The November of 2020 was a tough ordeal, many countries across the world were forced into a wintery isolation in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, but not all was doom and gloom: Sony entered the ninth generation of gaming consoles with the PlayStation 5, a vertically-standing, sophisticated looking machine gifted with a gorgeous two-tone design and interwoven with blue neon LED features. Admittedly, due to the digital demands of the pandemic, it is extremely hard to get your hands on the PS5 these days. Why? The manufacturers of device components chose (ok, I get it) to prioritise laptops and other devices capable of allowing us all to work from home, opting against sending semiconductors to Sony so that we could jump on our favourite games as soon as the clock strikes five. What components going spare sparked a frenzied buying rush of cryptocurrency miners, car manufacturers and of course the tech industry, of which Sony is part. Making matters worse, geopolitical factors like the Suez Canal Crisis and COVID-induced global shipping issues made the chain of supply a long, tedious process. Components can’t get where they need to be nor can eventual products reach retailers or consumers – it’s a mess. The situation is sure to be repaired eventually, but in the meantime you can register your interest with us so that you are not at the back of the queue when the time comes. So, what does the PS5 console entail?
Keen to include each and every gamer, Sony has made it so that you can buy the digital version of the PS5 for less than the complete console version – you need not purchase what you won’t use. Despite an array of next-gen focused games currently occupying stores it is possible to get through them all quite quickly. While you wait, why not re-visit your favourite PS4 titles that are compatible with the PS5? Allowing for a remarkable 120 Frame per Second rate, many of us have found gameplay just so satisfying, so fluid, even of games several years old. The beloved PS4 console was able to hold an impressive 60FPS but preferred to maintain gameplay at around 30. Well, get this: the PS5 can comfortably manage close to 120FPS but will, for the sake of not burning out, maintain the top range of the PS4: 60FPS, which in 4K resolution looks sensational. As the PS5 uses a NVMe SSD card, the loading of games feels much like running a knife through butter: so smooth, so effortless. It doesn’t matter whether you are booting up the game or fast-travelling to the other side of a map, you will blink and you will be where you want to be. Going hand in hand with the upgraded FPS capacity are a multitude of convenient system updates, ranging from the ability to change online status allowing the user to have a quiet one in, to adjusting the zoom feature of the screen as well as an improved game base wherein the social players among us can better communicate with their pals. Perfectly complementing the latter is the Cross-generation Share Play, resulting from the April PS5 System Update, not only granting players the ability to share screens with their PS4/PS5 mates, watching them rip through games like FIFA 21, but also permitting one another to play their mates games! Pretty neat!
As the belief goes, nothing celebrated goes without it’s controversies - the PS5 is not immune from this rule. Storage issues seem to be at the top of many players’ complaints with many exceeding the standard 667GB allocation of usable memory. Most games take an average of 50GB of space so, doing the maths, we might be able to fit up to 13 titles on our console at any one time. For some this is the room that they may need whilst for others it has proved totally inadequate. With titles like Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War taking up almost 220GB (as of June 2021) of our storage space, games snowballing in size might present an obstacle for the PS5 gamers for where we have super-fast load times we might not have as much room for the portfolio of our desired games. As of late, Sony have allowed both PS4 and PS5 games to be stored using formatted external storage methods like the USB. PS4 games, due to Sony's advanced backward compatibility feature, can be played and downloaded directly off the storage device whereas PlayStation5 titles can only be downloaded for now. Strangely, there are no proprietary storage products being pushed by Sony at the moment, but any external hard-drive, like the Seagate Portable, will do the job just fine. Irrespective of common rumour, you might only need an external device if you like to flick between massive games instead of focusing on a few campaigns at once. The good news is that it looks as though Sony are set to drop a new upgrade that will free up the remaining SSD faculties, a move allegedly set to bring us closer to a full terabyte of storage space – man is it is a good time to be a PlayStation gamer! Alright, so the console looks and plays the part – but what about how we play?
