PlayStation 5 - Looking Back on Our First Year With Sony’s New Console

PlayStation 5 - Looking Back on Our First Year With Sony’s New Console

Matt Lorrigan

While the PlayStation 5 released on 12th November in North America - just two days after the Xbox Series X|S - those of us in Europe had to wait a week longer to get our hands on Sony’s new console, making it exactly a year to the day since we had to clear space for the monstrous black-and-white box underneath our TVs. And for those of us lucky enough to have found one in stock (fuck the scalpers), it’s been a pretty interesting first year of life for the PlayStation 5.

Unlike previous console generations, it feels like there’s very little between Sony and Microsoft’s new consoles in terms of performance, with third-party titles on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X looking (and playing) almost identically, in most cases. PS5 is meant to be a bit faster, and Xbox is meant to be a bit more powerful, but in practice, there’s not much between the two boxes. Instead, the two console manufacturers have chosen to compete on different fronts, and one of Sony’s biggest USPs is, without a doubt, the DualSense controller.

Featuring detailed haptic feedback and triggers that can fight back beneath your fingers, the DualSense promised to change the way we feel games, and alongside the console’s 3D audio, immerse players like never before. In practice, though, over the past twelve months, few games have truly utilised the controller’s unique capabilities. Worse than that, even, many players have found the unceasing rumbling to be quite uncomfortable, and even within the PST offices, we’re a little bit divided over it. Used well, it can add an almost invisible extra layer of immersion, one that you only notice is missing if you turn it off or start playing on another console. But outside of PlayStation Studios’ first-party efforts, it feels like developers still haven’t quite gotten to grips with the newfangled controller just yet.

If the DualSense didn’t end up shaking things up as much as Sony expected, then PlayStation’s selection of exclusives certainly have. Right off the bat, PlayStation 5 launched alongside a bevy of high-quality first-party games. Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Sackboy: A Big Adventure may have been available on PlayStation 4 as well, but they still proved to be excellent new-gen launch titles, with the Ultimate Edition of Miles Morales on PS5 also bundling an exclusive remastered version of the original Spider-Man. Demon’s Souls served as the graphical showcase at launch, with the remake being a true PlayStation 5 exclusive, and a strong draw for more hardcore players.

The PS5’s real killer app, though, was the genius addition of free pack-in game Astro’s Playroom. Simultaneously a forward-looking tech demo showing off all of the PS5’s new toys (that still serves as the best use of the DualSense so far); a reverential look back at the history of PlayStation; and a high-quality 3D platformer that even Mario maestro Shigeru Miyamoto would approve of, Astro Bot’s short but sweet PS5 adventure was a joy from beginning to end, and set the tone for PS5 exclusives to come.

Since then, the PlayStation 5 has enjoyed one of the best first years of any PlayStation console, boasting high-quality exclusives like Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Returnal, and Deathloop, that make an excellent case for owning Sony’s monochrome skyscraper. Meanwhile, third-party support has picked up exactly where the PlayStation 4 left off, with a ton of support from big publishers and indies alike.

From the moment the PlayStation 5 launched, it has been riding a wave of high-quality game releases, and that’s helped draw attention away from the fact that, when it came to features, the console felt like it launched a little half-baked. Where Xbox’s new consoles launched with clever backwards compatibility, and a ‘quick resume’ feature that felt truly next-gen, PlayStation 5 was lacking. At launch, the console featured no expandable SSD storage, no ability to store PS5 games on external drives, no save data backup to USB, and no VRR support. Some of these features have been added in the twelve months since launch, but many are still absent. The console even released with a huge Rest Mode bug, which frequently caused games to crash, and to this day, upgrading from a PS4 version of a game to the PS5 version, and bringing your save game with you, remains a huge pain in the arse. These are all very small problems, but they paint the picture of a console that wasn’t quite ready to launch in a feature-complete state.

These problems are easy to ignore when the growing PlayStation Studios family is launching games thick and fast, but even then, there’s some cause for concern. While the output from Sony’s western studios has been excellent, and improved further with the acquisitions of Bluepoint and Housemarque, this year also saw the Japanese gaming giant winding down Japan Studio - the internal developer that has brought countless amazing games to PlayStation consoles in the past, from Ape Escape, to Gravity Rush, and LocoRoco. That variety offered by Japan Studio is all the more noticeable in its absence, and while Team Asobi, the developer behind Astro’s Playroom, has survived, the loss of Japan Studio is a damn shame.

