PlayStation 4’s life cycle will begin to wind down this winter, almost seven years to the day since the console was released. For us in the UK, 19 November heralds the beginning of a new generation. PlayStation 5 is introducing hardware capable of 4K resolution, ray tracing, innovative 3D soundscapes, and much, much more, so we’re here to decode the headlines and tell you what you’re actually getting in this funky white box.
Let’s start from the beginning: PlayStation 5 will go on general sale in North America, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea from 12 November. Everyone in other countries, the UK included, will be able to get their mitts on the next-gen console from 19 November.
You’ll be able to choose from two models: physical and digital. The digital edition does not have an optical [disc] drive and will cost £359 – an enticing price for many. The physical edition, which does include a disc slot for all your physical media, will set you back £449. Both versions will come packaged with one DualSense controller (additional controllers will cost £59.99 each) and Astro’s Playroom preloaded as standard (flip to p62 for more on this launch title). Bucking the trend set by console generations past, the white colourway is the only one available at launch.
So that’s what it is, but what can you play on it? Reader, make yourself comfortable as we’re running through the highlights.
FORMAT PS5 / ETA 19 NOV PUB SONY / DEV INSOMNIAC GAMES
MARVEL’S SPIDER-MAN: MILES MORALES
Setting himself apart from Petey
One year after the events of Marvel’s Spider-Man we catch up with Miles Morales, who, with Peter Parker’s guidance, is coming into his own as a superhero while his mother runs for councillor. We’re introduced to the game via a walking gameplay segment in which Miles attends a rally in East Harlem, his new home, alongside his best friend Ganke Lee (a great character from the comics), who knows all about Miles’ secret identity.
Naturally things go wrong as the nefarious Roxxon energy company butts heads with The Underground, a high-tech criminal group led by The Tinkerer (known from the comics for outfitting supervillains with the latest gear). The rally is thrown into chaos, and the battle between the two groups wreaks havoc on the nearby Braithwaite Bridge, The Tinkerer is intent on stealing Roxxon’s NuForm energy capsules. Of course, Miles suits up in Insomniac Games’ take on his distinctive black-and-red suit and we get to see how he plays.
WITH GREAT POWER
The good news is that Insomniac completely understands what makes Miles unique. He’s not merely somebody new in the Spider-Man suit with the same powers as Peter Parker, but rather he’s someone with his own, very distinctive, way of fighting.
With a single touch, Miles is able to use his Venom Blast powers to shock enemies with different levels of sting-like electricity. This constantly plays into how Miles handles groups of enemies. Sure, Peter was zippy, but Miles zaps around the battlefield like lightning, building up charge and releasing it during all kinds of combat abilities (you’ll be able to feel the hum of the charge in the DualSense controller thanks to haptic feedback).
Miles can: use his Venom Blast to ram directly into thugs and disperse a charge blast; create an area of effect launch blast that’ll hold enemies in the air with static so he can juggle groups; use his powers to perform a charged dive kick from the air or a shockwave; and even stun enemies with special grab attacks. And that’s all on top of the usual web-based fighting moves handed down to him by Peter. And if that fails? Miles can turn invisible for a limited time (there’s a cooldown meter) to outflank enemies and attack them while they’re confused. It’s all here, and perfectly realised from the comics.
BRIDGING THE GAP
But what would Spider-Man be without some spectacular setpieces? Spidey isn’t only about clobbering ne’er-do-wells, but being a saviour to those in need too. After his Venom Blast energy interacts with the NuForm, a series of explosions begins to cause the bridge to crumble. Now Spidey must swing around the bridge, using his webs to stabilise cars. There’s a mix of QTE elements with more manual control as you use your web shooters and move between areas, while more scripted sections see you dive vertically through a falling bus, use webs to bring pieces of concrete closer together, and save those in distress.
It’s the standard Spider-Man life-saving fare, then, but it all looks so wonderfully slick and graphically gorgeous. The shine you see as you walk around Harlem, streets slick with half-melted snow, is incredible, and Insomniac is on point with its stylised designs that strike a perfect balance between realism and comic-book, the purple neons of The Underground mixing well with Miles’ constant flashes of bright yellow Venom Blast.
