Ok, a little bit of a click bait title, but it's technically true. I bought a PS5 on the first day they were available for sale at a retail level, i.e. shelf units that were not preordered. That was on Friday the 13th of November and it's been a bit of time now, so I wanted to put my thoughts down about the system so far and the various peripherals and games that I got with it. This is not an in-depth review of the entire system, but more of a breakdown of my experience with it so far. I talk about how I got it, what I like about the new OS and accessories, and my reactions to some of the first games I played. Note: there are multiple accessories available for the system at launch, but I only talk about the ones I purchased myself.
How We Got Here
As you can tell (I hope) by the fact that I have a blog about video games, I love them quite a bit. I have multiple VG news podcasts I listen to and like to stay up to date on the newest happenings and what's coming out. This resulted in me following the launch of the Next Gen Consoles for the majority of the year like a hawk. I knew between my work schedule and my internet speed I wasn't going to be able to snag a preorder, but god damn if I wasn't going to try. After preorders came and went (as I knew they would), I asked my old co-worker from EB Games if they would be getting shelf units to sell alongside the preorders come day one, or the inevitable midnight release. Even if I had to stand around for a couple hours until they opened, I was determined to get a spot waiting for this damn console. That was the plan until Sony announced that there would be no shelf units sold on the initial release day, only preorders. This threw me into a weird hybrid of panic mode and immediate acceptance that I wasn't going to get a system anytime soon. I felt like I knew deep down that I wouldn't be able to get one but little did I know there was hope. This is where my massive stroke of luck kicked in; as I was talking to my old coworker again around the time Sony had announced the 'no units on day one' announcement and they mentioned that the store was starting a waitlist for the day after when they could actually sell the non-preordered units. My timing in starting a conversation could not have been more perfect. I immediately told him to put me on the list if possible, and then I had to wait for a call to confirm a pickup time if I was going to be able to get one. A day before the release date, two days before retail units would be free into the world, I got the call saying that I was high enough on the waitlist to get a console that day. After that, the rest is history!
Let’s Get to the Good Shit
The system itself is a welcomed upgrade to the collection of electronics that plague my apartment. Having had the God of War Edition PS4 Pro until now, I was accustomed to having that small jet engine in my living room. Even with the Pro I did still occasionally chug here or there for the more intense titles, but overall it worked, and that's what mattered. I saw firsthand that my load times were a bit better than the standard or slim PS4, because my friend and I both played frequently on each other's consoles, him only having the PS4 slim, and me owning the original model before my upgrade to Pro.
The best analogy I can come up with about how it feels to navigate and use the PS4 after getting hands on with the PS5, is like spreading butter on toast. The PS4 is stone cold butter you just took out of the fridge, clumping together on a barely hot piece of white bread. The PS5 however, is room temperature butter you've had sitting out for the perfect amount of time, being applied to an evenly toasted slice of whole grain. In both situations you are getting the butter on the bread but damn if one way isn't more pleasant than the other. The PS5 is such a snappy, fluid experience; from navigating your games library, to using the built-in media apps. Nothing takes time to load, and yes a lot of that has to do with the SSD (solid state drive) that Sony opted for instead of the standard hard-drive. I'm not sure if it’s because of the SSD alone, or that combined with how Sony implemented the whole new OS, but the lack of stuttering and loading on... well, basically anything, is a dream come true.
One key upgrade of the PS5's system that feels groundbreaking from its prior generation is the fact that the PlayStation Store is integrated completely into the Home UI. There's no separate app to load into, it's an icon on your menu bar that you can immediately scroll into and start browsing. Game pages take no time at all to load and they even integrated the Wishlist feature (FINALLY) onto the console. Granted the system just came out, so the store is pretty barren, bar the PS4 forward-compatible titles they're using to give it some body. I have high hopes for it as it slowly begins to fill up with future PS5 titles.
The main horizontal menu bar style was brought over into the new generation, a choice I'm personally happy they made. It feels like a clean and concise way to keep the menu useful and clutter-free. To my further enjoyment, it seems like they've reduced the number of menu items in the row, so it doesn’t scroll off the screen until you move down the list. Games that haven't been played in a while simply move out the list until the next time you start them. Everything is kept tightly fitted to the top of your display, allowing for large cinematic presentations to appear as you hover your available games.
Opening up Netflix, YouTube or any of the media apps is now painless, having moved out from the clunky TV & Media app that housed them all on the PS4. Having your main interface split between media and games at first still seemed like an extra step, my hopes being that I could keep the Netflix icon pinned at the front of my games list for ease, but that's where the Media Remote comes in, bells ringing and guns ablaze.
The Unexpected Underdog: PS5 Media Remote
I love this thing. LOVE it. Yes the Playstation 5 is a video game console, but the Media Remote for some reason just takes it to a different level. I used my PS4 almost identically the same way - for Netflix, Prime Video, Youtube, etc. Maybe it all has to do with how quick and smooth the UI is now due to the hardware and OS upgrade and the remote is just taking the credit, but there's just something about it that makes using it with the system so... complete. I highly, HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who owns a PS5 (or gets one eventually) and doesn't plan on using it exclusively to play games.
