On November 19, sales of the PlayStation 5, a new generation console from Sony, begin in Russia. The confrontation between the companies in the last generation ended without even starting, and Sony was able to sell many times more set-top boxes than Microsoft. This time, the balance of power is much more interesting, because PlayStation and Xbox have completely different positioning.
The new generation of consoles Sony comes with two versions of the PlayStation 5: with and without a floppy drive. These versions differ only in the presence of the drive and the price (the version with the drive is nine thousand more expensive), and all other characteristics are absolutely identical, as well as the appearance. And the looks are one of the most impressive parts of the PS5 in every sense. The company completely rethought the design of the set-top box and moved away from functionality in favor of emotionality, making a lot of “tweaks” just for beauty. This approach is rarely seen now, more often manufacturers try, on the contrary, to “hide” their product. The console will stand out against the background of other household appliances in any interior and it will not work to fit it organically so that it remains invisible. But you don’t need it.
It will also stand out from the general background due to its size. It has been said a hundred times how big and heavy the PS5 is, even in comparison with the Xbox Series X, which is comparable in performance, and this can already become a problem, because finding a suitable place for it will not always work. Yes, Sony made it possible to put the console both vertically and horizontally – using a special leg, but the console is high, so it will not fit into every niche under the TV when lying down. So the situation when for the sake of PS5 you will have to change the TV stand is quite real.
The console itself looks at least provocative and eye-catching. White matte plates on the sides, in the center there is a black glossy insert, all with backlighting and a bunch of small details, such as shagreen on the inner sides of the panels. So far, it is only available in one color option. The only problem is the black glossy plastic that Sony tries to fit into every console. This panel gets covered with scratches and dust in the first days of use, and all attempts to wipe it lead to the appearance of moreaboutmore scratches.
Sony has been actively sharing PS5 specs throughout the year, and those who were really curious about what was left of the RDNA 2 and how the processor cooling system was implemented already know. In short: a custom eight-core chip from AMD on the Zen 2 architecture with a frequency of up to 3.4 GHz is installed here, a video card from AMD based on the RDNA 2 architecture with a performance of 10.3 teraflops, 16 gigabytes of GDDR6 RAM and a bandwidth of 448 gigabytes per second.
In theory, games can run in 4K at 120 frames per second, but in reality such values cannot be found: either one or the other. Most often, you can get dynamic 4K at 30 frames per second with ray tracing (a technology that tracks the interaction of individual rays of light with a surface, which allows you to build reliable reflections and shadows), or 60 fps without such visual embellishments. If you lower the picture quality bar even further, you can get 120 frames, which is already demonstrated by the new Call of Duty and an improved version of Devil May Cry.
Along with the PS5, Sony has issued one of its TVs for testing, marked Ready for PlayStation 5 – the Sony XH90, which indicates full compatibility with next generation consoles. So, all ports have the HDMI 2.1 standard, can output content in 4K at 120 fps, and also support VRR (variable frame rate, analogous to G-Sync and Freesync, eliminating vertical frame breaks and making the picture smoother), ALLM (automatic transition to low-latency mode (the Sony XH90 has 7.2 milliseconds), dynamic HDR and other technologies introduced with the new HDMI standard.
Compared to the similarly priced 2018 and 2019 models, the picture difference is not that big, even if the TV doesn’t have HDMI 2.1. For Sony, this is both a way to promote its panels and make life easier for customers, because questions about which TV will fit the PS5 will continue to be asked for a long time. Of course, the console and all the technologies mentioned above do not need a specific TV with the “ready for PlayStation 5” to work, anything with HDMI 2.1 will do. In addition, the standard is backward compatible, so the device will work fine with older hardware. However, the new generation of consoles will be an excuse for many to update their TVs purchased five or even more years ago, because even HDR support completely changes the experience of the picture.
But the quality of the graphics and the number of frames are just the tip of the iceberg in the case of new generation consoles. A more powerful experience with the PS5 leaves an SSD with a read speed of 5.5 gigabytes per second. It makes no sense to compare it with the PS4, because the speed there was 50-100 megabytes per second, because of which the games could be loaded for several minutes. Here, the console starts up in 20 seconds (it starts, and not wakes from sleep mode), the game starts up another 15, and there are no downloads inside the game itself at all.
