Finally – here’s a sneak peek at the PlayStation 5’s user experience! Watch our new video walkthrough to see new features designed to make your gaming experiences more fun, engaging, personalized and social on the PS5 console.
Note: This walkthrough is set in a pre-production environment, so there may be some minor changes once the PS5 console launches in November.
There’s a lot to like in the new Sony PlayStation 5, especially when it comes to the updated user experience. It’s clear that time and attention has been paid to making the user interface better, faster, cleaner, and more accessible. You can get your first look at the new and upgraded features of the PS5 UI thanks to the video above, and we’ll break them down a little bit more below. But before we do, I wanted to point out one new feature that could be a big bone of contention with YouTubers, streamers, content creators, and other professional “explainers.”
There’s a new function in the PS5 UI dubbed “Game Help”, an in-game tip service that players can click over to if and when they get stuck in a given game. If it’s available on that particular title, like it was in the demonstration game Sackboy: A Big Adventure, players can select the mission or objective in question and then watch a video showing a walkthrough of how to complete that mission, achieve that objective, or finish up a trophy, for example. That’s all well and good for the player since the process makes the PS5 a one-stop-shop for entertainment and explanation without having to pick up another device and Google/YouTube it. It’s also good for Sony because this service is hidden behind the paywall of their PlayStation Plus subscriber program. But it’s a real shock to the system of content creators who rely on the searches for explainers, walkthroughs, and tips to help gamers get the most out of a title.
I expect Sony’s Game Help service to hit YouTube hard, and the same can be said for “Explainer” articles like the ones you’ll find here at Collider and other sites around the web that offer so-called utility posts. But I don’t want to jump the zapper gun here until we learn more about how Sony’s Game Help is going to work. The video above certainly makes it seem like a baked-in video from the game devs, but it’s possible that it’s from Sony’s own PR team (the worst-case scenario) or perhaps even specifically chosen community content creators (the best-case scenario). We’ve already seen how this could work thanks to Ubisoft’s Gameplan.
This so-called “rich collection of community-produced walkthrough and help videos” satisfies a need for gamers everywhere but it also lets Ubisoft control the hub and content that is used to answer explainer queries. That curated list of explainer videos also taps into the community by allowing independent content creators to connect with gamers through Ubisoft’s official channel rather than a general search. While this certainly limits some other independent creators due to Ubisoft’s gatekeeping system, it’s a much more egalitarian solution than what Sony’s paywalled Game Help system seems to offer. We’ll happily update this article if it turns out that Sony has more community-minded plans in the works, but we also live to be surprised; that would mean Sony would either be paying content creators for their videos or taking down their own paywall…
Elsewhere, the PS5 user interface looks more like a dream than a YouTuber’s worst nightmare. The PlayStation Store is now a baked-in app rather than a separate screen experience, and the same goes with the home screen / hub for the system itself, even during gameplay. That’s a nice quality of life adjustment. There’s also a focus on sharing captured media, along with a built-in spoiler warning that will somehow block or censor any media shared with a friend who hasn’t reached that part of the game yet; it remains to be seen how this will actually work in practice. And as much as I dislike the Game Help service, I like the idea of a simplified guide to mission objectives, activities, and the like. But there’s a much cooler addition to the PS5’s user interface.
A lot of the focus here in the redesign is on community, your friends list (which was absolutely borked in the latest PS4 firmware update), and fellow streamers / gamers. If you are playing a given game, you can pop over to a friend to see what they’re playing through a live video feed of their screen; you can either use picture-in-picture to watch and share it on your own screen. That’s pretty cool. It’s got huge upside for multiplayer team games like Marvel’s Avengers or Call of Duty Warzone since it opens up the available field of vision for tactical awareness and strategic planning. It’s also cool from a streaming standpoint since you can pop over to watch a friend finally take down that big boss without interrupting your game. Lots of interesting opportunities here and I can’t wait to see how the PlayStation community uses it.
It’ll be a month or so until we get our hands on the PS5 itself to further explore the UI, but in the meantime, we sure hope to get a little clarification on the Game Help system and how it’s going to be rolled out. Stay tuned!