The PS5 introduces next-gen gaming and is a massive improvement on the PS4 and PS4 Pro. Sony has taken considerable strides in improving the level of immersion found with console gaming, and it delivers on every step. 

The speedy SSD, the DualSense controller, 3D Spatial Audio and fantastic graphics all combine to create a mighty gaming machine. The console is massive, though, it has a jarring design and finding somewhere to put it will be difficult, but aesthetics aside, this is a console made for gaming, and it delivers on that. 

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Priced to compete

Sony has released two versions of the PS5, the standard version and the digital-only version. Both models are priced on par with their main competition, Microsofts’ Xbox Series X/S. The Standard PS5 comes with a 4K Blu-ray disc drive, and the cost is NZ$819.95 (US$499.99; £449.99). The digital-only version of the console doesn’t have a disc drive and costs NZ$649.95 (US$399.99; £359.99). Microsoft’s latest console the Xbox Series X costs NZ$800 (US$499; £449), and its less powerful alternative the Series S costs NZ$549 (US$299.99 / £249.99). 

Although the pricing does vary by NZ$100 between the digital-only PS5 and the Xbox Series S, it is essential to know that the PS5 digital-version is the same as the standard PS5. While the Xbox Series S is a less powerful console than the Xbox Series X. With that in mind the digital- only PS5 is priced well.

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4K 60fps console gaming has never looked better 👀

The PS5 is a true next-gen console based on its performance alone. The hardware included in the PS5 is a massive improvement on its predecessor, and the results are fantastic. 

It’s kitted out with AMD hardware. The PS5 has a customised eight-core AMD Zen 2 CPU and an RDNA 2 GPU. It also comes with an NVMe SSD and 16GB of GDDR6 memory. Those who don’t know what this means, simply put, the PS5 allows for better graphics/visuals and is faster, meaning less loading times. 

The PS5 is capable of running games in 4K at 120fps, and for less graphically demanding games you could potentially run them in 8K at 60fps. With its current selection of PS5 native games, the PS5 hasn’t been pushed to these high limits yet. Most games tend to downgrade the 4K resolution favouring higher frame rates, but the potential is there. 

Load times are significantly faster than the PS4. Marvel’s Spider-Man is a perfect candidate to show off the PS5s power. Loading on the PS5 version takes less than a second, instead of the 30 seconds it was on the PS4. And Astros playroom plays in 4K at 60fps without a hiccup in frames. It’s fantastic, and you can see the potential for games in the future that will push the PS5’s capabilities and be playable in 4K at 120fps. 

At the moment, there are only a select number of games that can be played at 120fps; these are Devil May Cry 5, WRC 9, Dirt 5, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War and Rainbow Six Siege. It is vital that you also have an HDMI 2.1 compatible TV with a 120hz refresh rate to display these higher frames.

Games can be run in 4K resolution, at 30fps or 60fps depending on what mode you decide to use. Performance mode (available for most games) prioritises frames while display mode prioritises resolution. 

The higher frames allow for a smoother gameplay experience, at the expense of graphically demanding features like raytracing, which would be downgraded or turned off completely. This is ideal for twitch-based games like first-person shooters. 

Display mode prioritises the resolution, so it runs at maximum capacity. It turns on features like ray tracing and higher-shadow textures but at the expense of higher frames. With display mode turned on, we found that most games sit at a stable 30fps. 

The ability to select modes is dependent on the game, not the console. A game has to support these modes for you to set them; however, nearly all of the games I have played have these options available. 

HDR support provides better colours and games are now being developed with ray tracing and improvements in particle effects. The end result is a massive improvement in games’ visuals, and playing games on the PS5 is a fantastic experience.

The SSD inside is 825GB, and only 667.2GB of that is usable. This is relatively low. With next-gen games taking up between 50-100GB of space. This small SSD fills up fast. This can become annoying if you are the type that likes to jump between multiple games and can only have a few installed. 

Sony has announced that you will be able to increase the internal storage with a compatible NVMe SSD, but this option wasn’t available at launch, and it still isn’t available at the time of writing. And when it does become available, you will have to take off the lid to reveal the slot to install the new SSD. This isn’t ideal as it’s always worrying going into a console’s guts; however, it is straightforward and simple.

As an alternative, you can plug external hard drives and SSDs into the PS5 via the USB port. The load times won’t be as fast as an internal SSD, but it does work effortlessly. The PS5 will recognise that an external drive has been plugged in and the console makes the process simple to follow. Unfortunately, you cannot save PS5 games or save data on an external drive; this will only work with PS4 games, which is a nuisance.