The game isn’t a PS5 exclusive (it was recently revealed that a PS4 version will be released), but it was developed with PS5 hardware in mind, so you’ll definitely get the best experience on the new console. We think it’s great that everyone gets to enjoy this next chapter, even if it isn’t as long as Marvel’s Spider-Man. Plus, if you purchase the Marvel’s SpiderMan: Miles Morales Ultimate Edition you get Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered, with enhanced visuals and performance, and some extra suits, photo mode features, and trophies. If you like either of the webslingers, then there’s no doubt that PlayStation is the place to be (even Marvel’s Avengers is getting a PlayStation-exclusive take on the hero next year).
JUST THE FACTS
Marvel’s SpiderMan Remastered is a complete reworking for PS5, including adding ray-traced reflections and ambient shadows, new character rendering, improved skies, DualSense support, SSD fast loading, and 3D audio. All of this and the Amazing Suit is yours to unlock.
5 ESSENTIAL UPDATES
The PS4 games with updates to PS5 – ones to watch
CD Projekt Red has been keeping its cards close to its chest for the PS5 upgrade of Cyberpunk 2077. Given this monster-sized action RPG is so close to release we understand a PS5 upgrade is a way off – rumoured to be out in March 2021. It will, however, be free. As will a PS5 upgrade for the developer’s The Witcher 3. Bonus.
One of the best games on PS4 already looks great on a Pro (HDR, 30fps, 4K) but this update should blow the roof off the Oldest House. We’d expect 4K at 60fps, and given Remedy’s experience with ray tracing on PC this tech is a given for Control’s PS5 upgrade. The downside? Only those with the Ultimate Edition will get a free upgrade. We hope publisher 505 Games will change its position.
This one’s another freebie, and given the developer already pushed the boat out on PS4 – HDR, 60fps – and delivered photoreal ray tracing on PC, we expect this PS5 upgrade to deliver the goods. Hopefully Id Software will include DualSense in its upgrade plans, as we can imagine the sensation of holding the BFG and pushing our gloved fist into a demon’s gooey skull will feel really good.
The game already feels like it has one eye on a free PS5 upgrade; it’s incredibly shiny and littered with reflective surfaces in need of ray tracing, and every action comes with a rumble from the DualShock 4, a clear percursor to DualSense activation. Any Marvel’s Avengers doubters may want to keep an eye on this one, particularly with Spider-Man arriving in January.
YAKUZA: LIKE A DRAGON
On PS4 Pro we can expect 4K and HDR, at 30fps (turn to p36 for our hands-on preview). On PS5 Sega has confirmed the update will deliver 4K HDR at 60fps. The PS5 edition will arrive 2 March, and this update will be free for anyone who has the PS4 digital edition of Yakuza: Like A Dragon.
FORMAT PS5 / ETA 19 NOV PUB SONY / DEV GIANT SQUID
Creative director Matt Nava draws a map for Giant Squid’s launch title
Journey and Abzû creator Matt Nava’s new PS5 launch game takes place in a land filled with long forgotten ruins, where giant, cursed spirits have plunged the world into darkness. They are totally invulnerable – until you relight the obelisks.
Playing as the Hunter, the only way you’re going to find or reach those obelisks is with the help of your eagle. Gesturing with the analogue stick, you can pet and wipe away the dirt from your feathered friend’s wings. Nava says this connection plays an important role in giving the space meaning, and reveals the team drew inspiration from the likes of The Last Guardian for this dynamic.
GET AWAY, FLY AWAY
At the start of development, the team looked at Abzû and, Nava jokes, “[tried to] figure out what was too hard and we didn’t want to do again […] We also talked about what was really fun, and what did we enjoy, and what would make it across to the next game.” He adds, “And we realised through that discussion what our [studio’s strengths were] and what our core games were about.”
Equalling Abzû’s wonderfully fluid movement was the first thing the team set their sights on. As the Hunter, your bow and arrow are not only key to defeating the cursed spirits, they dictate how you travel around the land as well. It’s full of floating talismans that the Hunter can shoot to fill her dash meter. Ideally you’ll be dashing constantly, so the central archery mechanic is about timing rather than accuracy.
The team wanted to emulate the resistance of your bow string through the DualSense’s haptic triggers. As you’re drawing your bow constantly, however, the team looked at how to make the action less fatiguing, but with a sense of rhythm at its core.
