If you’re an avid PlayStation fan you’ve probably already had PlayStation Plus for a while. You’ve needed it to play online, after all, and there’s a nice selection of monthly games that have been showing up for years. With the meteoric rise of Microsoft’s Game Pass, though, Sony felt the need to step their game up – literally. Behold the revamped PlayStation Plus subscription service. It’s expanded! It’s fancy! It might be extra expensive! It most likely is!
But are you really getting extra PlayStation gaming goodness for the extra cash? Let’s take a closer look!
From a practical perspective, the biggest change to PlayStation Plus might be the addition of several pricing tiers. You’re able to choose what you’d like to have and pay whatever works for you to get it…well, sort of. Rather than the one-size-fits-all subscription that we used to have, the new PlayStation Plus offers three tiers, each with their own price point (and associated discounts for purchasing longer subscriptions): Essential, Extra and Premium. Essential offers a similar experience to the original sub, Extra is something akin to Game Pass and Premium is Game Pass plus some cute extras.
So how’s the selection once you’ve managed to dig around and find the right subscription for you? It’s…surprisingly good! Well, depending on what you’ve got access to. If you’ve got Essential, for instance, there’s not actually a selection at all. You can play games online, you’ll get a discount on certain games and every month you’ll gain access to a couple of downloadable titles that will stick around as long as your subscription remains active. It’s a decent set of perks for the relatively cheap $10 or so you’ll be throwing at it.
Let’s say you step it up a little and go for the $15/month PS Plus Extra, though. That’ll give you access to a catalogue of around 400 downloadable PS5 and PS4 games presented in a style that’s pretty much the same as Xbox Game Pass. This is probably the direction most are going to want to go – that catalogue is no joke, after all. You’ve got RPGs, action games, shooters, sims and more in a selection that really does rival that of Game Pass itself. DOOM? Days Gone? Control? Persona 5? Final Fantasy XV? All of these and even new games like Annapurna Interactive’s Stray are here to download and enjoy, so knock yourself out.
One of the issues here turns out to be that it took so long for such a catalogue to exist; there’s a pretty fair chance that you’ve already played many of the highlight titles just by virtue of PS Plus Extra not existing until now.
Still, we don’t skimp here on Popzara, so let’s go one final step up and check out the perks included with PS Plus Premium. Perhaps the most significant addition is the Classics Catalog, which includes a pretty sizable set of games from several generations ago. Much like the catalogue included with PS Plus Extra, there’s plenty of selection here and tons of stuff to check out. If you’ve somehow missed Beyond: Two Souls, for instance, you can easily remedy that with the Classics Catalog. There’s games on games on games here, particularly titles from the PS3 that might be a little difficult to get a hold of these days. Drop your $18 and you can peruse to your liking…
…but how much are you actually going to like it? See, that all sounds great right up until we mention that the lion’s share of the Classic Catalogue consists of games presented via streaming. Sure, there’s a handful of PS1 games that have run emulated on PS5 and these are admittedly fantastic. Remember Jumping Flash? Yeah, there’s Jumping Flash. The presence of these emulated games is the big selling point of the Premium tier as they’re rock solid chunks of nostalgia that are very much worth checking out. They run like you remember, play like you remember and they’ve even got trophy support in some cases.
On the other hand, that’s not the bulk of what you get with Premium. Most of these games are streamed, and if you’ve somehow gotten the idea that streaming games has gotten better since the questionable release of Google’s Stadia then let us assure you that this isn’t the case. Streaming continues to be a lag-filled, pixelated mess that nobody ever actually wanted but that continues to be pushed onto the market for some unknown reason.
At its best, game streaming continues to be a questionable way to play these games, and at its worst you’re not really playing them at all. It’s great that you can try to play the original Red Dead Redemption, but it’s less great that even in ideal conditions it’s not going to play well at all. If you’re an RPG fan this is a pretty acceptable way of playing that kind of game, but not much more.
PlayStation on PC?
Much as with Stadia, Luna, or GeForce Now one of the very few situations where you might want to consider messing with game streaming is using PS Plus Premium on PC. It’s…well, it is what it is, which isn’t much. A sizable majority of these games haven’t had PC releases yet, and if you’ve got your PC hooked up directly to whatever internet spigot you use at home this might be the best experience you’re going to have. Note the many restrictions, of course: you can’t download the games so it’s streaming-only; you have to use a PS3 or 4 controller as the PS5’s DualSense, hilariously, doesn’t work; you can only get audio from a headset plugged into your PC. Basically, you’re going to be settling for a significantly less impressive experience here, especially given the lack of the fancy haptics that we’ve come to love from the PS5 controller.
Still, if you want to try some of those fancy PS5-exclusive games out and you still haven’t managed to get one yet, well, it’s time to finally get your Returnal on.
Play(Station) or (Game)Pass?
With all that said, do we recommend the new PlayStation Plus? Well, we can pretty easily recommend it right up to the Extra tier. That catalogue is no joke at all, not to mention it includes some top-tier PS5 games like Demon’s Souls and Returnal so it’s a no-brainer for new PS5 owners. On the other hand, it’s a little more difficult to suggest the Premium tier, which is largely a big selection of games presented via the typically-questionable streaming method we’ve remembered from the original PlayStation Now. It’s only an additional $3/month over the Extra tier, but if you’re scrounging for cash it’s entirely reasonable to skip that additional expense.
Generally speaking, though, you’ll be perfectly content with going up to the Extra tier if you haven’t already played most of the vast selection of games available in the growing catalogue, and if you’re only interested in playing online you’re still getting the additional monthly games with the $10/month Essential tier. Our recommendation: do yourself a favor and splurge a little. There’s bound to be something among those 400+ games or so you haven’t played yet and are bound to enjoy.