Sony’s next-generation PlayStation console is the PS5 (PlayStation 5) and it’s landing at the end of 2020.
In early 2019, we heard from Mark Cerny, the chief architect on Sony’s next console, that the company is working on the successor to the PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro. While he didn’t share the official name or release date at the time, Cerny did shed some light on a few choice details about what we could expect from its hardware.
We found out that the PS5 will still play discs, for one – but as to the exact hardware specifications, and how it will link up with Sony and Microsoft’s plans for game streaming, we’ve remained largely in the dark.
However, in recent months, Sony has been drip-feeding us juicy titbits such as an official PS5 release window, name and a few key details about features.
In addition, we’ve had some surprising leaks, in the form of a Sony-registered patent that seems to show off the PS5’s general shape, button inputs, and cooling vents – confirmed to be the PS5 dev kit in a leaked photo – though we expect the end product design will be different for the PlayStation 5’s late 2020 launch.
With 2020 creeping closer, Sony can only keep the finer details of the next-generation PlayStation a secret for a little longer – especially with Microsoft official unveiling the Xbox Series X. But between the rumored specs, likely next-gen titles, and official features we are aware of, there’s plenty to keep us busy for now.
Here’s everything we know about the PS5 so far, and what we hope will be revealed the closer we get to launch.
PS5: key facts
- What is it? The Sony PS5 will be the next-gen PlayStation console, replacing the PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro.
- When will it release? “Holiday 2020” so between October and December 2020.
- What can I play on it? Only a few titles have been confirmed, but expect all of Sony’s big franchises – as well as in-development exclusives like Ghosts of Tsushima.
- Will PS5 have VR? Oh yes. The next-gen console will be compatible with current PSVR hardware and there are rumors of PSVR 2.
- What will the PS5 cost? The PS4 and PS4 Pro were both $399 / £349 at launch, but we expect the PS5 will cost somewhat more. Leaks have suggested around the $499 mark.
PS5 release date
Sony has officially confirmed the PS5 will release “Holiday 2020”, aka between October and December 2020. A leak has suggested that the release date will be November 20, 2020 but that’s yet to be confirmed. It’s in the right window, though, and it does leave time before Christmas to get those orders in.
This will put the PlayStation 5 in direct competition with Microsoft’s Xbox Series X (formerly Xbox Project Scarlett), which is releasing during the same period. Game on.
PS5 price: how much will it cost?
Sony hasn’t officially confirmed a PS5 price just yet, so we can’t say for sure what it’ll be. There have, however, been rumors. A leak has suggested that the console will cost $499 in North America when it launches. Naturally this should be taken with a pinch of salt, but it would be welcome news if the console did launch at this price as it’s only $100 more than the launch price of the PS4 and PS4 Pro.
We can expect that the console’s price will be in line with the technology it uses but Sony will also have to be aware of its competition. It’s unlikely that Microsoft will want to make the same mistake it made in the last generation, with the prohibitively high price point of the Xbox One, so Sony will have to ensure it doesn’t make a similar mistake in the next generation by making the PS5 too expensive.
- Bespoke 8-core AMD chipset (based on third generation Ryzen architecture and with Navi GPU)
- SSD storage system
- Backwards compatibility with PS4 games and PSVR hardware
- 3D audio
- 8K TV support
So what is the PS5 packing under the hood? We don’t know a huge amount about the PlayStation 5’s specs, but here’s what we do know.
That AMD one-two-punch of CPU and GPU unlocks the powers of ray tracing, an advanced lighting technique that can bring next-level immersion to gaming visuals. It’s a Hollywood technique that’s used in big-budget CGI spectacles, putting the level of visual fidelity you can expect into context.
Ray tracing is done by GPU hardware rather than software level, Mark Cerny told Wired. “There is ray-tracing acceleration in the GPU hardware,” Cerny explained.
