The big question PS5 owners have been asking themselves since launch day.
It has been a massive talking point for the PlayStation community that not only do they now have a new and expensive console, but they also have to deal with even more expensive exclusives, at a whopping £70 a pop. The price rise is galling, exacerbated even more when on the other side of the gaming world, Xbox is practically giving away new and upcoming first-party and cross-gen titles, albeit as part of Game Pass. No one has been a bigger critic of the £70 price tag for Sony games than myself. In wanting to not support the hefty price tag, I held off buying a day-one game, but having finally relented, do I now regret doing so?
I bought Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart on launch day. Like many, I considered buying the first big PS5 AAA exclusive, Returnal, but as good as that game no doubt is (and by all accounts it very much is), it wasn’t in the genre of game I enjoy. So, I looked to hold off until the next title grabbed my attention. I wanted to get a game that showcases what the PS5 can do, as the incredible Astro’s Playroom had already shown a glimpse at the true potential of Sony’s next-gen powerhouse.
The Ratchet and Clank series is one I don’t consider myself a fan of. It’s more the type of game I’ll play if it’s cheap, enjoy it once, then move on. I’ve enjoyed them, but I don’t consider the franchise in the same league as Sony’s main big-hitting franchises such as Horizon Zero Dawn/Forbidden West, Uncharted or Gran Turismo. So, filled with apprehension, I clicked purchase on my preorder for the latest Ratchet and Clank game.
Excited at playing it day one, but with a whopping great dose of scepticism, I put the game in my PS5, expecting to regret the expense. In a way, I think I was hoping to be disappointed so I could confirm my suspicion that this game, and all subsequent £70 games, would be overpriced. That confirmation would allow me to shout to all and sundry from the highest mountain top, “I told you so”, but unfortunately I couldn’t.
The reason is, it was clear from the outset of the first few minutes of the game that my whole gaming equilibrium had been well and truly shattered. Like many, I work from a gaming principle of perceived value. For me, I expect a minimum of one hour’s gameplay per £1 i.e. some part of my brain only feels like I’ve got value for money when, for example, if I pay £40 for a game I need to get 40 hours of gaming out of it. There is not a chance that is going to happen with a short single-player game with no replayability other than hoovering up any missing trophies for the Platinum trophy. A £70 game that I’m going to be lucky to get 25 hours out of is well above my internal cost per hour comfort zone.
The thing is though, after playing ten minutes of Ratchet and Clank, I frankly didn’t care anymore. I won’t review the game here, but I will explain the experience it gives because it is like nothing I’ve ever played.
It is astonishing! First of all, I am really not a graphics guy, but even I can really appreciate the love, care, dedication, and fantastic graphical fidelity this game brings. I’ve tried all three settings of the game: 4k @ 30fps, 60fps with ray tracing but a lower target resolution, and 60 fps at a higher resolution but without the ray tracing. Of the three, my favourite was the 60 fps with ray tracing, and it is stunning to look at. Normally I’d pipe in here and say it feels like you are playing a game in a Pixar movie, but honestly, even a Pixar movie doesn’t look this defined. Visually, the smooth 60 fps frame rate combined with the ray-traced lighting and gorgeous graphics took my breath away.
Graphical eye candy is great, but gameplay for me is king, and yet again this game has nailed it. This is because not only do you get the same fluid and responsive controls, fun combat and challenging platforming of a Ratchet and Clank game, but you can now also include the immersion that the controller’s haptic feedback brings. The feedback in the controller, sometimes subtle, sometimes not, helps you navigate and enjoy what’s happening in the gameplay in a far more immersive way than with any other standard controller. Haptic feedback is now part OF the gameplay.
The recoil of guns, the slight click of a trigger being cocked halfway, to the deep, pulsing, thumping bass in a nightclub that can be felt throughout the entire controller. Even the slight deft footfalls of a character’s feet when running are all cleverly and intuitively woven into the fabric of the action.
Then as part of the gameplay, there is instant traversal to new platforms or indeed different worlds. Insomniac has found a way to incorporate the speed and power of the PS5’s SSD into the very core of the game, and they have done this in spectacular fashion. Admittedly, I have never been one to get flustered at long loading times, as a few seconds here or there waiting has never really bothered me. However, seeing the instantaneous transportation from one world to the next, seemingly in the blink of an eye, is something to behold. It helps with the overall experience as you are still locked into the game, without being drawn away by a loading screen.
Finally, the polish the game has is very reminiscent of not only big-budget game, but also big-budget film franchises. At times I felt I was in a better, more interesting (and very funny) version of a Star Wars film, or at other times, a Disney Pixar movie. This is enhanced all the more with the game’s fantastic audio. Massive, throaty, deep-booming explosions and shots from the weapons alongside the incredible musical score convey such a feeling of class, especially through the Sony Pulse 3D Headset that needs to be experienced to fully appreciate.
When you put all these elements together, it is absolutely stunning and feels like a next-gen, must play, showcase experience on the PS5.
There will be times when these exclusive games aren’t as polished as Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, and in those times the £70 price tag will be very hard to stomach and the raucous calls denouncing overpriced games will ring out.
However, if you are still on the fence about paying £70 for a game, think of this. Have you ever been to an expensive restaurant and paid upward of £70 for a dinner for two, knowing that the ingredients you are eating could be bought in your local supermarket for a fraction of the cost? Despite this, when the meal is finished and you are going home, you have that feeling of satisfaction because the experience of the meal and the delicious food made the whole thing worth the expense. That is exactly how I feel about Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart.
I know I could buy it in a sale later, and I know I find it hard to justify paying £70 for a game, yet I am utterly and completely satisfied, as Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is that good of an experience and something any PS5 owner needs to try. Those are words I thought I would never type, but how wrong could I be.
There will always be the Damocles sword that is Xbox Game Pass hanging above PlayStation’s head, but as long as they can keep producing exclusives of this quality, there will be plenty of people willing to buy them, even for £70.
note: The opinions expressed in this piece are those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of everyone here at Total Gaming Group