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Road to PS5: The GamesRadar team react to reveal stream

(Image credit: Sony)

The "Road to PS5" stream has just finished bombarding us with numbers and graphs, leaving us to grapple with the distinct absence of games, a lot of PS5 specs and a nagging obsession with the strange shadow audience that PlayStation lead system architect Mark Cerny was presenting to. You can get all the facts and figures on PS5 SSD, PS5 3D audio and PS5 game betas from our extensive news coverage, and then check out what our team of experts thinks below. 

"Specs are nothing without game examples " – Sam Loveridge

I'm all for getting hot and bothered under the collar when it comes to next-gen specs. Talk to me about teraFLOPS and ray-tracing as much as you want, but all of the tech jargon can be lost in translation without game examples. The majority of people who will actually buy a PS5 want to know what this all means for our games. A Powerpoint-esque slideshow of graphics and illustrations is perfect for GDC and an audience of developers, but for a mass-market livestream for gamers hungry for next-gen news it means nothing. This is the first time we've heard Sony talk directly about PS5 - not just through Wired or Digital Foundry - and it feels like it's more isolating than all-inclusive. What happened to that 'For the Players' PS4 tagline? This feels further from the players than we've been for a while. Sam Loveridge (Global Editor-in-Chief)

" Show me the money! Or the release date! Or a game!  " - Rachel Weber

This felt like a truly bizarre way to launch a new console. Yes, specifications are important, but this felt like a talk you give once you have people hyped with some sexy, slow-motion videos of the new console and at least a hint of a big game or two. It feels like Sony missed a step, jumping straight to the nitty-gritty and skipping the spectacle. It's like an episode of CSI: Miami skipping the murder entirely, and just doing 45 minutes on how fiber forensics work. We got no games, no release date, no price, nothing. I'm still excited by the promise of the increased performance, but a 45 minute talk on SSDs and Mark Cerny wanting a video of my ears isn't the reason why. Rachel Weber (Managing Editor)

"I just want to actually see what the PS5 looks like" – Heather Wald

I've never been one for all of the hardware lingo, so this was a lot to digest. And it was also just a little… odd. I found myself getting far too distracted by the silhouetted audience to soak up all of the tech talk properly. Since it was intended for developers, I had a feeling it wasn't going to be a showstopper, but I still hoped it would ramp up the hype just a little bit more than it did. Of course, it's neat to learn about some of the console's innards and that we'll be able to tuck into PS4 games on the new console, but to be honest, I just want to see what the PS5 actually looks like. So far, we've only seen a dev kit design that looks a bit like something you might find on the set of Star Trek. It's high time we get a glimpse of the PS5 once and for all so we can start imagining what it might look like alongside our TV setups.   Heather Wald (Staff Writer)

(Image credit: Sony)

"Sony has a long way to go" – Josh West

Honestly, I'm not sure why Sony decided to share this in such a public way. GDC 2020 might have been postponed, but it's still running the type of heady tech talks that make nerds stand up to attention and everybody fall asleep in their chairs – sobbing as the talk of Tempest Audio and Solid-State Drives transform into hallucinatory nightmares – on its own channel, sequestered from the wider world. It tempers expectations in a way that hosting it on the official PlayStation channel never could. This would have fit far more comfortably in that ecosystem. Instead, we're left trying to decode a lot of extremely developer-centric points of discussion – very little of it felt informational or relevant, particularly as we still have no idea what it looks like, what games it'll have day one, or when it will be available. Sony has a long way to go, and it will certainly need to put on a far better show when it comes to revealing the PS5 for real via virtual conference later this summer. Josh West (Features Editor)

"Virtual surround sound from just my TV? Show me more" – Brendan Griffiths

Let’s be fair, that was very dry, even for cool cat Cerny. But hey, we didn’t really expect to see games did we (no but it would have been nice!)? I did perk up during one particular segment and that was for the PS5’s 3D audio. It was great to see such a dedicated segment to something that represented signs of progress. It's so easy to always just think of better graphics and faster load times as the main generational advancements in gaming. Cerny claims that we'll be getting a much more nuanced soundscape in games and most interestingly, we won't necessarily need an array of extra speakers, soundbars or expensive headphones to enjoy 3D audio or Virtual Surround sound effects. Can we really get any sort of decent PS5 3D audio from just our basic TV speakers though? I’m admittedly skeptical of that particularly lofty goal, but also very much ready to see what audio masters DICE can do with such grand designs. Can we have Bad Company 3 now, please? My ears are ready. Brendan Griffiths (Managing Editor, Hardware & Gaming)

