I am one of the lucky few to have received a Playstation 5. So, does it live up to the hype? Let’s have a look.
Console: the Next Generation
For those of you missed it, the new generation of consoles came out in November last year: the Playstation 5 and the XBox Series X. The pandemic has increased both the demand for the things, and has made production problematic. On top of that, scalpers have become increasingly tech savvy. The results were not pretty.
As soon as the first pre-orders for the new consoles became available online in September, everybody and their neighbor jumped in and tried to grab one. Unfortunately, most of those people were disappointed, because supply was very limited and automated bots had quickly jumped the queue. Soon, the scalped consoles popped up again on the second-hand market for sometimes double the original price. This process repeated itself across digital storefronts and whenever new supply became available. To people’s understandable frustration and rage.
Now, I’m old and lazy, and I wasn’t in a rush, so I just ordered a Playstation 5 after the first pre-order rush (which I missed while sleeping in) and waited patiently until my order was through the queue. My Playstation was delivered at the end of January. That’s two months after launch, but I’d call it a win. More on this later.
We’ve now entered April and there seems to be no relief in sight about availability. You want a Playstation 5, you’re going to have to wait. Sorry.
The big beast
As you can see above, the Playstation 5 is about as big as my cat. That’s big. I skipped a console generation, and it feels like twice the size of my Playstation 3. It fits in my media cabinet, but there isn’t much room to spare, and I worry about ventilation. So, meh.
The white console is also weirdly curved, but it’s not ugly. The Xbox series X is more box-like, but yeah… it looks like a an ashtray. It’s a matter of taste, but I like the Playstation 5 style. In the end, what matters is what it does, of course. And both the Xbox Series X and Playstation 5 are pretty powerful, at least on paper.
Both machines are designed for 4K picture quality (a.k.a. lots of pixels on newer televisions) and can create really pretty graphics. There’s always been a kind of rivalry between PC gamers and console gamers, but I’ve never really held with that. A PC and a console are different beasts, with different purposes. You don’t create spreadsheets on a console, and turning a PC into a home theater set up just doesn’t yield the results a console (or smart TV) can.
The Playstation 5 also features fancy Sony 3D Audio. This is actually code for: you can get cool 3D audio on a Sony headphone, but if you have a Dolby Atmos 5.1.2 home theater sound system (guilty) you’ll just have ‘regular’ surround sound (which is still cool).
Why did I get one?
There are several reasons one might want to have a gaming console. I see three — aside from silly reasons like ‘my friend X has one, so I must have one too’. And price matters, of course.
First, you might want a device to easily play back movies and TV shows. That reason is becoming less valid these days. I can stream most anything from my smart TV. However, I also have a collection of DVDs and Blu-rays — I’m old, I admit it, I used to have VHS tapes as well. And I still sometimes buy movies that I really love on Blu-Ray — that means you, new Lord of the Rings trilogy in 4K, I hear your lure and will buy you soon…
The second thing that a console has over a PC is that you turn it on and it just works. You can do a lot with a PC, but it cannot beat a console in this. A console is designed around this idea, and a PC simply isn’t. That doesn’t mean a PC can’t get close. I have mine hooked up to a TV and a monitor, but I still have to start it, log in, often switch to the TV instead of the monitor, then open up a game with a mouse and finally grab a controller. Also, PC games need tuning to have their quality match the PC specs. In contrast, you turn the Playstation 5 on, tap a button on the controller, and you’re in a game.
Finally, there’s exclusive games. And really, I could live without the previous three and be perfectly happy. Those extra clicks to game on PC are not a hassle, and I have an old Playstation 3 that can Blu-ray to my heart’s content.
I hate the fact that game companies blackmail you into buying consoles with their exclusive titles, but there it is. And I do like to play those titles. Unfortunately, the Playstation 5 has a really small game library of exclusive games.
There’s the demo game that comes with the Playstation 5, Astro’s Playroom, and there’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and a Demon Souls remake which isn’t for me, and… that’s it. For an expensive piece of hardware, it’s pretty sad, really.
For me, though, this isn’t a problem. I skipped the Playstation 4, so I still have all the exclusives for that console to go through. And luckily, they’re available at a discount. Or, like Ratchet & Clank, it’s now free. I loved that. Since I don’t have a lot of time, and a backlog to play, I’m currently perfectly content playing the remastered Spider-Man that comes with Miles Morales, Ratchet & Clank, and Horizon: Zero Dawn which is for free later this months.
I love my Playstation 5, but I could have lived without it. Like I said above, I didn’t have to put effort into buying it, and I couldn’t have been bothered if I had had to. It’s not worth it. If that statement angers you, I’d suggest thinking really hard about corporate hype and how sensitive you might be to it.
So, if you’re at home without one, hyped, anxious, and filled with the Fear of Missing Out, just chill. The Playstation 5 will be widely available soon enough, and there really isn’t a lot to play just yet. Don’t let yourself be ripped off on the second-hand market.
Relax, and wait… I’m going to play some Spider-Man now.