November 2020, Sony PlayStation 5 First Impressions Feature Image

PlayStation 5 first impressions!

I’m very happy to be one of the first to grab the PlayStation 5 having successfully pre-ordered it back at the initial announcement!

I picked my system up from my local EB Games on launch day with an additional DualSense controller and Spider-Man: Miles Morales Ultimate Edition. I also ordered the Pulse 3D headphones and the PlayStation 5 Charging dock station, but unfortunately they’ve have been delayed until December so I haven’t been able to add these to this quick first impressions write-up of the console.

Packing first impressions

November 2020, Sony PlayStation 5 First Impressions boxes

Very similar to what they produced with the PlayStation 4, the packaging with the PlayStation 5 is kind of a no frills situation. The packaging doesn’t really give it that prestige next-gen look and feel I think it deserves. The outer box is wafer-thin and comes with the standard plastic carry handle (which I personally didn’t trust when I was carrying it to the car). Once you open it up there’s a box holding all the usual cords and two egg shell crates holding your system together. Considering the premium price for the console it definitely comes off as a little underwhelming, but it’s functional and kept everything in order I guess.

Console first impressions

First thing I grabbed out of the box is the controller and cords. The DualSense controller has a fantastic balanced weight to it and feels great in hand. All cords are stock standard Sony stuff, so functional but nothing that screams fancy.

November 2020, Sony PlayStation 5 First Impressions front view

The PlayStation 5 console itself though, I won’t lie – it’s a big boy, it’s very heavy and takes a hell of a lot of space up in your TV cabinet (especially if setting it up horizontally). It’s pretty much a bigger lad trying to dress in a skinny man’s clothing. I think in size it probably reminds me most of the original curved PlayStation 3, both in size and bulk, which makes it unusual when you consider how efficient the PlayStation 4’s industrial design was in comparison.

The design is aiming to be sleek with its curved slices of white plastic, but I think due to the density of the internals they shoved into it they couldn’t everything scale down to really pull off the crazy future-curve slender design. But it is what it is, and I’m sure most of us will come to love our PlayStation 5 consoles no matter how subjectively ugly it is. If nothing else, the sheer bulk of the design should mean thermal performance is solid and we’ll avoid component failure issues. It also doesn’t look like an awkward Betamax player like the original Xbox One, so props to Sony for having a bold vision for the design of the PlayStation 5.

The PlayStation 5 comes with a black base which works with both horizontal and vertical placement. But in practice it feels like a bit of a cheap afterthought on Sony’s part. In vertical format it gives you extra stability by screwing it into the system, however in horizontal format it just hooks into the back and doesn’t feel secure since it doesn’t give a tactile click or physically screw into anything.

November 2020, Sony PlayStation 5 First Impressions cabinet installation

I also found it difficult setting the system up in my cabinet – connecting all the cords and then having to hook in the base after that was a bit weird.

Whinging aside, before hitting that magical power button to start it up for the first time I took it all in – it’s a new, beautiful yet kind of ugly system which, setup horizontally, looks like a half-eaten cheese sandwich.

PlayStation 5 system menu first impressions

From the initial boot things start to shine!

It’s a beautiful, no-fuss setup. It even lets you use a QR code to quickly hook in your existing PlayStation Network details if you’re feeling feeling lazy. It just felt really seamless and actually enjoyable to get it started. You quickly get a feel for the DualSense controller as well – I’ll go into more detail below, but suffice to say I’ve fallen in love with it! Once it gets past all the initial setup the user interface is stunning – on the surface it comes off as a streamlined PlayStation 4 but it also feels a little bit more shinier and flashy in a very good way. At the time I’m putting these thoughts together I still haven’t finished tinkering with all the settings so I’m sure there’s more features to discover.

Astro’s Playroom and Spider-Man: Miles Morales

November 2020, Sony PlayStation 5 First Impressions Spider-Man Miles Morales Ultimate Edition cover

The only two games I’ve dabbled in so far are Astro’s Playroom and the Spider-Man Remastered part of Spider-Man: Miles Morales Ultimate Edition.

Astro’s Playroom has blown me away and does a tremendous job of demonstrating the power of this crazy, magical next-gen controller. As you run around as the hero Astro on a platforming adventure it takes full advantage of the DualSense showing you how the haptic feedback, adaptive triggers, motion sensor, microphone and touchpad can elevate the next-gen experience. It really felt like a finely honed slice of magic and now I’ve experience it, I don’t really want to go back to games that don’t take advantage of all this crazy functionality.

It doesn’t hurt that Astro’s Playroom is just goddamn fun – it really is a well-tuned 3D platformer crammed with huge amounts of PlayStation goodness!

Spider-Man Remastered is fantastic as well. I didn’t make the time to play the original version on the PlayStation 4 and it ended up in my pile of shame which I really regret. The remastered version of the game looks fantastic (running in native 4K on my display) and makes great use of the adaptive triggers when web slinging. I really wanted to slug this out before taking on Miles’ campaign which I figure will be a really great tech demo (in addition to being a great gameplay experience in its own right), but I do enjoy a good Spider-Man story and wanted to get the whole picture as part of my next-gen experience.

PlayStation 5 first impressions conclusion

November 2020, Sony PlayStation 5 First Impressions controller

All in all I’m very happy with my new next-gen console. The PlayStation 5 is beautifully ugly, does all the right things in a gaming sense and has exceeded my expectations so far!

More than this though, I’m looking forward to seeing how the game library progresses as the console starts to mature and we get the first round of true next-gen titles in the next six to twelve months. It was a nice bonus that Sony has including a solid number of titles in the PS Plus Collection too – the 20 greatest hit games from the PlayStation 4 will help keep me busy when I want to take a break from Astro and Spidey, and the extra shinies added as PlayStation 5 enhancements are an added bonus.