"This was for developers, and really, developers only" - Ben Tyrer

As introductions to what a console can do, that was hardly going to be what regular players would be after. Sure, there were a few glimpses of things to get excited about - virtually no loading times, copy delays becoming a thing of the past, 3D audio sounds cool in theory - but it was buried beneath an incredibly detailed chat about the insides of a console we still haven't seen. Really, this was for developers who are either working on PS5 or want to. After all, it was planned as a GDC talk. If it feels like a missed opportunity now, Sony still has the chance to wrestle some momentum back by showing us what games will be coming. But it undoubtedly looks like a misstep to have gone so detailed this early on. Ben Tyrer (News Editor)

(Image credit: Sony)

"Is that all? No, it can't be" – Jordan Gerblick

The soothing sounds of PS5 lead architect Mark Cerny's voice weren't enough to hush the cries of the GamesRadar team's collective confusion, disappointment, and mild exhaustion. Of course, this was a talk meant for GDC, but there was so much context surrounding the stream - notably, Sony's deafening silence on the PS5 in the face of an ever-expanding stream of info from Microsoft on the Xbox Series X - that I expected more. There were a lot of numbers, algorithms, and even discussion about the evolution of the human ear that grated on my impatience for real-world benefits for playing games, new game reveals, and a look at the PS5 controller. The talk about 3D audio making games more immersive, load times being significantly decreased, and patch installs essentially being eliminated was exciting, but my perhaps irresponsibly-inflated anticipation promised so much more. And as a defiant, lifelong Sony apologist, I'm sure there is more to come. There has to be… right? Jordan Gerblick (Contributor)

"An indisputable disappointment, but hardly a surprising one" – Alex Avard

Mark Cerny's lecture on the flops, gigabytes, nicknacks and doodads running behind PS5's architecture was exhausting in all the wrong ways, but are we really that surprised? The Sony tech wizard held a similar talk to generate... *ahem*... "interest" for the PS4 over seven years ago, so the man clearly has a love for getting into the nuts and bolts of his ongoing passion projects. Still, for Sony to release a 52 minute tech talk right now, with everything going on and everyone stuck indoors and everything Microsoft has just announced... It was a poor promotional strategy to say the least. Thanks for bringing back terrible memories of my university days, PlayStation. Here's hoping you remember the art and value of showmanship before the summer, aye? Alex Avard (Features Writer)

"I've never been less excited for a new console" – Ford James

I know this was meant to be a GDC talk. But really, Sony? This reveal was hyped up to be so much more and since we got all the details on Xbox Series X just a few days ago, consider me severely underwhelmed. I'm sure this talk was absolutely riveting for developers and those who actually understand this stuff, but I'm just a mere guides writer; I'm really not that bothered about how you can measure our ear canals or the amount of teraflops it has. Which I'm still convinced is a made up word. Show me the physical console, tell me how much it'll cost, and tell me when I can get one for myself. That's what I care about and if Sony wants to have a horse in this race and outsell Microsoft come Christmas, they need to turn it up a notch. Ford James (Guides Writer)

(Image credit: Sony)

"More Mark Cerny does ASMR than anything else" - Alyssa Mercante

Working from home means I'm in a perpetual state of exhaustion because of the vicinity to my sleeping quarters, and Mark Cerny's dulcet tones combined with the spec-iest of spec talks nearly put me to sleep. This was, quite simply, the kind of pub conversation I would immediately check out of, and it's a bizarre choice for the first real PS5 news yet. Sony had the opportunity to give us some pomp and circumstance, some sexy console shots and buzz words set to European deep house. Instead, we got the first lecture of a college class that would have you seriously concerned about your ability to pass. Bueller, Bueller? There was a bunch of talk about SSDs, GPUs, and teraflops, with absolutely no game previews, no price point, and no visualization of the console itself. Sure, peering under the hood is incredibly important, but I also want to look like Michelle Rodriguez behind the wheel of a drag racer, so I'd appreciate a good look at the exterior. Alyssa Mercante (Editor)

"Now I have a headache" - Benjamin Abbott

My head hurts. It feels like I've had an instruction manual for advanced computing thrown at me. Even though this was obviously aimed at developers (and that's fine), it feels like a real miss for Sony. Because we know so little about the PS5, and because anticipation is so high, announcing a stream like this established certain expectations. Would we finally see the console itself, or the controller? Could we possibly find out the PS5 price? Microsoft is way ahead in terms of its reveals, so expecting that today didn't seem unreasonable. Instead we got an informative but oh-so-dry deep dive that would never appeal to the majority of folks tuning in. Come on, Sony - read the room. As Rachel mentioned, it feels like the PS5 rollout is being done backward. Benjamin Abbott (Hardware Writer)

