Photo: Zak Wheeler
Time for a quick debrief before we kick this off the ground.
I am no professional when it comes to gaming and therefore can offer nothing of substance if you are seeking a deep dive into the specifications of each console.
What I can say for certain though is that I am up to the task of smashing these two beefcakes against each other to see which breaks first.
I’ve grabbed each PlayStation with a copy of Ratchet & Clank. Over the course of playing each for about a week, I’ve had time to appreciate the subtle differences between each so by the end of this article you can hopefully make a swift choice in upgrading your current gaming arrangement.
The size of these consoles are going to have an impact on the judgement of any aesthetic-oriented gamer, PlayStation has a penchant for going bigger, and bigger, and bigger. These consoles show the new technology underneath the hood by gaining a couple of kilograms between each release.
Since its launch in 2013, the PS4 has gained various new and special editions. The physical, quasi-upgrades within the PS4 family creates a user-friendly mosh pit of options if you’re looking for the perfect console tailored to you.
The PS5 on the other hand is still so fresh that all we’ve got is the big tree trunk (with or without the disc slot - that’s the twist!). It comes exclusively in white, bold in any living room. The console also requires a stand to operate in any position. It’s a simple coin-screw operation, but it’s unfortunate and feels lacking.
Sony chose to redesign and rebrand their controller between the PS4 and PS5, signifying the first leap from their trademark DualShock controller since the PS1. DualSense on the PS5 is jam packed with new features which leave the DualShock significantly underperforming in most aspects.
The PS5’s DualSense takes a majority of its cues from the DualShock, with everything from the touchpad, to the lightbar included. Most bonus features boasted by the DualSense are its haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. These two features may not seem exciting, but the enhancement these features provide to gameplay is immediately noticeable and much more exploited by developers than the untapped potential of the touchpad.
Haptic feedback, promoted by some as HD Rumble, upgrades the vibration systems inside the controller. This allows bombs to rumble your palms to their core and silence pistols with muted recoil. With these new features come consequences and responsibility in the forms of extra weight and significantly reduced battery life.
The DualSense is a highly superior version of the DualShock with infinitely brighter horizons, but as with the PS5 itself, the product is still so new that you will have to learn to love a white controller. There are red and blue variations of the DualSense available separately should you need a second controller.
Virtual Reality is where the PS4 can truly flex on the PS5, as there’s currently a pretty significant difference in these systems’ VR capabilities. You see, the PS5 doesn’t have one yet, and on top of that, the PS4 VR add-on has been significantly discounted over the years.
Photo: Zak Wheeler
People tend to fall in love with games, the console is just a bonus.
I’ll be honest, the PS5 is a thief. According to Playstation, about 99 per cent of the PS4’s library (bar the fancy VR stuff) is playable on the PS5 thanks to the system’s backwards compatibility. Backwards compatibility is not included in the PS4, and boy does it suffer from this.
It’s a blessing that the PS5 has this feature built into it, as its own library is still severely malnourished. With the pandemic shutting down the world last year, there was a tremendous loss of productivity. This crippled the launch of the PS5, but it also had a severe ripple effect on the launch window line-up of games.
The PS4 may be aging with limited games releasing in the near, or even distant future, but that doesn’t discredit the achievements it has already made. The PS4 has one of the best game libraries available for any system.
The PS4 was a run-of-the-mill pre-order deal. I walked myself into my nearest gaming store and I said to them, “I want a shiny new PS4.”
I made the deposit and came back a couple of months later. It hurt me to fork over roughly $700 on the day for the console along with a couple of games, but what mattered most was that I was on the cutting edge of technology, and I wasn’t going to be left out of online gaming debates..
As of today, the PS4 can go for a greatly reduced $300 for the base model or the Slim, and around $400 for the Pro.
And for PS5, I went straight onto the internet… I gave $1,599 due to the severe stock shortages with the system. In a perfect world, there would be stock and I could’ve snagged this thing at retail for $600 (digital version) or $750 for a disk version, the only difference between models being the physical ability to purchase games while the digital version relies exclusively on digital downloads.
This is always the most noticeable difference you’ll have between consoles. Are you about to be paying double or triple digits for your games?
The PS4, with its games ranging between eight days old and eight years old, are cheap across the board. These games typically go for around $20-$60, regardless of how old or new. It’s exactly the kind of steal you’d expect from a console that has entered its fire sale era.
The PS5 wants you to know how new it is. Out here with its fancy, cutting-edge capabilities and prominent hype, pay the mandatory $110-$130 price tag of this little gangster.
The price of controllers has not shifted much between generations.
The DualShock can be purchased for around $99 brand new, but second-hand goods can go for as little as $40 online.
The DualSense controller is $119 basically everywhere, even in preowned markets you’ll be hard-pressed to find any real bargains.
The PlayStation 4 is great, with an impressive library of time-tested games, at some impressive price points. The wealth of the past is becoming of this console, with its masses of special editions, different models, and cheap games. If you don’t care what other people are doing and just want to have a good time this is the one for you.
The PlayStation 5 on the other hand is the complete opposite. This system relies on its backwards compatibility with the PS4 to substitute for a weak launch line-up. The price of this thing is ridiculous if you can’t find one in stock (which is still a real problem).
Customisation and individualisation are severely lacking as of yet, but if you just want to play games and stay with the times, this is the one for you.
After weighing up the pros and cons of each console, I have decided which is worth the investment if you had to decide right now… The PlayStation 5!