The Sony PlayStation 5 and its new DualSense wireless controller live up to the fan fervour circling them before the 2021 February launch in India. Here is why
Some say it looks like a high-tech sandwich, others say it looks like a school folder — the PlayStation 5 standard and digital editions are a statement from Sony Interactive Entertainment on their confidence about next-gen gaming.
The fervour around Sony’s latest console was the California Gold Rush of gaming. Compounding the desperation, some came up with an Augmented Reality filter on Instagram, which placed a PS5 box virtually in the user’s home, and pranks of PS5 as gifts — which were just the empty boxes — took the Internet by storm. Then came the scalping; sellers on OLX can be found selling the PS5 for as much as ₹90,000 — unfortunately, there are no strict laws against scalping but consumers have been advised not to buy these and to wait for a restock. We advise the same, do not give into temptation; buy from an authorised seller.
The PS5 is a pretty add-on for your home’s display thanks to the futuristic blue, white and yellow lights varying with its mode. You can choose which orientation to place the unit, attaching the base accordingly so that the curvatures of the design do not have it tilting awkwardly. The attachable base is also helpful in keeping the off-white surfaces of the console scuff-free.
- Dimensions: Base: 390 mm × 260 mm × 104 mm (15.4 in × 10.2 in × 4.1 in)
- Weight: 4.5 kg (9.9 lb)
- CPU: Custom 8-core AMD Zen 2, variable frequency, up to 3.5 GHz
- Memory: 16 GB GDDR6 SDRAM
- Storage: Custom 825 GB SSD
- Removable storage: Internal (user upgradeable) NVMe M.2 SSD, or external USB-based HDD
- Display: HDMI: 720p, 1080i, 1080p, 4K UHD, 8K UHD
- Graphics: Custom AMD RDNA 2, 36 CUs @ variable frequency up to 2.23 GHz
- Sound: Custom Tempest Engine 3D Audio, Dolby Atmos & DTS:X (Blu-ray video & UHD Blu-ray video), 7.1 surround sound
- Controller input: DualSense, DualShock 4, PlayStation Move
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.1, Gigabit Ethernet, 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2×1, 1x USB 2.0, 1x USB-C with USB 3.2 Gen 2×1, 1x HDMI 2.1
Reviewing the base console edition, it comes with the comfortably ergonomic DualSense controller. Sony has kept this as familiar as possible for those upgrading from the DualShock 4, but with a few add-ons such as more responsive thumbsticks, with better grip. The triggers are also slightly more resistant for better control.
DualSense comes with Sony’s new Tempest 3D AudioTech, which comes into full effect if you plug compatible headsets into the AUX jack in the controller itself. This lived up to Sony’s promise of providing highly accurate audio positioning to facilitate a new level of immersion… and is ideal if you want to game quietly. Games such as Spider-Man: Miles Morales, which have a lot of verticality, were enhanced by Tempest 3D AudioTech as it helped me gauge situational awareness better when travelling through the city or fighting enemies. I am not a community gamer so the microphone was not put to that test just yet, but the voice command tool was effective in the times I was too lazy to navigate.
I got a lot of pull from the DualSense’s battery life, which you can monitor through the PS5’s user interface. I love that you can recharge this instead of relying on rechargeable batteries as one does with the Xbox controller. In games that often employ adaptive triggers, I got at least eight straight hours of gameplay before it reached one bar. Households with multiple gamers can opt for the charging dock.
Back to the console…
Setting up the PS5 is very easy. Clearly Sony wanted users to dally less on set-up and more on gameplay and experience. You have to agree only to two of the three terms: the software license agreement and having a PlayStation Network account. Sharing usage data with Sony is optional. I had teamed the console with a Sony Bravia 65-inch 4K Ultra HD television and a home theatre set-up.
The boot-up time for games is significantly faster on the PS5, thanks to the ‘ultra-high speed SSD’ created for the console. The device only audibly whirred when there was a massive loading stage within a game and this happened only a couple of times. This also meant I could switch between games easily on the fluid and clear UX of the PlayStation home page. Here, you can also keep easy track of updates and downloads as well as game progress, without needing to back out of a game completely to view these.
I tested three games — Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Watch Dogs: Legion — over the past two weeks; each game is incredibly unique from the others, in terms of play, graphics, audio and more. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla plays beautifully here especially after the PS5 update; open-world exploration game is more vivid, and loading of distant horizons is seamless. Watch Dogs: Legion, a sandbox game with strong exploration elements was a treat and the PS5 is snappy in making sure the environment is responsive to the player, rather than the other way around.
The test for the console’s quick wit came to light with Spider-Man: Miles Morales which plays at 60 frames per second. Webbing through the city and taking out baddies in a speedy manner highlighted how quickly the DualSense channels your responses and reactions into the game. It is a rewarding experience for any gamer when you are in this much control.
Sony dives right into next gen gaming here while also taking heed of backward compatibility. Updates are quick, too. PlayStation 4 games such as Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Watch Dogs: Legion enjoyed higher or smoother frame rates but there were unexpected issues during gameplay, such as the rare bug and/or error. Those with hefty game libraries who want to save space on the latest console or are keen on the PS5 digital edition (₹39,990) can opt for compatible external hard drives that support SuperSpeed USB.
The PlayStation 5 standard edition — though not a must-have — is a treasure trove if you manage to get your hands on one. The gameplay on the console are so smooth that it is addictive. While its equally burly competitor the Xbox Series X is in high demand (and rightfully so), the loyal fandom around the PS5 is strong.
Though the PS5 digital edition may not be a wise investment given the likelihood of forking over extra cash for a compatible hard drive is high, the ₹49,990 price tag is good value for money, given consoles tend to keep for years to come — especially when they are a good mix of high-performance and easy-on-the-eye.
The Sony PlayStation 5 and DualSense controller can be purchased online.