After months of online events featuring real gameplay footage of games running on the PlayStation 5, we finally got our hands on the real thing. It’s not Miles Morales: Spider-Man. It’s not Demon’s Souls. It’s the surprisingly engaging game Sony is bundling with every PS5, Astro’s Playroom.
Join us on a tour of the game’s frosty Cooling Springs level, the only level Sony will let us cover at the moment.
Astro’s Playroom stars the adorable robots that made their debut in 2013 as part of the PS4 pack-in game The Playroom. They later starred in 2018’s Astro Bot Rescue Mission for PlayStation VR and are back in this new game specifically to showcase Sony’s latest gaming tech.
Astro’s Playroom is a 3D platformer that serves as a tech demo of sorts for the PS5’s new DualSense controller. Players guide Astro through a series of levels based on the internals of a gaming console, collecting PlayStation artifacts, puzzle pieces, and coins, all while getting used to the DualSense controller’s unique features.
While I’ve captured video off of a PS5 to show you the level, I can’t as easily convey how impressive the new force feedback in the DualSense controller impacts the literal feel of the game. The DualSense hardly ever stopped rumbling as I ran Astro through Cooling Springs. The controller’s haptic feedback conveyed friction as the tiny robot rides the slide down into the level proper. I felt the robot hit the water. Running on sand conveyed a sort of crunching feeling, while walking through the localised sandstorm that leads to the next area peppered both my hands and ears with what seemed like grains of sand.
The controller’s touchpad, which is in the same spot as the PS4 controller’s, is used to zip Astro into a hopping suit. The suit jumps left or right along platforms using the DualSense’s motion tracking. The controller’s triggers, which the hopping suit uses to jump, are capable of generating resistance. Performing a short hop is a quick tap of the trigger. A longer hop requires holding the trigger down longer, which requires a bit more effort.
I don’t know if Astro’s Playroom looks like a next-generation game. It’s very pretty, but isn’t a massive leap beyond other 3D platformers I’ve played. What I will say is it feels like a next-generation game. The haptic feedback is an integral part of my enjoyment of the experience. That’s something new and exciting, and I’m looking forward to seeing what other PlayStation 5 games make me feel as the console’s library grows.
We’ll have more PS5 gaming impressions closer to the system’s release.