The PlayStation 5's release is quickly approaching, but there are still quite a few details we don't know about Sony's next console. What we do know is that it looks enormous, seems like it was made out of the same stuff as Neo Midgar in FF7 Remake or Alan Tudyk in I, Robot, and comes with a spiffy new version of Sony's usual controller design. Apart from elements that are becoming standard, such as a solid-state drive, more power for visuals, and vastly decreased load times, we don't really know what to expect from the PS5 when we actually use it.
We do, however, know about the PlayStation 4--specifically, everything that's wrong with it. Seven years after the release of the current generation of gaming hardware, we've seen different versions of the PS4 pop up, we've seen trends come and go (miss you, weird and terrible motion control games), and we've listened to that PS4 fan. God, that fan is loud.
With the PS5 imminent, I've (briefly and without a lot of understanding) looked over the specs and (at length, with smoldering irritation) stared at the PS4's menu UI. Here are some things I want from the PS5 based on the shortcomings of the PS4, pie-in-the-sky desires that are probably technologically impossible, and random ideas that popped into my head while waiting for Fall Guys servers to clear up. You should also check out Jordan Ramée's wishlist for the Xbox Series X, as well.
Try A Different Fan
Since I'm already thinking about it, yeah, can we do something about the cooling situation for the PlayStation 5? Yes, I'm happy that my PS4 didn't encounter any Red/Yellow Rings of Melty Computer Death, and if the fan is responsible for that, then good on Sony. But there must be some solution where the thing doesn't have to sound like an aircraft engine whenever I pull open an in-game menu--and why is it always the menus? Maybe chill on the super high-visual-fidelity menus a bit, developers.
I'd gladly take a form factor that looks less like a magic doorstop of books or a robot's idea of a toaster if it'll mean the PS5 does a better job staying cool and, therefore, can be less loud. Sony has said that cooling requirements are the reasons behind the PS5's girth. If it being too big for my entertainment center means it will also be quieter, I'll take that concession.
No More Blocked Scenes
Possibly the weirdest and seemingly dumbest thing about the PS4 is that it's full of streaming and content-sharing capabilities. Yet, its games are full of "blocked scenes" that the console prohibits you from recording or streaming. I'm not sure who this is serving, or why. Is it somehow protecting the rights of developers? Is it just supposed to stop people from spoiling video game cutscenes? Is it somehow a desperate attempt to keep key video game story information out of the hands of Microsoft and Nintendo's corporate spies? (No, I don't think that makes sense either, but we're running out of reasoning here.)
Whatever the answer is, it doesn't work. All the "blocked scene" thing does is make content sharing more annoying. Anybody who's serious about sharing gameplay has a workaround with streaming tech, so the only people being penalized by blocked scenes are everyday PlayStation fans. Just lose this already. It's nothing but a weird annoyance.
More Ways To Use The DualSense's Touchpad
The PS4 actually has a lot of interesting features that nobody ever uses or talks about or remembers or possibly were ever told about in the first place. Features like screen-sharing, smartphone compatibility, and motion controls inside DualShock controllers seem like they could offer a lot of cool opportunities for playing games if developers would just embrace them a bit more. Of all the things the PS4 was capable of in that sort of daily use kind of way, its touchpad always seemed like the most promising--but very little ever came of it.
Personally, I'm tired of the "gamepad" being our main mode for interacting with games. It hasn't changed in a basic sense in almost four decades. If Sony wants to throw more bells and whistles on your standard controller, I'd like to see those bells and whistles get used, and in more innovative ways. It might be tough to move developers in that direction, but Sony sometimes pushes its first-party devs, like Naughty Dog and Media Molecule, to make stuff that uses this tech, and it's usually pretty interesting. At the very least, bake these elements into navigating the user interface--using elements like the touchpad all the time might help developers think of interesting ways to bake them into their games.
Support (More) Bluetooth Headphones
For some reason, a lot of Bluetooth headphones aren't compatible with PS4. Fixing this would be very convenient for me, in particular. Not sure what else needs to be said. I don't know if there's some kind of strange radio reason why this can't happen, and I don't care. If a refrigerator can get hacked from the internet, it seems like a game console should be able to talk to whatever brand of Bluetooth headphones I happen to own.
More TV Apps
I know there are probably all kinds of rights issues and media deals and long-standing rivalries and interpersonal conflicts that play into which streaming apps make their way onto a PlayStation than any of us will ever understand. Even still, possibly the most annoying aspect for me and my PS4 is when I want to watch a thing and I cannot, in fact, watch that thing. And this happens altogether too often.
