While there are still plenty of questions left about the PS5 UI experience, we also learned about some major changes. Here’s our rundown of the biggest.
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Let’s start with the most obvious upgrade – PS5’s UI looks fast. The demonstration shows the console booting up from rest mode, and hopping from the dashboard view to in-game action to the new Activities feed looks snappy and responsive. There’s no slowdown or hitching while scrolling through the UI, icons don’t take much time to load in, and all other speed issues the PS4 interface seem to be gone.
Jumping into a new game is immediately faster on the PS5 than it is on the PS4. Of course, there’s the question of whether or not having a bunch of applications running in the background affects this, but at least fresh out of the box, it looks fast as hell. Pending any firmware updates, I assume.
Control Center Activities Cards
Sony spent the most time talking about the PS5’s new Control Center view. On the PS4, pressing the DualShock 4’s PlayStation button kicks you back to the dashboard, while holding the button down for a bit brings up a shorthand version of the UI… and a slow one at that.
On the PS5, it looks like pressing that button on the DualSense brings you to the new Control Center, which allows you quick access to most of the features you’d need while in-game, like notifications, your friends, download status list, and even the power settings.
But most of the real estate is taken up by Cards, which look to introduce some much-needed additions to the PlayStation experience. Cards will look familiar to anyone who’s spent time in the Apple App Store UI, but Sony’s take offers a row of bold images with limited text that pop up over your in-game screen, offering you quick access to a variety of PS5 and game options.
Some Cards allow you access to a media feed of news or new trailers for games you’re following, while another holds your recently captured media. Both are easily accessible evolutions of what you can do on PS4. But it’s the Activities Cards that marks the biggest change.
In Sackboy: A Big Adventure, for example, players can track progress of certain objectives, like levels they’ve played, trophies they’ve earned, and even ones “suggested by the system.”
Starting off with levels played, we see the player jump into a level directly from the PS5’s UI that they’ve already started, but with some objectives they’ve yet to complete. All of that info is listed in this Activity card, rather than within the game itself.
Other cards not clicked on in the video show a promising advancement for Trophy hunters – individual trophy cards that list completion percentage. We know how frustrating it is to be hunting a trophy that requires you to collect 150 orbs but doesn’t tell you progress, so for completionists, this should be a big help in tracking progress and deciding on what objectives to focus on next.
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The cards can even give you an estimate of how long an objective will take to complete, which the walkthrough describes as “PlayStation 5’s personalized playtime estimate.” It’s unclear as of now if this is something the system can intuit based on the rest of your play experience, or the experience of other players, but it’s a cool feature nonetheless for those who need to be selective about their game time.
PlayStation also mentions there will be some cards ‘suggested’ by the system. While we don’t know the full extent of what this means, we’re shown a brief example of the next levels the player can pursue in Sackboy: A Big Adventure.
All of this, of course, raises the question of how much work developers will need to put into designing bespoke Cards for their games, versus what data the PS5 can pull from game saves and trophy progress. The PS4 already tracks what trophies you have, and your overall completion progress,, but the PS5 has a lot more information to keep track of.
Activities cards also offer in-game help, though this appears to be a PlayStation Plus-exclusive benefit. Sony notes that in-game help won’t be available in every game, or even for every objective, but it is intended to keep you in the experience, rather than having to hop to a secondary screen.
In Sackboy, for example, you can access a series of hints with varying amounts of information, from screenshots to full-on walkthrough videos.
These hints can all be accessed without ever leaving the game. The PS5 UI now allows for information to be pinned alongside your game, so if you’re playing a particularly complicated section, you could temporarily pin the help video next to your game as you play.
PS5’s friend interactions are also designed to keep you involved in whatever you’re doing without forcing you to scroll through a ton of menus outside of your game.
In the example given, a voice chat invite can be joined quickly while in the middle of whatever you’re playing. You can start chatting immediately with friends via the DualSense’s microphone, but also mute yourself via the controller or in menus if needed.
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Sony describes parties as more of a persistent experience across your PS5 experience. For example, your friends within a party can now share their screen. You can watch someone play while you continue playing, and you can customize that view however you’d like it. You can pin it like you would game help, or even watch it picture-in-picture in various spots on your screen.
Perhaps most impressively, if a few friends in your party are in a multiplayer game that you’re not playing, you can join the game via a Card in the control center, and the PS5 immediately drops you into the action. Sony’s quick fast forward aside, the jump from joining the game to being in-game is seconds long.
In the walkthrough video, Sony didn’t spend much time on the PS5’s home screen — we see nothing of the Media center, or any of the extraneous options we’ll get.
But, what we did see looked like an evolution of the PS4’s dashboard. Whenever you hover over and expand info on a single game, we’re invited into a home page of said game, with a large piece of artwork, a big ol’ play button, and a brief encapsulation of your trophy progress. The idea seems to be to get you into your games without any fuss.
While the main page is sparse, players can scroll down to see a batch of Activities Cards you can use to easily jump into different games, levels, or newsfeeds.
Sony only showcased one PS5 game’s home page in the video in detail, but it did promise backward-compatible PS4 games will benefit from “some” of the layout’s features.
And finally, the PlayStation Store, that slow, long-loading way to expand your library, is “completely integrated into the system” rather than an app you click into. Sony didn’t spend much time explaining exactly how the new Store experience will work, but did promise some level of personalization. Overall, though, the messaging points toward a much smoother Store experience than what the PS4 currently offers.
There’s plenty more to the PS5 UI not detailed in Sony’s first video,, and we still have a bunch of questions — the Create button’s functionality, for example, is only briefly touched on, while the compatibility of all these features could vary game-to-game. But everything shown is certainly an indication that Sony has taken criticisms of the PS4 dashboard to heart, and has created an experience that gets you into games more quickly, tracks your progress more comprehensively, and hopefully breaks some of the multiple-menu barriers when it comes to playing with friends.
And thankfully, we only have to wait a few more weeks to try it out ourselves.
Jonathon Dornbush is IGN’s Senior News Editor, host of Podcast Beyond!, and PlayStation lead. Talk to him on Twitter @jmdornbush.