The current console generation has been full of twists and turns, there’s no doubt about that. From the controversial launch of the Xbox One to the unheard-of mid-generation refresh that saw the release of beefed-up versions of consoles designed to take on 4K gaming, the train just didn’t seem to slow down.
Now, Sony has finally commented on the upcoming PlayStation 5, and the news is quite intriguing, to say the least. So, here’s everything we know about the next-gen incarnation of the PlayStation at the moment!
PlayStation 5 Release Date
For now, Sony has confirmed that the PlayStation 5 definitely won’t be hitting the shelves by the end of 2019, and that was hardly a big surprise. After all, the PlayStation 4 is still doing well, the PlayStation 4 Pro is doing a good job when it comes to 4K, and there are still several high-profile PlayStation 4 exclusives on the way, including Death Stranding, The Last of Us Part II, and Ghost of Tsushima.
As such, there is no need for Sony to rush the PlayStation 5, so the console will most likely come out in 2020, though a 2021 release is not out of the question either. Most people feel that a 2020 release is more likely, though there has been no official statement yet.
PlayStation 5 Hardware
Mike Cerny has told Wired a lot about what we can expect from the PlayStation 5 on the hardware front and if Sony can deliver on it, then the PS5 will easily be the most powerful console ever made, unless Microsoft can match its specs. Namely:
- It will be powered by a 7nm octa-core Ryzen CPU. This did not come across as too big of a surprise for anyone, seeing as the PS4 was already powered by an AMD Jaguar APU. However, the new Ryzen CPUs are in a whole other league compared to what AMD had to offer back in 2013, and they are quite affordable to boot.
- It will use a 7nm Navi GPU and support ray tracing. Again, the fact that the PS5 would use Navi was also expected but ray tracing support is a different story. Real-time ray tracing is one of the final steps towards fully photorealistic graphics, and if Sony and AMD can bring it to a console without it inflating the price, then a new era of gaming truly is upon us.
- It will bring audio enhancements. Audio is probably not very high on many a gamer’s console checklist, but there’s no arguing that immersive surround sound can make a world of difference in a game. With enhanced hardware and new software, Cerny claims that the PS5 will be able to effectively emulate a true surround experience even with nothing but a TV’s stereo speakers. Needless to say, if they can pull it off with TV speakers, headphones and true 5.1 or 7.1 systems should allow for some unprecedented immersion, especially in VR.
- It will come equipped with SSD storage. Seeing as to how much cheaper SSDs have gotten recently and especially considering how huge AAA games are getting, replacing the HDD with an SSD seems like a logical step for the next-generation consoles. An SSD would dramatically improve loading times if used right, and as Cerny demonstrated, fast travel loading times in Spider-Man drop from 15 seconds on the PS4 Pro to 0.8 seconds on the PS5 development kit – and that’s not even the final product! On top of that, an SSD would also help increase the LOD in games, as the console will be able to load more assets faster.
- It will come with an optical disc drive. One of the running theories regarding the next console generation was that they would scrap the disc drive entirely in favor of paving the way for a cloud-based future. Fortunately, this is not the case, and the PS5 will support physical media. After all, many people still prefer having hard copies of their games, films, and shows, and that’s especially true for those who have to deal with an iffy internet connection.
Other than that, Cerny has also suggested that a new iteration of PSVR would be released for the new console. It is unclear when the PSVR 2, as that’s what it will most likely be called, will launch. It could be available at console launch or sometime after, and though there is no concrete information regarding the improvements that it will introduce, it’s almost certain that the new headset will be wireless. Meanwhile, the original PSVR will still be compatible with the PS5, so those who already own the old headset won’t be forced to upgrade.
Furthermore, Cerny has confirmed that the PlayStation 5 will be fully backwards compatible with the PlayStation 4. This is mainly thanks to the fact that the architecture of the new console will be similar to that of the PS4. This is great news, considering just how many amazing games are being released for the PS4 in its twilight years, and it would be quite bothersome if we had to wait on remasters of those games in order for them to be playable on the new console.
As for backwards compatibility with the PS3 and older consoles, nothing was mentioned yet. The PS4 didn’t have backwards compatibility mainly due to how difficult it would have been to make PS3 games run on the new CPU, and it would hardly have been profitable for Sony. However, now that the latest CPUs have more than enough raw power to emulate the PS3’s Cell processor, it would be nice if Sony enabled backwards compatibility for older PlayStation games via emulation.
PlayStation 5 Performance and Pricing
With 4K becoming the new standard when it comes to TVs and considering that there are some 8K TVs available already, it is only natural that Sony should focus on 4K as the default resolution. Besides, they did already refresh the PS4 mid-generation due to the growing popularity of 4K TVs.
Mike Cerny has said that the PS5 will actually be able to handle even 8K, and if that’s really the case, then we could very well be looking at a console capable of pushing 60 FPS in 4K. Granted, the developers will probably focus on the graphics (after all, it’s a much better selling point for a mainstream audience) but having the option to choose between a performance-oriented and a graphics-oriented mode in AAA games would definitely be welcome.
Now, these are serious performance estimates and the console’s hardware specs are no joke – so how will this reflect on the pricing?
Sony had already made a serious blunder in this regard back in 2006 with the PlayStation 3. Namely, at launch, the console was going for $500 for the base 20 GB version and $600 for the 60 GB version. And keep in mind, this was pre-inflation, so we’re talking some serious money – it was actually about $650 and $750 respectively in today’s US dollars.
Meanwhile, the Xbox 360 cost as little as $300 at launch and offered all the important features that the PS3 did. As such, it’s not difficult to see why Microsoft’s console was so popular in the 7th console generation. A similar thing happened with the launch of the current 8th generation when the PS4 ended up being $200 cheaper than the original Xbox One at launch, which was not an inconsequential part of its immense success.
So, has either party learned its lesson? We definitely live in a PC-centric age and affordability is arguably more important for consoles than sheer hardware power, as they simply cannot compete with the customizability of a PC in that regard, especially not in the long run.
Considering Cerny’s promises regarding the hardware, it is likely that the PS5 will launch with an MSRP of $500. Starting at $600 would probably be off-putting for mainstream consumers, though a $600 variant with extra storage is not out of the question. Meanwhile, $400 seems way too low for the kind of hardware that the console will pack, so our bet for the starting price remains at $500 for now.
The Final Word
And that would be everything that we know about the upcoming PlayStation 5 for now! Since Sony is skipping this year’s E3, chances are we won’t see any big new reveals this year, though more details are certain to trickle down over time. Stay tuned for future updates!