A reader admits to temporarily forgetting he owns a PS5 and complains that it’s because all its games look too much like PS4 titles.
A strange thing happened to me the other day. I was reading the news about Returnal cleaning up at the Baftas and I thought to myself: ‘That didn’t really appeal before but I guess I should try and give it a chance, if I ever get a PS5’. Problem is I’ve owned one since last Christmas, but I forgot and was thinking that I still only had a PlayStation 4. Which I think sums up this generation pretty neatly.
I’ll just make it clear that this isn’t a PlayStation vs. Xbox thing. I’ve never owned an Xbox and have zero interest in the Xbox Series X, which seems to suffer from all the same problems I’m about to lay out but even worse. I don’t say that in disgust at someone daring to have a rival product to Sony but simply because I’ve never liked any Microsoft exclusives, although I guess that may change in the future.
That’s not what I want to talk about though. Instead, I want to talk about what a massive non-event this generation has been so far. The reason I forgot I owned a PlayStation 5 and assumed (for a moment, it’s not like I’m senile!) I was still using its predecessor is that nothing I’ve played on the new machine has seemed in any way next gen.
Oddly, I think part of the problem is the ultra-fast loading for games like Ghost Of Tsushima on PlayStation 4, which completely undermines what is almost the only tangible improvement of the new generation. Sony still hasn’t explained how they did this and why it doesn’t completely negate the need for a SSD, so I guess that means they never will.
What it does mean is that if you’re already screaming at the screen, saying the super-fast loading has transformed your gaming experience™, my counter would be that it’s already possible on PlayStation 4.
The other benefit of the PlayStation 5 is, naturally, better graphics, but there’s really been little evidence of this. Horizon Forbidden West looks great, but it also looks almost identical to the PlayStation 4 version, which is one of the main reasons for my momentary lapse of memory.
The PlayStation 5 version is better but you need a YouTube expert to point out why, while the same is true of Gran Turismo 7 and Spider-Man: Miles Morales. I didn’t get Demon’s Souls and Returnal, two of only three PlayStation 5 exclusives so far, but Returnal definitely looks like a PlayStation 4. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart doesn’t, at least in terms of close-ups of furry critters, but the rest of the game could easily pass for one, especially when you get to some of the more boring open world planets.
The only other thing is the controller, which if I’d been holding at the time would definitely have reminded me I didn’t have a PlayStation 4 anymore. The DualSense is great but, just as you could’ve predicted, while it’s used in all sorts of wild and imaginative ways in Astro’s Playroom it might as well just be a DualShock as far as any actual game is concerned, with many multiformat games not bothering to use it at all.
It’s not that there hasn’t been that many games either, it’s just that none of them seem to be anything that couldn’t have been done on the PlayStation 4. Remember that amazing Unreal Engine 5 demo? Yeah, well, equally predictably, none of the games so far look even close to that.
Remember all that gumph from Sony about how the SSD will enable a whole new way of designing levels, because you wouldn’t have to hide loading new sections behind little cut scenes? Well, that turned out not to be a thing either. Super obviously too, because the majority of recent Sony exclusives are cross-gen, including the upcoming God Of War Ragnarök. So that’s obviously not going to make any real use of the SSD either.
I’m sure some will say it’s all the fault of the pandemic, but I don’t see how. Sony has had a lot of games out in the last two years, a lot. But with possibly only one exception none of them has done anything that the previous generation couldn’t. The pandemic didn’t cause that, that’s just how the games and the console are.
Now, it’s certainly true that many consoles don’t get into top gear until three or four years into their lifespan, and that might well be delayed because of the pandemic. But everything that’s happened so far, bar a few slight delays, is what the plan was all along. It’s just not very impressive.
The PlayStation 5 is so similar in capabilities to its predecessor that I literally forgot I owned one. I hope in the future that will become impossible, but if that does happen I have a feeling it’s not going to be for a long while yet…
By reader Jay
The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.
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