by Goran Damnjanovic, Gaming Columnist
Published in Gaming on 11th December, 2019
PlayStation 5 is coming near the end of 2020. Here's everything we know about Sony's next-gen video game console.
PlayStation 5 is inevitable. The launch window is set for late 2020 and while there were some uncertainties about the console's name by now it's clear it's called PlayStation 5.
And since Sony bought rights for PlayStation 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 we can say that we know names of future PlayStation consoles up until 2050 or so.
While the name is set in stone other features are mostly covered in fog at the moment. It's not an extremely thick fog mind you but still, while there are rumors and reports out in the wild, not many features are officially confirmed.
But no official confirmations from Sony doesn't mean info we found isn't reliable. Some features, like backwards compatibility, DualShock 5 design, and release date are all officially confirmed.
Others, such as final design and hardware specs are still in the realm of speculation but we can at least confirm some of the hardware that will most likely find its way to the final design.
Overall, there's lots of info regarding PlayStation 5 and put together, it paints a pretty clear picture of when the console is coming out, how beefy its hardware is going to be, what its controller will look like, and whether or not will it run PlayStation 4 titles. Let's dive into details.
It's officially confirmed the PlayStation 5 is set to launch during the 2020 Holiday season. A recent leak on Twitter put the exact launch date on November 20, 2020, which falls right at the start of the holiday season so we tend to believe in this rumor.
It will give just enough time for fans to save up and get the console for the holidays.
When it comes to the announcement date there are no confirmed dates nor credible rumors. While 2020 E3 looks like a perfect time for the reveal we think otherwise.
E3 is a video game event and the show wasn't used to reveal new consoles in the past (Microsoft did reveal Xbox One X at E3 but that wasn't a proper next-gen console reveal). E3 2020 will probably be used to show off the final design and reveal the price of the next-gen consoles but we reckon the announcement will come sooner.
Sony unveiled the PlayStation 4 on February 20, 2013 and the US launch date was on November 15, 2013. This gives us a good frame of reference and if we had to guess when the PS5 will be unveiled we'd put our bets on a period between February and April 2020. When it comes to design and pricing announcement, E3 2020 is our best bet.
The most important part of every gaming console is its hardware and the PlayStation 5 is expected to pack serious punch. First of all, there's the eight-core CPU based on AMD's Zen 2 architecture, which is lightyears ahead of mobile-based Jaguar CPU from AMD that powers the PS4 and Xbox One.
When it comes to the CPU expect a future-proof beast that will age much better than the CPU found in the PS4 and Xbox One.
Next, we have a Navi based GPU. The GPU is based on second-generation Navi (rDNA) architecture that should see the light of day during CES 2020, in a couple of months.
It should offer a noticeable jump in performance compared to current RX 5700 XT cards and come with hardware-based ray-tracing capabilities, which Mark Cerny, the PS5 lead architect, confirmed during his interview with Wired. Hardware-based Ray Tracing on next-gen consoles is a big thing and it should finally bring ray tracing to the masses after the next-gen consoles come out in 2020.
When it comes to RAM, not much is known. It is expected for Sony to equip the console with DDR6 RAM modules, which are blazing fast, much faster than in the PS4, PS4 Pro, and Xbox One X.
For instance, the Xbox One X supports memory bandwidth up to 326GBps with its DDR5 RAM module. DDR6 RAM should have no problem doubling the bandwidth. When it comes to the amount of RAM, not much is known. Since PS4 Pro came with 8GB of RAM and Xbox One X pushed that to 12GB we expect the PS5 to come with at least 16GB of RAM.
The PS5 is expected to be capable of running games in 4K at 60fps and beyond. The console supports resolutions up to 8K and framerates up to 120 frames per second but we believe that only VR games, and maybe graphically humble indie titles, will work in 120fps mode.
Finally, the PlayStation 5 should also bring a much better audio experience. The console will support 3D audio such as DTS: X and Dolby Atmos standards. The headphone audio experience will also be much better; all this thanks to the proprietary audio processor found in the upcoming console, which is officially confirmed by Cerny.
