The 8th 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 the PS4 and the Xbox One 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!
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PlayStation 5 Release Date
Sony has confirmed that the PlayStation 5 is about a year away, as they have announced a “Holiday 2020” release date. Since both the PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation 4 launched in November, we except that it will be the same deal with the PlayStation 5, though an October or a December launch is not out of the question.
With the final wave of high-profile PS4 exclusive such as Death Stranding, The Last of Us Part II, and Ghost of Tsushima coming out in late 2019 and over the course of 2020, the PS4 will have had a very memorable 7-year run filled with outstanding games that we hope the PS5 will manage to outdo.
PlayStation 5 Hardware
Mike Cerny 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 – at least unless Microsoft can match its specs with “Project Scarlett”, that is.
Here are the most important bits:
- It will be powered by a 7nm octa-core Ryzen CPU. This did not come as too big of a surprise to anyone, seeing as the PS4 was equipped with 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. Plus, 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 or hindering the performance too much, then the future of gaming will look quite good.
- 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 off virtual surround with TV speakers, headphones 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 just how much faster they are than regular HDDs, 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 will 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 for many, this won’t be the case, and the PS5 will support physical media. A lot of 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. However, it is unclear when the PSVR 2, as that’s what it will most likely be called, will launch. It could launch alongside the console or sometime after, and though there is no concrete information regarding the improvements that it would introduce, there’s a very good chance that the new VR 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 hardware architecture will be similar to that of the PS4. This is great news, considering just how many amazing games were and will be released for the PS4 even in its twilight years, and it would be quite bothersome if we had to wait on remasters of those games in order to play them on the new console.
As for backward 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 fast growing popularity of 4K TVs.
Mike Cerny stated that the PS5 will actually be able to handle even 8K, though it’s unclear how that would work and what kind of 8K support we’re talking about here. AMD’s latest and most powerful Navi GPU, the RX 5700 XT, is more geared towards 1440p gaming and can generally only manage 30 FPS in 4K. Of course, the performance will undoubtedly be enhanced via optimization, but it is highly unlikely that any even remotely demanding AAA titles will be running in native 8K at a stable 30 FPS.
On another note, even though 4K TVs are becoming more and more popular, 1080p TVs are still very widespread, which raises another question – will the PS5 allow the user to customize the graphics settings to a certain degree?
Of course, we’re not expecting a PC-level of graphics adjustments, but there’s just no denying that many gamers would welcome the option to lower the resolution or turn off features like ray tracing if doing so could yield a tangible performance boost. It’s pretty much a given that Sony will want to prioritize visuals over performance since the former is way more marketable when mainstream audiences are concerned, but most of us can agree that some degree of graphics adjustment would be very desirable.
Overall, 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 slip-up in this department back in 2006 with the PlayStation 3. Namely, at launch, the base 20 GB version of the console started at $500 while the 60 GB version was going for $600. 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 included all the most important features that the PS3 did. As such, it’s not difficult to see why Microsoft’s console was so popular throughout the 7th generation. A similar thing happened with the launch of the current 8th generation consoles when the PS4 ended up being $200 cheaper than the original Xbox One at launch, which played a big part in 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 on that front, especially not in the long run.
Considering Cerny’s promises regarding the hardware specs, it is likely that the PS5 will launch with an MSRP of $500. Starting at $600 would probably be too off-putting for mainstream consumers, though a $600 variant with extra storage will almost certainly exist. 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 PlayStation 5 Controller
While we are yet to see what the DualShock 5 (as it will most likely be called) will look like, we do know about some of its key new features i.e. haptic feedback and adaptive triggers.
Haptic feedback will be replacing the old rumble technology, and it will be superior in virtually every way, as it will offer a much greater degree of immersion. This will be complemented by the new adaptive triggers that will be able to offer varying degrees of resistance and a gradual increase in tension, thus simulating certain actions more accurately.
Furthermore, there are unconfirmed rumors that the new controller will feature a small touchscreen display instead of a touchpad. On one hand, this could somewhat enhance the experience in certain games if implemented properly (much like the touchpad and the integrated speaker in the DualShock 4) but many feel that such a feature would mean some unnecessary battery drain, as well as that it could needlessly inflate the price of the controller itself.
In any case, we don’t know what the new controller will look like nor whether it will even be called “DualShock 5”, and the haptic feedback and the adaptive triggers remain the only confirmed major features as of yet.
The Final Word
And that would be everything that we know about the upcoming PlayStation 5 for now! Since we know that Sony’s 9th-generation console will be launching in about a year, we’ll definitely be seeing some reveals and leaks in the future, so stay tuned for further updates!