KitGuru games: PlayStation 5 hardware one year later
When Sony first introduced the PlayStation 5, it did so by choosing to focus on a number of features that, when combined, have informed the next generation of console gaming in Sony’s eyes. These features included the SSD; haptic feedback; adaptive triggers; 3D audio and of course: ray-tracing. A year on from the console’s launch, we dive deep into the PS5’s first year on the market and analyze whether all of these features and more live up to the hype.
SSDs were already around when the PlayStation 4 was first announced, so consoles using mechanical hard drives have proven to be a strict limitation on the compatibility of the previous generation of consoles. The PS5 isn’t hampered by this, with Sony putting a lot of its eggs in the SSD basket. Did it pay off? Yes.
From a game design point of view, this new âultra-fastâ SSD has enabled many immersive experiences. On startup Returnal or Spider-Man: Miles Morales lets you play the entire game with no discernible load times. However, third-party developers have not benefited as much from this new material. Most, if not all, third-party games see some form of loading screen, although it’s significantly reduced. Also, because games should be designed for the lowest common denominator, most games released today are built with mechanical hard drives in mind, which means the game is designed with loading screens as an expectation – thus breaking the immersion, regardless of the duration of the charge. Game design is of course a difficult balancing act and so it only makes sense that only first-party developers are taking full advantage of the SSD. Even so, hopefully as the generation goes on, more and more developers are joining us.
Another way developers have really taken advantage of SSD is by using smaller file sizes thanks to Kraken compression technology facilitated by SSD. The PlayStation 5’s relatively skinny 825GB SSD may seem like a downgrade at first, but thanks to Kraken, many games made with the PS5 in mind have seen much smaller file sizes – more than making up for the small one. SSD size. While still at the start of the generation, first impressions of developer enthusiasm behind SSDs seem to be dampened by cross-gen titles. Hopefully we will soon pass beyond this period.
The controller name change from DualShock to DualSense was indicative of the stake that Sony was putting in the PlayStation 5 controller. Controllers are used for hundreds or thousands of hours over their lifespan, and therefore bringing a radical change to the classic DualShock design, Sony risked it all. Fortunately, this has paid off, with one key exception.
The new and improved haptic feedback has been a blessing for the hands. Those who use the technology correctly contribute to a vastly improved experience, allowing you to feel all the subtle movements around you. Even when a game isn’t using it to its full potential, the haptic feedback is still nice. What was a little less enjoyable were the adaptive triggers.
These triggers can be used for everything from simulating a weapon’s recoil to adding two more buttons and keeping your hands firmly gripped on the controller. That being said – unlike haptics – when the triggers are misplaced it can be terrible. One such example comes from Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.
As Treyarch tried to simulate the feel of different guns in the game, the studio ended up making using these guns not only cumbersome, but totally tiring. Fortunately, after the first trip of the door, the recent Call of Duty: Vanguard offers much improved trigger simulation – giving me hope that this feature will only improve over time.
In a previous edition of this column, I delved into every facet of the DualSense controller, and so if you wanted even more comprehensive thoughts, you can find that HERE.
One of the main advantages of the PS5 was the use of 3D audio. Thanks to the PS5’s Tempest motor, the sound is supposed to be more global, delivering precise and precise directional sound. This feature has disappointed somewhat – not because it’s bad – but because it’s actually nothing new.
While the PS5 may focus more on 3D audio, previous systems were capable enough of using such surround sound – and the difference between the two seems minimal to my ears. Even with the official Pulse 3D wireless headphones, the promise of 3D audio seems less punchy than Sony seemed to make before launch.
Ray tracing is another major feature that was apparently overrated. Playing Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, and more with ray tracing is an awesome experience, but in many cases the subtle visual enhancements aren’t worth the tradeoffs.
First, there are several different types of ray tracing – for shadows, lighting, and highlights – and games will generally use a combination of these instead of all at once. This already gives less impactful results. Also, however, due to the fact that developers had to find workarounds to realtime effects like ray tracing for so long, the alternate methods of extracting highlights, lighting, and shadows have become much more efficient – with the artistry of the developers closing the gap on visuals while maximizing performance.
The developers also began to experiment with the technology, mixing real-time effects with pre-baked data. Hope this continues in the generation. For now though, ray tracing in many cases is not worth the compromise on performance.
Backward compatibility and Game Boost on the PS5 are nowhere near as impressive as that on the Xbox Series X, with support for older titles being much more archaic than Microsoft – although at least that support is still there. . While the Xbox Series X is capable of playing games on all Xbox generations (many of which see improvements in not only resolutions but also frame rates), PlayStation’s backward compatibility support is much smaller. .
I haven’t had any issues playing any PS4 titles on PS5 except The Adventures of Captain Spirit (although this has since been fixed). Additionally, over time, the developers unlocked more of the power of the PS5 for use with PS4 games. This means that there is now a healthy list of PS4 games that run at 60fps on PS5. Since developers must be directly involved to do this, and providing true next-gen support requires the release of a separate application, backward compatibility in its current state is functional, but in a way. embarrassingly inferior to that of Xbox.
The last major next-gen feature – at least when it comes to hardware – is support for 120 fps. When first announced, this idea seemed ambitious in many ways. Console video games barely hit 30 frames per second in some games, and yet the PS5 promised to quadruple the frames.
Switch to a year later and the promise of 120 fps has actually been delivered – at least in the areas that matter. 120hz TV screens are still relatively rare, so it’s understandable that some developers haven’t focused on the functionality. Still, with games like Returnal feeling so good playing at 60 fps, it would have been exciting to play this game – and many others – at 120 fps even if the visuals have to be sacrificed.
Many competitive online shooters have done just that, and in intense multiplayer battles the lower latency and the extra frames have been noticed a lot. In fact, in games like Call of Duty, I now refuse to play below 120 fps. Playing at 210 fps my reaction times improved and in comparison 60 fps started to choppy. Of course, going back to 60fps or even 30 only requires a few minutes of tuning, but being able to play games at 120fps on console is certainly appreciated. Hopefully, as the generation matures, more and more games manage to hit that mark – not just competitive shooters and racing titles.
The PlayStation 5 has been polarizing hardware since its first announcement with its hyper-futuristic appearance and contrasting colors. As much as I personally like the design, the exterior doesn’t matter – it’s what’s inside that matters after all.
The hardware inside the PlayStation 5 is impressive and has managed to make this new generation and this console feel distinctly different from the already very polished PlayStation 4. From a hardware standpoint, the PlayStation 5 got off to a promising start. How is the software and the overall user experience doing after a year on the market? Tune in next time to find out.
KitGuru says: What do you think of the PS5 hardware? Did you manage to get your hands on the system? What’s your biggest problem with the console? Let us know below.
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