At last, it is here! Sony has finally unveiled the PlayStation 5 user interface (UI) in their latest ‘State of Play’ livestream. The 15 October showcase marked the next step in Sony’s staggered approach to next-gen announcements.
The ‘State of Play’ event covered many aspects of the UI and its integration with games. However, the updates to the PlayStation Store are the most emblematic of the new interface’s development philosophy: it is directly integrated within the PS5 main menu, rather than as an app as it was on previous PlayStation consoles. The result of this is immediate and instantaneous access to the storefront and the games available for purchase.
Providing Sony’s highest profit margin on game purchases, it’s no surprise that they’re keen to encourage people to use the service. Beyond that, now that a digital-only console is on offer to customers alongside the traditional disc-based variant, the importance of the PS Store has never been greater.
As for aesthetics, a shimmering bronze and black welcome screen continues the ethereal, peaceful design language that harkens right back to the PlayStation 2 UI. That said, the new features on display are strictly next-gen, but with a renewed focus on refining and expanding the sharing components that debuted on PS4.
As for aesthetics, a shimmering bronze and black welcome screen continues the ethereal, peaceful design language that harkens right back to the PlayStation 2 UI.
Perhaps the biggest new feature revolves around ‘Cards’, which received an extensive showcase right as the presentation began. ‘Cards’ come in two main flavours: ‘Activity Cards’ and ‘Official Game Help’, both of which have been added with the intention of maximising what a player can get out of the limited time they have to play video games.
‘Activity Cards’ are content markers for certain objectives, while simultaneously acting as checkpoints that a player can immediately load into – no doubt aided by the super-fast storage of the PS5 SSD. Additionally, the cards provide an estimate of how long any given objective will take to complete, bringing the emphasis on valuing player time back into stark focus.
‘Official Game Help’ also operates through the lens of player progress. Sid Shuman, who led the tour of the UI, described it as a way to progress in a game “without resorting to a web search or digging through long videos or articles that might contain spoilers”. The feature works in the form of context-sensitive video streaming, offering visual aid for players in a pinch. Avoiding spoilers will cost you though – this feature is exclusive to PS Plus subscribers.
Sharing is made all the more easy by the new built-in microphone of the DualSense controller, which provides a new way to ‘type’ on the console, making text messages just that bit easier on PS5.
The new ‘Cards’ were showcased using Sackboy Adventures, undoubtedly a best-case scenario for the new features given its nature as a first-party production. Indeed, the developer authoring that these features require may not always occur with third-party-published games. Cards show promise, but they’ll be dead in the water without developer support.
Cards sit within the Control Centre, which houses various quick-access functions such as voice chat and screen sharing. While these are both returning features from PS4, they have been bolstered by PS5; screen sharing, along with video and screenshot capture, has been upped to 4K from the 720p resolution of PS4. A significant new aspect to this feature is picture-in-picture, which allows screen sharing and other windows, including cards, to be displayed alongside the main game screen.
The Control Centre can also be used to send captured pictures and video to PS5 parties and social media platforms like Twitter. Sharing is made all the more easy by the new built-in microphone of the DualSense controller, which provides a new way to ‘type’ on the console, making text messages just that bit easier on PS5.
After coming out on top during the last generation of consoles, the company can operate from its own metaphorical armchair. Now, Sony is intent on leaving fans waiting for every last detail about the console, with yet more features of the interface still to be unveiled.[Featured Image: First Look at the PlayStation 5 User Experience YouTube]
Last modified: 11th November 2020