PS5 unboxing – Astro’s Playroom and DualSense controller steal the show

GameCentral takes its first look at the PlayStation 5 console at home, including a preview of bundled game Astro’s Playroom.

This November the next generation of consoles will officially become the current generation, as new Xbox and PlayStation hardware arrives and ushers in a new era of gaming.

We’re extremely limited in what we can say about either machine at the moment, since we’re not allowed to confirm or deny if we have an Xbox Series X yet, but we do have a PlayStation 5.

Thanks to some shipping delays it literally arrived a couple of hours ago but that doesn’t really matter as all we’re allowed to talk about today is the console when it’s turned off and one stage of Astro’s Playroom.

We were sent a standard retail box, such as everyone else will get on November 19, which contains the console, DualSense controller, a stand, and the necessary wires.

Much has been said about how big the PlayStation 5 is and perhaps because of that we were actually surprised it wasn’t even bigger. It’s certainly a sizeable chunk of metal and plastic but it’s not a magnitude larger than previous Sony consoles, as you can see from the photos.

The only time we were a little overwhelmed by its size was when attaching the stand, which you have to use even in horizontal mode. This really does underline the unusual size and shape of the console, although it’s still relatively light and once it’s secured under the TV you instantly forget about it.

It does wobble ominously if you put your hand on the left-hand side of it though, when getting to the disc drive at the bottom, which makes us wonder if the strange design was really such a good idea.

What we do approve of though is that, unlike the PlayStation 4, the PlayStation 5 doesn’t light up like a Christmas tree when it’s on – there’s just a much subtler horizontal light along the inside top to tell you it’s working.

The thrice cursed lightbar has also disappeared from the DualSense controller, again in favour of more subtle lighting along the sides of the touchpad. And it is the DualSense which, at this stage at least, is the most exciting thing about the PlayStation 5.

Sony’s DualShock line might be iconic but even with the improvements in the last one they’ve always lagged behind Microsoft in terms of comfort and precision. As nice as it feels to hold we can’t say anything definitive about that right now but the adaptive triggers are fantastic; game-changing even.

The idea is that when you use them they can be programmed to offer some resistance and the moment you turn on Astro’s Playroom there’s a little demo where you squeeze the trigger and it acts like a clutch (or the old GameCube shoulder button) where there’s clear resistance before you press it down, even though there’s nothing physically in the way – which is not just technically impressive but hugely satisfying.

Even though everyone gets a copy we’ll review Astro’s Playroom properly at a later date but it seems to be a 3D platformer, much in the style of Astro Bot: Rescue Mission but without the VR. The knock-off Super Mario enemies are still there but while they are a bit of cheek in how blatant they are the game earns its comparisons with Nintendo, if only in terms of its playfulness and attention to detail.

The first Playroom was a straight tech demo, with some simple mini-games to demonstrate the various hardware and software abilities of the console and its controller, but the PlayStation 5 follow-up is a much longer experience though and more like a real game.

The level of Astro’s Playroom we’re allowed to talk about is called Cooling Springs. This seems to be a nod to the console’s gigantic internal fan, which is used to keep it cool and make sure that, unlike the PlayStation 4, it’s not too noisy. And while we’ve only tested one game with it so far the console is certainly quiet as a mouse while playing Astro’s Playroom.

The Cooling Springs level is presented as a holiday resort inside your PlayStation 5, with lots of simple platforming and looking around for secrets. Graphically it’s all very nice and shiny but the real appeal is seeing how the DualSense handles, and it really is a joy to use.

Although it isn’t used in Playroom (we used it for entering Wi-Fi passwords and the like) even the D-pad feels nice but the most impressive part is when Playroom switches from 3D Super Mario Odyssey style stages to a 2D style where you get into a special suit (which you zip up by running your fingers down the touchpad) and are able to leap high into the air.

To jump you have to hold down the trigger, which resists and wobbles as if you’re pushing down a spring, before releasing. You use motion controls to aim and the whole thing is just wonderfully tactile and intuitive. We assume the rest of Astro’s Playroom will be filled with similar ideas and can’t wait to dive in further to find out.

Opening up a new console is always exciting, no matter how things turn out in the end, but finally getting to use the DualSense in person has got us extra excited about the PlayStation 5 and all its games. We’ll be able to bring you reviews of all the launch titles in due course but for now our first impressions of the PlayStation 5 are nothing but positive.

The PlayStation 5 will be released in the UK on November 19 (most countries outside of Europe get it on November 12). The standard edition costs £449.99 whereas the cheaper Digital Edition, without a disc drive, costs £359.99.

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