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The PS5 Is Pretty Useless Right Now, So Please Don’t Freak Out About Not Getting One

Sweater draped over a useless PS5
At least the PS5 makes for a good place to throw your sweaters.
Photo: Luis Paez-Pumar

It’s been nearly a month since the PlayStation 5 launched worldwide, but you wouldn’t know it by doing a casual perusal of social media. Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok are full of posts raging at the shortage of Sony’s new next-gen console (Facebook is too, I assume, but I refuse to log on to that particular wasteland). There are millions of people currently trying to throw $500 at one of the biggest corporations on Earth in exchange for a new toy, and it’s seemingly impossible to do so, thanks to the brutal one-two punch of regular new console shortages—remember how hard it was to get a Nintendo Switch at the start of quarantine?—and a lower supply due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s surprising to see how furious everyone has been about not being able to buy a PS5. After all, gamers are usually such an even-keeled and patient bunch:

As someone who got a PS5 through a September pre-order, I’m here to tell you that there is no reason to stress about not getting the console right now. As it stands, my spaceship-looking PS5 has been near useless, thanks to a paucity of interesting launch games. I’ve used this damn thing for watching DVDs and Netflix more often than I have to actually play games. This isn’t a new phenomenon; launch titles are usually not great, barring one or two exceptions (the Switch had Breath of the Wild, so some consoles do launches correctly). The exception this time around is Spider-Man: Miles Morales, a fantastic game that you can finish in one particularly long session on a Saturday afternoon. 

Aside from that? There are some charming smaller titles like Bugsnax and somehow another Assassin’s Creed game, but the main thing that the PS5 has going for it right now is that it is just a PS4, but better. That means it can run pretty much every game from last generation with faster loading screens and, in some cases where developers included uncapped framerates in their PS4 games, smoother gameplay. Some games also have PS5 upgrades for free; as I write this, I am downloading the free upgrade for FIFA 21, so I can get furious at internet strangers, but with prettier graphics.

The excitement that should come with a new console isn’t here yet, and won’t be for a while. I went on a pre-order hunt in September to get a PS5 immediately only because my PS4 was on its last legs. The disc drive hadn’t worked for three years, it would crash randomly, and I swear that the WiFi card inside the console was about to explode, given how bad my connection had become over the quarantine months. To me, it was a no-brainer to buy a PS5, if I could find one. I was lucky or persevering enough to do so with the pre-orders (it took me about seven retailers before finding one that had the disc version in stock), and luckier still that my order wasn’t cancelled, something that happened to many people as retailers promised more consoles than they could deliver.

But in the month that I’ve had my PS5, I have played about 15 hours of Miles Morales, tried my hand at 60 frames-per-second Dark Souls 3 (I still suck at it, but the smoother combat does help), and also recently started Ghost of Tsushima, another PS4 game that has been boosted by the next-gen power of the PS5. That… is underwhelming, and it will likely remain so for months, given that the next-gen game options are not appealing. (Godfall looked interesting as a sort of Diablo-Greek mythology hybrid; unfortunately, it’s apparently not very fun and definitely not worth the $70 price tag.) 

If new games aren’t your thing, I guess you could buy one to shred it, like this YouTuber:

But that might not be the optimal usage of $500.

There do not appear to be any console-selling games on the near horizon, either. Cyberpunk 2077 won’t play any differently on the PS5 than it will on the PS4, dong customization and all. Horizon Forbidden West, the sequel to one of my favorite PS4 games, only has a nebulous 2021 release date. Same goes for God of War 2: Ragnarok and Gran Turismo Sport. All of the exciting titles that were announced alongside the console itself are still in development, and given the state of the world, you can expect longer-than-usual cycles and probably more than a few delays. (See, again: Cyberpunk 2077.)

So, if there are barely any new games worth taking the plunge for, why do you need a PS5 right now? Why is there such a shortage, beyond the supply issues? Well, it’s something new in a year that has felt like standing still in time. It’s something to get excited about, a big purchase that will last you years and, presumably, fill thousands of hours of your time. I get it. It’s part of why I wanted one, beyond the need to upgrade a dying console. I won’t begrudge anyone who logs on every day, trying to find a purchase link and beat the scores of bots and fellow gamers eagerly trying to scoop up a dwindling supply. 

My only point is that the PS5 is not the necessary accessory to your life that the shortage makes it appear to be. It’s fine. It’s even good. The new controller is extremely cool, particularly in games that utilize its new features to the fullest. Those things will be there early next year, when Sony will likely have another huge stock surge and the PS5 stops being as impossible to find as the newest Nike drop. Games will come, as they always do in the post-launch period. So, relax, maybe skip the next batch of orders that will only make you mad, and enjoy the games you have for now. Have you played Hades? You should do that; it’s a lot more fun than getting mad about not being able to buy something you don’t really need yet.