PlayStation 5 preview: Sony's latest console is a stunning upgrade

Ahead of its release on November 12, Sony has given Newshub a PlayStation 5 to try out and report on what it's like.

It's an awesome console that's a stunning upgrade on the current generation, with a deceptively beautiful design.

The new controller sets a new benchmark for the industry, but the PS5 isn't perfect and there are a few disappointments with it.

The PS5 is released in New Zealand on November 12 - two days after its primary rival, Microsoft's Xbox Series X, which I previewed last month.

After using Sony's latest console for a few days, here are my impressions.

Powerful, speedy and quiet

Now we're playing with power!

The PS5's custom AMD-powered brains can process 10.28 teraflops compared to the 1.84 teraflops of the original PS4. What's a teraflop? It means the ability to perform 1 trillion operations per second. 

Those big numbers ultimately mean extremely high fidelity graphics, so we can now play games in 4K at 120 frames per second, or even 8K at 60 frames per second.

The Sony PlayStation 5 in horizontal position.
The PlayStation 5 in horizontal position. Photo credit: Newshub.

As is the way with anything driven by a solid-state drive (SSD), this is a much faster machine than the PS4 or any current-generation gaming console.

It's wonderful only waiting a few seconds for games to boot up, the console itself to turn on or to load saved games.

Going back would be hard - once you've tasted this speed, it makes the loading times of older consoles excruciating.

The PS4, especially when it got a bit dusty, was a noisy beast. The PS5 is much, much quieter.

All the power inside it means it emits a large amount of heat which you'll definitely feel if you put your hand up beside it. But unlike comparable gaming PCs with big CPU fans, the PS5 blows out its heat so quietly you can barely hear it.

Smooth, ultra-high resolution gaming

All that power translates to the potential for staggeringly gorgeous gaming.

To properly experience it, you unfortunately need a very modern TV. I've been loaned a Sony Bravia X90H to maximise the PS5 experience and it is stunning.

Other brands like LG are also starting to offer HDMI 2.1 with high Hz rates that allow up to 120 frames per second. But in a few years when that's the norm, gaming is going to be so wildly advanced to how most of us do it now.

So what about the actual games?

Aside from backwards compatible titles like Ghost of Tsushima, The Last of Us Part II and Tricky Towers, there are two new games I've played on the PS5.

  • Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales

This add-on to the wildly successful 2018 Spider-Man is a great showcase of amazing graphics, with a fun story and a few updates to that classic superhero combat pioneered with the Arkham games.

Web-slinging through New York is pretty much the same as it was in the previous game, it just looks a hell of a lot better.

You can choose to optimise graphics at 30 frames per second - which includes a bit of the hallowed ray-tracing tech - or opt for 60 framer per second, which has no ray-tracing and is only upscaled 4K. Hopefully soon we'll have games that do both.

There's quite a cheesy feel to this game, even more so than the first due to how Miles differs from Peter, but fans of the original will likely love the upgraded look and truly spectacular set-pieces.

  • Astro's Playroom

As a guy who normally likes violent games like first-person shooters, the overtly kiddy nature of the Astro games you'd think wouldn't be for me. But I'm having a hell of a lot of fun with this.

It's an old-school platformer like Crash Bandicoot or Super Mario that also functions as a love letter to PlayStation packed with little - and big - homages to games from the brand's history.

I thought I'd only play a little of this, but it sucked me in and I've completed all its levels after about five hours of gameplay, but am now doing time trials and trying to find all the collectibles.

That's pretty impressive for a game that acts somewhat as a demo of what the PS5's new DualSense controller is capable of.

The Sony PlayStation 5 DualSense controller.
The DualSense controller. Photo credit: Newshub.

Revolutionary controller

Sony has been hyping the DualSense controller up for a while now and at times it felt dangerously over the top.

Happily I can say that this thing delivers on the hype, within reason. It is revolutionary, but it's also still mostly upgraded vibration tech so some of the marketing words you may want to take with a grain of salt.

Microsoft kind of perfected the game controller some years ago and has only done little upgrades since, including with the Series X controller.

While that latest Xbox controller still has a chunkier feel and clickiness to its D-pad and bumpers which I prefer over the DualSense, Sony's latest controller is the best there is for haptic feedback.

Not only has the vibration tech in the controller been advanced a lot, but the variable resistance in the adaptive triggers is really next level.

These are great for emulating the feelings of pulling, crushing and other actions with your in-game arm and hand, but they also just help represent things like the different surfaces you walk on.

The triggers of the DualSense controller (PS5).
The triggers of the DualSense controller. Photo credit: Newshub.

The touchpad and motion sensors are back, as is the in-controller speaker, which helps with immersion.

It can detect you blowing on the controller, which isn't a great feature, but another great new addition is a mute button. It's just easier to hit on the controller than find on a lot of headsets, plus it's handy for muting the mic on the controller, too.

It's hard to describe how good the new vibration stuff is, but it basically means you feel the sounds of the game you're playing. In an opening scene of Miles Morales, that being used in conjunction with subway train sounds was remarkably immersive.

The one problem with this tech is it not being used. Obviously, PlayStation-exclusive games are likely to take full advantage of this - Miles Morales and Astro's Playroom sure as heck do. I just hope third-party developers also use it, but aren't sure many will.

