PlayStation 5 First Impressions Review – An Exciting Evolution

The PlayStation 5 releases worldwide in certain regions on November 12. It will see its full launch everywhere else on November 19. We’ve already told you everything you need to know about it but that was before we went hands-on with it.

PlayStation sent us a console to review. We’ll be spending a bit more time with it before we create our final review but here are our first impressions of the console. It should provide you with helpful insight into what to expect when you pick up yours!

So let’s break it down from the start.

The Unboxing

The PlayStation 5 comes in a very large box. It soon becomes obvious why that is but I won’t spoil the surprise just yet… OK fine it’s because it’s very large.

There’s a handle that makes it easy to carry and I didn’t feel it buckle whilst carrying it like this. It’s worth noting that the packaging is very eco friendly which is great to see.

Eco-friendly doesn’t have to mean dull though.

There’s no real “wow” factor to unboxing the PS5. It’s securely in the box and everything you need is there. It just doesn’t take into account making it an experience in itself to unbox. Something Apple do superbly and Microsoft got right with the Xbox Series X.

Due to the weight of the PlayStation 5 as well it’s not exactly the easiest to pull out of the box but everything in there seems secure at least. For those that like to be wowed from the get-go, you may be slightly disappointed but there’s plenty of time to be wowed.

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Setting up the PS5

Setting up the PS5 is simple. You plug it in, install any updates that may be needed and follow the instructions. It doesn’t overwhelm you with things to do straight away and that’s a good thing.

As you naturally explore using the console it drip feeds further information to you, rather than front-ending it all in one place. It’s a really simple and friendly experience that’s hard to knock.

There is a small issue with setting up the PS5. The base. Rather than having a base already on the console, you have a separate. To put it on you need to twist it open to find the screw, take off a protector from the bottom of the console and tighten it up.

It doesn’t take long once you figure out where everything is but it does add another step to the setup and is a bit fiddly. Luckily it makes it feel secure no matter if you have it horizontal or vertical.

You will need to take into account space in your set up. This is a big console and will not fit comfortably into every setup. I have all of my consoles inside a Kallax from Ikea but was not able to do it with the PlayStation 5, that’s how big it is.

A photo of the PlayStation 5 with a Sonic the Hedgehog figure holding the DualSense controller.
Credit: GameByte

The User Experience

PlayStation user experiences have always been a bit clunky. The PlayStation 5 feels different. It’s quick loading, shows everything you need and is easy to navigate. Being able to get straight into other parts from the main menu makes it an effortless and easy experience. 

There seems to be no way to arrange a download queue which is one of those issues that won’t be a problem all the time. It’s just mildly frustrating when you’re trying to get all the games you want to play on the console at the beginning.

Accessing the downloads is easy though, as is returning to the home screen or entering the sub-menu. Simply hold down the home button or tap it. 

The most impressive thing about the user experience to me though is how games can have certain points jumped to using the menus. 

Want to do a speed run challenge? Just select it from the menu rather than trying to find where it is in the game. Want how close you are to completing something? There’s a percentage telling you. 

It’s extremely player friendly and shows value in the players time. It also loads up almost instantly. Unfortunately, the PlayStation 5 doesn’t have Quick Resume like the Xbox Series X but this feature helps players boot into where they want to be, not just where they left off. It’s an interesting one and perfect for trophy hunters.

ps5 image
Credit: Sony

How Does The PlayStation 5 Look?

The PS5 is big. Like… really big. If you thought the original PS3 was the biggest a PlayStation console could be then you were wrong. It’s got a style that won’t be for everyone. Personally, I quite like it and if it was smaller I wouldn’t have any problem with it

Its size means most people will have to make it a feature piece in their gaming setup and it’s up to them which orientation they have it. Vertically it looks nice, especially during late-night gaming sessions with the light coming out of the top of it.

The base is a bit of an annoying thing to mess around with but it works well and does help make the PS5 look a bit sturdier. Luckily it’s not just for aesthetic and it does make it sturdier.

Its use of lighting and its design make the PlayStation 5 look different from anything else out there. Its size is the only thing that lets it down really.

The DualSense Controller

The DualSense is arguably the most important part of the PlayStation 5. What it does elevated gaming experiences further than they would be if it wasn’t doing them. It’s a perfect evolution of the traditional gamepad and helps the PS5 feel truly unique.

Once you boot up a game that makes full use of the controller you’ll understand exactly what I mean. Luckily the best game for this so far is free with the console. Astro’s Playroom may not look like your cup of tea but it shows you what the DualSense can do.

PS5 DualSense
Credit: Sony

The haptics in the controller are some of the best I’ve ever felt. Punctuating the haptics with sound helps make certain moments feel even better. It even has a built-in microphone that can be integrated into games but also works to capture general chatter and will be perfect for quick gaming sessions with friends.

The triggers are also fascinating when they fight back. Fighting to make a spring go down so you can pop it up feels like a workout for your hands. It can be switched off if you need or want to but I found it extremely satisfying to use. My only real complaint of them is that I’d of liked the triggers to have a bit more grip. When they’re fighting against you it’s easy to feel your finger slipping.

Everything else on the controller is a similar layout to the DualShock 4. The PlayStation button in between the sticks is no longer a circular button and it doesn’t feel as satisfying to press but it looks nice. In fact, the whole aesthetic of the controller looks beautiful.

The buttons don’t have a satisfying click to them but are still satisfying to press and the haptics and sound feedback more than make up for this.

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Next-Gen Games

As of the time of writing, my main experience with the PlayStation 5 has been Miles Morales and Astro’s Playroom.

Miles Morales looks stunning. Far better than Spider-Man ever did on PlayStation 4. The power of the PS5 makes some of the character models jawdroppingly good. Snowy New York also looks beautiful.

The way it utilises the DualSense also elevates it further. The subtle haptics, the “thwip” sound effect that comes from it as you swing around the city. The triggers also fight you ever so slightly as you gain speed in your swinging. It’s all done subtly in a way that makes it feel satisfying, not just look it.

Astro’s Playroom is less subtle with its use of the DualSense, it just straight up highlights everything it does. Whether it’s the feeling of sand as you walk through a sandstorm or the resistance of a spring as you look to launch it. It even reminds you of the ease of using the touchpad for gestures.

The games being made for PlayStation 5 look good but they also play differently. That’s the important thing here. It seems that the goal of PlayStation 5 isn’t just about making games look good. It’s about making them feel different too. I’m genuinely excited to play more games on it.

PS5 dualsense
Credit: Sony

Final Thoughts

The PlayStation 5 feels fresh. The DualSense adds something so unique to games that it should be a factor in what platform you play games on. It’s a controller that looks sleek but packs so much unique technology in there that helps it elevate games.

Games load quickly and look great. Having specific parts possible to jump to thanks to menus helps save time for players and also get past things they may be stuck on.

There’s a strong launch lineup there and the PS+ Collection helps add some real heavyweights there. Especially for those that skipped PlayStation 4 last generation.

I was slightly disappointed that it ran with an audible noise. Not so much that it was distracting but there is a low hum you can hear during quieter moments in games. Considering the size of the fan in the PS5, you’d hope it would be able to keep the console cool and quiet.

One thing is for certain though. If developers continue to make the most of what makes the PlayStation 5 unique then it’s going to be an exciting few years for gaming.

Featured Image Credit: GameByte

Console reviewed was provided by PlayStation.