PS5 release date, specs, games, backward compatibility and more

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Sony has officially confirmed that it is working on next-gen, and although it hasn't revealed the name of the console yet, we're putting our money on it being called the PS5. Regardless of what it's called, we've had PS5 confirmed people, PS5 confirmed. Back in April, the PS5 was revealed by an exclusive Wired article, where the publication talked to PS5 architect Mark Cerny about the PS5 specs, and even gave a cheeky wink and a nod to the PS5 price

The TL;DR version is that it'll be backwards compatible with PS4; will have a disc drive; it's been in development for over four years; a number of studios are already working on PS5 games; it'll boast 8K graphics and support for ray tracing; and under the hood will be a custom made AMD CPU and GPU. 

Since then though, we've not heard an official peep from the various Sony and PlayStation crews. So, until we get more concrete information from Sony, here's everything we know so far about the PS5: 

When will the PS5 release date be?

Will Sony compete with the next Xbox?

Will Sony compete with the next Xbox?

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If Sony wants to compete with the Xbox Project Scarlett, it's going to be looking to release its next-gen console around the same time. That could mean that we're looking at a PS5 release date around the same 'Holiday 2020' period. According to the Wired piece that confirmed the existence of Sony's next-gen console, PS5 architect Mark Cerny says repeatedly that it "won't be landing in stores anytime in 2019".

"A number of studios have been working with it, though, and Sony recently accelerated its deployment of devkits so that game creators will have the time they need to adjust to its capabilities," reads the Wired article.

Interestingly, in May this year, Sony said in a in a corporate strategy meeting that the PS4 would still be the "engine of engagement and profitability for the next three years", with the PS4 still having an "outstanding roster [of] exclusive AAA games still to come". That, of course, includes The Last of Us 2, and Ghost of Tsushima, which still don't currently have release dates. It could well be that these titles will see simultaneous PS5 and PS4 releases. 

Be wary of that PS4 still being a money driver for the next three years thing too. The PS4 and PS5 will exist alongside each other in the market for at least a few years after the PS5 launch, with a good majority of the 90 million(+) PS4 gamers not making the transition to PS5 for years after the console is released. We're still putting our money on a Christmas 2020 PS5 release date.

How much will the PS5 cost?

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After the big Wired article that officially confirmed the PS5, Wired's Peter Rubin took to Twitter to relay information that hadn't made it into the original article. That included slight hints towards the potential cost of the PS5. According to Rubin, PS5 architect Mark Cerny said that he "believe[s] that we will be able to release it at an SRP that will be appealing to gamers in light of its advanced feature set". 

When pressed on whether that means it will cost more than the PS4's launch price, he wouldn't give any further details, simply saying "that's about all I can say about it". 

What it translates to though, is that the price will be relevant to the technology that's under the hood, and because it will be more powerful than the PS4, you can probably bet it'll be more expensive too. Our prediction is that will circle the $500 / £450 price point, but only time will tell. 

PS5 specs and performance: What technology can we expect?

PS4 Pro

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Sony has already confirmed that the PS5 will be running on an AMD CPU chip that's based on the third generation of AMD's Ryzen line. It'll be an eight-core, custom-made, beast based on the company's new 7nm Zen 2 microarchitecture. The CPU is a custom variant of AMD Radeon's Navi family, and will support ray tracing - an effect that is a staple of Hollywood, and one that's beginning to appear in high-end PC processors and the Nvidia RTX gaming line. 

It's admittedly disconcerting to think a next-generation console could be running on three-year-old hardware by the time it comes out. Fortunately, in June of last year, a few industry sources speaking with Forbes contributor Jason Evangelho emerged under the guise of anonymity to clear up some of the erroneous reports surrounding what's really under the hood of the PS5. Their forecast? At least for its graphics, the PS5 is going to harness the power of the last-generation Zen CPU architecture in conjunction with AMD's freshly revealed Navi graphics architecture. 

(Image credit: AMD)

A big part of that GPU setup will be support for 8K resolutions and ray tracing in PS5 games. The latter is a technology that greatly improves the visual fidelity in games, as it mimics the way light moves and bounces from object to object, particularly reflective surfaces, and refraction through water, other liquids and glass. Given the proper optimizations, games could exhibit more realistic lighting and shadows as a result. In that same Wired interview, Cerny went on to say ray tracing isn't just about visuals, as it can yield audio enhancements for players and developers alike.

"If you wanted to run tests to see if the player can hear certain audio sources or if the enemies can hear the players’ footsteps, ray tracing is useful for that,” he says. “It's all the same thing as taking a ray through the environment.”

It turns out that Sony is also adding a custom unit for 3D audio in the PS5 too, taking the attention to audio and sound improvements to the next level for its upcoming console. "As a gamer," said Cerny, "it's been a little bit of a frustration that audio did not change too much between PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. With the next console the dream is to show how dramatically different the audio experience can be when we apply significant amounts of hardware horsepower to it.”