The use of such a drive has opened up the possibility for other, more interesting solutions. So, for many games there is a separate “Activities” tab, which allows you to instantly start the game from a certain point. For example, you can replay a separate mission to get an achievement or complete an unfinished level. However, there are still too few examples to fully appreciate the impact that the move to fast SSD will have in this generation of consoles. We can only argue that the games will get rid of all those narrow corridors and long trips in elevators, which were created solely for loading the location, fast travel will be really fast, and developers will have more ways to diversify the gameplay, as in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart with instant movement between parallel worlds.
But the SSD in the PS5 is only 825 gigabytes, which is catastrophically small in conditions when a large open-world game can weigh 100 gigabytes, and Call of Duty with all the updates – generally under 250. And if you take into account the space occupied by system files, the player has access to about 660 gigabytes, which is hardly enough for a dozen games. At the moment, this space can only be expanded with an external USB drive, from which it will be possible to run exclusively games for the PlayStation 4. The console also provides space for the classic M.2 NVMe SSD from third-party manufacturers, but now the port is disabled, and even if you put the drive there , nothing will happen.
The new DualSense gamepad also gives you a next-generation feel. It has two key differences from past Sony gamepads: adaptive triggers and haptic feedback. The first creates a boost on triggers that simulate interaction with objects. It’s easier to describe here with examples: in Horizon Forbidden West, the player will feel the tension of the bowstring, in Gran Turismo 7 there will be an imitation of pressing the gas pedal, in Call of Duty the trigger jerks in time with the rifle firing, and in NBA 2K21, pressing becomes tighter as fatigue basketball player. For some single projects and casual games, this technology works great and really adds a new way of interacting with the game, but in competitive modes it only gets in the way, so in the same Call of Duty it is better to turn it off.
The second feature – tactile feedback – is also aimed at enabling tactile sensations when playing. This is somewhat reminiscent of HD rumble in the Nintendo Switch and Taptic Engine in the iPhone. So, the gamepad will vibrate differently depending on the surface on which the protagonist is moving, determine the direction from which they shoot at him, or understand on which surface the hero himself is hitting.
Among other little things – the accelerometer and gyroscope have become more accurate, the speaker is a little better, but there are also two microphones built into the gamepad. Thanks to the noise cancellation system, it transmits the voice well and it is enough to communicate with other players, but it is also a new way of control. So far, there is one example – Astro Plays Playroom, where you have to blow into the microphone, but this case is rather an exception than something that will occur in every second game.
Despite all this, there are big doubts that all DualSense functions will be supported in multiplatform projects. Even the PlayStation-exclusive Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales doesn’t use adaptive triggers, although there were plenty of options to use them.
The rest of the gamepad is quite comfortable to use. From the photographs it seems that it is gigantic, to match the PlayStation 5 itself, but in reality this is not so – it is a little more DualShock 4. The shape now looks more like an Xbox gamepad, but with a symmetrical arrangement of the sticks and the Create button instead of Share (although its purpose is not changed). Compared to the DualShock 4, the weight has slightly increased, and the battery life, despite the inclusion of new sensors and sensors, remained the same: about eight hours of continuous play. I wonder if “professional” versions of gamepads will appear on the market and how much will they cost? And will Sony release an overlay with additional buttons, like for the DualShock 4?
The PlayStation 5 launch can be called the most successful in Sony history in terms of the number of games available at launch. There are also worthy exclusives that do not look like tech demos, and several interesting projects from third-party publishers who have adapted their games for the new generation, and almost the entire PlayStation 4 library for backward compatibility.
What exactly can you play at the start?
It is better to start your acquaintance with PS5 with this game. It does not differ in some kind of outrageous graphics or plot, but it is an interactive instruction for new owners of the console with what DualSense can do and how to use it. It demonstrates the capabilities of the adaptive recoil system, adaptive triggers, microphone and gyroscope capabilities for controlling the hero. So far, this is one of the most curious games, if you evaluate it by the level of invention of the developers and the number of unexpected solutions you can find in one project for a couple of hours.
Marvelʼs Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Next comes a full-fledged game that demonstrates not the capabilities of individual accessories, but the full power of PlayStation 5 – Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales. This is a spin-off for a 2018 game that doesn’t have much to do with the story of the original and only provides a small seed for a sequel that should come out sometime. Accordingly, it does not take long – it will take only six hours for a story campaign with rare switches to side quests. But it’s still one of the best games ever launched at the start of a generation, and certainly better than anything at the launch of the PS4.