With 8K TV support comes far more detailed textures, and much larger ones at that. The news of a bespoke SSD drive will be heartening then – just because the games will be becoming more complex, that doesn’t mean they’ll be slower to load too. It’s estimated that the new SSD is 19 times faster than traditional SSD storage methods (but given the speed difference between the SSD and the optical drive, installation of games will be mandatory).
Not only that, by harnessing the power of the SSD, developers could potentially reduce the install sizes of games as “there is no need to duplicate data to compensate for slow seek times that optical drives and HDDs have.”
The PS5 will benefit from simplified data management due to its SSD, and this will allow players to have more control over installing and removing games. This will allow players to install (or remove) only certain parts of a game. So instead of installing the full game, you could choose to just install the single-player mode and then do multiplayer later – or vice versa.
Physical games for the PS5 will use 100GB optical disks, inserted into an optical drive that doubles as a 4K Blu-Ray player and the next-generation hardware will boast a completely revamped UI.
Speaking about the new UI to Wired, Cerny said: “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.
“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.”
Audio will reach a new “gold standard” on PS5 too, according to Cerny, thanks to a new audio engine that will deliver immersive sound – particularly if you’re using headphones. While the details remain unclear, expect something resembling the experience seen with a Dolby Atmos set-up.
Sony’s PS5 next-generation console will also offer improved cloud gaming performance and “dramatically improved graphics rendering” power.
That’s the word straight from the company itself, as it showed off a sneak peak during a corporate strategy presentation.
In a statement sent out following the presentation, Sony said the “two keywords for the future direction of PlayStation are ‘immersive’ and ‘seamless'”, with the ‘immersive’ experience “created by dramatically increased graphics rendering speeds, achieved through the employment of further improved computational power and a customized ultra-fast, broadband SSD”.
The company also reinforced the importance of its cloud-gaming plans with Playstation Now, and somewhat surprisingly doubled down on its underused Remote Play feature, saying the “evolution” of this would in the future “provide a seamless game experience anytime, anywhere”.
Remote Play is already available as part of the PS4 package, enabling you to stream a game direct from the console to a computer, smartphone, tablet or PS Vita handheld console. But Sony says that going forward it will be “leveraging the latest computing, streaming, cloud, and 5G technologies” to allow it, and the performance of PlayStation Now, to improve.
If that’s not enough, Sony has confirmed the PS5’s ‘incredibly powerful’ backwards compatibility will let you play online with PS4 players.
There have also been rumors that the PS5 could be backwards compatible with the PS3, PS2, and original PlayStation, meaning its games library could stretch right back to the glory days of the mid 90s.
We haven’t actually gotten an official look at the PlayStation 5 yet but, if several leaks are to be believed, Sony’s next-generation console will sport a very different look to its predecessors.
The above render, courtesy of Let’s Go Digital, is based on a spy shot received by Zone of Tech, which shows what’s alleged to be a real, working PS5 development kit in its natural habitat – the offices of an anonymous PlayStation 5 developer.
The image, if legitimate, all-but confirms the many leaked rumors and renders concerning the PlayStation 5’s hardware design, one that sports an unusual V-shaped cavity and excessive amounts of ventilation.
What does the image show us? There’s a number of buttons: On/Standby, Reset, Eject (for the double layer 100GB-reading Blu-ray drive), System Initialisation and Network initialisation, all on the front left. There are also a number of status lights, numbering ‘0’ to ‘7’, which likely relate to CPU cores engaged, but could also be a status light for controllers connected.
To the right there are 5 USB ports (one USB 2.0 and five likely USB 3.0 ports – the final port being obscured by a cable), as well as a USB type B port. A small circle above could well be a camera built into the console, according to earlier patent filings.
Interestingly, rubber feet appear to be on the top side of the console, suggesting that devs are being encourage to either flip the console for stress testing and convenience, or to stack them when working on demanding games.
Even if we are to assume this is a PS5 dev kit for real out in the wild, it should only really be used to speculate on what the final design of the consumer console will be, rather than considering it wholly indicative on the machine to come.
