It’s big, it’s expensive, and — for now, at least — it’s hard to come by. Regardless, the Playstation 5 has enough to offer that, according to RVA Game Cave columnist Jonah Schuhart, you should probably buy one.
Somehow, the release of a new generation of consoles always seems to amaze. This is in spite of the fact that in recent years, console generations have become increasingly arbitrary. The jump in technological advancement between them has shortened quite a lot from previous eras, and the popularization of both custom-made PCs and mid-generation consoles (such as the PlayStation 4 Pro) has made what remains of these jumps less noticeable. Yet the sheer novelty of a new console never fails to enchant, and while the feeling of technological advancement has dampened as of late, the improvements and innovations that are there make the PlayStation 5 a delightfully impressive new machine.
Still, the PS5 isn’t perfect. As with any new gaming machine, it requires a sizable investment from one’s pocketbook. A PS5 costs either $400 or $500, depending on whether someone buys the digital-only or disc-compatible versions. Additionally, with the added costs of a PlayStation Plus subscription and at least a couple ever-more-expensive games, the total could run someone close to $600 at its most expensive.
The console certainly looks like it’s worth that from sheer size alone. That’s not a good thing, either. The PlayStation 5 may just be the largest home console to ever hit the market. It makes the Original Xbox, which was chunky enough to double as a doorstop, look puny. It is also oddly shaped, and requires a special stand in order to lay on its side with any stability. It will invariably dominate one’s home theatre space with ease, so if you’re hellbent on procuring one, you may need to do some clearing out. That is, if you can ever get one. So far PS5s have been so popular that they are near-impossible to buy. From the day preorders for the console opened, every sale was overwhelmed, to the point that major sites like Walmart and Target crashed.
However, once the money is spent and the PlayStation 5 is sitting there all shiny and new – sleek as a fighter jet – it is something to behold, if only for its sheer novelty. That oddly shaped frame is aesthetically appealing regardless of its inconvenience, and its mighty size does give the impression that the console is powerful. Watching the PS5 run is like watching a muscle car rev its engine, even if there are PCs out there that make it look more like a secondhand Civic.
Extravagantly constructed PCs aside, the PlayStation 5 is an actual beast compared to its predecessors. Slight as the jump between console generations has become, it’s still noticeable. This is especially true of the games that were made for both the PS4 and PS5. Spider-Man: Miles Morales, for instance, boasts an impressive improvement in frame rate and graphical fidelity between versions.
And in some ways, many PS4 games were made for both consoles. The PS5 is almost completely backwards-compatible with the PS4 library. Players can sync their PlayStation accounts and redownload digital PS4 games onto their new console. Alternatively, they can use a physical PS4 disc or plug in an external hard drive with digital games downloaded onto it. All of these games will run at the same quality they would on a PS4 Pro, so the PS5 all but invalidates its predecessor. As an added benefit, PS4 controllers can be used to play these games as well.
However, it is much more advisable to use the new PS5 controller, the DualSense. With its new haptic technology, it adds extra feeling to the actions players take in games. Vibration and custom resistance functions have been added to the triggers, so players can feel things like the tautness of Spider-Man’s web in Miles Morales.
But in the end, the quality of a console is not determined by its aesthetic or its controller, but by its games. So far, the PS5 doesn’t have much to its name, but what it does have knocks its competitors out of the park. Games like Demon’s Souls Remake and the aforementioned Spider-Man: Miles Morales are terrific gaming experiences. Even the consoles pack-in games like Astro’s Playroom and Bugsnax are brimming with creative energy. These two games are ostensibly free (Bugsnax is currently free with a PS Plus membership), and are more than capable of tiding a player over until their next paycheck when they might be able to afford a new game. Even then, the backwards compatibility means that even when the player gets bored of these games, they still have a reason to use their PS5.
However, unless someone really wants one of the brand new games exclusive to PlayStation 5, they don’t really have a reason to purchase the console. $500 might be too steep for a new machine that plays 90 percent of your old games. In time, however, this will more than likely change. Unlike their competitors at Microsoft, Sony seems hellbent on retaining the appeal of their console-exclusive games. This has its advantages and disadvantages, but regardless of either, it means that as of now, the biggest appeal Sony has going for them is that their new console has games that can’t be played anywhere else. For that reason, then, the PlayStation 5 is well worth it, given the quality of the games it offers the chance to play.