I did not manage to snag a PS5 at launch, like so many other people, but I did get a Gamestop bundle in late January, meaning I've had the console for nearly 10 months.
My excitement over the PS5 was a bit blunted by just how hard it was to get one, and also by the fact that I'd had a Series X for over 2 months at that point, and already experienced 9th gen graphics. Nonetheless the PS5 had the apparently amazing Dualsense controller and the Sony exclusives, so I dug in.
My first month with the machine was great. I loved Astro's Playroom and was very impressed by the Dualsense integration in that game. I played through the Hitman 1 levels in Hitman 3, I really enjoyed Bugsnax, and I even platinumed Maneater. I played through the Ratchet & Clank series to prepare for Rift Apart, I played a chunk of Returnal until it got too repetitive for me, and I played the PS5 native version of Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood. That game is terrible. But Ratchet & Clank was good. And so was Miles Morales. Miles Morales was really good!
So the first half of the year was decently strong for me. And since then...well...I've barely touched the machine. The last time I turned it on was to take screenshots of my friend's played time on his PS4. The time before that was for Balan Wonderworld, which is really really bad and which I haven't finished. I played through most of that in September.
I've actually played more PS4 than PS5 in the last 5 or so months. That same friend bought a copy of It Takes Two, and we've been making our way through that. Since he has a PS4 Pro it was easier for me to play on my PS4 Pro so we were using the same system and UI etc... I played through Assassin's Creed Syndicate and that game has terrible lighting issues on the PS5 in backwards compatibility so I played it on PS4. In general I have a lot of games installed on my PS4 hard drive so that it's easier for me to just play them there than try to play Tetris with the relatively limited PS5 storage space. Yes, it's now expandable, but I don't want to spend hundreds of dollars to do that right now. Most importantly, my hands do not get along with the PS5 controller.
The fact is that while the PS5 is obviously more powerful than the PS4, most of that power hasn't really been used for much at this point. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is a really solid Ratchet & Clank game and it looks absolutely fantastic, but the whole time rift thing is just a graphical flourish and it doesn't make much use of the Dualsense. I haven't found any games that use the Dualsense particularly well outside Astrobot. It vibrates the handles in alternate patterns during Bugsnax to simulate walking. That's kind of neat. I guess.
The SSD obviously makes for faster loading, but the Ghost of Tsushima upgrade showed a lot of that fast loading could be accomplished on PS4 too. The Dualsense has a lot of potential but is an uncomfortable controller for me. The new UI is fine, I guess, but I'm so used to the PS4 UI that I'm constantly forgetting how to do things or doing the wrong things thanks to my ingrained muscle memory. I got a PS4 at launch, 8 years ago. That's a lot of long pressing the PlayStation button to shut it down to undo!
I know a lot of people are loving the PS5. Those who sold their PS4s or don't have an Xbox or just don't play as many different games so don't worry about swapping stuff on the small hard drive are probably having a blast. I don't dislike it and I'm not sorry I bought it. There's a ton I'm looking forward to. But to me it's a machine that I had a lot of fun with off the bat and just haven't been using recently. I'm waiting for some exclusive or something that just looks amazing on it, or does something great with the Dualsense to come along and wow me. Until then I've got plenty to play on my other systems and I'm still using my PS4 a fair amount and even my PS3 has seen play this year. I'm good for games. Maybe if I didn't have so many systems and such a massive backlog I would have focused more on the PS5 and tried the Ghost of Tsushima expansion or the director's cut of Death Stranding.
I think a lot of Sony machines have been like this for me. My first year with the PS4 wasn't great either. I loved Resogun and then didn't play that much for awhile. But over the lifetime of the system I more than got my money's worth with the great exclusives, fantastic indie titles, and those sweet sweet deep cut PSN sales. When PSVR 2 launches I hope to snag that and I'm excited to try it. PSVR1 was cool but felt like a prototype, so a refined version would be great. I am really looking forward to Horizon 2 and God of War Ragnarok. I love the PlayStation exclusives. This is going to be a great generation and a damned fine machine when all is said and done.
But for me, for the first year, it hasn't been. It's been fine. I've had some fun. It's just been kind of quiet and a little slow. It certainly doesn't feel essential yet, for those who haven't been able to get one. Backwards compatibility means that most of the best experiences on the PS5 are just slightly glossier versions of what's come out on PS4. That's okay. The PS4 has been a truly fantastic machine. I'm not in a huge rush to move on.
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