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PlayStation 5 leans on DualSense to bring next-level feeling – Press Telegram

With its soaring curves and massive frame, the PlayStation 5 looks more like an architectural wonder than a video game console. That’s intentional. The bold silhouette is meant to give players a sense of novelty, a feeling of progress as they enter a console cycle when developers are clawing for new ways to impress players.

The visual jump from the PlayStation 4 to PlayStation 5 isn’t as big as the ones from previous generations. It’s not like going from standard definition to high definition or from sprites to polygons. In the PS5, players will find two big graphic upgrades that aren’t obvious at first glance but will need a careful eye to discern.

A higher visual fidelity

The first visual upgrade comes in the form of ray tracing, which is a hardware-intensive rendering technique that lets developers model light on surfaces. It means you’ll see accurate reflections on glass or fire that glows correctly around burning wood. The effect is subtle but it raises the realism of images to a Pixar-like level.

The second improvement is the frame rate. The upgraded hardware of the PS5’s chips lets gamers play titles at up to 120 frames per second. Players need monitors with high refresh rates that support the technology, but once they see active gameplay, it reveals a discernible difference in silky smooth motion. Unfortunately, ray tracing and high frame rates can’t be used at the same time. Both require tons of horsepower.

The final system piece is the super-fast hard drive. The custom PS5 tech dramatically speeds up load times, to the point where they are almost nonexistent. That feature can change how games are designed, as studios may not need to hide load times through winding corridors or cut scenes. Again, the changes may go over the head of casual consumers, but for developers, it creates a broader canvas.

WALNUT CREEK, CA – OCT. 26: Photos of the recently released Sony Playstation 5 photographed in Walnut Creek, Calif., on Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

The true MVP

While the console tech boasts meaningful but sophisticated changes, there is nothing subtle about the changes in the DualSense controller. It’s the first major redesign of Sony’s controller since the DualShock was introduced in 1997. The new DualSense builds on the innovation of the DualShock 4 with the built-in speaker, touchpad and share button, but it comes packed with game-changing technology that elevates the experience to the next level.

The biggest change is in the adaptive triggers. It’s a type of force feedback that creates tension when players pull on the main shoulder buttons. It’s akin to the resistance that players feel when fighting the steering wheel during an arcade race game. The extra feedback comes into play when players pull the string back on a bow to shoot an arrow or get the recoil from firing a gun.

It’s a magical feeling and shifts the weight of the DualSense. At times, it can feel heavy when the triggers are tight, or it can feel lighter when the shoulder buttons are looser. It’s an invention that’s worth celebrating and adds needed immersion.

Along with that, Sony added a microphone and better haptics to the controller. The microphone introduces minor value to games, depending on how well the processor can understand voice controls, but the improved rumble in the controller conveys more of what’s going on the screen. It’s a smidge better than what Nintendo did with the Joy-Con’s HD Rumble.

Sony preloaded “Astro’s Playroom” on the PS5 and the short but sweet platformer is the perfect showcase for the system. It highlights the fine force feedback that the DualSense can give off by replicating the feel of rain drops hitting an umbrella. It uses the adaptive triggers with a bow and arrow and machine gun, showing how developers adjust to the feel of a weapon. It even highlights the motion controls that are available but are infrequently used.

Meanwhile, “Astro’s Playroom” shows off a tiny bit of the PS5’s graphic prowess. The visuals don’t jump off the screen, but fans will appreciate the references and Easter eggs focused on PlayStation’s history. It’s a neat homage to the whole brand.

“Astro’s Playroom” is a platformer that comes preloaded with every PlayStation 5. It shows off the promise of Sony’s new video game consol. (Sony Interactive Entertainment)

Sound decision?

When it comes to sound, Sony takes an interesting approach by funneling the audio through its Tempest Engine chip. Players don’t have to worry about  different surround standards such as Dolby or DTS because much of that info is processed through that chip. At the same time, though, it may not play as nicely for those with certain speaker setups. Ideally, games should be experienced with headphones because the chip is tuned for those devices at the moment. Receivers, soundbars and others setups will likely get support.

The 3D audio adds more detail to the soundscape. It has a layered effect: Players can hear the chatter in a crowd through the roar of cars of a New York street. Again, it’s subtle, but the tricks add to the immersion and sense of place.

On the software side, Sony cleans up and refines the user interface. Taking screenshots and video are more transparent as player see the picture or video after its taken. The company added cards to the UI that helps guide players through achievements or other activities. These are fine improvements, but the one place that the PS5 is lacking is in the integration with smartphones.

Sony made the strange decision to separate the remote play, messaging and main app functions on smartphones a few months back. Thankfully, the company has reversed course and folded messaging back into the main app, but the remote app still functions separately. It’s not as intuitive as its rivals nor does it provide the same functionality. It’s needed for gamers who want to play when the TV is occupied by another household member.

Although it’s not as robust as the Xbox version, the PlayStation app has two features going for it. The first is that players can buy games from the app and see it downloaded to the PS5. The other benefit is that players can run a voice chat off the phone making it easier to talk to their friends in a private group. Those are simple quality of life improvements but they ultimately make a big difference for players who had to fiddle through years of a cumbersome PS4 interface.

The only drawback for the system is how it handles backward compatibility. Unlike the Xbox Series X, the PlayStation family of consoles doesn’t have a uniform architecture, and because of years of using different chipsets, the PS5 won’t support PS3 games or discs released earlier. Thankfully, it does support most PlayStation 4 releases.

With a handful of great launch titles that include “Spider-Man: Miles Morales” (see our review), players will have the content that takes advantage of the DualSense and PS5. For those with the PlayStation Plus service, they’ll also have access to the PlayStation Plus Collection, which comes with 18 top PS4 titles, some of which benefit from the new hardware. “Days Gone” is one that gets massive boost.

The PS5’s vision of the next generation doubles down on and refines what made its past console so great while adding innovations that will undoubtedly be adopted by others.


PlayStation 5

3½ stars out of 4

Release date: Nov. 12

Price: $499 (standard edition), $399 (digital edition)

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