While powerful AMD-made CPU and GPU should support much more detailed games that run in native 4K resolution at 60fps the star of the PS5 show is something PCs had for more than a decade now - an SSD instead of a classic hard drive.
The presence of an SSD (solid-state drive) in the PlayStation 5 should virtually eliminate loading in video games, allowing developers to build insanely huge worlds that offer an unmatched level of detail.
And while you might ask why an SSD in a console is such a big deal - we have them in our gaming PCs for years and all they do is make loading times shorter - putting one in a gaming console is different.
You see, when developers create a game for the PC they have to include a multitude of storage devices in the formula - hard drives, some of which are very slow as well as SSDs, some of which are really fast. They have to include a multitude of brands with hundreds of models.
But on a console, they have one SSD that's the same in every single console in the world. Next, you don't have to deal with different CPUs and GPUs and the access to the SSD is low-level, without any DirectX API that goes via multiple OS layers like in a regular PC.
Also, the SSD found in the PS5 will be faster than any commercial SSD available right now. And those can be pretty darn fast. An NVMe SSD (which connects with a PC via a super-fast PCI-E slot) can reach read speeds of 3000MBps. Compare this to physical hard drives found in the PS4 and Xbox One, which can achieve speeds of about 80MBps and you get the idea just how superior the storage speed will be in the next-gen consoles.
The leaked Spider-Man presentation showed loading time comparison between a PS4 Pro and the upcoming PlayStation 5. The current-gen system finished loading the game in a bit more than eight seconds while the next-gen hardware finished in less than one second! Mind you that the next-gen hardware is still fairly unoptimized and under development.
But the SSD won't just eliminate loading in games. Asset streaming is another thing that will be much improved. Video game engines have to constantly pull assets (such as textures, models, shaders, and other stuff) while we play video games.
This is especially intensive in large open-world titles, where you constantly have new objects and textures appearing in front of you. Because of the constant asset streaming, current-gen games have to be installed on hard drives and those installations include a huge amount of redundant assets. "If you look at a game like Marvel's Spider-Man," Mark Cerny stated to Wired, "there are some pieces of data duplicated 400 times on the hard drive."
This will change with the PS5. Instead of duplicating assets for easy access, next-gen games will need only one install location for every asset since the storage will be super-fast.
This can lead to a smaller install size for many games and thus smaller download sizes, which is always a good thing. But that's not all since future games will also support modular installations.
We will be able to install only single-player or multiplayer parts of a video game. Or to install only the first couple of levels and to play the game without any stutter while the rest of the game downloads to the SSD. Sony tried something similar on the PS4 but in most cases, games offered just one level or just a demo mode (like sports games such as FIFA and NBA 2K20) to play while they were downloaded and installed.
Leaks showing PlayStation 5 design were confirmed recently when a PS5 developer kit was caught in the wild by an unnamed video game developer.
The dev kit sports a retro design with a large V shape going at the middle (representing 5) with lots of cooling cutouts, an LCD screen on the front along with a Bly Ray tray and USB-C charging ports. The console is also pretty thick and honestly, it looks huge compared to the original PS4 and Xbox One.
But this is a dev kit after all and every dev kit console looked way different than the final product. The PS4 dev kit looked nothing like the final product. It was a huge rectangular device and was built like a tank.
In fact, you can see the PS4 dev kit console on the image, at the far-right side, next to the monitor. Also, the plethora of cooling cutouts are made specifically for dev kit because developers use it for various stress tests, and those need quality cooling.
At the moment it's safe to say that the final PlayStation 5 design will be noticeably different from the leaked console design. Sony knows that leaks happen all the time and the company won't share the final design with anyone until it unveils the console sometimes during 2020.
Recent patent leak that showed the alleged DualShock 5 design seems to be true and in line with Wired PS5 coverage where it's stated that the upcoming controller looks "an awful lot like the PS4's DualShock 4." The leak that pictures the PS5 developer kit also includes a DualShock 5 and it looks like in the patent pictures that leaked earlier.
As you can see from the pictures DualShock 5 is almost identical to the PS4's DualShock 4 but there are some small but welcome changes. First of all, it looks like triggers are a bit longer and with longer travel, which will be awesome because short, flaky triggers is one of the worst things about the DualShock 4.