"Teraflops mean nothing, but being easy to develop for does" - Leon Hurley

Potentially the most important part of the whole PS5 reveal was the idea that Mark Cerny led the PS5 team using feedback from developers. The PS3 had a famously bad start because it had incredibly powerful hardware that was hard to learn - something even Sony admits led to a poor start. In the long run, it won out, but it cost PlayStation rep. By focusing on making a console for developers, Sony could win before we even see a game (which feels like it might never happen at this rate). Xbox is currently rumored to have anywhere between 3-5 variations of new Xbox on the way, of which the Series X is only one, which means developers will have to test and optimize multiple versions of the same game. That’s not going to be popular, no matter how powerful the biggest one is. Remember, for all the talk of Teraflops, more isn’t always best. It’s like horsepower - having more doesn’t mean a faster car, it’s all about how it’s tuned. And if Sony’s PS5 is tuned based on developer feedback, it’s going to be easier to make games on, and make them look good.   Leon Hurley (Guides Co-Ordinator)

(Image credit: Sony)

"The main event is still to come" – James Jarvis

Sony haven’t talked about the PS5 for ages, and then when they do, what we get is a 50-minute presentation full of acronyms, screenshots of PS3 game Dead Space, and at least four mentions of the Matrix. Huh. Of course, this was only ever supposed to be a talk at GDC about the tech behind the PS5 - not a presentation of the console itself - but it’s still disappointing when there’s not even a single firework display rendered in-engine. 

At the moment, it feels like Sony is a full lap or two behind Microsoft when it comes to details about the new machine. We’ve seen Microsoft's next box, some of the games in action (albeit through a CGI sizzle reel) and even got the tag line, “Power your Dreams." The full reveal surely isn’t too far away but until then, I guess I’ll have to fill my PS5 dreams with SSD’s, GHz’s, HRTF’s, GDDR’s and Mark Cerny’s Ears. James Jarvis (Head of UK Video Operations)

"This was never meant to be a reveal stream" - Austin Wood

This is not how Sony planned to unveil the PS5 or hype up the power of its tech, but due to the GDC closure, this is what we ended up with: a long, dry, sexless presentation driven by numbers and infographics. This presentation was meant for GDC, and it feels like it was meant for GDC. Most of it will only truly excite developers, and it was often difficult to wring meaningful information and features out of Cerny's lecture. That said, it did tell us a lot about the sheer horsepower of the PS5, and it's good to know that Sony is at least comfortable talking about its next system. Microsoft's unveiled the Xbox Series X about three times at this point, so it's about time we got another horse in this race. That said, I hope Sony's next showing is more appropriately formatted (read: less boring). Austin Wood (Staff Writer) 

"It wasn't bombastic but it was at least something" - Rob Dwiar 

The most important thing is that we have information; some actual information. And this time it's official, straight from the horse's mouth and bonafide news. We now have some hard facts and features to scrutinize. Which, regardless of the tough way to engage with it all, is undoubtedly a good thing - and I do, genuinely, want more now. If you care to look at what was said in detail, its interesting to see how Microsoft's and Sony's next-gen machines will be simultaneously quite similar in terms of the level of hardware, but also quite different in terms of how they're going to utilize it. It will make for intriguing reveals about console iterations, proprietary extras, accessories and, of course, how games can fully utilize the complex but ingenious hardware compositions. Mr Cerny has a very soothing voice but teamed with some stone-cold hardware chat, it was a little tough to penetrate and, more importantly, get excited about - the way the presentation was originally pitched also didn't help the way it had to be re-marketed and re-packaged as a 'Mega Big PS5 Hardware Reveal'. However, the hardware is where all our gaming enjoyment, essentially, stems from, so it's an important step and, surely - surely - it sets up the next part of the reveal process (as it has now become) for something more mouthwatering. But right now, I need to go lie down and maybe soak up a hardware manual or two by osmosis. Rob Dwiar (Staff Writer, Hardware)

"I will never show Mark Cerny my ears" - Connor Sheridan 

I do not care if he says it will give me better audio. I will never take a picture of my ears and send them to Mark Cerny, or Sony, or anybody else. I am a married man and I take that sacred vow very seriously. - Connor Sheridan (News Editor)