Over the past six months or so we can see that the gaming world has been remoulded by the inception of the ninth generation of gaming consoles with the Sony PlayStation 5 coming shoulder-to-shoulder with the Xbox Series X and Series S. Naturally, the accessories coupled with the new lineage of consoles were also set to experience profound improvements too; the DualShock line of Sony controllers, it turned out, were to run out of ink after an impressive twenty three years of service and four successions of acclimatised products. In DualShock’s place, we are today able to feast our eyes and hands on the Sony DualSense controller, a product proving to be revolutionary rather than reactionary. Sony’s CEO, Jim Ryan, calls the DualSense a ‘radical departure’ from the DualShock. That said, the DualSense maintains perhaps the finest elements of its predecessor: the Touchpad, Motion Sensor, Speaker and the Share button, which is now called the Create button, with only minor adjustments to all. If it isn’t broke, as they say, don’t fix it! It is the output to the console itself that these components facilitate that have experienced greater levels of change. The Create button, for example, includes a better variety of in-system options to allow creators to perfect and refine their trade whilst the Touchpad moves further towards its ostensible destiny: to mimic a smartphone.
Whilst the DualSense continues to bear the successes of the DualShock 4, there is an apt reason it was not named as fifth instalment of the DualShock series. Where do we start with the differences? Well, what captures our attention first? The design! Sony has guaranteed that the crisp two-tone colour design, which Electric Games now stocks in Cosmic Red and Midnight Black, gorgeously coincides with the console itself as though they were two peas in a pod, resulting in an elegant gaming set-up I can’t seem to take my eyes off of. The colour scheme is only the start of a list of dramatic upgrades, and in a way suggesting that Sony has collected a group of gamers to build this controller, the DualSense is unsurprisingly a fantastically ergonomic piece of kit for the vast majority of hand sizes. Boasting an almost 70g increase in weight, a thicker frame and longer handles, the DualSense controller seems to slot straight into the hand…and it stays; what minimal grip textures the controller has seems to do a better job than what they might seem to do at first glance. The sleek quality of products tends to do with it being small and light, but the designers and engineers at Sony have managed to, through hundreds of mock-ups no doubt, achieved a controller both sizeable enough to involve the whole hand but streamlined enough so as not to become irksome.
So, how does the DualSense feel different? Any product can revamp their design and call itself part of a new era, but the DualSense goes far deeper than just superficial alterations. The controller is called DualSense for a reason: the player will be able to truly sense the game they are playing through the improved haptic feedback systems. Whether the player is, as Sony has mentioned, experiencing the “slow grittiness of driving through mud” or hiding from intense enemy fire, the haptic feedback element of the controller will reinforce the experience of being so. The DualSense doesn’t just use widespread rumble technology; haptic feedback will be precisely targeted at different locations of the controller so as to create a tactile gaming experience further serving to immerse the player into the play. Perhaps one of the greater changes the DualSense brings are the L2 and R2 Adaptive Triggers, providing an element of resistance to gameplay. If you find yourself in a vicious firefight and your gun jams, the adaptive triggers might well block you from fully pressing down the trigger button, or perhaps you are aiming down the scope of a sniper rifle and the further you zoom the harder it is to maintain that zoom. At the peak of this trigger tension lies a clickable button: the perfect way in which to fulfil an arrow or shotgun shot, the latter being a feature Resident Evil Village includes within its gameplay. In a similar way to Cinema introducing 4D experience, Sony’s latest technological implementations compels the player to become fully absorbed by gameplay, feeling the sensations that their character would be feeling, the game almost jumping from mere pixels into physical perception. Celebrated developers and companies working alongside Sony are likely to be the first to integrate adaptive triggers into their publications with Marvel’s Spiderman: Miles Morales being a salient example. The indie titles may take a several years to fuse with the concept of Adaptive Triggers, yet the chances of many of the most revered releases of the next few years including AT functionalities remains extremely high. Sony were keen to look for their players to play, at least initially, on a level playing field hence their inclusive decision to delay Adaptive Trigger tech until the release of the Ninth Generation of consoles. Subsequently, the player will not be able to use the DualSense and its many advantages on the PlayStation 4.
