It's finally the year of PS5. 2020 is here and that can only mean one thing – new games, new specs, new hardware and more are on the imminent horizon. We now know that Sony's next-gen platform is called, simply, PS5, is arriving in 'Holiday 2020' and it's going to be in direct competition with the Xbox Series X, which is coming also in Holiday 2020, and know we even know what it looks like. Your turn, Sony.
Interestingly, PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan states that there's a lot more news to come about the PS5. He said that the console has a number of "unique elements" that'll make it stand out from its predecessors that have yet to be announced.
"With every new console, the processor and graphics get better, which is of course complelling, but we need to have unique elements too", explained Ryan in an interview with Business Insider. Apparently many of these "bigger differences" between PS5 and PS4 haven't yet been announced.
Also, in a recent Wired article, PS5 architect Mark Cerny (the man also responsible for leading work on the PlayStation 4) gave us a bumper of info about the upcoming PS5 specs, alongside hints about what we can expect from 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. All that, combined with the new information means there's actually quite a lot we do know now about the PS5, so here we go:
When will the PS5 release date be?
Sony has now confirmed that the PS5 release date is set for Holiday 2020. "These updates may not be a huge surprise, but we wanted to confirm them for our PlayStation fans, as we started to reveal additional details about our vision for the next generation," explained SIEE President, Jim Ryan, on the PlayStation Blog. That's a good thing too, because if Sony wants to compete with the Xbox Series X, it's had to look to release its next-gen console around the same time.
For a more specific idea of the PS5 release date, a new rumour has pegged the console's launch down for November 20 of next year, simultaneously stating that it'll be selling for the day one price of $499 in the United States. For comparison, the PS4's initial cost was $399, which brings us nicely onto our next point...
How much will the PS5 cost?
PS5 vs Xbox Series X – will Sony dominate the next-generation or can Microsoft stage a huge comeback?
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.
The PS5 logo is rather familiar
At CES 2020, Sony revealed the official PS5 logo, and as you can see above, it's not exactly much of a surprise. It's exactly the same as the PS3 and PS4 logos, but with a rather slick five at the end.
PS5 specs and performance: What technology can we expect?
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.
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's first PS5 gameplay reveal demonstrated 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:
Sony's official video comparing performance of PS4 Pro vs next-gen PlayStation pic.twitter.com/2eUROxKFLqMay 21, 2019
Thanks to the fact the PS5 is switching from disc-based hard drives to SSDs, Sony is also changing it's approach to how we store games on the next-gen console. You'll be able to configure exactly what parts of a game you want to store on your machine, "allowing [a] finer-grained access to the data". That means you'll be able to install just the multiplayer, or just the single-player, or delete one or the other once you're done with it.
What will the PS5 look like?
While we're likely quite some time away before Sony shows off the final box design of its PS5, we do have a decent idea of what it might look like sat on our TV shelves, thanks to leaked patents and photos of the current dev kit that a number of developers are currently working with to create their new games for next-gen. The rendered model above, formulated by LetsGoDigital, is an artist's imagining of the PS5 based of what we've seen from the devkit, but it's no guarantee that the final product will resemble what's currently located in game studios around the world.
Meanwhile, yet another leaked patent reveals that Sony is developing a mysterious cartridge product that may or may not be compatible for the PS5. Current bets have it down as an external SSD that can be slotted into the console for easy memory management of your PS5 games, but - again - it's entirely possible this has nothing to do with the PS5 at all, so take its design and appearance with a pinch of salt.
What will the DualShock 5 be like?
A newly discovered patent filed by Sony with the Japanese Patent Office recently revealed the first images of what appears to be the DualShock 5 (seen above on the right, compared with the current PS4 controller on the left), and it looks like not much is changing for Sony's gamepad. The patent reveals that the PS5 controller will be ditching the DualShock 4's light bar, with modifications to the size of the traditional triggers and sticks while adding what appears to be an in-built microphone around its base.
We also know that the DualShock 5 is going to be heavier than the DualShock 4, but lighter than an Xbox One pad with batteries inside, and aside from USB-C charging, there are two key innovations that are intrinsic to the new pad - and these are straight from Sony officially.
1. Haptic Feedback
Gone is the rumble tech of other controllers, with Sony instead focusing on haptic feedback that's more akin to an iPhone. "With haptics, you truly feel a broader range of feedback, so crashing into a wall in a race car feels much different than making a tackle on the football field," explains Ryan in the PlayStation Blog. "You can even get a sense of a variety of textures when running through fields of grass or plodding through mud."
2. Adaptive Triggers
Building on the sort of tech found in the Xbox One Elite controller, the PS5 pad will focus on adaptive triggers that more accurately represent what you're doing in-game. For example, you'll be able to feel the tension as a draw a bow and arrow, or hit the gas on a rally car across rocky terrain.
"In combination with the haptics, this can produce a powerful experience that better simulates various actions," adds Ryan. "Game creators have started to receive early versions of the new controller, and we can’t wait to see where their imagination goes with these new features at their disposal."
We've also had a few leaked shots of the DualShock 5 – or at least that's what a tipster suggests – which seem to be an upgrade of the existing PS4 DualShock 4 but with a slightly larger touchpad, and no lightbar at the top of the said touchpad. Take a look:
PS5 Devkit Cleaning from r/PS5
What will the PS5 UI be like?
Sony confirmed to Wired that the PS5 UI is getting "completely revamped" from what we know and love of the PS4's version. The idea is to give you instant access to what single-player missions you could do, or what multiplayer matches you could join without even having to boot up the game.
"Even though it will be fairly fast to boot games, we don't want the player to have to boot the game, see what's up, boot the game, see what's up", says Cerny. "Multiplayer game servers will provide the console with the set of joinable activities in real time. Single-player games will provide information like what missions you could do and what rewards you might receive for completing them—and all of those choices will be visible in the UI. As a player you just jump right into whatever you like."
Additionally, another leak from 2019 reveals that Sony apparently wants to make the PS5 more accessible for stream set-ups, with the console including an in-built camera that can capture 4K footage with the click of a button, organically reacting to the lighting of your room to make sure the picture is always top quality. Perhaps the hardware's new and improved user interface could also reflect this pivot, with more buttons dedicated to sharing your gameplay with the wider world.
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)?
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?
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?
The PS5 launch games library remains as elusive as its release date, as 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. Meanwhile, a new job listing posted on Guerrilla Games' website suggests that Horizon Zero Dawn 2, a sequel to the hit PS4 exclusive of 2015, is actively in the works at the studio, and could well be in development exclusively for next-gen. 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 Series X, and EA has said it is working on next-gen titles right now for launch in 2020. So prepare yourself for an influx.
For more, check out 11 tech demos to make you excited for next-gen, or watch below for our latest episode of Dialogue Options.