“You can do a lot of really interesting things with [the DualSense]. The first time we turned it on, we were like, ‘Okay, let’s make it rumble.’ And then it was, of course, super, superintense. And it was like, ‘well, you have to be subtle with this thing,’” Nava explains.
Ultimately they implemented a subtle rumble to communicate the timing for each shot so that eventually “You don’t have to look at the reticule after a while, you just know.” Nava admits that, after playing with the DualSense for a while, he had to relearn the timing on the DualShock 4.
MELODIES OF LIFE
The open world of The Pathless draws inspiration from the forests of the Pacific Northwest, ancient sites across Mexico and Europe Nava visited as a child, and motifs from everything from Islamic architecture to European Renaissance buildings.
Nava explains, “What we were trying to make with The Pathless is this legend, like a myth, and we wanted it to feel like no matter who you are playing the game, no matter what culture you’re from, it should feel like a mysterious, ancient, distant culture that you’re hearing [and seeing].” You’ll be able to experience this mythmaking for yourself on launch day in November.
JUST THE FACTS
The soundtrack is a fusion, combining folk instruments from around the world alongside the vocal efforts of Mongolian throat singing group Alash Ensemble.
FORMAT PS5 / ETA 19 NOV PUB SONY / DEV LUCID GAMES
What’s carnage without a car?
Considering one of the biggest games of the year has been a chaotic racer where you bundle colourful bean-shaped characters into one another in a scramble for the finish line, Lucid Games’ lurid PS5 debut could be the console’s surprise hit at launch.
Like Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, the aim of Destruction AllStars is to win at all costs. Unlike Mediatonic’s bean-bunble-brawler, the way you do it in this destruction derby is closer to the vehicular combat of PlayStation classic Twisted Metal. This is last-person-standing car chaos that riffs on Overwatch’s hero mechanics as you choose from 16 characters and get behind the wheels of vehicles that all handle in different ways.
Simple in comparison to Sony’s usual story-driven adventures, this game impresses where it matters: in the arena. In action Destruction AllStars is pure eye-candy; a literal explosion of flying metal debris and ray-traced reflections. Staying alive takes skill and courage, but also a grasp of each vehicle’s handling – ramming cars will nibble away at rivals, but using special slam attacks can wreck them. To counter you can dodge and boost from danger.
If you’re unlucky enough to see your wheels explode from under you, the game’s not over. Each colourful driver character has a mix of melee attacks to make the fight personal. A last-chance mode of sorts, you can chase fallen drivers around the arena to deal a fatal blow, parkour above the circuits to avoid the remaining racers, and even lure rival cars into one of a track’s many traps – just don’t become roadkill in your pursuit of revenge.
When they’re vehicle-free, each driver has their own ways of moving about the arenas. Some can make use of gadgets such as jet boots to make giant leaps out of danger, while others can parkour to deliver killing blows.
Play aggressively and you’ll power up hero and vehicle ultimate skills. These offensive and defensive buffs can give you the edge, and include character-specific abilities such as cloaking shields or the option to lay down fiery trails to burn chasing cars. Vehicles have specific specials too, including Mr Sparkles’ Rampage mode and Sabre’s move releasing a spinning saw blade that runs the length of the car – attack this one at your peril.
Destruction AllStars feels perfect for a launch game. Reminiscent of PS1’s Destruction Derby, the game manages to deliver the eye-popping thrills we’re promised in the next gen matched by gameplay that just wants to put a wide grin on your face. And then smash your teeth in. And then buy you a drink.
FORMAT PS5 / ETA 19 NOV PUB GEARBOX / DEV COUNTERPLAY GAMES
The details matter in this PS5-exclusive loot slasher
We aim to shoot for Mars. And yet, we may not hit Mars. But yeah, we might hit the moon. So that’s our goal.” As statements of intent go, Counterplay Games’ CEO Keith Lee isn’t shy of his ambition for Godfall. A new game, potentially a new series, launching on a new console, there’s a freshness to this take on the hack ‘n’ slash genre that stands out amid PS5’s launch-day followups, spin-offs, and remakes.
