Best PS5 Features You Didn’t Know Existed

Even those lucky enough to get their hands on a PS5 probably don't know about some of the console's best hidden features.

PlayStation 5
Photo: Sony Interactive Entertainment

When Sony launched the PlayStation 5, the company included an “Accolades” feature that was supposed to encourage camaraderie and discourage toxic behavior in multiplayer games. Earlier this year, Sony announced it was sunsetting the Accolades system, citing a lack of usage. Like so many of the best PS5 features, the problem with Accolades wasn’t that it was bad but rather that too many PS5 owners didn’t even know it existed.

The PS5 is filled with features that seemingly fly under the radar of its growing number of owners. Many PS5 features, such as an improved controller rumble and an expandable SSD, are standard for the current console generation. But then there are those quality-of-life elements that are so obscure or buried in menus that most gamers will probably never hear about them, let alone actually use them. For instance, did you know that you can skip many of the setup sequences that pop up whenever you launch a game for the first time? Or that if you can’t find a remote to mute your TV, your Dualsense controller can offer that same function in a pinch? It’s true. Actually, here are some of the other best PS5 features you (probably) never heard of.

Retrieve Disks from Dead PS5s

Everything eventually breaks, including game consoles. While you can buy a new console when that inevitability occurs, what happens if your game disc is inside when your PS5 dies? It turns out the PS5 offers a simple solution for that potentially big problem.

If your PS5 has died and won’t power on, Sony has provided a handy how-to guide to recover any trapped discs. First, unplug the console, remove the base, and place the console on a table with the PS5 logo facing down and the disc slot facing away from you. Then, gently slide the cover off the console by lifting it up. After the cover is removed, you should see several black rings and a black plastic sticker on top of the disk drive. This sticker hides the disc release. Either remove or puncture the sticker, and use a #1 Phillips screwdriver (or similarly-sized cross-head screwdriver) to turn the screw underneath it clockwise. Continue turning until the disc is almost completely out of the slot, and then remove it. Once your disc is safely back in your hands, replace the PS5’s cover.

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Even if your PS5 isn’t dead, this trick will help you remove your valuable disc should the need ever arise. You don’t want your console ruining a perfectly good game, now do you?

Controller Shortcuts

While the PlayStation 5 controller is a joy to hold, the console’s general UX could use some work. For instance, the built-in store doesn’t include a section devoted to demos anymore. That is a significant step back from the PlayStation 4 store that could easily be remedied. However, some of the PS5’s other UX shortcomings can be overcome with the literal press of a button on the PS5 controller.

Whenever the PS5 starts up, its home menu drops you into a list of your available games. But what if you would rather watch something on Netflix or Tubi? You could scroll up to the top of the “Games” tab and tap the stick over once to access your media players, or you can just Press R1. If you want to return to your list of games, just press L1. What if you want to use the search function while browsing the home menu or game store? Just tap the triangle button and then the x button. Simple as that.

The controller also has quite a few more shortcuts that work outside of the PS5’s home screen. The console’s hint system, for example, can be accessed by pressing the “PS” button on the controller. To speed up the process, just double-tap the “PS” button. Then the console brings up the hints without any extra fuss. Say you are in the middle of a game you can’t pause, but someone wants to talk to you. Hold down on the button below the “PS”-shaped one, and the controller will automatically mute the game.

While these shortcuts only cut out a few seconds of scrambling around the menus (or looking for a TV remote), these scant seconds add up in the long run.

Activities Card Fast Travel

Video game worlds come in all shapes and sizes. Some are linear affairs that ferry players through tightly-woven setpieces, while others offer sprawling open areas that necessitate the implementation of a fast-travel system. Regardless, the PlayStation 5 makes it a breeze to navigate some of these games thanks to a system designed to help players track their trophy progress.

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Beneath each game icon on the PS5 home page lies a series of related activity cards. These cards compartmentalize various tasks (primarily trophies) and help players keep track of what achievements they’re missing and how to accomplish them. However, activity cards also offer a secondary fast-travel function in certain games.

Say, for instance, you are playing Demon’s Souls and want to teleport to the Gates of Boletaria without walking through the Nexus. Simply select the “Gates of Boletaria” activity card and press the square button (or the on-screen “Resume Activity” button), and the game will teleport you to the area. You can use this trick either while in the game or before starting it (either way is faster than the in-game route). And Demon’s Souls isn’t the only title with this time-saving functionality. The activity cards of Astro’s Playroom and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales also spirit players to select locations within their games. 

Again, this feature isn’t available in every game, but those that utilize it open up far more avenues for saving time. Without these cards and their map teleportation functionality, BertoPlease wouldn’t have achieved his remarkable Demon’s Souls speedrun time of 53 minutes and 57.3 seconds.

Use PS5 3D Audio Without 3D Headphones

One of the PlayStation 5’s biggest selling points is the power of the PULSE 3D Wireless Headset. Why purchase a high-end soundbar when you can buy the VR headset equivalent to headphones? Then again, the better question just might be, “Why purchase a 3D headset when you can simulate 3D Audio with what you already have at home?”

Hidden in the PlayStation 5 Settings menu sits the Sound menu. This section controls the PS5 controller’s microphone, the TV output speakers, and the general volume. The menu also has two more options: “3D Audio for TV Speakers” and “3D Audio for Headphones.” As the names suggest, these tabs let users experience spatial audio without Sony’s proprietary wireless headphones.

Before you can use these modes, you have to enable them and then set them up for your desired configuration (not everyone’s TV speakers or ears work the same way). In order for speakers to harness the power of 3D audio, you have to measure your gaming room’s acoustics. Thankfully, the PS5 can do that for you. Select the “Measure Room Acoustics Using TV Speakers” option, hit the “Next” button when your DualSense controller is fully updated (and when its microphone is on), and finally hold it flat at eye level and select “Start Measurement.” The console will emit a series of beeps. Once it’s finished, you can use 3D audio with your pre-existing speakers. But what if you don’t like the result? Then “3D Audio for Headphones” might be more your speed. Just plug your preferred headphones into your controller’s audio jack, enable the 3D audio headphones option, and select “Adjust 3D Audio Profile” to pick the mode you think sounds best.

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To be fair, the sounds that emanate from Sony’s proprietary PULSE headset are vastly superior, but if you want to experience the beauty of 3D audio without splurging on another headset, this feature should do the trick.

Global Preferences

Every time you start up a game, it usually runs you through the same few questions. Do you want the console to prioritize framerate or resolution? Do you want your game to use subtitles? Will you take the red pill or the blue pill? Ok, that last one was from The Matrix and not any PlayStation 5 game (yet), but it still gets annoying answering these same questions over and over again. If only there was a faster way to set up the game. On the PlayStation 5, there is.

Near the bottom of the Settings menu is a “Saved Data and Game/App Settings” option. As the name suggests, this part of the menu lets users view, copy, and delete their saved data, but what are “Game/App Settings”? These control if your games are automatically kept up to date, show spoilers, and in the case of this entry, control some in-game options right out of the gate.

The “Game Presets” portion of the “Saved Data and Game/App Settings” lets you pre-select different preferences. These include the difficulty setting, subtitles, audio language, performance or resolution mode, and camera controls (i.e., whether a game uses a normal or inverted camera). By default, all of these settings are set to “Game Default,” but by picking your option of choice in the Game Presets menu, you can force a game to start with your preferred difficulty, language, camera control, and rendering modes. Of course, you still have to modify a game’s brightness and contrast levels since no two televisions have the same picture settings, but any feature that takes some of the busy work out of setting up a game is a boon.