For all this powerful hardware inside, the PS5 is extremely quiet. I haven’t consciously heard the fan whirring or hardware clunking ever. The PS5 also doesn’t put out much hot air. It’s impressive, especially when you take into consideration how powerful the hardware is inside.

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The best controller on the market! 🎮

The new DualSense Controller that comes with the PS5 is phenomenal. I love it. It adds a level of immersion unparalleled by any other controller on the market. 

It’s shaped similarly to the DualShock 4 that came with the PS4, just more chunky. It has a larger touch trackpad and is comfortable to hold. It doesn’t tire out my hands when playing games for prolonged periods due to its lightweight and incredibly well-balanced design. 

Featuring the same colour scheme as the PS5, it has a minimalistic style that looks sleek and feels great. It has grip on the handles that allows for a firm hold, and the buttons are easy to press and are very responsive. 

The joysticks are durable and firm, and the material is sturdier, meaning it will be more difficult to take off the cover after rigorous use as we saw with the DualShock 4.

The controller comes with an internal microphone with several practical uses such as text message dictation, and the microphone mute button is an excellent quality of life improvement. It allows you to mute your microphone, great for when you’re in large lobbies, or someone comes into the room, and you don’t want to be heard. You can also mute the console’s sound by holding down the mute button, which is also very helpful.

It has a brilliant battery life at 12-hours on a single charge. It has a USB-C port for charging, and it also allows for wireless charging if you decide to purchase the DualSense charging station. Much like the DualShock 4, it has a 3.5mm audio jack for plugging in headphones and a microphone. 

One of the best features of the DualSense controller is the triggers, R2 and L2. These are now adaptive – meaning they can “adapt” to what is occurring in-game. Some actions make the triggers harder to pull. When pulling a bowstring or a heavy object in-game, for example, the triggers increase resistance. It adds a significant level of immersion. 

This feature is likely to be more optimised by first-party developers. It would be nice to see it used similarly by third-party developers as they will have to accommodate these adaptive triggers. Fortunately, some of the best games are Sony exclusives, and I imagine most of these developers will accommodate these triggers, as it is gratifying and immerses you in the game. 

Sony has replaced the old rumble technology of old with new haptic feedback tech in the DualSense controller. It’s incredible and is a huge step forward from the rumble technology. 

Walking on different materials such as ice in Astro’s Playroom or a metal grate in Spiderman: Miles Morales is hard to explain. The controller makes it feel like you are walking on those objects, and the result is terrific. The immersion level that this controller allows for is really impressive, and the DualSense Controller is a significant win for Sony and the PS5.

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PS4 backwards compatibility is 👌

Almost three months after its launch, there still isn’t a substantial amount of native PS5 games available. However, that is to be expected; consoles don’t release with a full library of games. Fortunately, the PS5 is backwards compatible with PS4 games and that helps. Every month a new PS5 game comes out, and there are also PS5 upgrades to PS4 classics like Ghost of Tsushima and God of War that make them a better experience. You can now run God of War in 4K at 60fps, and it’s incredible.

If you have a PS Plus subscription, you also get immediate access to the PS Plus Collection which grants you access to 20 of the best games from the last generation. 

  • Bloodborne
  • Days Gone
  • Detroit: Become Human
  • God of War
  • Infamous Second Son
  • Ratchet and Clank 
  • The Last Guardian
  • The Last of Us Remastered
  • Until Dawn
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
  • Batman: Arkham Knight
  • Battlefield 1
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops III – Zombies Chronicles Edition
  • Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
  • Fallout 4
  • Final Fantasy XV Royal Edition
  • Monster Hunter: World
  • Mortal Kombat X
  • Persona 5
  • Resident Evil 7 biohazard

This is an impressive list, and it rivals Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass as you are getting access to most of the PS4’s best games with the collection.

The PS5 also comes with Astros Playroom installed, which looks like a tech demo for the Dualsense controller but is actually a fun and very charming platformer.  

With new blockbuster games like Hitman 3 and Destruction All-Stars releasing on the PS5 there is no shortage of games to play in this early stage of the PS5’s life. 

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A much better UI

Along with its upgrade in hardware, the user interface in the PS5 has been given a revamp. The UI is sleek, fast and easy to use, but it may take some time getting used to for veteran PS4 players.

Pressing and holding the PS button will now take you back to the home screen, while single tapping the button will open the Control Center. This is a quick menu with access to several icons such as notifications, downloads, sound, music, mic, accessories and game base. The game base is now where you find your friends list and make chat parties. 

There is also a switcher icon which lets you switch games without going back to the home screen. This feature works well; however, when changing, it reloads the game, meaning you will be at the start menu of the game you switched to. It would’ve been better if it continued from where I left off. It’s an improvement on the PS4 where you had to exit a game to open a new one, however being able to continue where you left off would’ve been in-line with the PS5s fast loading speeds everywhere else. 

