PlayStation has finally rolled out its new PlayStation Plus Australia. Subscribers can now access the three new options of PlayStation Plus Essential, Extra and Deluxe with various benefits for each.
You can read all about the ins and outs of each level here, but before the local launch I thought I’d look at the offer as it should be on launch day and whether it’s worth going downstairs or waiting for the service properly established. I’ve been able to experience the new PS+ for myself for most of the past month through its launch in other regions, checking out its current library of games, including PlayStation Classics available through the highest Deluxe tier. dear and feeling the value of everything as it is now.
The PS4/PS5 game library (Extra/Deluxe levels)
Included in the Extra and Deluxe tiers is a library of PS4 and PS5 games that feature first-party and third-party titles from AAA to indie and pretty much resemble what you’d expect from something like Xbox Game Pass – with one big exception. Yes, the lack of “day one” PlayStation Studios titles on the service is a little disappointing compared to Xbox’s commitment to launching all of its early board games on Game Pass, but oddly enough, the first-party offering on PS + Extra/Deluxe is arguably better than what’s currently on XGP.
Looking strictly at current-gen first-party games released since the launch of the PS5 and Xbox Series X | S, there are four on Game Pass (Psychonauts 2, Forza Horizon 5, Halo Infinite, Microsoft Flight Simulator) against the following six on PS+ Supplement:
- Death Stranding Director’s Cut
- Demon’s Souls
- All-Star Destruction
- Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut
- Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Although Xbox titles launch on day one, it’s not hard to see that the value equation still doesn’t stack up when it comes to first-party games – it’s an advantage PlayStation has had ever since. long before the subscription service battle heats up but it’s reiterated here. Even as Game Pass continues to add more Xbox Game Studios quality launches to its roster, the source of content that already exists on PS5 like Horizon Forbidden West and Gran Turismo 7 is still there for PlayStation to pull from when it chooses. Several top-tier PlayStation Studios games that still command pretty tempting retail prices included in an AUD$18.95/month subscription are pretty compelling value even if they aren’t launching overnight.
As for third-party content, a mix of titles from a number of publishers along with a special catalog of classic titles from Ubisoft+ puts the PlayStation offering on a pretty even keel with Game Pass here. There are big-name titles like Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy that you’ll find on both, and both offer the same unique opportunities to experience underrated indie gems like The Artful Escape and Outer Wilds, so in that regard, I would say so far what’s on PS+ Extra/Deluxe is doing a decent job of keeping up. It’s not enough I feel like there are just as many cool and unique indie games to check out here as there are on Xbox, probably just because Sable, Floppy Knights, and Genesis Noir are currently Xbox console exclusives. Still, I can see people using the subscription to discover games they wouldn’t normally shell out full price for in the same way – Lawn Mowing Simulator, anyone?
What’s going to make a difference going forward is, well, whatever we’ll see going forward. PlayStation says it will update its offerings twice a month between Essential, Extra and Deluxe tiers and that which titles will be rotated will be crucial to the continued value of the service. We already know of at least one big-hit indie game in the form of Stray, which is a pretty compelling offering on its own. If PlayStation can sustain that level of indie/AA day one launches on PS+ at the same rate we see on Game Pass, I’d definitely be inclined to stick with my subscription.
We don’t yet have a full list of games that will launch in Australia with PlayStation Plus Extra/Deluxe, but you can see what should fit. here. That’s a pretty huge library to begin with!
PlayStation Classics and Game Trials
So, while the catalog of games available to everyone in the Extra tier and above is quite compelling, what about the benefits offered to those looking for the more expensive Deluxe version? Although we are already down locally from regions where the top tier is called Premium and offers PS3 games via cloud streaming, we still get the added benefits of a library of PS1, PS2 and PSP titles as well as downloadable game trials for an additional 2 AUD per month.
The big draw here is obviously going to be the Classics selection, but that’s where the service is probably most lacking at the moment. With 13 PS1 titles, 24 PS2 titles, and just one PSP game (as of the current global rollout), this is no huge catalog. There are certainly top-notch titles in the mix like Ape Escape, Resident Evil Director’s Cut, Siphon Filter, Tekken 2 and Jak & Daxter games, but PlayStation is really going to have to double down on its commitment to providing a quality retro library to keep interested people.
Frustratingly, it’s more than likely that we’ll also be subjected to the same deplorable PAL versions of PS1 titles as other regions that originally ran on the PAL standard, meaning games will run slower and slower than for subscribers in the United States or Japan. Unless PlayStation decides to start offering its users the choice between PAL or NTSC versions of games on the track, it’s going to be a big detractor here. Likewise, the bulk of the current PS2 catalog is made up of games that were previously available on PS4 as “PS2 Classics” and don’t always run smoothly on PS5. I tried downloading Ape Escape 2 from the PS+ Deluxe library to see if it was still largely unplayable on PS5 and unfortunately it was.
There’s definitely still some hope to cling to here, the addition of visual filters, save states and rewinds to all games as well as trophies for a select few (I was able to platinum Ape Escape which is pretty cool) is great, but support at the moment seems sporadic at best and it’s too early to say if it will be the norm over time. Unless you’re already all-in for the PS4/PS5 library and only shelling out a few extra bucks to upgrade to Deluxe, I wouldn’t go looking to play these classics just yet.
Game Trials, another Deluxe tier perk, is an interesting and potentially very useful perk for subscribers. This system basically allows users to download full versions of games to their console and then play them for a set amount of time before being locked out until they decide to buy them for good. It’s a clever way to circumvent the lack of “demo” games in the modern market by literally giving people the keys for a few hours as a test drive. Even better, if you decide to pay for the game, you already have everything installed, so you can just go back and all your progress and trophies unlocked during the trial play carry over.
Right now the list of available trials is quite small, but it contains things like Horizon Forbidden West, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, and Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection, so it’s a good chance to get a glimpse of some high-level titles. The only major downside, especially here in Australia, is that you’re downloading the full games which in many cases are over 50GB, which is a big time and data commitment for something you could remove after about an hour.
The verdict (so far)
At launch, these new PlayStation Plus levels are a pretty compelling if not too surprising answer to Xbox’s Game Pass, but longevity will be key. In the few weeks I’ve had access I’ve definitely felt like I got my money’s worth based on how much I’ve downloaded and played, but I can’t say how much longer I’ll feel this without knowing what new games are added on the track.
For now, I’d say the Extra Mid tier is the way to go for anyone curious to try it – the quality and selection of classic Premium tier titles just aren’t strong enough yet – with a commitment to one or three months of stay probably the safest bet. I have no doubt we’ll see some great content added to both current-gen and retro ranges over time, but it’s just too hard to suggest taking a bigger dip when this is all still a unknown quantity.
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