My PS4 is my primary TV streaming box, and if I didn't work in this industry, it very likely would be my only TV streaming box. So it's pretty irritating when I want to fire up a service like Shudder and find that PS4 doesn't support the app. The same is true of the Criterion Channel, which I'm not listing to be pretentious, as I tried a free two-week trial and have used it to watch precisely one movie in that period--on Xbox One. And some issues make no sense--the CBS All-Access app is on PS4 but not the Showtime app, and they're both owned by the same company. (That'd be ViacomCBS, the company that also owns GameSpot. Disclosure!)
Just, like...iron this out, please. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say most people now use their game consoles for video streaming, and a lot of people do more streaming than gaming on those consoles. I sure do, anyway. Which console has the easiest access to the ludicrous number of services we're now forced to subscribe to is going to factor into my purchase decisions at least as much as launch lineups.
Better PS Plus
I like PlayStation Plus as a program. The idea of throwing out free games and discounts to subscribers is a good one and a way to keep me playing things. Occasionally it has made me very interested in my PS4, as with Rocket League and Fall Guys. But the program could be improved significantly.
For starters, Sony's ratcheting-back of free games seems like an unnecessary shift that devalues the program, and facing off against Microsoft making moves with Game Pass and PC alternatives such as the Epic Store, Sony should be doing more to justify locking players in with subscriptions. In fact, Sony has had it pretty easy with the PS4 era--it's time to get more competitive. The idea of paying subscriptions to access online services is starting to seem less and less necessary as streaming services grow and consoles are moving toward being predominantly online.
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Microsoft seems like it has seen where the road is heading with its Game Pass service, which I've been using and enjoying quite a bit. It's time for Sony to find ways of growing PlayStation Plus beyond just being a surcharge we pay to play games online. That might include, but isn't limited to, a better selection of free games--especially since you can get so many freebies on the Epic Store now, and you don't even need to pay a subscription.
Improved PlayStation Store
I'm no fan of the Steam store, but I have to say that Valve's PC gaming portal does a pretty good job of throwing games at my face that I'm actually interested in buying. Meanwhile, every time I hop onto the PSN Store, it's a struggle to find what I'm looking for if the thing I want is not the biggest game releasing that week. That's especially true of any kind of add-on or side content. Dashboard themes are kind of a big deal for PS4 and yet finding one on the store is always an annoying undertaking.
The whole system could use work from a discoverability standpoint. Sony spent this generation housing great indie games on its store, and I want better ways of finding them. It's basically impossible to pop onto Steam without buying some stupid game for a ridiculous price; what I want from PS5 is a more curated take on that, surfacing games that are similar to the games I like, and showing me the off-beat, interesting things that make the console stand apart as a platform. PS4 built up a lot of goodwill as an indie showcase over the last seven years, and I want to see that leveraged going forward to bring me more small, weird games, and not just the latest AAA open-world snoozer.
Fix The Dashboard UI
I'll say one thing for the PS4 dashboard: At least it's not the Xbox One dashboard. But it's still ugly and irritating to navigate. I routinely fire up one app when I mean to start another because some icons look pretty much the same. I hate not having full control to delete programs that Sony shunted onto my machine that I have no interest in, like the Playroom, the PlayStation Now app, or the Media Player. It's also annoying to get into the console's settings and mess with things.
First and foremost, let's get rid of this horizontal scroll idea, since most of the screen is filled with information that's not especially useful. When I want to click into a game and find its digital manual or see who's got what Trophies, I'll do that, but 99 times out of 100, I don't care about any of the information the PS4 currently displays on screen as I'm scrolling through my library. In the meantime, let's get a well-organized grid of games that I can separate out by various criteria, including genre. And I don't know who in games needs to hear this, but horror is a genre and I want a way to see all the horror games quickly and easily, at all times and on all platforms, please.
Give Me Real, Actual Backward Compatibility
Look, I know. All the old consoles used different hardware. Some of the software or chipsets or whatever are owned by third parties. Backward compatibility is often a pain for old games.
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Technical struggles are understandable, but by the same token, we're now entering our fifth generation of PlayStation consoles and I've owned all of them. I have PS2 discs in my entertainment center, I have digital PS3 games on my PSN account, and I have PSX games on my PlayStation Vita. If I can play Chrono Trigger on Vita, why not on PS5? Why not Resident Evil 3? Why not Metal Gear Solid 2? We're talking about PS5 backward compatibility for PS4 games, but what about all the other games that came before and that are available on PlayStation's digital store but only available to play on a random past console?
More than anything, what I want from my PS5, at the very least, is full access to the digital games I've bought for PlayStation--any PlayStation. If I can access all my years of PlayStation games in one place, I'll gladly shell out for a new console.
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