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One Day In and I Already Miss Dynamic Themes on PlayStation 5

The new setup is pretty, but not as personal.

Fanbyte friends, I’ve had my PlayStation 5 for about four hours now, and the majority of that time has been spent on the console’s dashboard as I install games, transfer PS4 ones, and just try and get everything settled for when I actually do sit down and play something on the thing later. As tedious and a frustrating as that process has been (hard drive compatibility and formatting have added steps to the process), I haven’t noticed any glaring issues yet, so hopefully everything’s okay for me to start BugsnaxSpider-Man: Miles Morales, or Demon’s Souls later. That being said, I’m already missing one key feature that the PlayStation 5 doesn’t have right out the gate: custom themes.

Sony announced this when it was showing off the PlayStation 5’s UI, as the new console is opting for a more clean and universal style this time around. I’ll be the first to admit what the system’s already got is pretty slick, and certainly less busy and messy than the PS4 and PS3’s menus were in previous generations. The whole thing just feels easier to navigate once you get a hang of it and learn what buttons do what and what apps go where. I also really like the ambient music Sony’s added to it, which is a bit more on the soothing side compared to what the PlayStation 4 had, in my opinion. It’s the kind of music I can see myself playing in the background while I work or just do other things around the house…like I’m doing right now as I write this.

But I can’t say that I’m not going to miss the personalization that came with the custom themes of the PS4 era. As of today, I have laid my PS4 to rest after seven years of service, and over the that generation I had a handful of themes I kept for extended periods of time. So much so that I started to associate their aesthetic and music with the PlayStation 4 itself more so than the game they came from. My longest-running theme was the Persona 5 one based on Ryuji Sakamoto, and I loved seeing that game’s stylish menus made to fit a PlayStation 4 dashboard. And who among us doesn’t like to have a little bit of Persona 5’s soundtrack added to our day while we look through our system to see what we feel like playing?

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At the very end of the transition from PS4 to PS5, I’d settled on a theme that came with my collector’s edition of The Last of Us Part II, which included gorgeous art of its main characters all being painted in the background, set to lovely music by the game’s composer Gustavo Santaolalla. It was soothing, beautiful to look at, and representative of what was my favorite game of the PS4 generation. It was a nice note to leave that system on.

But now that’s all been replaced by pretty, but maybe a little generic light shows in the background. While I definitely don’t find it displeasing to the eyes and ears, there is something a little sad about seeing that kind of customization going away this generation. Now, when you hover over a game you might play, each gets a sort of mini theme to go along with it, and if that’s what Sony’s going for, it does ultimately make sense to abandon the old themes.

Won’t stop me from wishing I could have Persona 5 music playing in the background at all times, though.

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Kenneth Shepard

Kenneth is a Georgia-based writer who still periodically cries about the Mass Effect trilogy years after it concluded.

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