The new PlayStation Plus is a revamped subscription service that combines Sony’s previous PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now offerings to provide gamers with up to hundreds of titles for a monthly fee. With the monumental success and accessibility that Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass has provided, it was only a matter of time before PlayStation would try something similar.
There are three tiers: Essential, Extra and Premium. The first one is simply a new name for what PlayStation Plus offered before, which was a small monthly selection of games on top of basic online benefits. Extra adds a massive game catalog, giving users access to about 400 PS4 and PS5 games. The most expensive tier, Premium, is the one we’ll be examining for the purposes of this review. It includes everything from the previous tiers along with PS3 game streaming and access to select PlayStation legacy content from its PS1, PS2 and PSP catalog. Time-limited game trials are available too.
Here’s a quick rundown of each tier’s price:
Whether or not New PlayStation Plus is worth it depends on what you want out of it. Do you want to play the latest and hottest games? Or do you want to enjoy older titles? Do you like indie games or Japanese ones? Here are my thoughts after spending a few days seeing what the whole game library has to offer.
Sony’s all-new gaming subscription
The new PlayStation Plus offers a good amount of games and features for the money, but the Premium tier still needs some fleshing out. Unless you care about the classics, most gamers will be fine with the Essential or Extra options.
Access to some of the best first-party PlayStation 4 and 5 games
If you sign up for the Extra or Premium tier, you’ll be able to play some of PlayStation’s blockbuster first-party titles that the platform is known for. These include games like God of War, Uncharted 4, Ratchet & Clank, The Last of Us Remastered, Horizon Zero Dawn, Ghost of Tsushima, Days Gone, Death Stranding and Marvel’s Spider-Man. It’s great that these big games are included for those who’ve yet to play them and want to pay a low-cost subscription fee instead of buying each title for upward of $70.
In particular, the PS5 Director’s Cut versions of Ghost of Tsushima and Death Stranding are available for download. It was nice of Sony to include those rather than just sticking with the regular PS4 versions that have less content. However, there seem to be a few titles that are strangely missing. Gran Turismo Sport and MLB The Show aren’t in the service, which is odd considering they’re created by Sony’s first-party studios.
Plenty of third-party games, both big and small, are included
PlayStation, being one of the biggest players in the gaming space, is able to leverage its relationship with other studios so that the service has plenty of third-party support. There are some big titles here, such as multiple Final Fantasy games, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Fallout 4, NBA 2K22 and Red Dead Redemption 2. If you’re interested in indie games, there’s a good selection here too, such as ABZÛ, Absolver, Child of Light, Celeste and Bad North.
One aspect that I was pleasantly surprised by was the number of Japanese games available, especially smaller ones. Games such as Akiba’s Beat, Ys IX: Monstrum Nox and The Caligula Effect: Overdose on PS4 are standout titles. These games typically have a very niche audience, so it was nice for Sony to include them here to expand their reach.
Overall, there’s a huge variety of genres, so someone is bound to find a game they like.
This feature will most likely cater only to certain audiences, such as Trophy hunters like myself. Trophies are little milestones that developers include in a game that add sort of a “badge” to your PlayStation profile. Examples of certain types of Trophies can be simply beating the first boss of a game or completing the game’s story.
Sony decided to retroactively include PlayStation Trophies support to legacy titles, such as the original PlayStation’s Syphon Filter and Ape Escape. The Trophy system started with the PlayStation 3, and I appreciate that Sony went back to add these to old games. Not all classic games will get Trophy support, as publishers and developers have the final say on whether to implement them.
This is one small, distinct advantage that the new PlayStation Plus has over Xbox Game Pass. While original Xbox games are on Microsoft’s subscription service, they don’t have Achievements (the Xbox equivalent of PlayStation’s Trophies) retroactively included.
Search options and categories are helpful
When going to the new PS Plus section, games are easy to find and sort. You can search by genre, alphabetical order, release date and even generation. There are also certain collections that try to lump various titles together. For example, there is a “must-play” collection that includes some PlayStation exclusives as well as critically acclaimed third-party games like Control and Mortal Kombat 11. If you want to specifically look for remasters or PS3 games, there are dedicated sections for those too.
