mouse and keyboard controls and convert them to consoles in a way that feels well suited for the Dualsense controller. On the PS5, it is remarkable just how much can be happening on screen at once. Numerous rides, hundreds of people, environmental animations, menus/pop-ups and simplistic lighting will all be unfolding before you, and all at a steady frame rate. If simulation games are your thing, then this is an easy buy, especially since this is one of the cheapest games available for the system. The limit to your creativity is almost endless, with you even being able to go underground if you desire, creating coasters that go through the tunnels beneath your park (health and safety regulations be damned). Planet Wonder is my very originally named park for people to download if they would like. I played this game almost exclusively over the Christmas break. The Light in Us All has become a musical number I listen to often, with the whole soundtrack being so chirpy and upbeat.

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Watch Dogs Legion – Available for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S. The idea of a game being set in London naturally gets my attention, and so Watch Dogs was on my radar for a while. I chose this over AC Valhalla (and I’m glad I did from what I have read/heard/seen). While Legion is not going to do much for those who did not enjoy the first two entries, it is an enjoyable game with just enough to keep you interested in the story's duration. It is a Ubisoft game and is easily recognisable as such, with the map being filled with busy work that varies in originality and fun-factor. The story is average at best, and the ending was one of the most anticlimactic conclusions I have witnessed in a while. The London setting is intriguing and playing as anyone in the city is a good idea, but it left a lot to be desired. Wait for a steep sale price on this one.

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Godfall – Exclusive to the PS5. Hands down, the title that bored me most. After around four hours, I felt like I had seen most of what it had to offer. I know there is more in terms of locations and boss fights, but I’m pretty confident it will not add too much. The graphics are impressive, and the gameplay holds some merit, with the combat having some redeemable qualities to it. However, it is just tiresome and rapidly repeats itself after twenty minutes. Plus, the intro cinematic had a severe delay in the sound, so the already bland story stumbled at the first hurdle. You will not be missing much if you put this back on the shelf at your local GAME store.

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SackBoy: A Big Adventure - Available for the PS4 and PS5. This is my latest purchase, and I wish it were one of my first. Sumo Digital has taken the LittleBigPlanet franchise and created an infectiously cheerful game that I absolutely adore. Yes, it is reminiscent of other platformers like Super Mario 3D Land, but that is not a negative in the slightest. Along with the excellent soundtrack and the easy to grasp gameplay, the experience is sure to bring a smile to your face on multiple occasions. Richard E. Grant is the voice for the antagonist Vex, and I never knew Jack (Jack & Sarah) was the villain I needed in a video game, but here we are. The Sheffield based developer outdid themselves here, making this an easy sell to any fellow platforming enthusiasts out there like myself.

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I have also taken advantage of the backwards compatibility feature, playing through Control Ultimate Edition and diving back into Ghost of Tsushima amongst a few other past titles. The boost to 60fps or the addition of greater graphical fidelity (like ray tracing) is a welcome bonus to the affected titles from the previous generation. Tsushima runs at a consistent, silky smooth frame rate no matter how many enemies Jin is tasked with slashing down, and the same can be said for Control as well. Here I must mention the generous offerings available through the PS Plus Collection. Twenty PlayStation 4 games are free to download (as long as you have a PS Plus membership), and these are not your average titles. Some of the generation’s most defining games are up for grabs like God of War, Resident Evil 7, Uncharted 4, Bloodborne and many more are two button presses away from being yours for free… well sort of free. For anyone that has not yet ventured through these stories, this is a stupendous bonus indeed.

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Now, the Dualsense controller has proven to be a true evolution of the Dualshock 4, and I will comfortably express that it is the best controller Sony has ever released. It feels substantial in your hands and is the perfect middle ground concerning weight. It doesn’t feel light, cheap and flimsy. Nor does it weigh you down like the infamous Xbox Duke controller. Each button press feels just right, and the triggers are the best yet. My hands are not huge by any means, but even I thought the array of Dualshock controllers could do with being bigger. The textured grip around the Dualsense is a welcome touch also. The two elephants in the gamer's room are the adaptive triggers and haptic feedback. One of them I really like. The other I must admit I see as a gimmick.

The haptic feedback works wonderfully and repeatedly immerses me in these digital worlds. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Astro’s Playroom. Feeling the vibrations change and adapt to what is happening in-game is like magic. Rain almost feels like it is hitting the controller, the wind pushes through from one side to the other, and the rumble of an engine fluctuates depending on how hard you squeeze the trigger. What Sony has achieved here is a notable achievement, that I continue to appreciate.

On the other hand, I am not as fond of the adaptive triggers after using the controller for many months. Initially, I was impressed and believed this could be the start of something revolutionary for gaming controllers. But the more I used them, the more my opinion changed. More intense sessions where I needed to focus made me quickly realise they hinder you and (maybe this is just me) but failed to simulate what was happening on screen. The resistance didn’t feel accurate to my actions on screen and often made me feel like the trigger was jammed, hence the extra push from me. I would love to be wrong about them, and future experiences will show me exactly what they are capable of doing, but I will keep the feature turned off for now.

My experience with the more severe issues that have been reported has been minimal. Only once did my console hard crash, with the nerve-racking ‘rebuilding database’ text appears on my screen. No damage occurred as a result of this, however. The most prominent issue for me has been physical discs not installing or failing to be recognised as PS5 games. Unfortunately, this happened several times when trying to install Demon’s Souls. Perseverance won in the end, but my frustration was palpable by the time it worked. This issue hasn’t returned since then, with it being four months without a problem now. A rare but immersion-destroying issue also came with the fan rattle on occasion. This appeared to only happen when playing PS4 games, with the console going from almost complete silence to a worryingly loud rattle. After a minute or so, it would cease, and also has not happened in many months.

I am incredibly thankful to own a PlayStation 5 and aware of how lucky I am to say that. But I can honestly say that, right now, having the system is not a necessity. Only a few titles are exclusive to the system, with most new releases being available for previous hardware. Many of my issues have been dealt with by this point, but a few more minor gripes remain. External hard drives have literally just become viable for PS5 titles, which is a plus but took far too long. At the time of writing, you get a system that has a fantastic controller, takes full use of the SSD (near-instant load times, quick menu navigation and so on), better hardware across the board, a few exclusives, practically silent other than when installing games and a few other conveniences that make it a pleasant experience. If that isn’t enough for the price or the scalper's prices, then I understand completely. Like any console launch, it takes time to get to a position where I would recommend spending hard-earned money on them. Perhaps in another six months, I will be inclined to say so. For now, I will await the next exclusive and continue to see what the gaming giant is capable of.

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