The PlayStation 5 may be the most anticipated video game console in history and, putting aside a disastrous launch that has been plagued by price-gouging scalpers, delivery thefts and elaborate scams, Sony has largely exceeded expectations. Boasting a cutting-edge chipset and revolutionary solid-state drive, or SSD, the PS5 is uniquely capable of delivering a gaming experience characterized by breathtaking graphical fidelity, buttery smooth performance and near-instant load times. And the PS5’s backward compatibility allows the PS4’s entire catalogue of stellar games to be playable at launch.
Perhaps the most groundbreaking aspect of the PS5 is its DualSense controller. Here, Sony’s design is sublime: The DualSense’s adaptive triggers adjust resistance in certain scenarios, exploring avenues in player immersion, and its haptic feedback allows for sensory communication in a manner that no previous console has attempted. The controller’s built-in speaker also allows developers to dynamically use audio cues, deepening each game’s soundscape.
Though the hardware is impressive, a console is nothing without a strong library of games. And despite just releasing in November, the PS5 already has a robust catalogue. Here, we’ve listed some PS5 games that perfectly put its tech to the test.
FromSoftware’s Dark Souls may have made the ultra-hard game mainstream, but its 2009 predecessor, Demon’s Souls, paved the way for its advancements. Now, Bluepoint Games has remastered the original Souls experience for the PS5, and to great effect.
The remade Demon’s Souls takes complete advantage of the DualSense controller’s haptic capabilities, making the dark, gritty Medieval world of Boletaria that much more visceral. Each attacking blow is accompanied not only by a thunderous sound effect, but also the sensation, reverberating through the player’s hands, of a steel blade clashing against armor. The haptic feedback is accurate enough that players can feel large enemy attacks just before they connect, enabling the vibration to be used as a cue for evasive maneuvers.
Boletaria was always visually impressive, and on the PS5, it receives a magnificent makeover. The PS5’s SSD makes teleporting around Boletaria fast and painless, while its various swamps, ruined castles and pits of despair retain the core design features that make FromSoftware games special.
With the PS5’s graphical upgrades, exploring the gorgeous, gloomy dark fantasy setting is an experience rife with wonder and gut-wrenching excitement for the horrors that lie ahead. Lighting in particular is breathtaking: As players stalk through oppressive, pitch-black dungeons with great trepidation, the occasional break of day through a crumbling brick wall allows for an earned reprieve before the descent into madness resumes.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Like Demon’s Souls, Spider-Man: Miles Morales features two visual settings: fidelity mode, which fully utilizes the PS5’s advanced graphical capabilities at the cost of a slightly lower framerate, and performance mode, which compromises on graphic quality to smoothen out gameplay. In Demon’s Souls, performance mode is vital — timing is everything, and low frame rates can ruin the experience. With Miles Morales, however, fidelity mode is perfectly fine.
A sequel to Insomniac Games’ Spider-Man for PS4, Miles Morales is the first superhero video game to successfully recreate the spectacle of a $250 million blockbuster. In fidelity mode, Miles Morales utilizes the PS5’s ray-tracing features, creating incredibly realistic lighting and reflections. Especially when landing in a shallow puddle or running up the side of a glistening skyscraper, ray-tracing reflections and shadows are a massive enhancement to immersion.
Compared to Demon’s Souls, Miles Morales incorporates haptic feedback minimally, and the DualSense adaptive triggers are used only to mimic the tension in Spider-Man’s webs. Instead of focusing on practical uses of the controller, Miles Morales favors flashier advancements. New York City is coated in a 4-inch layer of snow that reacts dynamically to Spider-Man’s footsteps, and the game is filled with collectible Spidey suits, each of which showcase the PS5’s ability to render complex, incredibly detailed textures.
Astro’s Playroom, which comes pre-installed, is technically a PS5 hardware demo. Players control a tiny robot that runs around the interior of the console, collecting PlayStation artifacts and navigating a series of platforming courses designed to showcase the PS5’s next-gen capabilities. Simply dismissing Astro’s Playground as a demo, however, fails to do it justice.
The platforming is fun and engaging: The level design is reminiscent of PlayStation classic franchises such as Crash Bandicoot or Ratchet & Clank, and the DualSense haptic features make its four worlds (named after hardware components, such as the “SSD Speedway”) not only look and sound but also feel distinct.
Since its purpose ultimately is to showcase the possibilities with the PS5 tech, some implementations of the features are a little too zealous. Players likely won’t want every single step to resonate through the controller; it’s a brilliant way to illustrate that two surfaces react differently, but applied in an actual game, it’s sensory overload.
Astro’s Playground is worth checking out because it not only familiarizes players with PS5 hardware, but also because it builds a charming PlayStation lore that complements existing gamer culture. What’s most exciting about Astro’s Playground, however, is that it gives gamers a glimpse of how developers might utilize PS5 hardware, nicely setting this console generation up for a future defined by envelope-pushing games.
Neil Haeems is a deputy arts & entertainment editor. Contact him at [email protected].