Christmas for gamers has come early this year, with the launch of two brand new consoles in the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and with it the next generation of console gaming. I have had the extraordinary privilege of getting my hands on the PlayStation 5 a week before its South African launch on the 19th of November and so thought I would share my experience.
I know you don’t want to read a list of performance stats about gigahertz, megabits and teraflops. You want to know how does it play and is it worth the price, right? Well, let’s just say, this thing is a beast - both in size and performance. After a small bit of assembly, connecting a few wires and attaching the display stand it seemed to absolutely dwarf the PS4 it sat next to, so finding a place to put it might be a problem for some.
The new curved architecture and design certainly are striking compared to more traditional console designs which were more “rectangular boxes that played games”. Physical set up of the console took only a few minutes and the software setup took around twenty. As we turned on the console the entire thing lit up in the distinct PlayStation blue and I began the incredibly simple process of setting up the console by downloading the latest software patch, adjusting the display to suit my television settings and several other personal preferences. Immediately one can see care has been taken for gamers’ specific needs when it comes to privacy and the sharing of personal information with several different options available to manage these.
Transferring my games and save data from my PS4 was a far less painful experience than I had thought it would be, although I highly recommend having both consoles connected via LAN cable to speed this process up, especially if you are transferring a lot of games as it could be much slower over WiFi.
While all this was going on I downloaded the new PlayStation App and was very impressed with the new UI and usability. The app informed me when my downloads were completed and my games were ready to play which I know will come in handy in the future when I am not glued to the screen watching my downloads progress like I was this time.
Once all this was complete it was time to play. I was immediately impressed with the new user interface. It is clean, easy to navigate and can be customised in many ways to make sure you can access the functions you use most often. Switching between games is an absolute pleasure – no longer needing to close the previous game to launch the next and can simply jump between them and the game resumes where you left off.
The most notable change most will notice is the load times, mostly because there just aren’t any. Games load up in seconds meaning you can get into the action faster and can play for longer.
The new Dual Sense controller is also something else. When you hold it, it feels like you are holding something sent back by time travellers from a nearby future. It feels amazing in your hands and provides far more grip than the old Dual Shock. The variety of vibration feedback is something to behold. You can feel the power of a sword crashing into an enemy and as projectiles fly past you, you can sense how close they were through the subtle vibrations in the controller. The Dual Sense feels more like a revolution in controller technology than an evolution.
What about the games?
The games are mind-blowing. I have dabbled through several of the launch day titles such as Demon Souls, Spiderman: Miles Morales and Sackboy: Big Adventure and let me just say the experience has been a delight. I promised I wouldn’t get into a discussion of facts and figures, but at 60 frames per second in 4k resolution, this really feels like the next generation in gaming. Even my old PS4 games play like an absolute dream. Some of the old PS4 games even offer free upgrades to their PS5 versions – improving textures and bringing them up to par with the latest generation of games.
Is it worth the price?
In short, yes. Every cent. The asking price of R11999 may be a hefty one considering the historical price of consoles in South Africa, but let me tell you, given the experience I have had so far, the games already available and the others looming on the horizon – I don’t think there exists at the moment, a better console or gaming experience than the PlayStation 5.