Dev kits are specially designed to be robust, and to support a console working under extreme load so as to allow the developers to push their creations to the maximum without frying the hardware they are working on. It’s also designed, at this stage, to help find any flaws in the final PS5 consumer hardware industrial design.
With Sony likely a full year away from the launch of the PlayStation 5, there’s plenty of time for its team to create something a little less alien-looking.
- PS5 will double as a 4K Blu-ray player – here’s why that matters
The PS5 will come with its own controller, according to Sony. The PS5 controller (we don’t know the official name yet) will include haptic feedback to replace the DualShock 4’s rumble technology. This aims to improve the controller’s feedback and therefore player’s immersion.
The PS5 controller will also feature adaptive triggers which Sony says have “been incorporated into the trigger buttons (L2/R2)”. These adaptive triggers will allow developers to program the resistance of the triggers to simulate actions more accurately.
But what will it look like? According to a Sony patent for a new controller, published by the Japanese patent office (via VGC), the PS5 controller could look very similar to the DualShock 4 – with some key differences.
For a start, the potential PS5 controller seems to have a slightly chunkier design, built-in microphone, larger triggers, no light bar and smaller sticks. It also seems the DualShock 4’s micro USB port has been replaced by a smaller USB-C port, which is placed on the top rather than the bottom of the controller.
The lack of light bar does make us question how the PS5 would track the controller via when it comes to PSVR and PS Camera games. Usually this is done via the PS Camera, so we’re hoping the console will have a different means of tracking the controller otherwise compatibility will suffer. Unless, of course, Sony is gearing up to move solely onto PSVR 2. However, this doesn’t seem likely as Sony has promised the PS5 will be backwards compatible with PSVR.
It also looks like the stereo headset jack and extension port at the bottom of the headset has been replaced by two larger circular ports. We think these will still be for plugging in headsets, but the two jacks could be headphone and microphone slots respectively, to increase compatibility with headsets. There’s also a rectangular design that seems to wrap around the headset, which is potentially for compatibility with a charging dock. Again, this is all speculation on our part.
- PS5 controller: release dates, news and rumors
The entire PS4 library, including PSVR games, will be supported by the PS5. That much is known. But we’re now hearing more about confirmed – and rumored – PS5 games.
At this point, any first-party PS4 game in the pipeline – from Ghost of Tsushima to The Last of Us 2, would be prime candidates for PS5 cross-gen upgrades. We’ve also heard enough chatter around a Horizon Zero Dawn sequel and new God of War game to assume we’ll be seeing both land on the PS5 console.
But what about third-party titles? We’ve had confirmation that Gearbox’s new IP Godfall is coming exclusively to PS5, as is a new title from Bluepoint Studios. In addition, Ubisoft has confirmed that Watch Dogs: Legion, Rainbow Six Quarantine, and Gods and Monsters are all coming to Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5.
Meanwhile Electronic Arts has confirmed that Battlefield 6 is on the way, and that it’s coming to next-generation consoles – which probably means PS5.
There’s still no confirmation on what the PS5’s launch titles will be but we’re expecting first-party games to take the lead.
In addition, Sony has confirmed the PS5 will prioritize AAA games over indie games in an effort to focus on “serious gamers”.
- PS5 games: all the games confirmed and expected on the PlayStation 5
What about a PS5 Pro?
A rumor has cropped up suggesting that Sony will cut to the chase and launch the PlayStation 5 Pro at the same time as its base-model PS5.
As spotted by Wccftech, noted Japanese games journalist Zenji Nishikawa made the claim in a new video on his YouTube channel, and while that kind of thing normally wouldn’t be considered a rock-solid lead, Nishikawa has proven accurate in the past with his predictions of the PS4 Pro and Switch Lite.
According to Nishikawa, the PS5 Pro will cost around $100-$150 more than the basic PS5 console. The report states that Sony is taking this approach because it has “acknowledged the interest in a high-end model and wants to give players what they want right from the beginning of the generation”.