Time will tell on that, but the DualSense is definitely a great achievement Sony should be proud of.

Close-up photo showing detailing on the inside of the PS5 console exterior flap.
Some of the fine details on the PS5 hardware are hard to see with the naked eye. Photo credit: Newshub.

A gorgeous design

When the PS5 console was first unveiled by Sony, responses were very mixed. It's very different from the elegant, simplified look of the Series X, instead going for a white and black design, huge size and sticky outy bits.

In real life, the PS5 looks a bit different to how it does in those first online photos, at least to my eyes.

The colour is matte white, not screamingly bright as it appeared in a lot of photos. That contrasts with the gloss black of the interior and actually looks really cool.

The coolest element is the teeny tiny details Sony have put onto the exterior panelsand on the bottom of the controller. They're so small they're hard to see with the naked eye, but there's PlayStation X, triangle, square and circle symbols embossed on it.

This provides grip texture on the controller, but on the console itself it's just there for aesthetics and adds a sense of prestige.

The new UI is a slightly upgraded version of the PS4's, with some nice new sounds to go with it along with impressive graphical flourishes I like.

Close-up showing fine detailing on the back of the PS5 DualSense controller, from Sony PlayStation.
Close-up showing the texture details on the back of the DualSense. Photo credit: Newshub.

New set-top box?

The PS5 is launching with available media apps including Apple TV, Disney Plus, Netflix, Spotify, Twitch, YouTube and TVNZ, with others - including Amazon Prime Video and hopefully ThreeNow - set to be added later.

Particularly if you buy a media remote to go with it, which can also operate some Sony TVs, the console has a good shot at being the primary set-top box for many people.

Having the power of the PS5 driving video to your TV will ensure it's showcased with a powerful GPU, so it always looks mint.

Of course, for some people it'll be easier to just use the apps on their smart TV, but this is a great alternative.

There's also a whole 'space' in the PS5 UI for media as opposed to games, which makes it really quick and easy to get to watching film and TV, rather than gaming.

The rear ports of the Sony PlayStation 5.
Rear ports of the PS5 - there's also a USB-A and USB-C port on the front. Photo credit: Newshub.

Limited storage

While there are USB-A and USB-C ports on the console, there is no way to expand the SSD storage - yet. You'll need to do that if you want to store more than 667GB of game data on your console that's accessible at the lightning-fast speed of an SSD, rather than the slow old USB speed.

The internal SSD is 825GB, but 667GB is available to use, with the operating system etc using the rest. On my console currently, Miles Morales takes up 39GB, Ghost of Tsushima 52GB and Astro's Playroom 11GB.

Something like Red Dead Redemption 2 is closer to 100GB though, so that SSD might fill up pretty quick.

Sony says after a future update we'll be able to pop off a side panel of the console and slot in a compatible PCIe 4.0 NVMe drive to increase storage space. This requires drives fast enough to match the internal PS5 one to be available on the market, which they currently are not.

Hopefully they will be soon, but as there's not much in the way of SSD-demanding next-generation games out just yet, there's no massive urgency.

Before then, USB drives will have to suffice, at the slower speed.

Close-up of the stand on a PlayStation 5 console for horizontal position.
Close-up of the part of the stand that clips onto the PS5 for horizontal placement. Photo credit: Newshub.

What's not to like?

There's nothing bad about this console, really, but there are a few things that are a little disappointing.

One feature hyped by Sony ahead of the PS5 release is its "game-changing 3D audio that promises unprecedented levels of sonic immersion". So far, I'm not hearing that.

The audio is really good, for sure, particularly through my newest headphones, but it's not groundbreaking. I should point out that this is a pre-release console I'm using, so some things may be fixed through patches post-release.

Also, whatever happened to virtual reality? There's no sign of a new version of PS VR on the way, which I was looking forward to. Good and bad news on that front - PS4 VR games will work on the PS5, annoyingly only after you get an additional piece of kit that's not in the box. The good news is Sony says it will ship you a PlayStation Camera adaptor for free if you ask.

I realise how petty this is, but the HDMI 2.1 cable that comes in the box is 1.5m. I really do wish this was longer - would've saved me a trip down the road to buy a longer one. Given how huge the console is, it would've been nice to have longer cables to help with positioning.

As is the case with the Series X, the biggest problem with the PS5 is probably the lack of next-gen games available right now.

The Sony PlayStation 5 in vertical position, with DualSense controller.
The PlayStation 5 in vertical position, with DualSense controller. Photo credit: Newshub.

The best is yet to come

The true potential of the PS5 won't be fully showcased for some time - maybe not even this year.

When we get a full game that absolutely exploits everything this machine can do, it's going to be so incredible. I can't wait to see what developers like Naughty Dog and Rockstar Games do with it.

In the meantime, even unboxing this thing is a thrill, getting into the UI for the first time and seeing all the fan service Sony has loaded into it. For people as old as me, this is the fifth PlayStation generation we're cracking into and as a culmination of 25 years of fun, it's very cool.

The PS5 is super fast, has next level graphics, a groundbreaking new controller and comes in a futuristic-looking console with a look that really grows on you.

Getting the little taste of what it can do that I have has made me supremely excited about the new generation of gaming.


Sony provided Newshub with a review PlayStation 5 console for this article.