PS5 user experience isn't great — Here's how it could be fixed

PS5 user experience isn't great — Here's how it could be fixed
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Released on November 12, 2020, the PS5 is the best-selling new console, having shipped an estimated 4.5 million units since launch. Despite its shortcomings, those who’ve managed to secure Sony’s next-gen system are enjoying it. The oversized console is a technical marvel and provides us with a glimpse of the experiences we can expect from this console cycle.

Despite its innovations, the PS5 isn’t entirely user-friendly. Like all launch consoles, it is missing features that would make it easier to use, especially compared to its predecessor. Like the PS4, the PS5 will continue evolving, with usability improving as time progresses. Seven years from now, the PS5 experience will be quite different.

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This begs the question, what user-friendly features and updates do we want Sony to introduce to the PlayStation 5? Below, you’ll find a list of the most requested features PS5 owners have asked for. To keep things reasonable, we’re focusing only on software upgrades since those would be easier to implement than hardware upgrades.

With that out of the way, let’s dive right into this list.

Folders and pinned apps

This is without a doubt the most requested feature on this list. The PS5’s dashboard lists the last eight games and apps you’ve accessed. This is all well and good if you only own eight titles. If you have more, then you’ll need to dive into your PS5’s library and rummage through your game collection. Having folders containing specific games (based on parameters of your choosing) would streamline things considerably. The PS3 had folders, as did the PS4. It’s time the PS5 got them as well.

PS5 user experience isn't great — Here's how it could be fixed

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Speaking of the library, it lists every PS4 and PS5 game you’ve ever played. We understand most games are cross-gen titles and users are still playing PS4 games even on PS5. But it wouldn’t hurt to have separate tabs for PS4 and PS5 titles. Our game libraries are messy enough, so this small change would go a long way to let us quickly access PS5 games.

The ability to pin apps and games to the dashboard would also make it simple to access your content. Xbox consoles already have this feature so it shouldn’t be hard for Sony to implement it on PS5.

Easier access to settings, trophies, and power options

The PS5’s UI is a slick, utilitarian interface that lets you jump into any game on your dashboard. Doing anything outside of that, however, can be as challenging as any boss in Demon’s Souls. Want to adjust the system’s settings? Then you’ll have to scroll all the way to the right-hand side of the dashboard to access the option. The same applies if you want to see your player profile and trophies. You’ll have to do the same for turning off the system, only you’ll need to press the Home once on the PS5’s DualSense controller to bring up a separate menu on the bottom of the Home screen. If the previous sentence confused you, don’t feel bad. Accessing certain options on PS5 is a pain.

The PS4 allows you to do all of these things by holding down the Home button. This brings up a quick-select pop-up menu with all of the above options in one place. Like other features listed here, it’s strange that Sony made accessing basic options so cumbersome when it had already solved these issues in the previous generation.

Chat upgrades

Chatting with friends is a major component of modern gaming. Even if you aren’t playing the same game, talking with buddies in a PSN chat room is always enjoyable. While the experience isn’t broken on PS5, it isn’t as intuitive or feature-rich as we would like it to be.

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Game Base serves as the system’s communication hub. Through it, you can send texts, create parties, and voice chat. It seems simple to use on the surface until you actually delve into it.

First off, why do we have to create chat parties when sending direct messages to a single person on your friend’s list? All this does is create unnecessary clutter in your recent Game Base timeline. It would be better to pin select conversations or group chats to the Game Base, with one-time messages vanishing altogether.

The Game Base itself could use some cleaning up. Instead of directly taking you to the main party chat when selected, Game Base presents you with four options: Voice Chat, Invite to Game, Messages, and More. It would be simpler to only have the main chat window pop up since it contains all the aforementioned options. It shouldn’t take multiple clicks to enter or leave a chat and voice chat.

Group chat apps like Discord let you adjust the volume of everyone in the group. The PS5 should allow the same thing. Some players’ voices come in too low while others may destroy your ears. Having the ability to mute someone would be good too (though not so much for the muted person).

Video options

The PS5 features an enhanced version of the PS4’s Share Play, which lets you watch a friend’s game. With the new picture-in-picture option, you can pin your friend’s game to the side of your screen while you continue playing your game. It’s a great option that works as advertised. However, Sony can make it even better.

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Since we’re able to do picture-in-picture with friends’ games, why not the same for YouTube videos? This would be especially handy for trophy hunters who watch “how-to” YouTube videos on their phones and tablets. There may be technical (or legal) hurdles preventing this from happening, but it would be a cool feature regardless. In the same vein, having full-on video chat is something most PS5 players would welcome. Like Share Play, you could set the video chat box off to one side while gaming or have it full screen.

The PlayStation store

The PlayStation 5 store is, quite frankly, a mess. The storefront is a clutter of random titles. If you’re looking for the latest deals, PlayStation Plus offerings, or even a specific game, you’re in for a world of frustration. To be fair, PlayStation’s in-console storefronts have never exactly been user-friendly. The browser-based store is infinitely easier to navigate. But the PS5’s updated storefront is somehow worse. A storefront should invite players to check out and purchase games, not repel them with an obtuse interface. Emulating the Nintendo or even Xbox stores would go a long way to improving the PS5’s store.

Dynamic themes

This one isn’t a user-friendly update, but it’s second only to folders for the most-requested PS5 feature.

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Dynamic Themes were a hit on PS4, and with good reason. After all, who doesn’t want to make their console feel more personal by giving it a badass background? The PS5 doesn’t have selectable or customizable themes. Instead, each game adorns the PS5’s main menu with its own theme. Granted, these baked-in themes work well, but the majority of players would rather select their own themes instead.