While the new PlayStation Plus includes first-party titles, the issue here is that these are older PlayStation exclusives that have been out already for a few years and have gone on sale multiple times, both digitally and at retail. So there’s a good chance that you may have played them already, and if you have, there’s not much value in this aspect.
Additionally, Sony has not committed to bringing its newer exclusive titles to the new PlayStation Plus on the same date as their releases, such as Horizon Forbidden West and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, or the upcoming God of War: Ragnarok.
This is in stark contrast to Xbox Game Pass, which has delivered major titles like Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5 on release day and promises the same for huge upcoming games like Bethesda’s Starfield and Arkane’s Redfall.
PlayStation 3 games are still streaming-only and not available for local download
Almost all of the titles offered within the service can be downloaded, with the exception of PS3 games. The reason being is that the PS3 was allegedly so difficult to develop games for that it’s hard to emulate or enable local downloads.
In this case, PS3 titles on the service are only feasible for those who have a fast and/or stable internet connection. Playing PS3 games via stream with a weak connection is prone to stutters and lag.
I played on my PS5 using a wired connection and my experience was stable but only if I focused on playing games. I tried playing Resident Evil 4 HD while also downloading Death Stranding Director’s Cut. I experienced lag issues until I paused my download. After pausing my download, my game felt like it was back to normal. If Resident Evil 4 HD were able to be downloaded locally, I wouldn’t have had this issue.
It’s just a shame because the PS3’s catalog is quite extensive on the service. Sony’s PS3 exclusives are included, such as the God of War, Ratchet & Clank and Infamous franchises. There’s also great third-party support with multiple titles from the Dynasty Warriors, Devil May Cry and Resident Evil franchises. It’s just that being streaming-only really hampers the overall experience.
The service offers game streaming on PS5, PS4 and PC, and almost every PS4 and PS5 game is available to be downloaded locally or be streamed. However, there are some weird exceptions where a few games can’t be streamed. For example, Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XII offers both options, but Final Fantasy XV Royal Edition only gives the option for local download. However, this issue is rare in comparison to the rest of the entire games library.
PlayStation has such a rich history of video games dating all the way back to the PS1 and PS2 eras, so it’s really deflating to see that with original PlayStation games in particular there are only a paltry 13 titles available on the new PlayStation Plus at the time of this writing.
Furthermore, if you’re outside of North America, you might actually receive inferior versions of PS1 games. While North American versions run at 60Hz, European versions and Australian versions run at 50Hz, which means they run slower. This can result in lower frame rates, which impacts how smoothly a game plays and feels.
While Sony will be adding more games to the service over time, the current meager offerings of its vast legacy catalog are incredibly disappointing.
A perk of having Premium is that you get access to limited-time game trials. You’re free to try out demos of games for a certain amount of time. After your time has expired, you can choose to purchase the game from the PlayStation Network store. However, one issue here is that the selection is incredibly limited — only 15 demos are available.
Granted, there are some notable game trials like Horizon Forbidden West and Cyberpunk 2077. It’s also better to have this game trial feature than not have it all, but it’s not nearly as great a value add compared to the rest of the perks in the Premium tier. Either the number of game trials offered needs to drastically increase or have the perk be bumped down to the Extra tier, seeing that the tier has only one benefit.
New PlayStation Plus feels like it has so much potential, and that’s what’s so frustrating about it. It offers both first-party exclusive games and legacy titles from its rich catalog, but they all come with certain caveats. It doesn’t excel at either aspect well enough.
It feels like the service is not trying to sell a robust product but rather just trying to simply streamline both the previous PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now services into one. That may have been PlayStation’s intention from the very start instead of trying to be a direct answer to Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass. If so, then it succeeds.
The Premium tier still needs some work, and I’d recommend holding off subscribing to it until the catalog is more fleshed out. If you really want to play PS3 games without having to lug out your physical console or want to earn Trophies in PS1 games, then go ahead and subscribe to Premium. If not, then either the Essential or Extra tier will be enough.