The new UI also introduces Cards. Cards have various uses and are quick ways to interact with the game you’re playing. They track trophy progress; they can load specific multiplayer modes, show challenges, show developer news and a lot more. The cards are functional, making it easier to find information about the game as they circumvent the need to go into the game menu. They are a useful new addition and make it easy to find out what you need quickly. 

The PS5 maintains what was great about the PS4 UI and adds to it. You can still easily screen share, game share, join friends in a game and find what you need. It’s all here just a lot faster and easier to use. 

There are also some streaming services and media outlets available on the PS5. While it doesn’t compare to the selection of a dedicated streaming device like Amazon Fire, there is enough here to keep you entertained. Availability may change based on your location, but I had access to Netflix, Disney+, Twitch, Apple TV+, TVNZ and Prime Video. Some big players are missing from this list like YouTube TV and Hulu, but it provided enough to keep me entertained.

Surround-sound gaming in your headset 🎧

The PS5 introduces Sony’s new audio technology, Tempest 3D Audiotech. This is spatial audio software similar to Dolby Atmos. It only supports headsets, but TV support has been announced as coming soon after the PS5 launch. 

Compared to other spatial audio software like Windows Sonic, Tempest 3D Audiotech holds its own. Hearing audio cues spatially in-game is fantastic, and it adds to the immersion. In Sackboy: A Big Adventure, enemy sounds feel like they’re coming from a distinct direction, and it’s impressive. Much like the DualSense Controller this will be better utilised by first-party titles as developers need to accommodate it; however, playing a third party game like Hitman 3 was also a fantastic audio experience. 

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Check our review of the PS5 Pulse Headset here: Sony PS5 Pulse 3D Wireless Headset review

The design is BIG

One of the most divisive points about PS5 is its design. The console is huge. The dimensions for the PS5 are 39 x 10.4 x 26cm (H x W x D). To put that into perspective, the PS4 Pro dimensions are 5.5 x 29.5 x 32.7cm (H x W x D). It’s much larger, weighing 4.5kg compared to the PS4 Pro weighing 3.3kg. This makes it difficult to fit underneath your TV screen or hide away in your lounge. Personally, I don’t mind the size, but I am fortunate enough to have a place where I can tuck it away. Others might not be so lucky.

The colour scheme is vibrant and grabs the attention of anyone who glances at it. It’s divisive as many people think it is too flashy and won’t fit anywhere in a standard house. And I can understand those frustrations; however, I like the look. I think it has a very technical feel to it. It’s space-age and instantly gives the impression that this is an upgrade on what came before and this is the technology you need to have. The DualSense wireless controller has the same colour scheme, and the overall look is sleek and sci-fi. But it comes down to personal preference.

The PS5 has lighting effects that add to its sci-fi appeal. A warm orange hue will glow from the inside of the PS5 to show that the console is in rest mode and the bright blue colour, those who had a PS4 will be familiar with, is here as well. It’s discreet but noticeable and is a nice touch, adding to the aesthetic.

With its big size and wave-like shape, it becomes quite a dilemma of finding a way to sit the PS5. It may be too long to lie horizontally under your screen or too tall to stand up beside it, in fact, it’s probably both. Fortunately, Sony has included a stand to place the PS5 on if the position it needs to be in is less than secure. This stand is easy to use and feels tough, especially when you have to screw it in for the vertical standing position. The stand will prevent the console from rocking back and forth when placed horizontally, and it comes in the box, which is handy, but I also feel it was necessary. Without this included, there would have been substantial problems. 

All of the ports on the PS5 are universal, which is excellent for those who use Third-party hardware. There’s a USB-C and a USB-A port on the front, two USB-A ports, an HDMI 2.1 port, an Ethernet port and a power port on the back. It accommodates everything on the market; however, It would have been helpful to have more than one USB-C port to allow for multiple controllers’ simultaneous charging. 

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Verdict

Next-gen gaming is here, and the PS5 is an impressive console. It dramatically increases the level of immersion you get when playing games. Fantastic 4K 60fps visuals, the best controller on the market, 3D spatial audio and a new UI make it so easy to quickly navigate menus and play the games you want to play all add up to a console that is arguably the best for gaming. 

With PS4 backwards compatibility and regular PS5 upgrades to old generation games, there is no shortage of fun to be had. 

The console design may not be in line with your tastes, and the smaller SSD can pose problems for people with extensive game collections, but overall, the PS5 is a powerful, fast and sleek, next-gen console that propels console gaming to the next level.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Performance
Design
Controller
Audio
Games
UI