PlayStation 5 Has a Broken UI But Incredible Social Features

Back when Sony demonstrated the PlayStation UI, I was left pretty cold by its emphasis on social features. It's never been how I play games, preferring my splendid isolation to the twee panopticons that platform capitalism excels in building. It mostly seemed like it would function as yet another place for an awkward conference call among friends, complete with lag, poor audio, and lack of context.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at
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I’m quite enjoying my PS5 so far (what a splendid way to cut down on my Twitter usage), but the UI is a hot mess. I can turn off my PS4 with my eyes closed, but now it’s like trying to remember the Super Password from Crash Bandicoot 1.

I like the features the UI has to offer, but everything is under like two too many submenus and requires three too many button clicks to get to.

Getting to your friends list, seeing all of your games by platform, checking what you have downloaded to extended storage…I feel like I need to make a flowchart to navigate this thing…

Rob and Pat weren’t already PSN friends?

Anyways, this doesn’t sound that different from Share Play on PS4. I was doing this to show off Dreams to a friend last week.

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Share Play is a great feature, but it isn’t a new PS5 feature. I’ve used it, and used it often, while my friend has watched me play through Dark Souls 1-3, RDR2, a bunch of PSVR games, and many more. I’ve spent dozens of hours sharing my PS4 screen directly to another PS4. You just need to be in a party together.

I’m glad Sony is promoting this feature more, but PS4 owners, you don’t have to wait until you get a PS5. You can have a friend carelessly lead you to your death, today!

It’s sad to hear the PS5 UI is such a mess.


Share play was great for me earlier this year when I tried to guide six Destiny newbies through a raid by watching one of their screens and giving advice. They didn’t get too far but it was fun giving people instructions on where to go or what to do. Made me feel like an NFL coach with my headset on.

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From what I understand, the changes here are:

  • Much improved streaming quality and performance
  • Picture in picture
  • No time limit

All of which is great. But yeah, this is not something fundamentally new, it’s been a PS4 feature since like 2014.

The time limit change alone is a huge quality of life improvement. Having to restart the stream every hour was very annoying.

The DualSense having a built-in mic and speaker that are adequate for the voice chat part seems fairly significant, too.

Has there been positive impressions on that aspect? When the Xbox One launched with Kinect there was talk about never having to wear a headset again but I could never get it to work right in party chat.

Rob mentioned it on the podcast and in this article:

By default, the PS5 controller’s speaker and microphone handle voice chat. For my money it was better than the tiny earbud and microphone that shipped with PS4, and better than a lot of the cheaper “upgrade” headsets you can buy. The sound was tinny but clean, like a good phone connection, but cleaner than most calls on an actual cell phone.

Personally my TV audio absolutely sucks, so I use my good headphones connected to the DualShock and miss out on that speaker, but in theory I’m all for it.

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Small as it is, I think my favorite touch/newest addition here is the picture-in-picture mode. It strongly provokes that feeling of hanging out with someone and just casually watching them play something. I’m sure it could also be pretty useful in a co-op setting, but just chatting and playing your own completely separate games is just as neat. And the fact that I didn’t notice any lag or degradation of video quality, kinda blows my mind…

@Navster I tried it out the other day, and it does legit just sounds like a good quality phone call. It’s also nice that the voice of the person you’re talking to comes through the controller speaker (I’m assuming you probably could change it to come through the TV instead, but I prefer through the controller).