Many might have forgotten about it, but the first real-life sign of the coming generation was provided by Sony. It was last April that hardware architect Mark Cerny gave us the first details about PlayStation 5 for Wired. It was a fairly new way to announce consoles, where it had previously been silence all the way up until a really large press conference.
During the autumn, Sony did the same again with a new Wired interview about an upcoming console, but then it went rather quiet. The next time the company had something big to reveal was in January, just before the coronavirus crisis struck, when they presented the PlayStation 5 logo. The fact that COVID-19 has impacted Sony's planning is something it has willingly admitted, but of course, the company is not alone as almost everyone has suffered one way or another. Instead, the planned hardware presentation that was going to be shown during GDC was seemingly improvised by Cerny during a live stream in March, followed by an announcement of the DualSense controller in April.
So what is it that we have been told about PlayStation 5 - and what are we not aware of? For starters, Sony has once again joined forces with AMD, which delivers both the CPU (the main processor of the console, which basically controls the hardware) and the GPU (the graphics processor that calculates what is being rendered on-screen while playing). Just like Microsoft with the Xbox Series X, Sony has opted for a custom eight-core Zen 2 processor operating at a maximum speed of 3.5GHz. This while the GPU has a computational capacity of 10.28 TFLOPs (36 CUs up to 2.23GHz - variable frequency).
The latter has been a marker that has been frequently thrown around, especially since the current generation began. Of course, computing capacity is a major factor (a good graphics card is important!), and something Microsoft is happy to use in its marketing since it has a noticeably more powerful console with a computing capacity of 12 TFLOPs. But of course, there are more factors to consider, and for PlayStation 5, Sony's secret recipe is an incredibly fast SSD 825-gigabyte hard drive.
The one Sony has chosen is roughly twice as fast as the Xbox Series X model, and this is something Cerny thinks will allow for much more seamless worlds where the hard drive can in some cases almost works like extra RAM (which Playstation 5 has 16 gigabytes of, by the way). In the Unreal Engine 5 demo that was recently showcased, we got to see samples of just that, where Epic and Sony together produced incredible jaw-dropping graphics on PlayStation 5. While Epic has stated that Unreal Engine 5 will also be "awesome" for PCs with the right components and Xbox Series X, it still proves that PlayStation 5 has more than enough capacity, and we really look forward to seeing what Sony's developers can do with this.
Although it is generally considered to be around six months until the PlayStation 5 is released, Sony has still not shown the console itself. Most analysts believe that this will happen sometime in June. Why they have not done this already likely has several explanations; they may not be completely done with the design, but they may also have secrets they need to keep. There has, for example, been plenty of talk about a spectacular cooling system for the console that would make it both quiet and cool, but it has also been speculated that this is contributing to a bigger price tag.
However, something we have seen is the next-gen controller, the DualSense, which was the big news in April. The attention was mainly due to the fact that Sony has chosen a black and white colour scheme instead of a uniform colour, where some design draws parallels to the Stormtrooper armour in Star Wars. It's even possible, maybe even probable, that the black and white design gives us some clues about what the PlayStation 5 might look like.
Sony has also chosen a form factor that is more reminiscent of the Xbox One controller in terms of design than its predecessor, the DualShock 4, and has invested in a similar setup with what they're calling "adaptive feedback" in the trigger buttons. The latter is likely to have the consequence that more companies will now use this feature since both Microsoft and Sony now have similar solutions. More great news with regards to the controller is that it now has a built-in microphone, which facilitates communication and also opens things up for new types of games. The touchpad is also there, which also applies to the controller speaker as well as the built-in rechargeable battery, which is now promised to last considerably longer than the one in its predecessor.
Finally, the Share button from DualShock 4 has been renamed Create. Exactly what this means is unclear, but we may have been given clues during the latest Ghost of Tsushima demonstration wherein an elaborate photo mode is included to quickly share spectacular photos and videos.
Sony received some criticism for the fact that the PlayStation 4 Pro did not have an Ultra HD Blu-ray optical drive, despite the fact that many consider it a Sony format, while Microsoft offered just that in both the Xbox One S and X. But now they are on the right track again and PlayStation 5 comes with support for Ultra HD Blu-ray. Another requested feature that is confirmed is backward compatibility. Although Sony has not gone into detail about how this will work, it should be possible to play the majority of Playstation 4 titles without problems, and often they are also improved with things such as faster loading times. However, whether or not old controllers and accessories will work with Playstation 5 is currently unclear.
The 825 gigabyte SSD that lets you store games may appear to be on the small side even before launch (it's worth pointing out that the Xbox Series X only offers marginally more with 1 terabyte, so small storage capacities are going to be a thing next generation) at a time when big games are often well over 100 gigabytes. In other words, it would mean that there is only space for about five or six big games on the hard drive, and chances are that games will be even bigger next generation thanks to increased texture quality. Fortunately, Sony has thought of this and you will be able to split all your installed games up; if you don't need to have French or German languages in your games, you don't have to install that data. Developers can also choose, for example, to separate single and multiplayer so that they only install have to one component. Thus, there's a good chance that those 825 gigabytes will go further than one might think.
But if you still need to expand your PlayStation 5, Sony has thought of this too. As with its latest consoles, you can supplement your storage with a larger one. At least initially, it won't be that simple to do, as Sony right now doesn't have full control over which hard drives support all the requirements they have, but it is obviously something that will be resolved. Therefore, you should be able to handle any space concerns for the console, even if we don't know exactly how just yet.
With this clarified, we have come to the things that we don't know about PlayStation 5. That includes when it will be released, how it looks, and what it will cost. As for the launch, Sony has repeatedly said it will be late this year, and a reasonable guess is sometime in November. Corona-related delays do not seem to be concerning the powers that be, and Sony has said that on several occasions, most recently last week. The price tag is completely unknown, but the PlayStation 4 did cost $399 at launch back in 2013 and almost all analysts think it will be more this time. Numbers between $449-$599 are usually thrown around in amongst the speculation, and we believe somewhere around $500 is most likely. Call it our best guess.
What we're going to be able to play on the console is also largely unknown. We do however know thanks to interviews, job postings and statements in connection with quarterly reports, that Spider-Man 2 (Insomniac Games) seems to be under development, as is Horizon: Zero Dawn 2 (Guerrilla Games). We also assume that Polyphony Digital is working on a new Gran Turismo, and we can likely expect free PlayStation 5 upgrades of Ghost of Tsushima and The Last of Us: Part II. Sony has also flagged that for a period they will release several titles to both PlayStation 4 and 5, so those who have the former one will not be without new games.
Regarding free updates, EA has also flagged that they will offer this option to PS5 owners, at least initially. This means that anyone who buys FIFA 21 or Madden NFL 21 this summer for PS4 will be able to upgrade it to the PlayStation 5 edition if/when they get the new console. We also know about third-party titles like Assassin's Creed Valhalla and Outriders. But in general, we don't know a huge amount about the likely lineup of games coming to the platform - something that guarantees an exciting summer and autumn with many announcements. We live in hope.
Later this week, we will return with a similar article where we pull together everything we know about Xbox Series X, so you should be well prepared for the final presentations of each console, which are both expected to happen in the coming weeks.
Loading next content