After having plugged in, set up, updated and begun using the PlayStation 5, the one thing that's stood out now for the past few days isn't necessarily the graphics, the weight of the controller, or even the 3D audio effects in headphones.
You have to remember that the PlayStation 4, even the updated PlayStation 4 Pro, sounded like they had a jet engine turbine working away under the plastic covering. Now, you can comfortably sit and play 'Spider-Man: Miles Morales' with its pin-sharp, 4K graphics, and the thing doesn't even make a whisper of noise.
It's bigger than the PlayStation 4 Pro, but not by a significant amount. It fits neatly into your average IKEA unit and the clean, white lines blend in easily either flat on its side or upright. The controller, compared to previous models, definitely feels more substantial in your hands. The textured design on the grips - they're little Xs, Os, triangles, and squares if you look closely - gives the haptic feedback an extra jolt. Sony has said that this haptic feedback will make players feel the "slow grittiness of driving a car through mud" as it happens on screen, but surprisingly, it was in the smaller moments you felt its presence. In one cutscene in 'Spider-Man: Miles Morales', characters clinked their glasses and you feel it in the controller.
A lot has been griped about the feel and look of the controller, arguing that it looks more like an Xbox controller and complaining that its two-tone colouring isn't in keeping with the legacy of single-colour PlayStation controllers. If you've played with the Xbox 360 controller, you'll know that it and the PS5 bear no comparison. As for the adaptive triggers and the haptic feedback, they're enjoyable enough and developers are no doubt already working out ways to have them folded into their own games.
You can easily imagine a game like 'Resident Evil' will use haptic feedback for some terrifying purpose. The adaptive trigger is surprising, however. In at least one game, you can feel the trigger fighting back against your touch, which makes for an unusual experience. At first, you think there's something wrong with the controller, or the game's puzzle before you, but then you realise the issue and simply apply more pressure. Granted, most players usually tend to have controllers and buttons firmly mashed when called for, but it's intriguing to have a trigger physically push back against your touch.
The PlayStation 5 boasts frame rates of up to 120 per second, as well as ray-tracing and 8K support as well - if your TV can handle all these things. Sony has built a graphics system that's years ahead of where most people's TV currently are, so if you're keen to really get the most out of the console, the TV you're playing it on has to be able to meet the demands that the PlayStation 5 is placing on it. From what we've played of the two games so far, however, even a six-year-old, middle-tier TV gives off a far, far improved look and feel. Loading is a thing of the past. Frame-rates never drop for a single second, and the colours and pin-point textures are there to see.
The 3D audio effects are an especially nice touch. A decent amount of players will be making use of headphones so as not to wake partners/spouses/children when they get a spare couple of hours to play. It can often feel that, when using headphones, you're somehow missing out on how expansive the sound can be. The 3D audio effects completely surround you; you can hear a call for help off to your far left, or get the sense of something coming up from underneath you, with a pair of average over-the-ear headphones.
You'll note in our review so far that the technology we've been using to play the Playstation 5 on - a six-year-old TV, mid-level headphones, trying to fit into an IKEA cabinet - isn't what one would describe as the ideal parameters for playing it.
Odds are if you're reading this, you've got yourself a pre-order and you're skimming this to see if there's anything you haven't already heard about or read about. Hopefully this gives you a sense of how it works in normal circumstances, not the kind of focused environment that brings out the very best in it. We paused the game for an hour to check the US Election results, came back to it, and the game flowed right back into itself without even a bit of trouble. We played it for four hours straight through the night, and the fan noise was never once an issue.
If you're lucky enough to get your hands on this console this side of Christmas, enjoy it. It's an absolute blast.
The Sony PlayStation 5 is currently retailing in Ireland at €499.99 for the Disc Edition and €399.99 for the Digital Edition.