This is in line with Sony talking about triggers on the DualShock 5 featuring adaptive trigger technology in combination with haptic feedback instead of simple rumble tech used in the DualShock 4.
This will allow developers to program various feedback into the controller, like detailed haptics and different levels of resistance of triggers. Imagine trigger rumble like on the Xbox One controller, the better feeling when playing shooter games, and detailed haptic feedback that will change based on, let's say, different types of terrain in video games.
Next, it seems that the lightbar is gone, which poses the question of how the PS5 will handle motion control in VR games (answer - it will probably use camera-based tracking). Further, the DualShock 5 features a USB-C charging port at the front of the controller along with a slightly redesigned touch bar, which looks a bit wider and with rougher edges.
Also, analog sticks appear a bit shorter, which should improve aim precision when playing shooters. Finally, DualShock 5 grips will be rounder and a bit wider, in line with what Xbox One controller looks like.
Overall, the design changes are very subtle but we think they are positive. After all, the DualShock 4 is a very good controller with a few shortcomings that are mostly fixed in the DualShock 5 design like better and longer triggers, shorter analog sticks, and rounder and wider grips.
What we don't like is that Sony kept the convex analog stick design. We like it better on the Xbox One and Switch controllers, which both sport concave sticks. They keep your thumbs glued to the stick while the convex shape of the DS4 sticks leads to thumbs constantly slipping, especially during warmer days.
Another leak shows a completely different controller design, this one having sharp edges, a small touchscreen, no analog sticks, and just one set of shoulder buttons. The image surfaced on LetsGoDigital, a credible leak source that first shared the PS5 developer kit, showing something that's a far cry from the expected DS5 design. This one seems to be something of a simple controller to use with a smart TV. Whatever it is, it certainly won't replace the DS5.
It is expected for both Xbox Scarlet (codename for the next-gen Xbox console) and PlayStation 5 to sport a bit higher price than their predecessors thanks to the powerful hardware and the inclusion of SSDs instead of classic hard discs. The rumored price is set at $499 and that seems reasonable for a box capable of playing games at 4K and 60 frames per second.
Now, the price may seem low since the console should come with a large SSD and these can be expensive. But the SSD in question will be mass manufactured making the price noticeably lower compared to consumer-grade SSDs.
Oh, and that patent leak everyone though was expandable SSD storage for the PlayStation 5 is in fact game cartridge design for Sony's portable TOIO game system that doesn't have anything in common with the PlayStation brand.
While Mark Cerny confirmed that the PlayStation 5 will come with backwards compatibility not much is known about the feature. What is almost certain is that the console will be able to run every PS4 game (since the two consoles share a similar hardware architecture). /p>
The question is whether the games will work in 1080p or 4K and whether at 30 or 60 frames per second. It's safe to assume the console will run most PlayStation 4 games at 60fps since it's much more powerful and has similar hardware to the PS4.
When it comes to the PS5 backwards compatibility with older PlayStation consoles, things don't look too bright. PlayStation 3 is known for its complex Cell architecture that was extremely tough to program for.
Making every PS3 game playable on the next-gen console will be extremely hard to pull off. We reckon that Sony will create a program similar to Microsoft's Backwards Compatibility where the company will gradually release new backwards compatible games. Just look that the RPCS3 emulator, which allows PC gamers to play PS3 games.
Developers had to work on it for years only for the program to be able to run games at any frame rate and now they have to optimize each major title individually to make it run at playable frame rates. Maybe if Sony hired people behind the RPCS3 the PS5 would be able to run most PS3 titles.
Emulating PS1 games shouldn't be a problem since emulators for the console exist even for Android and iOS devices. The PlayStation 2 is another console with peculiar hardware and providing backwards compatibility for the whole PS2 library is unlikely. Like with the PS3, we should see games being gradually added to the backwards compatibility list.
The two major trends Sony has to tackle in the coming years are game streaming and game subscription services. The company bought Gaikai and OnLive, two companies that were pioneers in-game streaming technology.
