This month of November, the PS5 will celebrate its second anniversary. Despite some first-party bangers – Returnal, I’m looking at you – so far, Sony’s machine has been less booted up and more of an agonizing exploration. It’s a problem Microsoft’s newer boxes aren’t immune to either, but sneakily Xbox has pulled a rabbit out of a hat. The name of his new floppy-eared friend? Game pass. With Microsoft quietly collecting studios and Sony releasing a steady stream of exclusives, by year two there’s one clear winner of this console generation: Game Pass.
Boasting over 25 million subscribers and capturing the hearts and minds of value-loving gamers, the slow-building service has truly disrupted the gaming industry. He saw this console generation defined less by the “next-gen” version and more by a shiny new way to consume them. With fan Twitter accounts happily repeating Xbox’s “best game deal” and fanboyism now happily extending to subscription services, it seemed the battle lines for this generation had already been drawn. It was then inevitable that Sony would throw itself into the subscription service skirmish. Is he a chosen battle-ready champion? An all-new three-tier PS Plus offering.
Rolling out worldwide last month on its debut, it wasn’t the valiant comeback Sony had hoped for. After months of information leaks, the “big” PS Plus 2.0 reveal has launched with…well, less noise and more of an inaudible whine. Light on the PS1 and PS2 classics and a far cry from Poundland Game Pass, Sony’s initial offering felt like a quick cash grab. A poorly copied piece of the “subscription service 101” assignment. However, it turns out that the reality is far from the disaster it seems.
Despite trolling paid advertisements across the internet for the service and gamers happily fondling their Game Pass gift cards, after living with the PlayStation Plus Premium sub for over a month, it’s actually a solid value. . Although it looks suspiciously like a scam from afar, after using it I am now very much of a believer. The first thing that surprised me was how cheap the upgrade path is from your old PS Plus: if you’re a V1 PS Plus subscriber – now known as PlayStation Plus Essential – the Upgrade fees for the rest of the year are surprisingly reasonable.
Upgrading from my existing subscription to the higher-tier “Premium” subscription only cost me an extra £27.99, and it gave me the keys to an embarrassment of riches. By granting players immediate access to Returnal, Stray, Ghost Of Tsushima Director’s Cut, Demon Souls, and Miles Morales – to name a few – you’re giving free rein to most of the PS5’s crown jewels. Are you considering buying the £24.99 Stray or upgrading to Ghost of Tsushima’s Director’s Cut anyway? Just add the same price to your upgrade and you’ll find your score and some more.
For those equally insatiable nerds like me who also have Game Pass, make no mistake, it’s not the same thing. Unlike Microsoft’s Day One launches, Sony President Jim Ryan made it clear that PS Plus won’t get release day access to all Sony blockbusters. Still, with all the titles from the PS5’s launch year already here and Sony’s enviable star-studded back catalog beckoning, it’s hard to really care.
In addition to the aforementioned PS5 gems, PS Plus’s two shiny new levels provide enough beloved PS4 first-party content to shake a Kratos Plushie. From your God Of Wars to the brilliant PS4 port of Shadow Of The Colossus, The Last of Us to The Last Guardian, and, uh, Days Gone to Until Dawn, there are plenty of critically acclaimed experiences in which subscribers can dip. And that’s before you even step into this virtual treasure chest of retro deals. Boasting a growing collection of downloadable PS1 and PS2 classics, streamable PS3 bangers, and cross-gen third-party releases, the pricey Premium tier of PS Plus is – whisper it – good value for money.
Although it lacks a good deal of the breadth of Game Pass’ third-party lineup, the first lineup of PS Plus Extra and Premium is promising. Boasting PS4 bangers like Red Dead Redemption 2, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (and the best of the series, Black Flag), Mafia 1 and 2 Definitive Editions, Bioshock games and Final Fantasy 7 through 12 – to name a few- one. Even in the second month, there is no shortage of truly brilliant releases. Add to that the recent announcement of eight Yakuza titles to the mix and increased support from Ubisoft, and it’s plausible that many of Game Pass’s most beloved third-party releases will eventually find their way onto the service. Sony.
However, all is not won here. My main complaint so far is that the growing catalog is missing a huge amount of retro bangers. While there are undoubtedly Stone Classics – Ape Escape to Tekken 2, Jak 2 to Dark Cloud and Siphon Filter to Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssey – there are currently no Metal Gear Solid, SSX, Spyro or Crash . Luckily, the sneakily rebranded streaming service for PS3 games is faring much better: I’ve already gushed in another post about the fun of finally playing Ico on PS Plus, and sitting alongside other lost PS3 classics. like Tokyo Jungle, I hope This is the first step to finally making Metal Gear Solid 4 playable outside of your PS3.
Aside from the PS3’s wonky processor that forces streaming, what the new and improved PS Plus offers will look pretty familiar to anyone who’s used Game Pass. In the middle of all something old and something borrowedHowever, there is a unique offer on Sony’s service – Game Trials. Only available on the most expensive tier (Premium), these extended demos give you five hours of brand new games. The choices so far are slim, but the two biggest titles are Horizon Forbidden West and Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. While the first-party offerings on Xbox would simply be free, given Sony’s very public reluctance to do the same, they offer a reasonable compromise.
If you’re not interested in being able to play anything pre-PS4, the PS Plus Extra tier simply lets you access the PS4 and PS5 game library for ten years less per year, costing you $83 £.99 for 12 months. For this writer, the extra £15 a year for the Premium subscription is a no-brainer, but if the older games (blasphemous) don’t do anything for you, you might want to save that £15 and buy yourself five extra coffees.
For those who haven’t played many – if not a handful – of Sony’s first-party exclusives yet, the two new tiers of PS Plus are the best introduction to PlayStation you could have. If you’ve just bought a PS5 and don’t really fancy shelling out £60 a game, this is by far the cheapest way to put your new machine through its paces. Sure, PS Plus’s most expensive podium currently lacks the awesome extravaganza of Game Pass, but as PS2, PSP, PS3 and PS1 titles are added, it’s hard not to be excited about the new potential. from PS Plus.
Yet with times getting tough for people everywhere – and particularly in the UK – I’m all too aware that expensive subscription services don’t exist in a vacuum. For this writer, however, being able to dive into a slew of beloved PS Plus games gave me a reason to fire up my PS5 for the first time in months. Is it as good a value proposition as Game Pass? In its current state, certainly not, but given the steady stream of titles being added to its burgeoning catalog, months from now, it just might be.
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