PS5 console

Geek Preview: Experiencing The PlayStation 5 In All Its Next-Gen Glory

Admit it – you can almost smell that new electronic smell, hear the audio and imagine the sharper visuals from the new hardware. There is very little time from now until the arrival of the next-generation consoles, and we’re excited, mainly because we’ve gotten some hands on time on both, and there’s so much to uncover. 

While the Xbox Series X and S will arrive a little earlier, much of the attention is geared towards the staggered 12/19 November release of the PlayStation 5 around the world.

Pre-orders have sold out practically everywhere, and while we know the games and the gear that will arrive with the PS5, we have not had the opportunity to experience the next-gen console. Until now.

Thanks to our friends from PlayStation Asia, the Geek Culture team was on hand to test drive the PlayStation 5, DualSense and all. Suffice to say, we are blown away with what we have seen, and then some.

Go Big, Go Bold

When we first laid eyes on the physical console and the DualSense, there is no escaping how happy it was to see us, because that console is huge! This is one gigantic piece of tech, and easily the biggest of all of Sony’s consoles, including the massive PlayStation 3. Standing tall, pristine, and white, the PlayStation 5 will dominate any space you plan to sit it in.

The lines are unmistakably sexy, with the console looking beautiful with its white faceplates paired with a tinge of grey. The PS5 certainly looks the part of a futuristic contraption, and the same goes for the DualSense, the brand new controller that represents a leap from the DualShock fans know and love.

The updated and upgraded DualSense is supposed to be hefty and bigger than the DualShock 4 but you can barely feel it. Perhaps it is the fit, or the feel of it all, but having it in our hands felt natural, without a discernible difference in weight from the DualShock 4. But in this case, your mileage may vary here, as others felt that the DualSense was heavier than the DualShock 4 from the get-go.

Regardless, the textured feel with the tiny PlayStation symbols is a real nice touch, especially up close. We imagine those with sweaty palms will appreciate the extra grip that the textured surface provides.

Both the buttons and the D-pad have shed all colour, taking a transparent form instead. The touchpad feels more responsive, and there is just something about the glowing light that runs around it that screams next-gen.

The new PlayStation button is a particular favourite, replacing the round button with the PlayStation logo on it. Say what you may about how meme-worthy it looks, but the black and white aesthetics offers a timeless feel though we cannot wait to see just what other colours are on the way for this futuristic controller (though you can certainly change the look with custom faceplates).

One of the biggest innovations for the DualSense is the haptic feedback on the triggers. Reading about it does not quite do it justice, and feeling it in your own hands is truly the best way to experience this game-changing technology. Let’s just say it engages you in a way that you wouldn’t think, and we can only imagine how creative developers can get with how to implement this over the lifespan of the console.

Depending on the situation, the triggers allows for differing levels of vibration, and more importantly, they can offer actual resistance as you press down on them. It is a remarkable feeling, and one we will go into detail more as we talk about the games that we had the chance to play.

First-Party Quality

Once we were comfortable with the PlayStation 5, it was time to jump into the actual games themselves. Sackboy: A Big Adventure, Astro’s Playroom, and Square Enix’s Balan Wonderworld were our first foray into next-gen gaming, and while these aren’t your AAA titles, they were enough to tease the potential of this console. 

Sackboy: A Big Adventure

Both Sackboy: A Big Adventure and Astro’s Playroom are great demonstrations of the innovations that power both the PS5 and the DualSense controller. Feeling the sensation of walking on different surfaces, such as snow or grass, was a pleasant surprise throughout the entire demo experience. Yes, just walking.

The adaptive triggers came into play, especially in Astro’s Playroom. The much cited examples of pulling a bow gave us a taste of how the triggers can provide resistance to the player. It is uncanny, considering how the triggers are normally smooth when pressed. 

In another part of the demo, we got into a spring suit that allowed for high and long jumps as you compressed the suit. The way the triggers worked could easily replace the visual representation on-screen. It was just that good, as you could feel just how much pressure you were exerting and the corresponding consequence of that in the game.

That very same instance saw us swiping up on the DualSense’s touchpad to zip up the suit, which triggers vibrations on the controller that mimic the feeling of an actual zip being pulled up and down. It’s a small action, but one that certainly left us an impression as it gave us a new way to interact with Astro.

Of all three titles that we sampled, this title was a taste of just how truly creative devs can get at making the most out of the DualSense Controller. Being able to interact with the game’s mechanics in ways that you’d never expect will certainly cause you to grin from ear to ear, and it is most evident in Astro’s Playroom.

Astro’s Playroom

Loading between levels is extremely fast, and best of all, it seems that there were no concessions made to achieve it as we barely even noticed any loading, which is what the developers were aiming for, to make the gameplay experience and transition as seamless as possible. The worlds and characters of both games were stunning, from the environments down to the individual stitch of Sackboy and the metallic body of Astro – this is graphical fidelity that will impress and stun.

Then there is the 3D audio, and a good headset will go a long way in elevating your gaming sessions to a whole other level. Investing in the optional Pulse 3D headset accessory should prove more than enough for all your aural needs, but we imagine even more third-party headsets to be on the way with support for the awesome 3D audio.

For the short time we spent in each of the games, these platformers are more just showcases of the tech. They are excellent games by themselves as well, with Sackboy: A Big Adventure providing that same sense of awe and wonder that has only been improved since LittleBigPlanet made its debut.

Astro’s Playroom

And Astro’s Playroom is certainly more than just a glorified tech demo for the console. For fans of the PlayStation brand, you definitely would not want to miss this charming platformer for its inside jokes, touching homages, and a perfect trip down memory lane.

Rounding off the trio of platformers is Square Enix’s Balan Wonderworld. Since the team knew very little about the game, it was little harder getting into this fantastical adventure. There were costumes to gather, crystals to collect, and puzzles to solve, with the promise of many levels that are wonderful creations just waiting to be explored.

Balan Wonderworld was an interesting yet confusing experience, to say the least, and we would have to spend more time with it to truly understand its charm. As a third-party game, it was clear that aside from the fast loading and such, the game did not exactly make use of the many features of the DualSense. But at least it looked pretty awesome on the big screen.

Balan Wonderworld

The three games gave us a taste of what’s to come, and what the DualSense is capable of. How will the other launch titles in Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Demon’s Souls utilise this new technology? Our Spider-senses are already tingling at the prospect of what’s possible.

A Lasting Impression

At the end of it all, we were left with much hope for the PlayStation 5 and the DualSense controller. Sony has certainly taken a big swing with their next console, be it the design or the innovative features being implemented. From the time we have spent with it, the payoff could be huge if it is embraced by developers all over.

Astro’s Playroom

It was not just marketing speak. The blazing speeds of the SSD, the silent but powerful performance, the impressive 3D audio, and amazing graphics, and the mind-blowing engagement that the DualSense controller provides, the PS5 has all the ingredients to succeed. Sony is poised to dominate for another generation, and based on what we have seen, it would come as no surprise.

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