They were quickly shut down and Sony unearthed its own game streaming service, the PlayStation Now. The service didn't find much success since it was pretty expensive and the experience was laggy for many users. The decision to allow users to download specific titles and play them locally didn't gain much traction and the PS Now stayed a niche service.
But 2019 was the year of game streaming and video game subscription services and Sony has to answer to Google Stadia and Microsoft's xCloud as well as to the extremely popular Xbox Game Pass, a subscription service that allows users to play a plethora of games for a relatively low monthly subscription.
The irony is that Sony had both services in the form of PS Now but didn't develop them and is now in the underdog position while the competition leads the way in both sectors.
Things have to change and Sony knows that. The company already slashed PS Now subscription to $9.99 a month and added few blockbuster games such as God of War and GTA 5 but in order to create competitive service in time for the PS5 release more work is needed.
Sony announced partnership with Microsoft and the latter will provide its Azure cloud services to Sony, which will power the PS Now streaming infrastructure in the future (remember that Azure servers are available all across the world and are powering Microsoft's xCloud streaming service).
While this may seem strange at the first glance, Sony and Microsoft must stick together because Google and Amazon (the company is rumored to enter the game streaming market in 2020) will definitely try to take a chunk of the video games market in the future.
Sony will have to improve PS Now by the time the PlayStation 5 arrives. We shouldn't see first-party exclusives offered at launch day on PS Now like Microsoft does on the Xbox Game Pass but Sony will definitely offer many more games on the service in the coming year.
And we expect the company to offer first-party exclusives on its subscription service one year after the release, allowing players to play them for a cheap while at the same time making a solid profit from sales during the first 12 months. As for the game streaming well, we hope Sony utilizes its relationship with Microsoft and offers a better game streaming platform sometimes in 2020 or 2021.
If that doesn't happen people will use their PS5 consoles to run competitors' game streaming platforms instead of using PlayStation Now.
PSVR was a relative success - it has sold in about 4.2 million units since it debuted - and Mark Cerny confirmed that the first-generation PlayStation VR headset will be compatible with the PlayStation 5. Sony will definitely go for the VR market since Microsoft isn't really interested in VR and AR at the moment.
Another PS5 hardware leak shows the future PSVR2 headset that will work with the upcoming console. The headset is much improved compared to the first-generation headset. It features camera-based tracking, like other VR headsets such as Valve Index.
The controllers also feature camera-based tracking. This is much better and much more precise than the current PSVR headset and Move controllers but that's not the best thing. The PSVR2 should be completely wireless, which is a proper game changer and something that could push many more users to go VR on the PS5. At the moment the PSVR2 release date is unknown but it's safe to assume it will arrive either alongside the next-gen console or sometimes during 2021.
And finally, let's talk about potential launch titles for the PlayStation 5. As is the case each year you can bet that FIFA 21, Madden NFL 21, NBA 2K21, and next year's Call of Duty will definitely come for the next-gen console.
Ubisoft's upcoming Assassin's Creed Kingdom that takes place in Northern Europe and lets you play as a Viking will also definitely be released for the PS5. Further, the upcoming Rainbox Six: Quarantine is developed for the PS5 and will be available at launch.
Dying Light 2, from Techland, should arrive for current-gen systems and the PC sometimes during 2020 and the game is also in development for next-gen consoles so expect it to be another PS5 launch title.
Other games that could end up as launch titles could include current PS4 exclusives: Ghost of Tsushima and The Last of Us 2. Since the PS5 will almost definitely be backwards compatible with PS4 games we expect Sony to provide patches for these two games alongside PS5 launch that will improve their visuals and also make then run in 4K and 60fps on the upcoming console.
When it comes to the first party exclusives made from the ground up for the next-gen console we also have a few candidates. A job posting at Guerilla Games, the studio behind the fantastic Horizon: Zero Dawn, indicates that the sequel is in the works and that it will launch as first-party PS5 exclusive alongside the console.
Next, Guerilla Games acquired Rainbow Six: Siege game director and multiplayer designer during 2018, hinting that the PS5 might launch with a first-party multiplayer shooter game. And Finally, we will probably get a few other PS5 launch titles we currently know nothing about, like it is the case with the launch of each next-gen console.