This is perhaps unsurprising coming from what we now refer to as “confident Sony” - the same hubristic version of the company that launched the hyper-expensive and difficult to develop for PlayStation 3 off the back of the PlayStation 2 - and PlayStation has made a few missteps with consumers this past year. Boss Jim Ryan has had to issue apologies on multiple issues, from the attempted shutdown of the PS3 and PS Vita PlayStation Store, to PS5 upgrade fees for Horizon Zero Dawn, and despite u-turning in most cases, it shows a company perhaps at odds with its core userbase.

Luckily, within its first twelve months, PlayStation 5 has absolutely delivered where it counts - with some of the very best games releases of the generation so far. Ratchet & Clank’s Pixar-esque visuals and robust action; Returnal’s haunting atmosphere and unsettling alien imagery; Deathloop’s unique mix of gunplay and detective action; and Spider-Man: Miles Morales’ heartfelt story of friendship and identity, have all succeeded in hitting the mark, while Director’s Cut releases of Ghost of Tsushima and Death Stranding for PS5 have proved more than welcome. Sony the company may have made some mistakes this past year, but Sony the game maker has been on a roll, and PlayStation 5 is the best place to play them.

  • Its just a shame that scalpers got their greedy hands on most of the stock to rip the true PS fans off.
    Sony, Ebay and other online retailers should have prevented that from happening.....the retailers & Sony allowed them to scalp and ebay allow them the platform to rip the arse out of it with greatly exaggerated prices.
    And the idiots who bought them at those prices encouraged them to continue.
  • @1. I agree. Scalpers are ridiculous and people supporting it just made it worse next time consoles launch.

    I actually turned haptic off. On demons souls it made it feel harder to fire off arrows rapidly
  • A year on and I'm still no closer to finding one now then I was then
  • yup i still have the same issue as with many others. gotta be the worst console launch i've ever seen.
  • Still waiting for a re-design without any ridiculous stand, especially for the horizontal way. And just black if possible. You know, something that actually fits with the other devices.
    Function over form anytime.
  • Last time i saw one for sale in my local retail store i thought. Bah.. It still doesn't have an impressive collection of games to justify the purchase but now i want to buy one Four months and still waiting a restock.

    Scalpers and the semiconductor industry are to be blamed.
  • Can't believe it's already been a year. I have been loving every minute of it. Despite not getting the 'true next gen' games yet, the games I did play were amazing and that controller is the best so far!
  • haven't seen a horrid launch like this since the ps3 launch.
  • Got one yesterday and managed to snack one today fot a friend
  • Got it day one and despite not buying a PS5 title yet I'm very happy with the quality of life improvements and the controller so far. Having backlog including God of War, and most of other 1st party games the updates made my experience of those titles fantastic.

    Said it before but if you want a launch console, ask local game store to take your details. I pre-ordered 4 months before pre-orders "officially" began.
  • @Patrin How can you own a PS5 for 1 year and not even play a PS5 title? What was the point in getting one? lol
  • I've had my PS5 since about June and I'm more than happy with it, I mostly only play PS4 games on it right now as I don't have to many PS5 games yet, but multi platform games I'm getting for the PS5
  • I did plat Astro's playroom but so far the PS5 only games released none of them have peaked my interest, those that do I'm waiting for a good sale or PS+.

    The reason for getting day was mostly just because. And as mentioned it's made my PS4 games run so well compared to the base launch PS4 I had.
  • Idk where this issue can be brought up, but using this site on mobile is a damn nightmare these days. The pop-up video ads come in rapid-fire, one right after the other, regardless of if I hit the “skip ad” button or let the ad fully play out. It also doesn’t help that these video ads take up a significant amount of screen space on mobile.

    If there’s anything that can be done on your end for these ads, please limit how many pop up per page, or remove that ad type if possible. I’ve been using this site since 2010 for gaming news, trophy guides, and game communities, but these constant video ads on every page of this site are making it nearly impossible for me to use this site for those purposes, or even use the site at all.
  • @JuggernautClone, A simple solution is the ad blocker, I recently started using one because of video ads that take up the whole screen. I really love this site, but if they make it impossible to enjoy then it's bye bye ads
  • Chrome on mobile doesn't have AD block (or any other extensions), I have the same problem and it sure makes browsing this page nightmare inducing.
  • Still inferior to PC, aside from the gpu shortage. (Fuck scalper, its harder to grab a rtx 3080 over a console).
    And now sony is bringing their exclusive to pc. Yeah i am truly done with console. Cant beleive i wasted soo much time on ps3/ps4
  • “Narvalia Bye
  • Narvalia, hope your not into achievements because Steam and EPic are both super pointless because people hack both to the extreme. I tried PC for awhile (on a PC that can ultra everything in 4k) and I still didn't enjoy myself at all. It's just not the same. Don't get me started on the toxicity of PC players as well...
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