I’ve got to be honest: unless it’s a first-party game, I’ve come to expect the worst when it comes to publishers using PlayStation 5’s unique features. Many of them will talk a big game prior to release, but once you get your fingers on the pad, it falls apart. Titles like DIRT 5 have disappointed me with their supposed support of the DualSense – improvements are on the way, apparently, so kudos for that – while the Activity Cards are rarely implemented properly.
But it’s beautiful when things come together. We’re all familiar with the gold-standard, of course: games like Astro’s Playroom demonstrate how transformative the PS5 is when everything works correctly. However, if I’m honest with you, the support has been so rare that I’d forgotten what it was like to play a game where all of the features work in unison. It’s made my experience with A Plague Tale: Innocence very pleasant, then.
This is a third-party game that totally understands the PS5 from top-to-bottom. Some readers will recall my original PS4 review of this game, and I stand by a lot of it – although in hindsight I think I was a little bit harsh. I always liked the game, but I guess I wasn’t in the mood for it at the time – replaying it has held my attention a lot better. But more than that, I really think this is a game that “gets” the PS5, and that’s definitely improved my experience.
Yes, it runs at a slick 60 frames-per-second and loads in seconds – that much we’re already familiar with. But it also uses the DualSense and Activity Cards exactly as Sony intended, and for me it takes the experience to another level. For example, I’ve been trying to find all of the collectibles during the campaign, and rather than turn to YouTube I’ve been able to just push the PlayStation button and bring up simple, spoiler-free guides to help me along the way.
I even got stuck on a puzzle, and with a quick push of the PlayStation button the console knew where I was and what I was trying to do. Within seconds, I could watch a short video showing me how to solve the problem. I never needed to reach for my phone, which kept me immersed in the experience I was having and helped me on my way. These kind of features are obviously not ideal for sites like Push Square that, admittedly, profit from guides, but purely as a player I really appreciate it.
A Plague Tale: Innocence also gets the DualSense in ways most developers don’t. While it’s tempting for third-parties to slap on irritating trigger resistance and buzz the pad as much as possible, the best games are more subtle about it. So in Asobo Studio’s historical adventure, you can feel the brush of grass against your fingertips or the footsteps of rats. The trigger pulsates ever so slightly when you tug it to run, giving you the sensation of footsteps.
I feel like, when you pair proper use of the Activity Cards with good DualSense support, the PS5 easily separates itself from the PS4. Of course, the immersion of 3D audio, richer visuals, and the speed of the SSD add to that as well. But very few developers are succeeding with all of these features at the same time, and it’s something that Sony needs to encourage more. This console feels truly revolutionary when it all comes together, it just happens far too rarely right now.
What are your thoughts on the PS5’s primary features, and how well do you feel developers are using them right now? What are your favourite examples of DualSense and Activity Card support, and what would you like to see more of moving forwards? Let us know in the comments section below.