Let me first preface this by saying that this entire post consists of me contradicting whether or not you should buy a PlayStation 5. So be patient as I waffle on through various, bewildering tangents. Thank you.
Since the rather limited release of the PS5 back in November, a console I was fortunate enough to acquire despite being delivered by the courier equivalent of dysentery, there hasn’t been a day that I haven’t played it. Mostly utilised to stabilise the extensive back catalogue of PS4 game’s I’ve neglected over the years, that I now feel personally obliged to mitigate. With the PlayStation Collection only further compounding this issue. But like any new console there are inherent risks. Potential teething maladies that range from whirring/clicking sounds in the disc drive to full internal malfunctions. And much like the scaremongering associated with the PS4 on release, the naysayers chirping about the issues that plague new consoles has again proven to be largely farcical.
Through my extensive endeavours, my keen analytical observations and studious nocturnal sessions that routinely resulted in me lapsing into unconsciousness, I’ve finally deduced the merits of owning a console at launch and definitively surmised why you should own a PS5 as soon as possible. And the simple answer is, you shouldn’t. If your PS4 is still functional, with a manageable capacity to store further titles, there really isn’t a legitimate, pragmatic reason for owning one. Yet!
The allure of a shiny new game’s console is a difficult stimulus to ignore. “Being one of the first!” is an exciting prospect. Boasting to friends and colleagues that probably care very little about the impulsive whims of a smug, self satisfied narcissist with more disposable money than sense. To me, being one the exceptional few was admittedly a very minor consideration. Principally the decision to purchase such a premium item was largely one of necessity.
My PS4, which I’d previously alluded too as being a launch model has for a couple of years “struggled”. Initially peripheral, audible little concerns, with sudden intermittent clunking soon became a sporadic integration of both ambient heat and sound. Conducting enough heat and noise that it sounded as though the London Philharmonic orchestra were performing Metallica Greatest Hits in a smelting refinery. Declining significantly in it’s last 12 months, most notably it’s ability to read or even accept discs without encouragement, eventually rejecting in the middle of a game, it became apparent that I’d either have to repair the ageing machine at substantial cost, or simply buy a replacement. So why not get the PS5? It made sense to me. A rational decision, if they hadn’t been as difficult to attain as a post Brexit trade deal. But as luck would have it, I secured one. Preordering at a very unsociable hour. And don’t get me wrong, I love the scale interpretation if Lord Of The Rings “Dark Tower”!
The term “Next Gen” is rather misleading colloquialism, with the implication being that the technology contained demonstrates a significant graphical sophistication, reciprocated with a discernable visual and performance quality, superior too anything we’ve experienced before. But truth is that the generational leap isn’t the discernable chasm that divided the any of the previous generations. This Gen is really one of refinement. Polishing and augmenting performances to deliver an experience that is a little more fluid. Intuitive. The real expansion comes courtesy of the controller.
The features housed in the dualshock 5 are easily the PS5’s most compelling resource. The adaptive triggers and haptic feedback are to the PlayStation 5 what the analogue sticks were for the PS1. I’d argue revolutionary! Astrobot, the free, glorified Tech demo admirably exhibits the mutually beneficial synchronisation of the audio and vibrations that eminate from the controller. My daughter, fascinated by the small, jaunty robot gliding across the title card approached me, without any provocation to play this. Having never shown much interest in her daddy’s peculiar distractions, I was rather taken aback by her sudden interest, but at the same time excited to posture the brilliance of a hobby Mummy simply doesn’t understand. So having explained to her the controls, as best as I could to a 4 year old, she went off on her own, casually colliding into every conceivable obstacle.
After those initial few minutes, those awkward tentative steps, her coordination and spatial awareness had improved significantly, hitting oncoming enemies with surprisingly expeditious timing. And like a proud father watching her child winning the egg and spoon race at their school sports day, having tripped their main rivals in the final furlong, I just smiled. Watching my daughter’s face light up when she realised that these tiny little robots are rattling around in the controller was one of the most life affirming moments I’ve experienced being a father. This isn’t just vibrational sensitivity, calibrated to imitate a desired sensation, but more like there ARE tiny robots inhabiting the controller. That it isn’t merely replicating the squelching sensation of walking through mud, but that somehow the character is, and you are somehow experiencing that sensation.
The painful truth though is that as impressive as this technology is, most developers are liable to exclude it. Dismissing it as just another failed Sony implementation. A novelty soon to be forgotten, like the SIXAXIS. To simply disregard this wonderfully compelling function, one that has so many practical application’s for other more expansive games would be a critical error. I hope I’m wrong and that developer’s really understand the potential to elevate game’s beyond the customary visual enhancement.
Ultimately the PS5 is a great console, with tremendous potential, a lofty selection of “free” games, courtesy of the “PlayStation Collection” and one Sony’s mist ambitious control features to date. But if you own a fully working PS4 there is very little reason to own a PS5 right now.