It’s been seven long years since Sony released the PlayStation 4, which landed with HD graphics, a sleek new look, and an expansive roster of games. Now the Japanese tech giants are back with another monumental piece of hardware that is set to once again revolutionise how we play games, consume media and communicate with fellow players.
The PlayStation 5 is releasing in the UK on November 19, and has already become one of the must-have gadgets of the decade. Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski already has one, and his decision-making abilities are usually on point.
And yes, we know Microsoft is releasing the equally powerful Series X this month too. There's a big decision to be made, so Esquire has spent the past few weeks playing around with the PS5, testing the limits of the long-awaited next-gen colossus. And we reckon this will be the best £449 you’ll spend this year.
PS5 Review: Design
The PlayStation 5 has come a long way from the unremarkable, grey box the original console sported back in 1995, but Sony clearly wants to focus on aesthetics in 2020.
The PS5 is massive and futuristic-looking – a design choice that has divided gamers on social media – but it's also everything you'd want from an uber-powered games console of the future.
It’s a big beast, with the white, outer shell surprisingly measuring a little bit bigger than our Springer-Spaniel. We recommend standing it tall on its end if you can for the full flex. It's also absurdly heavy, so if you're balancing it on a thin shelf or have kids/dogs running around your TV set-up, it's best to keep it somewhere sturdy to stop it falling.
Whatever the case may be, the PS5 is a towering centrepiece – so if you like shiny, expensive-looking tech in your home, the new PlayStation ticks all those boxes.
PlayStation 5 Review: Performance And Graphics
Arguably the most important part of a new console is how much of an upgrade the visuals will be over the previous generation.
The best new feature is something called ray-tracing, a technique used in modern movie visual effects that realistically mimics light in the 3D world, which, trust us, is a game-changer.
When zipping around New York City in Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, you’ll see the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man reflected in real-time in every sky-scraper window, totally immersing you in the world, particularly if you’re playing on a wide-screen 4K TV that shows off the scale of the upgrade.
Pair this visual feast with the PS5’s radically improved audio accuracy of the game-world for a true next-gen experience. If you’re playing Call of Duty, explosions on the horizon will echo across the battlefield, ricocheting off walls like they would in the real world. We’ll be adding a soundbar to our set-up.
It also has absurdly fast load times, launching games within a few seconds to get you into the action faster. You’ll barely have enough time for a sip of your tea.
PlayStation 5 Review: Enhanced Games and Launch Day Line-Up
Sony arguably has always had better exclusive titles that can’t be played on the Xbox. Smash PS4 hits like God of War and Hideo Kojima’s collaboration with acclaimed director Guillermo Del Torro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy) on Death Stranding gave Sony gamers an avenue to explore new worlds made by some of the biggest names in cinema.
And that theme continues with the PlayStation 5, thanks to exclusive games like Spider-Man: Miles Morales – a sequel to one of the PS4’s best-selling games – and Demon’s Souls, a dark, swords-and-shields fantasy game that will fill the Game of Thrones-shaped void.
Sony has confirmed that all the games you played on your PS4 or even PS3 will be compatible with the latest console, so you can volley in some goals on FIFA 21 with next-gen graphics without having to re-buy the game.
However, two games launching with one of the most powerful consoles in the world is really quite weak, and we would have much preferred a bigger list of games, despite the strength of these two titles. Alongside that, you'll only get 800GB usable storage space to house all your stuff, which is not a lot when you realise games like Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War will take up 250GB.
PlayStation 5 Review: Smart Features And Entertainment
The console also has a lot to offer on the entertainment front. We have articles advising you on how to build a top-end home cinema system, and we think the addition of a PS5 will complete that nicely.
You can download apps like Spotify, Netflix, NOW TV, or Sky Sports, to watch all your favourite digital movies, TV shows or sporting events in 4K. And if you’re more of an analogue kind of guy, you can play Blu-rays and DVDs.
PlayStation 5 Review: Verdict - Future-Proof
The PS5 is likely to be the last physical console of our lifetime (Sony has already said the next PlayStation will be all-digital streaming).
But don’t worry, if you’re set up with a high-quality 4K TV or projector, the PlayStation 5 will slot into that hub seamlessly, and you’ll still be using it long into the next decade.
Sony has said they plan to update the PS5 with new software regularly to keep it on the bleeding edge, which includes 8K. So if you’ve already dropped £10k on a super-wide-screen 8K home-cinema system, your PS5 will be able to keep up.
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