Since launching last month, the PlayStation 5 has received no shortage of praise. Whether discussing the immersion-cranking DualSense controller, talking about the graphically-impressive Demon's Souls remake, or simply exchanging stories about blissfully swinging through Spider-Man: Miles Morales' beautiful open-world New York City, the buzz has been overwhelmingly positive.
And while the enthusiasm is well deserved, the launch titles and gamepad have generally stolen the spotlight from some of the system's more subtle inclusions. Specifically, the PS5's overhauled user experience – which somehow manages to make menu navigation feel next-gen – hasn't received equal hype.
But we're here to remedy that. Having spent over a month with the enhanced UX, we've discovered its evolution over the PS4's plays a significant role in pushing the next-gen experience forward. While not as immediately flashy as feeling Spider-Man's powers travel from one side of the DualSense to the other, the interface's strict focus on gaming – and gamers – is equally impactful.
The PlayStation 5's User Experience Might Be the Next-Gen Console's MVP
Photo Credit: PS Blog
Right out of the gate, it's obvious the UX is going for a more streamlined, intuitive approach. Beginning with the home screen, players have quick, easy access to their library. Shelving arbitrary distractions for dedicated widgets for all your installed games, the screen offers immediate access to news, videos, activities, DLC, and anything else related to the chosen title. Of course, you can also just dive in and begin playing.
Scroll passed your currently installed games, and you'll navigate a straightforward path to your entire library. Every single physical and digital title you own, as well as those accessed via PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now, are just a click away. If you do prefer a bit more content on your screen – unrelated to your personal library – the “Explore” widget is happy to cast a much wider net.
The PS5's home screen nicely refines and polishes what already worked pretty well on the PS4. The Control Center, however, takes things several steps further, adding a number of new, welcome features. Press the PlayStation button during gameplay, and an eye-pleasing row of Activity cards fills the bottom of the screen.
Displaying everything from in-game goals and objectives to optional challenges and critical path missions, the cards allow you to dive deeper into your current game while its action remains paused. Click any of the cards, and additional info – detailed descriptions, progress tracking, sub-objectives, completion rewards – is immediately displayed.
Some games even allow you to jump into the chosen Activity's location, while offering a helpful estimate on how long it'll take to complete. PlayStation Plus members can take the Activities feature even further, accessing official tips, hints, and videos that can be selected and actually pinned to the right or left of your active gameplay screen.
Photo Credit: PS Blog
The latter is a fantastic option, especially when seeking a bit of real-time assistance with one of Demon's Souls difficult stretches. The Activity bar also hosts any recently captured screens or videos. With a few simple clicks, you can access your content, edit it up, and share it with your friends.
Of course, the new Create button is where the PS5's focus on intuitive content sharing begins. Pressing it calls up options to snap a screenshot, start a new recording, or save recent gameplay. You can also begin a broadcast and mess with more granular settings – like resolution and file types – from here.
Captured content can be uploaded to friends or social media right away, or you can take a bit of time to edit and polish it. You can also type in messages or use the controller mic's text-to-talk feature to spell them out. Whether you're a seasoned influencer or casual content creator, editing and sharing screens and videos is an incredibly simple and fun process on the PS5.
Standout inclusions like Activities and Create prove Sony's put as much thought into the PS5's UX as it has its controller and polygon-pushing innards, but even more mundane interface elements benefit from the enhanced experience.
The Control Center, for example, also hosts other, welcome functions, like the ability to quickly switch between recently played games, monitor downloads, access your profile, and check if your friends are online. This can all be handled from the home screen but, amazingly, also from within a game – meaning you needn't interrupt the action to monitor and manage less important stuff.
It's this sort of seamless, organic integration that makes the UX one of the PS5's best, but most underappreciated features. In fact, the greatest compliment we can pile on its smart, unobtrusive evolution is that it's so well implemented, it's easy to forget it exists.