PlayStation5: First Major Update Arrives… Finally
Sony addresses an important problem, plenty of additions and changes coming too
Like every modern home entertainment system of the last decade or so, the PlayStation5 has already been software-updated a number of times since its launch last November. Truth be told, though, none of those updates added anything of note, all being of the “improved stability and performance” variety instead. This changes today as Sony is releasing the first major PS5 update so far, bringing a much-requested feature to its new system along with a number of welcome additions and quality-of-life improvements.
The much-requested feature is none other than the option to move PS5 games to an external USB drive in order to save storage space on the internal SSD. It’s an extremely useful option to have because of the SSD’s limited storage capacity (around 665 GB), which led to games being deleted in order for new ones to be installed (and the former being re-downloaded all over again if consumers wanted to come back to them at some point). Now PS5 games can be transferred to an external USB drive temporarily and moved back into the SSD on demand (PS5 games always have to be run from the internal SSD).
There are some caveats. Consumers cannot download PS5 games directly onto the external USB drive: they have to install them onto the SSD first and then move them out of it. Also: when on external USB storage PS5 games cannot be updated, they have to be put back on the SSD for that. There’s even word that certain games allow some of their data to be moved to external USB storage but not all. It will all become clearer in a few days, no doubt.
Other than enabling the storage of PS5 games on external USB devices, the new update is making SharePlay possible between PS4 and PS5 owners — that is, PS4 owners can view PS5 games in real-time or even join them (it’s not clear what happens with titles that require any of DualSense’s special capabilities in order to be played). Other additions include a Request to Join function on PS4 and PS5 as well as an improved Game Base menu for easier switching between an active Party and other friends. Consumers are now able to disable game chat and adjust other players’ volumes, customize the number of Trophies which result in an automatic screenshot, adjust screen zoom magnification and pre-download game updates.
The PlayStation app, either for iOS or Android, is also getting an update. This will add a wishlist feature, online friend notifications and the ability to set one’s console online status. A future update, Sony promises, will let gamers join PS5 multiplayer sessions via the PlayStation app, manage PS5 console storage and compare Trophies with friends.
This first major PS5 update is most welcome, of course, but there’s still a number of ways Sony can improve the operation and functionality of its new system. The most important ones, at this point in time, is the activation of the internal M.2 NVME SSD slot for proper expansion of the PS5’s SSD storage, as well as the activation of the Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) function for smoother gameplay with compatible TV sets. Sony reiterated that it’s working on the former feature, stayed mum on the latter. Any day now…
Addendum 14/04/2021: This firmware update is adding a few more notable features and functions to the PS5. Consumers can now opt to display non-HDR content properly — up until now Sony’s system was displaying everything in HDR, often affecting color in a negative way — and also enable 120 Hz refresh rate support manually (it was done automatically and on a system level before). The latter option now lets PS5 owners also use 1080p monitors in 120 Hz if supported by the display itself. Sony has also offered additional ways to link the PS5 and the power of the TV it is connected to: the TV can automatically turn itself on when a consumer powers up his/her PS5, while the latter can enter rest mode when the TV is turned off. This PS5 update, finally, is accompanied by an update for the DualSense controller, presumably improving the way its new functions work.