The DualSense has a charge life of roughly six hours, though this will of course be dependent on how active the controller is and how many haptic functionalities are blended into the game. The DualSense is charged using a USB-C cable that slots right into a port on the front of the PlayStation 5 console, taking roughly three hours from dead to full charge. If you are gamer that likes to spend multiple hours at once delving into entrancing games like the Last of Us II it may be a practical choice to opt for the DualSense Charging Station, a dock allowing for two controllers to reach full charge within the three hour window rather than one. This way, you can run out of juice on one DualSense controller and immediately pick up the other! Double trouble eh? – you almost need never stop gaming! Many Sony fans were disappointed with the three hour charging time, but this is still an industry-leading timeframe with a modest price tag. An advantage of the DSCS is that it plugs into a power outlet rather than the console itself meaning the gamer has the ability to free up USB slots for other uses, like Virtual Reality. The Charging Station is the perfect accompaniment to the PlayStation 5, both adopting the same two-tone minimalist design with the Charging Station almost looking like a precocious little brother. Minimalism is a key concept within Sony’s ninth generation of consoles and the DSCS follows suit with an ethos of encouraging simplicity where simplicity encourages the gamer.
Coming back to the DualSense controller, (yes, there is more to talk about!) let’s hone in on the microphone. A microphone? In a controller? Welcome to the ninth generation! The humble DualSense controller carries a microphone as well as a speaker, allowing the gamers happy with a simpler set-up a chance to fully embrace the experience of multiplayer games like the incipient masterpiece that is Battlefield 2042 (which you can read about here). Naturally, you do not have to use the in-built microphone and you can quite easily mute it or replace it with gaming headphones, like the Sony PlayStation Pulse 3D Wireless Headset, but it is there should you need it – and many will; further evidence of the fact that the PS5 was made for each and every gamer. That said, if you need more than an inbuilt mic then perhaps the PlayStation Pulse 3D Headset might satisfy, a product in keeping with Sony’s approach: giving the gamer the full next-gen experience with emphasis on the fundamentals. The Pulse 3D Headset has a twelve-hour battery life – a mid-range figure. Containing two concealed microphones incapable, as the older designs did, of getting in the way of your gaming experience, the Pulse 3D further enhances the elements of convenience, relaxation and enjoyment that gaming should provide. As the name suggests, the Pulse 3D gives a solid quality of sound and an even better level of surround sound so that when you are sneaking around the barren world of Metro Exodus, you can hear the irradiated creatures crunching twigs as they crawl (or sprint) towards you from any direction. Following in the footsteps, if you pardon the pun, of the DualSense controller, the Pulse 3D is user-comfortable, having not enough tension to squeeze your head like tweezers but enough so, especially when adjusted, to actually stay on your head when your head tilts to follow the Mexican roads of Forza Horizon 5.
What if you’ve spent a ten hour Saturday binge on Cyberpunk 2077 and you just need a short break? You are exhausted of cops just teleporting out of nowhere and immediately firing at you. It is tiring – ok? You just want to seamlessly navigate the PS5 entertainment system and switch from listening to Muse on Spotify to watching My Octopus Teacher on Netflix to watching the Electric Games team top leader-boards on YouTube. Is that too much to ask? As it turns out, it is not – ushering in the PS5 Media Remote, a niche little wand that looks like the eccentric cousin of the Amazon Fire TV Stick. The Media Remote is powered by two AA batteries and is as easy to connect to the PS5 console as click-and-go. Featuring all of the pertinent buttons, the MR deviates little from the accepted standard of remotes and wands but presents a novel opportunity to smoothly roam the PlayStation system, turn the console on and off and edit the volume of gameplay. The remote is an accessory meaning it is not crucial for an enjoyable gaming experience, but dependent on your needs it might provide a complete gaming adventure. The fastidious among us might notice a microphone feature on the remote which does not yet seem to have a purpose – well spotted! If we have learnt anything about Sony’s ninth generation modus operandi it is that no feature is futile; I would say we have some good chances of the microphone waking up in the near future, serving only to ease navigation further. Why scroll when you can speak?
The ninth generation of the Sony PlayStation 5 and its respective accessories are a neat little series of products allowing no superfluous, offering only simplicity, fluidity and efficiency. The ubiquitous gaming experience that the PS5 and its accessories offers looks to be the genesis of a paradigm shift. A shift, many would say, in the right direction.
Written by Joel Gunner
Images sourced from the official PlayStation website.