Sony shares first look at PlayStation 5 home screen and new features

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Yesterday, Sony shared a first look at the PlayStation 5 home screen, and some of the new features that come with it. It’s broadly similar to the PS4 interface in terms of layout, but with a new focus on being “completely centered on the player”.

The 12-minute video below has a good rundown of the what’s been shown so far of the revamped PS5 user experience:

One of the big new features is the Control Center, which pops up when you press the PlayStation button while in a game. It provides quick access to key functions like checking status of downloads, seeing who’s online, managing your controller, and accessing power options. It also includes a bunch of game- and context-sensitive “Cards” that let you see things like news items and recent shares related to the game you’re playing.

One of the more potentially interesting types of these cards is Activities, “which enables you to discover new gameplay opportunities, go back to things you missed, jump directly into levels or challenges you want to play, and much more.” The video above includes a few examples of these Activities cards, such as showing you progress within certain levels of a game (and even estimating how long it will take to complete remaining objectives). Some Activities include official game help—basically, hints or guides for specific areas of game, accessible directly from the Control Center. Presumably, exactly what Activities are available for a game will be up to the developers, but it could be a very handy feature for games that make good use of it.

PS5 also has a reworked party system aimed at making it easier for groups of players to connect with one another, share screenshots and video clips, and join multiplayer games together. If a friend is streaming their game, you can even pin that video to the side of your screen or a picture-in-picture mode so you can watch while playing something else.

Finally, the video showed the new home screen. It’s similar to the PlayStation 4 home screen, with a row of icons for different things, but this time around games and media apps are separated into separate tabs. The game list sits near the top of the screen on PS5, with the space below used to show news items, cards, and other information related to the game in question.

I like how the PlayStation 5 home screen is looking—not a Vita-style complete reinvention of the wheel, but a revamp of the existing PS4 layout into something that looks a lot more user-friendly. I’m always a bit wary of context-sensitive clutter, but the Control Center and cards look rather useful, and designed in a way that looks like it will avoid too much of an information dump.

PlayStation 5 launches in the US, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea on November 12, and in Europe on November 19. Here’s a full list of launch titles, if you want to see what you’ll be able to play on day one.

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Matthew is a writer based in Wellington. He loves all things pop culture, and is fascinated by its place in history and the wider social context.