We’ve chewed over PS5 backwards compatibility a lot at Tom’s Guide across the past 18 months or so since Sony’s latest games console made its debut.
There’s been confusion, surprises, patches and updates ever since the PS5’s November 2020 launch. And a lot of that means playing older games on Sony's big black and white modern-art style console has been a solid experience.
But it has also left me disappointed.
I was recently messing around in the main menu of the PS5, which runs at a smooth 120Hz on the excellent LG C1 OLED (well worth checking out as you can find some good deals on it), and enjoying the way some games have custom menu music. Doing this I stumbled across a PS5 Plus section, which, along with a fair bit of other stuff, served up a list of games optimized for the PS5.
The list contains some great PS4-era titles, notably Control. But compared to the games bearing logos for Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S optimizations, the list was almost pitiful.
Now there have been some great PS4 classics that have had patches to allow them to benefit from the PS5’s power and tap into more stable versions of PS4 Pro settings — highlights include 2018’s God of War and The Last of Us 2. And the PS5 can run a whole load of the best PS4 games.
But the effort to get more out of them on what’s basically brand new hardware at this stage in the console life cycle feels not just like a missed opportunity, but a frustration for PlayStation fans.
I get that Sony wants to look towards the future, but after a stellar start of the year with Horizon Forbidden West, Gran Turismo 7 and Elden Ring, there’s surprisingly little in the way of big blockbuster games, exclusive or otherwise, coming this fall or winter.
That means there is a gap that’s ripe for filling. And Sony could do this by releasing or fueling next-gen updates for some of its stone-cold classics.
I don’t mean Sony and its studios should dig back into first and second-gen PlayStation games. But with the likes of Uncharted 4 and Bloodborne presenting keen candidates for some 60 frames per second and resolution updates, there’s low hanging fruit just waiting to be snatched.
The latter game in particular. Bloodborne loads a little faster on the PS5, but that’s about it. There's no resolution boost, some textures look muddy, and the frame rate can be atrocious at times.
Now a fix might not be as easy as a quick patch. But following the massive success of Elden Ring, I feel there’s almost certainly an appetite for more FromSoftware games, especially those with speedier combat. An updated Bloodborne could not only put a beaming smile on the faces of fans like me, but also bring in new players or keep PS5 owners engaged with their console.
While l, and likely a lot of you, would love to see more new PS5 exclusives and original games, PS4-era games are still good-looking things. And unlike previous titles from generation to generation, the gains in visual quality appear to be more in frame rates and resolution, not just masses of textures. As such, I feel Sony’s PS4 back catalogue could do with more attention on the PS5.
Will Sony do this? I’m not sure. My colleague Tony Polanco wrote that Sony doesn’t seem to care about its older library that much, and I think he has a point given the state of backwards compatibility in its second year of life.
But at a time when we could be entering a dry spell of blockbuster games, likely in no small part to the world being upended by the coronavirus pandemic, now seems to be a good time for Sony to glance back while keeping one eye fixed on the horizon.