We couldn’t think of a better way to start your PlayStation 5 adventures than with Astro’s Playroom. This pack-in platformer comes pre-installed and ready to play for everyone who owns a PS5, flexing the next-gen system’s key features and being an absolute nostalgic blast in the process.
Compared to Crash Bandicoot or Kratos, Astro Bot may not have the same calibre as a PlayStation mascot yet, thanks to this Asobi-developed demo, makes a perfect ambassador for the PlayStation 5 and the DualSense controller.
Firing up our PS5 console for the very first time, we dove straight into Astro’s Playroom and the first of the four stages it offers – Cooling Springs. Now, for those who played the superb Astro Bot: Rescue Mission, expect a pang of deja vu here. This is basically a non-PlayStation VR follow-up, albeit one that has been deliberately shrunk to show off some DualSense features.
Before being introduced to our robotic friend you’ll get to see just how Sony’s gamepad has evolved since the DualShock 4. The combination of audio and haptic feedback combined with those adaptive triggers will come as a genuine surprise, really helping to boost that sense of immersion.
Just about every action in Astro’s Playroom will trigger a cascade of sound and haptic effects, the controller’s rumble having far more finesse than before, vibrating certain parts of the pad instead of making the whole unit shake in your palms. It’s an impressive advancement.
In one section you’ll suit up as an android amphibian, using the touchpad to yank the zip on Astro’s new costume. From there, Playroom briefly turns into a side-scrolling platform in which you tilt your DualSense, pulling down on the right trigger then releasing to jump. The subtle vibrations and mechanical noises – paired with the slight resistance from the adaptive trigger – give this action far more impact than a simple button press. We’re excited to see how other developers implement the controller’s new features as they look to dial up the atmosphere.
This is more than just a simple controller demo and tutorial though. It might be small, but it has the hallmarks of a full production with coins, collectibles and some surprisingly nostalgic easter eggs to be found here.
Astro’s Playroom serves two purposes – easing you into the PS5 ecosystem while celebrating the PlayStation’s long legacy. Instead of gathering useless gubbins, the items you unlock are actual pieces of PlayStation hardware, Cooling Springs reminding us of the PSP camera, the PS3 Sharpshooter and more, appearing almost lifelike as they float in suspense.
As a first experience of PlayStation 5, it’s a great one, the nods to the past adding to the joy of getting to finally go hands on and experience what Sony’s grand vision for the next generation is. It’s just a taster so far, having received and unboxed our PlayStation 5 review unit today, but we can’t wait to get stuck in to experience and share more over the coming days and weeks.