Sony’s PlayStation 5 user interface could really use some work, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the simple act of trying to turn the thing off.
On most recent consoles, it’s been pretty easy to shut down the device with just the controller. Simply press and hold the PS button / Xbox button / home button, and the UI will helpfully show you an option to power down the console in some way. This is true for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. It takes just a few seconds, and I can happily end a gaming session.
But turning off the PS5, for no good reason that I can figure out, is a needlessly cumbersome process. Instead, when I press and hold the PS button — the behavior I have used for years to start the process — I’m taken back to the main PS5 menu where I’m presented with options like picking a different game to play, checking out the PlayStation Store, or opening a media app.
Instead, Sony has buried the option to turn off the console in the quick actions menu that appears with a short tap of the PS button instead of a press and hold. But even when I pull that menu up, I have to spend a few seconds navigating to the unlabeled icon representing power (you probably know the one — the circle with the vertical line through the top) and opening it up. Then I see the options to shut down my PS5. You can also shut down the console after logging out from your account, but that’s not exactly a speedy option, either.
The Xbox Series X, by comparison, is very easy to turn off
The Xbox Series X, by comparison, is very easy to turn off. You just press and hold the Xbox button, and on the menu that appears, tap up and select if you’d like to turn off the console or controller or restart the console. Shutting down the Switch is even easier: press and hold the home button, and the menu that appears already has the sleep mode option selected, requiring just one more button press to turn the system off.
Turning off the PS5 is just one of many other frustrating issues I’ve experienced with the console’s UI. The way trophies are displayed is a step backward, for example. Instead of a vertically scrolling list, PS5 trophies are shown as a long, horizontal row of large cards. It’s harder to quickly browse through them, and they show less information at a glance. One of my colleagues has taken to checking her trophies using the PlayStation mobile app, which has... a vertically scrolling list, just like it remains on the PS4.
Taking screenshots and captures off the console is also a pain, especially compared to the Xbox Series X. On the Series X, screenshots and captures are automatically synced to the Xbox mobile app, where I can save them to my phone. But on PS5, the only way to share captured media is by uploading it to another platform directly from the PS5 or transferring it to a USB drive.
And sometimes, when I boot up the PS5 to jump into another hellish play session with Demon’s Souls, the console opens not the game I was playing last but instead the Explore menu, which shows news and trailers about games. Right now, it’s showing me a card for an upcoming map in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, a game that I don’t own and don’t want to play. To actually jump into the game I was playing before I turned the console off and the reason I’m waking it up again, I have to navigate one-directional tap over to the Demon’s Souls icon. It’s a small inconvenience but just one of many problems that make for a frustrating experience.
I do like the PS5 a lot. Sony hyped up the console’s ultra-fast SSD for months, and it’s been a revelation to jump from world to world in Astro’s Playroom and Demon’s Souls with hardly any wait time. But that ethos of speed doesn’t seem to be applied to the day-to-day moments of using the console’s UI, and I really hope that Sony updates it soon to make things a bit more seamless.
But until then, you can listen for me cursing under my breath when I forget, yet again, that it’s a short press to get to the power menu, not a long one.