Can you believe it has already been one year since the PlayStation 5 was released? It’s been a busy year for Sony as they take on the ninth generation of consoles, and the industry is as competitive as ever. Both Sony and Microsoft have been purchasing studios left and right while their respective consoles keep flying off the shelves. Unfortunately, it’s still really difficult, if not almost impossible, to find a PS5 in stock, both online and in-person. I get it; FOMO sucks, and the ol’ PS4 is starting to lose the luster it once had. But let’s reflect on the current state of PS5 one year later and ask, is the PS5 worth it?
The PS5 was quite the leap forward in graphical capabilities. 4K TVs have increasingly found themselves inside more homes, and Sony knew that a big jump in horsepower would be necessary for this generation. On top of that, more gamers are asking for 60 fps support after multiple years of 30 fps being the default, in favor of high-quality visuals.
Console gaming has always been a balancing act of great visuals or smooth gameplay. With PS5, however, Sony says you can have your cake and eat it too with both smooth gameplay and next-generation graphics thanks to the cutting-edge AMD Zen 2 and RNDA 2 CPU and graphics card. These new consoles are still giving mid-range PCs a run for their money one year later. Games like Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart look about as close to a playable Pixar movie that we have gotten so far due to increased polygon counts and real-time raytraced reflections
Ray tracing, in particular, has been quite the game-changer and one of the true killer features of next-gen games, with lighting and reflections looking as accurate to the real world as we have ever gotten within the medium.
Additionally, more and more games are launching with 60 fps modes to take advantage of all that power. Even more impressively, games such as Spider-Man: Miles Morales feature ray-traced performance modes with compute-heavy ray-traced reflections turned on while still retaining smooth 60 fps gameplay. It is simply gaming nirvana.
Moreover, this first year of PS5 games has made ray tracing a staple rather than a gimmick and can only be witnessed on a next-gen console.
However, graphics aren’t everything, and the user experience is where new consoles live and die. And boy, is the user experience on PS5 great, thanks to the new NVME solid-state drive. Once you go SSD, you can never go back, and I find it to be the most appreciable addition to the PS5 by far.
Loading times are practically a thing of the past thanks to the lightning-fast speeds SSDs offer compared to slower and older mechanical hard drives that last-gen consoles are still tied to. In games like Demon’s Souls, fast travel is nothing more than a simple transition animation. Blink, and you’ll miss it. In Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, you can instantly jump between entire worlds with zero loading or even as much as a stutter. If I had to boil it down to one thing that makes the PS5 worth it, at least on a hardware level, it would be the SSD, and it’s not even close.
The DualSense Controller
One of the last key features of the PS5 is the slick new DualSense controller. For the one year that I have had the DualSense, I can easily say that it is one of the best controllers I have ever held. It is weighty, ergonomically designed, and feels great in the hand. The most significant feature of the DualSense is its haptic feedback motors and dynamic triggers that are something you have to experience for yourself to understand the hype behind it.
Have you ever been carrying a heavy bag in your hand for a long time, and you can begin to feel the handles digging into the grooves of your fingers? Let me tell you that while playing Death Stranding: Director’s Cut on PS5, somehow, the wizards in charge of mapping trigger features found a way to mimic that feeling with the left and right dynamic triggers as you hold parcels in your hands during gameplay. With the DualSense, you have to feel it to believe it.
I will say that even though these features are excellent, I wouldn’t go out of my way to chase down a PS5 specifically for the DualSense experience. It is simply the cherry on top of the PS5 but far from the main course.
Hardware is great and all, but it means nothing without the games. So how is the PlayStation’s first-party output after a year? Currently, the only games playable exclusively on PS5 are:
I would say this is a great start compared to PS4’s launch year lineup, which by most accounts was a flop. Does anyone remember Knack?
It’s also worth mentioning the tremendous critical acclaim for all of these games; Demon’s Souls is currently sitting at the top of the stack with a 92 on Metacritic, and Ratchet & Clank is sitting at an 88 right now. Sony is committed to living up to the reputation of releasing high-quality blockbuster games and has some fantastic momentum going for them which should continue into next year.
But would I say that any of these games are system sellers like Breath of the Wild was for Switch, or how God of War and Bloodborne were for the PS4? After playing each of these games this year, I can honestly say no. Demon’s Souls is the closest one to being a system seller, and if you’re a From Software fan, it is worth the effort to pick up a PS5 for it. It is a jaw-dropping game and one of the best remakes I have ever played, but Demon’s Souls is still a remake of a PS3 game at the end of the day, quite a niche game, and it doesn’t bring anything remarkably new to the table.
PS5 Backwards Compatibility
There is one thing that makes the PS5 worth it in a big way. Backwards compatibility. While the game library is still somewhat small on PS5, if you find yourself with a backlog of games on your PS4, consider getting a PS5. PlayStation 5 crushes every PS4 game you throw at it and runs circles around the PS4 Pro too, should the game support unlocked frame rates. If you have an extensive library of games, do it justice and play them all on PS5 to see them in the best way possible.
If you find yourself as the lucky owner of a cutting-edge 4K 120 fps display, I would 100% try to find a PS5 to take full advantage of such a premium display. The PS5 is a powerful piece of hardware that is a blissful experience when firing on all cylinders with the proper display. For anyone still with a 1080p screen, the PS4 and PS4 Pro will still get the job done just fine, and you won’t be missing too many new games any time soon.
Next year’s most anticipated games are God of War Ragnarok and Horizon Forbidden West, both of which will have last-gen versions and will likely still play just fine on older hardware. FOMO stinks, but the handful of PS5 games coming out next year will pale in comparison to the swaths of games still coming to PS4 next year and for a couple of years to come. There is still a decent buffer zone of relevancy for the PS4, and PS4 Pro as the PS5 builds its first-party catalog up within the next year or so as well.
If you still haven’t picked up a PS5 this year, I wouldn’t fret too much. The PS5 is very powerful, but not everyone has a screen that can take full advantage of it just yet, and the only truly killer feature is the blazing fast SSD. Moreover, game output has been solid for the PS5 launch year, but there hasn’t been a first-party game that will really wow everyone from all corners of the gaming world, at least not yet.
So, is the PS5 worth it? Not yet, especially given how difficult it is to track one down. When will the PS5 be worth it? There are a lot of promising games on the horizon for PS5 like Final Fantasy XVI or Forsaken, and if recent rumors of a Metal Gear Solid remake are true, then by the end of next year, I would say that the PS5 will be a must-buy system for every gamer. Until then, sit tight and remember to enjoy the games and systems that you currently have!
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