The new PlayStation Plus is an updated subscription service that combines Sony’s previous PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now offerings to offer gamers 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 tried something similar.
There are three levels: Essential, Extra and Premium. The former is simply a new name for what PlayStation Plus previously offered, which was a small monthly selection of games on top of the basic online benefits. Extra adds a huge game catalog, giving users access to about 400 PS4 and PS5 games. The most expensive tier, Premium, is the one we’ll explore for this review. It includes everything from the previous levels, along with PS3 game streaming and access to select older PlayStation content from the PS1, PS2, and PSP catalogs. Timed game trials are also available.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the price of each tier:
- Essential† $9.99 per month / $24.99 per quarter / $59.99 per year
- Additional† $14.99 per month / $39.99 per quarter / $99.99 per year
- Premium† $17.99 per month / $49.99 per quarter / $119.99 per year
Whether the new PlayStation Plus is worth it depends on what you want to do with it. Want to play the latest and most popular games? Or do you want to enjoy older titles? Do you like indie games or Japanese games? These are my thoughts after a few days of seeing what the entire 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 has yet to be worked 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 can 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 have yet to play them and want to pay a low subscription fee instead of buying each title for over $70.
Notably, 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 instead of just sticking to the regular PS4 versions that have less content. However, there seem to be a few titles that are oddly missing. Gran Turismo Sport and MLB The Show are not in service, which is odd considering they were made by Sony’s first-party studios.
Plenty of third-party games both big and small are included
PlayStation, one of the biggest players in the gaming space, can leverage its relationship with other studios so that the service has ample third-party support. There are some great 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, Kind of Light, Celeste and Bad North.
One aspect I was pleasantly surprised by was the number of Japanese games available, especially smaller ones. Games like Akiba’s Beat, Ys IX: Monstrum Nox, and The Caligula Effect: Overdose on PS4 are standout titles. These games tend to have a very niche audience, so it was nice for Sony to include them here to expand their reach.
In general, there is a huge variety of genres, so someone is sure to find a game that they like.
This feature is probably only suitable for certain audiences, such as trophy hunters like me. Trophies are small milestones that developers include in a game and that add a sort of ‘badge’ to your PlayStation profile. Examples of certain types of trophies include beating a game’s first boss or completing the game’s story.
Sony has decided to retroactively add support for PlayStation Trophies to older titles, such as the original PlayStation’s Siphon Filter and Ape Escape. The Trophy system started with the PlayStation 3 and I appreciate Sony going back and adding it to old games. Not all classic games will get Trophy support, as publishers and developers have the final say on their implementation.
This is a small, clear advantage that the new PlayStation Plus has over Xbox Game Pass. While original Xbox games are on Microsoft’s subscription service, no achievements (the Xbox equivalent of PlayStation’s Trophies) are retroactively included.
Search options and categories are useful
If you go 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 different titles together. For example, there’s a “must-play” collection that includes some PlayStation exclusive products, as well as critically acclaimed third-party games like Control and Mortal Kombat 11. If you’re specifically looking for remasters or PS3 games, there are dedicated sections for those. also.
While the new PlayStation Plus includes first-party titles, the problem here is that these are older PlayStation exclusives that have been out for a few years and have gone on sale multiple times, both digitally and at retail. So chances are you’ve already played them, and if so, this aspect isn’t of much value.
In addition, 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 delivered big titles like Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5 on release day and promises the same for big 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 titles offered within the service are available for download, with the exception of PS3 games. The reason for this is that the PS3 would be so difficult to develop games that it would be difficult to emulate or enable local downloads.
In this case, PS3 titles on the service are only achievable for those who have a fast and/or stable internet connection. Playing PS3 games via stream with a weak connection is prone to stuttering and lag.
I played on my PS5 with a wired connection and my experience was stable, but only when I focused on playing games. I tried to play Resident Evil 4 HD and download Death Stranding Director’s Cut at the same time. I had 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 could be downloaded locally, I wouldn’t have had this problem.
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 streaming alone really hinders the overall experience.
The service offers game streaming on PS5, PS4, and PC, and almost every PS4 and PS5 game can be downloaded or streamed locally. 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 offers the local download option. However, this issue is rare compared to the rest of the entire game library.
PlayStation has such a rich video game history dating all the way back to the PS1 and PS2 eras, so it’s really depressing 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.
In addition, if you are outside of North America, you may receive inferior versions of PS1 games. While North American versions run at 60 Hz, European versions and Australian versions run at 50 Hz, which means they run slower. This can result in lower frame rates, which affect how smooth a game plays and feels.
While Sony will add more games to the service over time, the current meager offering of its massive legacy catalog is incredibly disappointing.
One advantage of Premium is that you get access to limited-time trial versions of games. You are free to try out game demos for a period of time. After your time has elapsed, you can choose to purchase the game from the PlayStation Network Store. One problem here, however, 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 having everything, but it’s not nearly as great a value compared to the rest of the benefits in the Premium tier. Either the number of game trials offered must increase drastically or the perk must be reduced to the Extra level since the level only has one perk.
New PlayStation Plus feels like it has so much potential, and that’s what’s so frustrating about it. It offers both exclusive first-party games and legacy titles from its rich catalog, but they all have certain caveats. It doesn’t excel well enough in either aspect.
It feels like the service isn’t trying to sell a robust product, but simply trying to streamline both the previous PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now services into one. That may have been PlayStation’s intent from the start rather than trying to be a direct answer to Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass. If so, then it worked.
The Premium tier still needs some work, and I recommend subscribing to it until the catalog is more fleshed out. If you really want to play PS3 games without having to lug your physical console or earn trophies in PS1 games, go ahead and subscribe to Premium. If not, the Essential or Extra tier will do.