Today we had the opportunity to get a PS5 hands on, in Auckland. Personally Sydney would have been handy, but you know Covid year, travel restrictions and, well, stuff. However while the team was otherwise engaged occasional contributor Nick (@ngunsnz on Twitter) stepped in and had a very nice morning indeed.
Thanks to PlaystationNZ for giving us the opportunity. Over to you, Nick.
The PS5 hands On Experience.
Today I was fortunate enough to go hands on with the PS5 at a private location in Auckland. After a quick temperature check and COVID-19 App sign-in I got a brief introduction. Then it was time, for hands on with the Dualsense controller and PS5, along with an hour inside Astros Playroom.
The PS5 Console
We know the PS5 is big, and love it or hate it, makes a statement. Upon first sitting down for my hour long session I took a good look around the console. I wasn’t able to take many photos of the console close up, but I must say it grew on me. The contrast of the glossy black core with the matte white ‘fins’ embossed with the micro PlayStation symbols has a true sense of next gen. It’s bold, its big and beautiful? It ran near silent and was not noticeably hot after my hour session in Astro’s Playroom. So hopefully PS4Pro fans can have a sigh of relief.
I’ll get the game out of the way first as it left me the least surprised, but still impressed. Besides, wanting to check out more, but the controller was the real star of the show here.
The demo started with a quick controller intro before launching into the ‘Cooling Springs’ one of the 4 main worlds inside of Astro’s Playroom. Think of Astro’s Playroom as a free, pre-installed tech demo built to show off all the new features of the DualSense controller. Along with showcasing some crisp details and impressive load speeds, it out as it plays like a very competent platformer. With some awesome attention to detail, nice easter eggs, and nods to previous PlayStation nostalgia around every corner.
Without wanting to ruin any surprises expect to see some very familiar PlayStation faces in really creative ways riddled throughout the multiple levels. Each area has great attention to detail and the puzzles where crafted to really make use of all features of the DualSense controller.
From pulling a bungee cord and feeling the tension slowly build up until it rips out, or winding up a spring and letting it go, running through a sand storm on a beach to gliding across frosty ice peaks every surface, and every lever had a unique feel that the controller was able to get across in truly impressive ways. The subtle rumbles of walking across a glass floor to the mushy crunch of walking across sand all the way to a sharp feeling of walking across a strong metal floor. Astro’s Playroom is varied and from the levels and areas available in the demo filled with some great details.
There are some great surprises I won’t spoil. I can easily see myself coming back to Astros Playroom once the packed launch window is behind me. To find all the hidden secrets and marvel at the room filled with nearly 30 insanely detailed pieces of previous PlayStation hardware. Each with interactive start up buttons, disc eject buttons and classic start up sounds.
The Dualsense Controller
Picking up the DualSense controller for the first time my initial impression was really positive. The weight, shape and build of the controller felt great to hold and a huge improvement from the DualShock 4. What PlayStation have managed to do is truly redefine the controller experience. I was blown away with just how much I under estimated the ability of the controller to add to the experience. Its bigger, heavier and a lot more sturdy then the DualShock 4 controller yet manages to keep itself from feeling oversized or awkward to hold.
My hands seemed to wrap perfectly around the sides of the controller and leave no gaps anywhere. In contrast to the DualShock 4 where I feel like there are multiple points that my hands don’t make contact properly.
The USB C connection? Great addition.
More defined thumbsticks with a smoother feel and no more grinding on the sides? Awesome.
A built in mic with a quick mute button that, when held down can mute all audio? Wicked!
However none of these come close to just how impressive the Adaptive Triggers and Haptic Feedbacks felt.
Adaptive Triggers are a game changer
The feeling of pulling down the trigger and feeling resistance push back was such a weird feeling initially. I’m used to the triggers feeling like a flappy bit of plastic you pull without a second thought. With the DualSense things like pulling a lever or yanking out a cable felt unique and creative.
I can see so many uses where they can have a genuine impact on gameplay without feeling like a gimmick, if anything I think Sony will have a hard time selling a lot of these controller features as they are the kind of thing you really have to feel and experience to understand and see just how impactful they can be. I have concerns about the longevity of the triggers with how much resistance they can take, will the adaptive triggers lose there strength over time or malfunction? Only time will tell but from what I have experienced in my hour long hands on with the DualSense. Simple actions I am used to performing in games can have a total new sense of immersion and that is something I hope continues to be supported by both first and third party developers long term.
Haptic Feedback adds to the next-gen experience
Haptic Feedback is a feature I wasn’t sure could impress me as much as it did. Games like Rocket League or even some FPS games rumble on the current DualShock 4 controller can feel overdone. Good examples spring to mind like the bow in Horizon: Zero Dawn or the Axe in God Of War being re-called. There many more that don’t add a lot to the experience.
After Astro’s Playroom I was blown away with just how much of a believer I am now in Haptic Feedback. Walking across a glass floor, to metal or a sandy beach or even just a patch of grass. The Haptic Feedback makes each step on each surface feel unique to that surface. When combined with the Adaptive Trigger, something like squeezing a box and feeling the tension just before it smashes. The Haptic Feedback letting you feel the glass shatter is a truly next-gen experience I was absolutely blown away with.
In my mind a controller has always been a great tool to help you play the game. Leaving my session today I imagined how many unique and cool ways the DualSense will add experiences to those games. I can’t wait to see what developers do with it.
Thanks again to PlaystationNZ for this PS5 Hands On.