The system treats the Media Remote exactly like a controller, you can do basically everything the Dualsense controller can except actually play games, only more energy efficient. You can set a timer for your controllers to automatically sleep after they haven't been used for a while, but the Media Remote is extremely smart about that timing, and also very light on energy so the battery is going to last a while. The absolute kicker on this thing though is the dedicated app buttons. I personally lucked out because I use 3 out of 4 of the chosen apps multiple times a day. You've got a button for Netflix, Youtube, Spotify and Disney+ (sorry Michael Mouse, you're the odd one out here for me). The way the system can almost immediately, at any point, jump straight into those apps at the push of their respective buttons still takes me by surprise and I've had this thing for over a week. Like I said, if you plan on using any media apps on the system, I 100% recommend getting the media remote. It'll change the way you use the system for the better.
Dualsense Controller, and Its Pal Astro’s Playroom
If you've been keeping up with the news about the system, you'll have likely seen people raving about the wonder that is the Dualsense Controller. And with good reason too! This thing is an experience. Between the adaptive triggers that exercise a variety of effects to mimic in-game actions, to the haptic feedback that replicates physical or environmental sensations your character might be experiencing, the Dualsense adds a new layer to your game's experience.
To truly showcase and exercise what the Dualsense is capable of, Sony developed a platformer called Astro's Playroom. This game is pre-packaged onto each PS5 system so you own it as soon as you make or log into a Playstation Account. Now I could do an entire review alone on Astro's Playroom, but I'll keep it on the shorter side. You play as a little robot named Astro who goes through a variety of levels designed to be various parts of the PS5's inner workings - the coolant system, the SSD, etc.
The whole game is so clever in the references it makes and includes countless other Sony game cameos like God of War, Resident Evil, Crash Bandicoot, you name it. The levels in this game were made specifically to show you the true potential of the Dualsense and it is damn near amazing. Walking Astro from a metal surface to a sandy one, hearing and actually feeling rain falling on him; there's so many wild and wonderous scenarios the game takes Astro through to go beyond just showing you a cute time, but to have you really experience it. The way the controller combines the haptic feedback with very slight, non-obtrusive sound effects from the controller's built in speaker continues to add depth and immersion to your gameplay.
Now this title isn't a long one. I managed to get the platinum for it after about 4 hours I think, because yes it was clearly created as a “Look what I can do!” for the Dualsense controller. That however does not take away from the fact that it's an adorable platformer, filled with so much charm and wonder that fills me with anticipation to see what else is in store for us.
Get Your Game On: From the Old to the New
To go along with the system, I decided my launch titles of choice would be Spider-man: Miles Morales and Demon's Souls. As an added treat, the title Bugsnax is included as the PS5 game of the month (over a month really, until January 2021) for Playstation Plus members. At this point, I've beaten Miles Morales and put a solid chunk of time into Demon's Souls (I've barely gotten anywhere but I love it). These are two excellent show stoppers for their launch window in my opinion. Demon's Souls just being absolutely drop dead gorgeous (and terrifying), and Miles Morales allowing the Dualsense to thrive in its natural triple A habitat. There are barely any loading times, in either game! Using the subway system carries Miles from one end of the map to the other in literal seconds. Traversing from one Archstone to another is the quickest I've ever seen my Slayer of Demons move.
If playing these games is similar to what it's like playing games on a very High End Computer, then I can start to understand the appeal. The graphical fidelity of these titles and just the sheer capabilities for them to run so seamlessly is astonishing to say the least. Combining the amazing performance with an emotionally filled, action narrative of Miles Morales, had me speechless at the end. Mostly because of the actual narrative but also the way that Insomniac was able to truly craft the foundation of the original Spider-man game into a prime example of the true PS5 experience.
To further see the PS5's capabilities, I've also been playing a bit of Gravity Rush and Dead by Daylight. Gravity Rush is just a backwards compatible PS4 title download and runs as beautiful as you can imagine. Dead By Daylight is an interesting one though. Technically it is backwards compatible and can be downloaded and played on the PS5 but the developers put out a free PS5 Upgrade which you can install on top of your PS4 download to convert it into the 'newer version'. I didn't play it before I installed the PS5 Upgrade unfortunately but I'm assuming it just makes use of the system's new graphical and performance capabilities. Regardless, in combination with their most recent visual updates, the game looks and feels fantastic. It feels much more stable and lightweight compared to my time on PS4 and I can't wait to put even more time into it!
That's about it. The system has other details that I didn't fully touch on, like how you can finally see your total play time for all your games, but I figured it'd be good to wrap this up since this is the longest thing I've ever written. I'm not going to say I was surprised that I loved it because I knew I would, but it's been nice to kind of sit back and see how my time with it has fared. Lucking out on getting a PS5 on retail day one was a stroke of luck that I'm very thankful befell me. I can't wait to eventually get my hands on other PS5 games that are coming out and see what Sony has in store for us in the future.