The PlayStation 5 user interface — or as Sony calls it, the user experience (UX) — draws clear inspiration from the XrossMediaBar used on the PlayStation 3 and evolved on the PlayStation 4. While the current generation takes the user back to the home screen when they press the PS button on their controller, the PS5 will bring the UX up over the game in progress, keeping the player somewhat immersed.
A series of Cards pop up on the UX when the PS button is pressed. These cover a broad spectrum of content, from developer news and social alerts to progress tracking and hints about the game you’re playing. In the demonstration, Sid Shuman woke his console from suspension while playing Sackboy: A Big Adventure and hopped right back in. The Cards showed his progress in his current levels and estimated how long it would take him to complete the level.
Developers will be able to program Cards to suggest activities that players still need to complete, and can even offer them tips directly through the UX. Shuman used the cards to get a step-by-step guide to finding a costume hidden in his current level and used a video clip from the developer to earn his prize.
While showing off the UX’s Cards feature, Shuman also demonstrated the PlayStation 5 UX’s picture-in-picture capabilities. Cards can be shown over active gameplay or put side-by-side, smoothly pushing the main video into a smaller window so players can follow tips and video walkthroughs without having to pause the game and check a different screen or device. Sony seems aware of current gamer habits, like checking sites or YouTube for help, and designed this feature to avoid sitting through long, potentially spoiler-filled videos.
Picture-in-picture can also be used for other UX features, like sharing a screen with a friend. In the video, Shuman tunes into a friend’s broadcast of Uncharted: Lost Legacy while still exploring as Sackboy.
Cards can also suggest Activities and enable quick application switching. In the demo, Shuman joins a party with two friends and quickly transitions into Destruction All-Stars, where he showed off the streamlined media sharing capabilities. Sharing on the PS4 was very jarring, taking players out of their games and sometimes severing connections to online games, so this could be a welcome change.
When a game is not running, the UX is similar to the current PS4 menu. A XMB-inspired series of tabs allows users to explore their app library and scroll down to see more about the currently highlighted title. The PlayStation Store is integrated directly into the menu instead of being its own separate app.
These simple innovations look like a natural evolution of a system that has served Sony’s consoles well for over a decade, integrating the PlayStation 5’s powerful hardware intuitively.
Sony’s Senior Vice President of Platform Planning & Management, Hideaki Nishino explained, “The new UX is completely centered on the player – to provide you a truly next-generation experience with deeper immersion that quickly connects you to great games and a passionate gaming community.” They appear to have been successful — but gamers can find out for themselves when the PlayStation 5 launches on November 12.