My PlayStation 4 Pro remains hooked up in my command center and occasionally that beautiful, black, triple-decker sandwich-looking thing will boot up, mistakenly. I didn’t turn it on and with my PlayStation 5, I have no need to. Everything that once loved machine had for me is now comfortably inside my UFO PlayStation 5 rocketship of the future.
Just the other day, this exact thing happened. It was almost like my PS4 was beckoning to pick up my well-worn, but still glistening gold controller. “Remember everything we’ve been through? Everything we had together?” So I indulged, I picked up that controller dammit. That glorious PlayStation 4 startup played out and the familiarity set in, then I just kind of got sad…
As I write this, PlayStation 5 is the best next-generation home console on the market. It’s selling the most, delivering the highest-rated first-party games on average, and is even outperforming its closest competitor from a technological standpoint, more often than not. Two years into the PS5’s lifecycle, you’d be hard-pressed to complain about much. But for me, it’s the little things that stand out. Namely the deficiencies in its User Interface (UI) compared to its predecessor.
Beautiful, But No Personality
The contrasts are striking, but to me, PlayStation 5’s UI is deficient compared to the PS4 in almost every way that isn’t snappiness. (Made possible by the superior SSD hard drive installed on the PS5). Before I get into the particulars, it’s just the overall feel between the 2 that strikes me the most. Yes, I understand it took many years for the PlayStation 4’s UI to get to where it ended. But you’d think the PS5 would have learned those lessons to start where its older brother finished.
When I talk about feel, each specific PlayStation UI almost epitomizes the two contrasting periods within Sony as a company. Especially in terms of where they were as companies when each respective hardware platform launched. With PlayStation 4, for the first time in its lifetime, Sony was the underdog and reacted accordingly. Their marketing and PR were friendly, outgoing, and embracing the little guy. Its PlayStation UI reflected that sense of welcoming. “FOR THE PLAYERS“: PlayStation told us at the onset of the PS4 and boy were they ever.
Yet with the PS5, Sony once more found themselves as the front runner and the attitude shift was apparent in everything they did. Glaringly so in the new its latest PlayStation UI.
Gone were the welcoming, user-friendly options that the PS4 embraced. What players got in return was a sterile, streamlined, albeit barebones alternative that seemed more interested in allowing space for marketing opportunities than giving users options they were used to.
I’ll forego the minor differences and issues (i.e. the Card System in every conceivable way, difficulty in differentiating between last/current-gen versions of games in the store/downloading and much more) to focus on 3 major voids that the PlayStation 5 MUST bring back not only in usability but for customization/organizational purposes as well.
PlayStation UI – Themes! I Mean, C’mon…
These are just a sample of the many outstanding themes available to PS4 users throughout its lifecycle. The standard boot-up is glorious and for some, all they’ll ever want, but many others require a little spice in their lives.
Whether one changed their theme to a rote, stagnant image of their favorite sports team, or opted for something more elaborate in the form of the many Dynamic Themes, chances were your PlayStation UI looked different from your buddies.
PlayStation even gave owners the option to relive generations past in the form of PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 1 boot-ups. Talk about nostalgia overload! Bottom line is there was something for everyone if you wanted to customize the look, sound, and feel of your PS4 when it wasn’t playing video games.
Themes have been mainstays of PlayStation consoles for 2 generations. Now, years later, our PlayStation 5’s are starting to get a bit boring when left idling. Return the themes!
Organization is Key
A late addition to the PS4 came towards the end of its life cycle, but it’s something I find myself desperately missing. Especially when it comes to organizing my on-screen game icons.
Customizable gaming folders gave us all the options of putting all those installed games into neat and tidy places. Like to group your games together by developer? BOOM there’s your FromSoftware game folder with every Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Sekiro entry you have installed.
Not your bag? Cool, how about organizing your games together by genre? BANG, Resident Evil, Evil Within, and every other horror game you bought are now all grouped neat and tidy together. I’m not sure about you out there, but I’m sick and tired of half the games I have installed not readily viewable on my home screen.
The PlayStation 5 UI almost got there by adding Folders, just not in the way we all wanted. Puzzlingly, they stopped at allowing you to group all the games you DON’T have installed together as you see fit. I don’t know about you, but I care a lot more about keeping the games I do have installed organized as opposed to what I don’t. We’re this close Sony. Folders are necessary options for the personal de-clutterer in each of us.
What’s New, What’s That?
It didn’t quite get there but it’s undeniable that the “What’s New” screen PS4 defaulted to when started gave us a touch of individuality when logging in.
Sure we had to deal with a little marketing mush mixed in. But it was cool to see what our friends had accomplished trophy-wise while we were away, or what new games they decided to jump into. Have a friend that you like to watch stream, or how about another who takes great in-game photography? “What’s New” would keep you up to date on all of it, sort of…. It wasn’t quite up to speed all the time. But that’s nothing a little extra attention from the development team couldn’t fix.
Personally, the little PlayStation 5 Control Center bar we have now doesn’t make the cut. I want that convoluted menu-that-never-loaded-quickly-enough back. What’s up PlayStation? Only you can show me “What’s New” all over again!
There you have it folks, the 3 must-have necessities still missing from all of our PlayStation 5 lives. I don’t know about you all out there, but I’m not going to be satisfied until I boot-up my PS5 while hearing the PS3 startup sound. Then, shortly after, watch as we load into the latest goings-on of my only 4 friends in the latest iteration of “What’s New” Then, away we scroll over to the personalized Square Enix Game Folder I created to play World of Final Fantasy for the 5th time like the rest of you. Sounds like a fairly common occurrence, who’s with me?