We have been home with our PlayStation 5 consoles for six months now. With many gamers wondering if it is worth the cost. Or even worth the hassle to buy one, we take a look back at our experiences. While PlayStation has had typical launch issues like hardware availability, and a limited library, There have been some fantastic moments with the console.
The Good Six Months
The very early taste of PS5 performance is preventing me from ever wanting to go back. The free content updates for games like Borderlands 3, Mortal Kombat 11, and Marvel’s Avengers are complementary to the small library of PS5 games. Granted new PS5 titles like Demon’s Souls, Spider-Man Miles Morales, and Hitman 3 have been fantastic.
The small taste of the future has been a blast. We are seeing no less than 30% improvements in load times and install times. As well as increased framerates, higher resolutions and improved environmental details. That’s just with our existing games. Plus the spatial audio, new controller, and ray-traced lighting feel like a generational leap with the new games, and we are still only six months in.
Both the spatial audio and the new controller have been a real treat. In the year leading up to the PS5, the community was obsessive when it came to teraflops and SOC architectures. While seemingly trying to annoy Twitter soothsayers, Sony was pushing their new controller and baked in 3D audio.
Sony was on to something, that we all underestimating. The 3D audio in games like Resident Evil Village, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, and Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War are true enhancements. What Capcom has done with the audio in Resident Evil Village elevates the horror elements by better defining the atmosphere. In Call of Duty, being able to hear sounds with velocity and direction gives you an edge over the competition.
The haptic feedback and adaptive triggers in the Dual Sense are added layers of depth and immersion. Just like the 3D audio, these are subtle changes that enhance the experiences. In Returnal giving the L Trigger another level of pressure adds more buttons to the game while retaining that arcade feeling. Along with the number of ways Astro’s Playroom showcases so many neat things the Dual Sense can do.
The Bad Six Months
Earlier this year, we ran a story on how the PS5 will remain in shortage for the rest of the year (at least). That is holding true and it will continue to do so. With the silicon shortage yet to fizzle out, and the run on graphics chips continuing, obtaining a PS5 will be challenging all year. The long-term problem with this is PlayStation’s inability to satiate demand and develop a meaningful install base. Which will caution outside developers to make games just for the PS5.
The last generation, if there were 50 million PS4 consoles in the wild, there could have been 20 to 25 million Xbox One consoles. Mix that in with PlayStations’ relationship with Japan. In addition to deals with third parties. You have a cocktail that is bringing every publisher right to PlayStation’s front door.
Right now you have the opposite happening. Microsoft is unable to keep consoles on shelves themselves. Plus they are leveraging Game Pass to mitigate risk for third-party games. Then bundling in their first-party games and online services on top of that. Both consoles are great yet, Game Pass has become a real value. Consumers unable to find PS5 consoles may go elsewhere.
Everything we know and love about PlayStation was founded on taking risks. SIE seems to be moving away from that by letting three smaller Japanese teams leave. Plus (for the sake of argument) let’s include Kojima Productions. The four combined teams are credited on almost 25 PS4 games, two PS5 games, and countless Vita games going back to 2013.
Some of the support staff at SIE Japan will most likely remain. Yet the teams that pushed out entire games are gone. With exception of Team Asobi, who will be making AstroBot titles for the foreseeable future.
What this means for the PS5 generation is, you can look back at these 25 titles then cross at least half of them off when thinking of SIE first-party output. Likewise, about half of what’s left will end up being PSVR2 exclusive. So we may see as many as five full games credited out of SIE Japan this generation. Combine that with a small handful of PSVR2 games, that total count will most likely be the output from SIE Japan this entire generation.
Quality Of Life
Another shortcoming of the PS5 has been the system updates. Still missing from the platform are folders, themes, and expandable storage. We are still waiting for Sony to certify hardware for the internal expansion storage slot. Completely disregarding any actual new features, these are just PS4 features we are waiting to come back.
The 667 GB of storage on the PS5 is not enough. I completely gave up leaving Madden 21 and Mortal Kombat 11 installed on my console. Games I keep around for quick pick-up and play moments have now been replaced by Returnal and Call of Duty patches. If I were a publisher I would be incredibly disappointed with how this is being handled.
The Indifferent Six Months
An Open Calendar
2021 is really starting to feel like it could be a challenging year for the PS5. Maybe it doesn’t matter, maybe there are enough gamers out there now for both Xbox and PlayStation to move 150 million units this generation.
At the same time, what if Returnal doesn’t find commercial success? What if Kena ends up being more like The Order 1886 and less like The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess? It is in all reality, the first game by a very small team. Plus what if Horizon Forbidden West falls to 2022?
We already assume most of what PlayStation has shown in the way of God Of War Ragnarok, Final Fantasy 16, and Forspoken is much further off than they indicate. With that in mind, Sony could be in a bad position if things go south the second half of this year.
Then you have Gran Turismo 7. Why should I believe GT7 is really coming out in 2022 when we don’t even have official delays for the games that we know are not coming out in 2021? Sony hopes to put out their first mainline Gran Turismo game in almost a decade. That is too long.
Next year will be five years since the release of Gran Turismo Sport. As well as eight years since the release of Driveclub from shuttered PlayStation studio Evolution. In hindsight, probably not the best idea to close Evolution. Putting out a racing game every eight years is not going to stack up against the competition.
What Is Next
Maybe I am totally overreacting and Horizon Forbidden West will come out this year. Of course, Sony could still have some surprises in store this summer. We still do not have any official news on Final Fantasy 16 either. Having both come out this year would be a blockbuster year for PlayStation. Yet having neither could make for a huge blow.
What Sony does from the first week of June to the last week of July is going to be interesting. They need to find a way to get one or two more solid releases out this year. It is hard to imagine what that could wind up being if Horizon Forbidden West does get delayed.
My assumption is that Sony will have Ratchet and Clank Rift Apart for early summer. Followed by Kena Bridge of Sprits late summer. Then open the fall video game season with either PSVR2 or Horizon Forbidden West. Sony has a longstanding history of leaving the winter open for third-party holiday releases. Between PSVR2 and Horizon Forbidden West whichever doesn’t release this year would be early Spring 2022.