Labelled a loot slasher by its team, the game blends elements of Destiny, Devil May Cry, and Dark Souls into something new. Lee tells us, it’s not a Game As A Service. “It’s a complete package,” he explains to us, making a comparison to Diablo, “where you have a beginning, and you have a story campaign, you have an end game, you can take the loot that you’ve acquired, and continue to play with your friends in the end game.”
THREE FOR ALL
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THE LORD OF THE RINGS: GOLLUM
Is this adventure PS5’s precious? We speak to Daedalic Entertainment to discover Gollum’s secrets – and perhaps some of Sméagol’s
A classic returns on PS5
KENA: BRIDGE OF SPIRITS
Rotten to the core, in the best way possible
Bartek Kmita reveals People Can Fly’s shooter secrets
Revelio! Enjoying life in the Wizarding World
An RPG where you’re up against the clock
FINAL FANTASY XVI
The future of the JRPG is crystallising
Game director Dinga Bakaba reveals why we’ll have time to kill in 2021
Watch this space
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
Every Star Wars movie has been rebuilt brick by brick
ON TEST BORÉAL 47.2: OFF THE BEATEN TRACK
THIS RUGGED OCEAN CRUISER TARGETS THE GROWING MARKET FOR EXPEDITION YACHTS AND IS BRIMMING WITH BRILLIANT FEATURES THAT HAVE A WIDE APPEAL
NETFLIX SCORES STREAMING RIGHTS TO NEW TOP SONY FILMS
Netflix further beefed up its film catalog on Thursday in a multi-year deal that will make it the new streaming home to Sony Pictures’ top releases in the U.S.
AIRPODS MAX: OPULENT AUDIO THAT SHOULDN'T COST SO MUCH
APPLE’S HIGH-END HEADPHONES LOOK, SOUND, AND FEEL GREAT, BUT THE PRICE ISN’T RIGHT.
Aukey DRS1 4K Dash Cam: Nice 4K UHD video, easy to install and use
Simple, superhigh resolution, and easy on the wallet.
Sony WH-1000XM4 $348
AT FIRST GLANCE, you might not get the sense that these headphones contain some serious power under the hood, as this power is hidden under an elegant and sleek body. Its smooth matte monocolored finish pushes the idea that Sony wanted sophistication with substance.
JEET KUNE DO COMMUNITY BIDS FAREWELL TO TAKY KIMURA
MEMBERS OF THE MARTIAL ARTS COMMUNITY — AND FOLLOWERS OF THE ARTS OF BRUCE LEE, IN PARTICULAR — SUFFERED A LOSS ON JANUARY 7, 2021, WHEN SEATTLEBASED INSTRUCTOR TAKY KIMURA PASSED AWAY AT AGE 96. HE HAD BEEN THE MOST SENIOR LIVING STUDENT OF LEE AND ONE OF ONLY THREE PEOPLE (ALONG WITH DAN INOSANTO AND THE LATE JAMES YIMM LEE) CERTIFIED BY LEE TO TEACH. “SPEAKING FOR MYSELF — AND I KNOW BRUCE WOULD HAVE FELT THIS WAY, AS WELL — IT WAS A PRIVILEGE TO HAVE HAD TAKY AS A PART OF MY LIFE,” SAID LINDA LEE CADWELL, LEE’S WIDOW.
WING CHUN'S LINK TO TRIADS It's Not What You Think!
One of the most popular systems of kung fu in the world today is wing chun. It was cast into the international spotlight by Bruce Lee, whose formal training started in the art, but its popularity has exploded since Donnie Yen brought founder Ip Man to life in four blockbuster movies.
LOSS AND NATURE
Leelanau's Cedar River Preserve provides peace and perspective.
Home electronics – Buy Once, Cry Once
PART 2. In my previous column (Buy Once, Cry Once), I considered areas in your A/V budget where you should consider splurging when building a system. The categories I listed—projection screens, amplifiers, speakers—are ones that can provide years of enjoyment, but don’t see regular or major upgrades. I also covered categories like subwoofers that have a real impact on a system’s overall performance, and ones like pre-wiring that can strongly affect a system’s future serviceability.
Whether you fall into the “all well-designed amps sound the same when used within their limits” camp or the “amp selection is critical” army of true believers, it’s arguable that prior to the turn of the millennium amps designed for high-performance audio had fallen into a rut.