The PlayStation 5 demands your attention. Its snappy UI and general ease of use make it a joy to traverse, and the games its offering at launch, phenomenal. This push into ‘Next Gen’ and the convenient brevity that comes with it has not only changed the way I game but also the way I consume other media while gaming.
While I love a good story in a video game, which requires focus, there’s also part of me that likes to switch off and play using little more than muscle memory. To multitask: listen to a podcast while exploring an open world in search of collectables, or complete some side missions. But, if the past few days have been anything to go by, that’s a thing of the past.
Despite a few generic plot points and coincidences in the narrative, I’ve been having a blast playing Spider-Man: Miles Morales on my PS5. I’ve focused on the story missions and the game has never failed to hold my attention, but when my favourite podcast dropped a new episode, I thought I’d take a listen while hunting down some time capsules and stopping some pesky criminals in side activities. And yet, the game just wouldn’t let me.
I’d hit play on the podcast and start swinging through the city only to be interrupted by an in-game phone call. After a quick fumble with my phone, I pressed pause to listen to the conversation. Then, 30 seconds later, Miles hangs up and I started relistening to my podcast, only for the latest episode of DaniKast to play. I couldn’t miss this great in-game podcast clip so, again, I paused my phone’s audio. When it finished, I pressed play on my phone again only to be interrupted by one of J. Jonah Jameson’s rants and, you guessed it, I hit pause again. And I didn’t bother hitting play again afterwards.
Even in its off moments, where Miles is simply swinging from one side of the map to the other, the game offers constant engaging content. While I wanted to listen to my podcast, I ultimately didn’t find this annoying because the in-game content is so good. If it wasn’t, I would mute it and listen to my phone instead. But the voice acting and writing is fantastic. I’m invested in Miles’ relationships so want to hear every one of his phone calls; I enjoying listening to Dani and her guests; Pete’s commentary during training missions is hilarious; and who doesn’t enjoy a JJJ rant? It’s fun and wholesome material that fleshes out the world and never lets you get bored – or resort to outside content.
Astro’s Playroom also made listening to podcasts difficult. I thought I’d listen while getting some miscellaneous trophies and improving my speed run times but I couldn’t do it. The sound effects and music are too intrinsic to the game experience, especially when they bellow from your controller. I don’t know the intricacies of the long-discussed 3D audio but PS5 games sure do sound good. And if you’ve played the game then you know how much of a banger the GPU song is. Even the PS5’s home screen blasts music from your games at you, making podcasts while traversing the menus seem unnecessary. Demon’s Souls also requires your full attention because of its sheer difficulty. Or so I’m told because I’m too much of a coward to play it.
Playing Spider-Man: Miles Morales over the past few days has already led to a congestion of podcasts. My Spotify has never had so many downloads and my YouTube Watch Later list is so long it’s giving me anxiety. Although, I’ll admit, it’s not all because of gameplay. I just spend far too long staring at my PS5. It’s just… there. After so long of it not being, feeling like some unobtainable phantom haunting my days. Every so often I’ll realise I’ve just been staring at it. Even the design is growing on me.
I still have Assassin’s Creed Valhalla to play – a mammoth experience – and I can see me getting plenty of podcast-listening time in medieval England in the near future. Although, the soundtrack for that game was composed by the Assassin’s Creed dream team of composers and I’ve been listening to that score since it was released. It’s still not gotten old and I think I might just want to listen to the in-game audio in that game too, and my podcasts will continue to go un-played.
Even if I do listen to some podcasts while raiding and pillaging, one thing I guarantee is a thing of the past because of my PS5 is looking at social media. It’s all because of load times. On my PS4 I’d quickly browse Reddit or Twitter during that free time. Pulling out my phone the instant I see that spinning circle at the bottom right-hand corner in an almost Pavlovian fashion. I’d click on a game and grab my phone, scroll while it boots and, after it hits the menu and begins to load my save, scroll some more.
Those load times have now almost completely disappeared. Although, my hands have yet to realise this and still instinctively reach for my phone, only to drop it two seconds later when I’m in the game and already playing. The same is true for podcasts too. I used to have one on the go almost constantly that’d I’d play during loading screens and menus but now that time has vanished.
I’m still shocked by how fast Miles Morales loads. I select the game on the home screen and I’m suddenly on the main menu. I click on my save and I’m playing. Simple as that. It’s incredible and this truly is a console – a generation – of convenience. I’ve barely touched Twitter this past week because I haven’t had the time. Those free minutes and seconds I had on my PS4 are filled. I’ve been debating deleting Twitter, a place where people with extreme opinions eliminate nuance and claim everyone with differing opinions to be the enemy, for a long time and I feel this is the final push in getting me to do so. So thanks for that, PlayStation 5.
The extent of the podcast-listening, social media-gazing down time, or lack thereof, you experience on the PlayStation 5 will vary game-to-game, but in my first week I’ve had surprisingly little. The PS5 fills the dead air that plagued the previous gaming generation and ensures it’s the only piece of technology you need active.
Have you managed to get a PS5? How’s your time with it been so far? Let me know in the comments and be sure to geek out with me about TV, movies and video-games on Twitter @kylebrrtt (but not for much longer it seems).