For gamers though, at least from my perspective, one of the biggest new improvements for the PS5 will be a huge decrease in loading times. At a corporate strategy event earlier this year, Sony presented footage that compared Spider-Man PS4 running on both the current-gen system and the PS5. The experience was recorded by tech journalist Takashi Mochizuki, and it clearly showed that Marvel's Spider-Man takes 8.10 seconds to load, whereas on the PS5 that load time is shortened to just 0.8 seconds. No, that's not a typo. Take a look below:

What about PS5 streaming? Is that going to be a feature?

A report found on the PlayStation website revealed a series of slides presented by Sony CEO Jim Ryan at the very same aforementioned corporate strategy event the gameplay load times were shown off at. These slides focus on the company's long and short term future when it comes to PlayStation, and confirmed that PS5 streaming will go hand-in-hand with physical discs and digital downloads as a way to experience games going forward. The deck outlined "a massively enhanced PlayStation community where enriched and shared PlayStation experiences can be seamlessly enjoyed independent of time and place - with or without a console". 

Interestingly, Sony and Microsoft announced an unprecedented new partnership earlier in 2019 to develop advanced streaming and cloud technology together. Apparently Sony aims to use the "new partnerships to achieve growth and scale faster than ever before". 

Apparently this very same technology will be used to "transition our community to next-gen faster and more seamlessly than ever before", particularly when it comes to backwards compatibility for PS4 games. 

Will there be PS5 backwards compatibility for my PS4 games (or older)?

God of War New Game Plus

God of War upscaled to 8K? Yes please

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Sony has confirmed that the PS5 will be backwards compatible with your PS4 games. According to the Wired article, the next-gen console won't be a digital only machine, it'll still accept physical media, and because it's based on the PS4 architecture is will be backwards-compatible for PS4 games. 

There's no word on PS3, PS2 or older games as yet, but no doubt PlayStation Now will be making the move to PS5 too. 

However, according to a US patent filed by Sony Interactive Entertainment and spotted by GearNuke, there is reason to believe the PS5 will offer games from the entire PlayStation bloodline. The patent, called "Remastering by emulation," appears to indicate a new method of implementing high-resolution art assets into legacy software "on the fly."

Similar to the "texture packs" PC gamers have been concocting for years, remastering by emulation could serve as a cost-efficient way to improve the graphics quality of older titles without remaking them from the ground up. Sure, it's a stretch to say this equates to the ability to play our PS4, PS3, PS2 and PS1 games on PS5, but even so, we can see how it would be interpreted as such. 

This patent isn't the only sign we have that backward compatibility for older PlayStation games is on its way, either. A more recently discovered Japanese patent describes a technique that enables Sony hardware to "determine whether an application is a legacy application or not," and was actually authored by PS5 lead architect Mark Cerny. Moreover, the patent examines the potential for putting imitation legacy chipsets inside newer hardware. In doing so, Sony could avoid the obstructive hurdles that often thwart emulation efforts. 

Will there be a PS5 PS VR?

PSVR 2 is rumored to appear with PS5.

PSVR 2 is rumored to appear with PS5.

But what of PlayStation VR? In case there were any doubts, Mark Cerny confirmed PS5 compatibility for the original PSVR unit in his interview with Wired. However, he stopped short of suggesting a next-generation PlayStation VR headset is in the works. 

"I won't go into the details of our VR strategy today," he said, "beyond saying that VR is very important to us and that the current PSVR headset is compatible with the new console."

However, a selection of leaked PS5 patents have painted a detailed picture of what to expect from a potential PS5 PSVR headset. As spotted by Inverse, Sony has filed a number of patents and trademarks, which include prototype pictures, related to a PS5 PSVR headset. It will apparently cost $250 in the US, boast head and eye tracking technology, and have the option to run wirelessly, with a five hour battery life on a single charge. 

In terms of specs, Sony is apparently aiming for a 560-by-1,440 resolution with the PS5's new headset, alongside a 120-hertz refresh rate, and a 220-degree field of view. 

For peripherals, Sony could potentially be toying with a VR Glove equipped with haptic feedback, which, when paired with the eye-tracking features of this new headset, could create some mad immersive gaming technology.

What will the PS5 games line-up be like?

As for its games, the PS5's launch library remains as elusive as its release date. Sadly, there's a shortage of trustworthy sources to base our predictions on. Nevertheless, we do know PS5 is "most of the focus" for Sony's first-party studios, with Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmad having posted about it publicly on ResetEra. He said that while "a couple of unannounced games" from established franchises are still on their way to PS4, he's confident some of them will come to PS5 as well.

That could mean that The Last of Us 2, and Ghost of Tsushima will be simultaneously released for PS4 and PS5. But as for the rest of the PS5 games, we'll have to wait and see. 

Techland has confirmed that Dying Light 2 will also launch on PS5 and Xbox Project Scarlett, and EA has said it is working on next-gen titles right now for launch in 2020. So prepare yourself for an influx.