While the ability to upgrade the console’s SSD has grabbed most of the attention, and the better labeling of PS4 and PS5 games is useful, I think the improvements to the trophy system are the best features included in the new firmware.
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During the PS4 generation, I was a dedicated trophy hunter. I would play games I was ambivalent towards just to earn a couple of bronzes and I even bought some infamously awful games just for the easy platinum — I’m ashamed to admit that My Name is Mayo does feature on my trophy list.
Yet on PS5, my love for the achievements system died out with notable speed. This wasn’t because I burnt out on collecting them or that the satisfying ping that comes with a trophy notification lost its luster. No, I stopped actively collecting trophies because the PS5’s horrendous trophy interface.
Or, it was horrendous until just a couple of weeks ago. The improvements brought in by the PS5 system update have got me back on the hunt for trophies, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to spend dozens of hours collecting meaningless virtual rewards.
A small but significant change
I’ve previously voiced my problems with the PS5 UI. Among the several issues that need addressing how the console handles trophies was chief among my complaints.
Originally on PS5 (and currently still on any system not in the software beta) trophies are displayed horizontally in large rectangle blocks. Apart from being extremely wasteful with the available screen real estate, these blocks make obtaining trophy information unnecessarily difficult.
You need to click through to every single trophy individually, as you can’t just examine a game’s trophy list at a glance. Plus, revealing hidden trophy information involved three button presses instead of the single press as on the PS4.
In fact, this interface was so bad that almost overnight I went from a keen trophy hunter to a user who almost never bothered to check trophies. For a short while, I attempted to use third-party solutions like PSNProfiles or the PlayStation app, but I found having to constantly refer to my mobile phone frustrating and soon gave up.
Thankfully, the latest PS5 system date has done what all trophy enthusiasts have been crying out for since the console launched: reverting back to how it was on the PS4. Trophies are once displayed in a vertical list, which allows you to see all the information you need at a quick glance without having to press anything. Plus, if you want to reveal information on a hidden trophy, just tap the square button.
This very small change has instantly got me back onto the trophy hype train. I’m once again scanning my game collection for easy trophies I neglected and am now considering to platinum challenging games like Returnal.
A welcome new addition
Another trophy-specific addition that has been included in the PS5 system update is the ability to select up to five individual trophies to be tracked in the console’s control center.
With just a couple of button presses, you can bring up a popup window that displays all the necessary information for whichever trophies you’re actively tracking. Plus, this can all be done without even leaving whatever game you’re currently playing.
This is extremely useful for collectible hunting or when going for a trophy that requires you to complete a series of actions in a very specific order. Having that easily accessible reminder of what you need to accomplish has shortened the amount of time I’ve spent scrolling through my trophy menu and instead allowed me to focus on playing.
Sony has even included the ability to pin this pop-up window to your screen permanently. So you can play with it being visible. This has been extremely helpful while I’ve been grinding trophies in the excellent online multiplayer game Chivalry II.
This is another small addition that doesn’t fundamentally change the trophy system, but it’s a useful tool to have in certain situations. It’s the exact type of feature that Sony should be adding to the PS5 UI as it makes the user experience just that little bit more seamless.
Sony’s clearly listening
Sony making these tweaks to the way trophies are handled on PS5 also shows that the company is clearly listening to user feedback.
The latest PS5 system update rectifies the needless redesign and shows that Sony is paying attention to what its audience wants. On a final note, I hope Sony will hear my plea to make the switcher function actually useful, because after eight months with the console I don’t think I’ve used it more than once.