It’s been just about 24 hours since my long frustrating journey of searching for a PlayStation 5 came to an end and I brought home the gigantic hunk of next-generation gaming to squeeze underneath my TV.
For real, this console is massive. I heard it was big and it still blew me away.
The question is, though, is this all worth it? Are the weeks of seemingly futile hours spent in online queues and hitting refresh on retailer websites to buy a console with a whopping $500 price tag ($400 if you don’t want the Blu-ray drive) worth it?
Probably not — and I certainly would recommend against anyone thinking of paying an exorbitant markup from a scalper — but, yes, the PlayStation 5 is neat and certainly worth keeping an eye out for. If you want one, be prepared to jump on it immediately as these things go quickly.
And let me be entirely honest here, a day is not nearly enough to really produce a comprehensive review of a brand-new console but neither really is a week or months. Reviewing a console by assigning it a score is, frankly, a largely meaningless endeavor because these are all ultimately platforms for games that will last many years and it’s those games that matter.
What is worth reviewing, though, is the possibility presented by both the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X and Series S. Yes, they’re beefier consoles that let games run at higher resolutions, smoother frame rates and with a bunch of fancy new graphics and that’s all here, but what is perhaps the most striking thing across the new consoles is the lightning-fast load times.
Yes, load times.
On the PlayStation 5, you can go from turning on the console to web-slinging across a snowy New York City in “Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales” in about 30 seconds. Reloading from deaths, retrying challenges and fast traveling around the city is all done near instantly. It’s largely the same on the latest Xbox consoles, too, but seems to perform best on games designed for the new consoles.
It’s such an enormous change from the last console generation where you’d be lucky if a loading screen clocked in at a minute and most games took several minutes or more to load.
For someone with a limited attention span, being able to jump from game to game in a matter of seconds is really going to change, well, everything. Long loading times were one of my biggest problems when deciding what to play, knowing that whatever I picked would leave me waiting several minutes or more before I could jump into the game. Now, it’s easy and almost fun to swap from game to game.
For the PlayStation 5, the changes don’t end there.
The brand-new DualSense Controller is quite frankly an astonishing leap forward. It may look a little bit goofy, but packed inside is a slew of new and significant changes that bring the immersion into games to the next level.
Packed inside of the controller is a sophisticated rumble system that goes well beyond the days of the Nintendo64 Rumble Pak. Different parts of the controller can vibrate and vibrate in different ways. Walking on metal in “Astro’s Playroom,” a pack-in game designed to show off the PS5 and its new controller, produces a sharp clipping feeling while walking on carpet produces a more muffled-feeling vibration.
Even more significant than that are the variable resistance in the triggers that allows games to dynamically change the feeling in the triggers. Pulling a spring feels like, well, pulling a spring on the controller as it can become surprisingly stiff. A minigun in “Astro’s Playroom” produces a satisfying pop with each shot. In other gun-focused games, you can feel the pull and reset of the trigger for each shot.
It’s here that we run into the biggest hang-up with the new generation of gaming: There’s simply not a ton of games out there that take advantage of these new features to the fullest and developers are clearly still figuring things out with some games feeling much better than others.
That’s why I’d recommend tempering the drive to bring one home this year, especially if it means a lot of wasted hours or a bunch of extra money to secure one from a scalper. There will be more and better games that take advantage of these changes in the next months and years.
I canceled my pre-order of “Cyberpunk 2077” largely to wait for the fully realized PS5 version due out sometime next year.
It’s an exciting time for console gaming, but it’s maybe just not worth the headache and premium.
Matt Buxton is a freelance writer and gamer. He can be reached at email@example.com.