PlayStation 5 is the official name of Sony's next-generation console. Not that there were many doubts considering how Sony has never deviated from the original naming format so far, unlike Microsoft with its Xbox consoles.
Sony decided to jump the gun on its main competitor and began revealing the first specifications of the upcoming gaming machine well ahead of E3 2019, in April 2019. Speaking to Wired, Lead System Architect Mark Cerny (who performed the same role for PlayStation 4 with great success) revealed a few key points of the new console: powered by the latest AMD technologies, it's going to feature hardware support for ray tracing and aims to practically eliminate loading times with the custom designed SSD. The audio has been an area of focus for the engineers, too, as Cerny admitted how audio didn't improve that much between PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. This time the goal is to make players more immersed in the games' experiences thanks to a dedicated and custom 3D audio chip.
In October 2019, Cerny was once again interviewed by Wired and went on to reveal additional info on the system, such as the improved controller, revamped UI, and finer-grained control on the game installation process. However, the full system specifications reveal only happened in March 2020, when Mark Cerny himself delivered an hour-long presentation. Then, in June 2020, we finally got our first look at the console itself and its first wave of games.
PS5 Release date
Sony has confirmed that the console will be available in stores on November 12th in North America, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea, and on November 19th elsewhere in the world.
Sony has confirmed that there will be two PlayStation 5 versions. The regular edition will be priced at $499, while a Digital Edition (lacking only the UltraHD Blu-ray drive) will be priced at $399.
PS5 Hardware specifications
|PlayStation 5 Specs|
|CPU (Zen 2)||8 Cores @ 3.5GHz (variable frequency)|
|GPU (custom RDNA 2)||10.28 TFLOPs, 36 Compute Units @ 2.23GHz (variable frequency) with hardware raytracing support|
|System Memory/Interface||16GB GDDR6/256-bit|
|Internal Storage||Custom 825GB SSD|
|I/O Throughput||5.5GB/s (Raw), 8-9GB/s (Compressed with Kraken)|
|Expandable Storage||NVMe SSD Slot supporting M.1 or M.2|
|External Storage||USB HDD Support (for PS4 games)|
|Optical Drive (optional)||4K UHD Blu-ray Drive (up to 100GB disc)|
|Audio||Custom 'Tempest' 3D Audio Engine, supporting hundreds of simultaneous sources|
Lead system architect Mark Cerny unveiled the console's specifications in a detailed video presentation streamed in late March 2020. The biggest surprise was that both the CPU and GPU of the PS5 will run at a variable frequency, using AMD's SmartShift technology to deliver more power where it matters the most based on the current system activity. Instead of using the die temperature to manage frequency, Sony devised an algorithm that monitors CPU and GPU activity information and subsequently changes clocks as needed.
Cerny admitted this would sometimes result in downclocking, but he reckons the effect should be pretty minor since to achieve a 10% power reduction it only takes around 2% frequency downclock.
After months of leaks (such as that of the devkit) and speculation, Sony showcased the console at the very end of the showcase event that took place on June 11th.
The PS5 features a bold two-tone design that is much taller than anyone had anticipated, resembling a PC-like tower. Additionally, a big surprise is that there will actually be two versions of the console available at launch, one with the UltraHD Blu-ray optical drive and another that is entirely discless. According to Sony, this choice is meant to appeal to the growing audience of gamers that prefers to purchase games digitally rather than at retail.
The PlayStation 5 controller, named 'DualSense' in a change from the trademark 'DualShock' of the previous generations, is going to feature significant advancements over the PS4's controller. As you can see in the picture above, there are some rather obvious design changes, including a two-tone aesthetics that is also a departure from any previous PlayStation controllers. The lightbar has been moved to the sides of the touchpad, while the 'Share' button has been renamed to 'Create' button.
In terms of features, adaptive triggers will provide varying levels of resistance so that, for example, each weapon in a shooter feels properly different and nocking an arrow with a bow feels as tense as it should when pulling back just before the shot. Additionally, highly programmable voice coil actuators will enable far more refined haptic feedback so that gamers can sense the difference in the surfaces roamed by the game's characters; ice will feel slippery, wood hardy, mud soggy et cetera.
The controller also sports an improved speaker compared to the DualShock 4 and even comes with a built-in microphone array, allowing players to use voice chat even without a dedicated headset. Charging will be handled via USB-C and the battery capacity is said to be larger than that of the DS4, which is good news, though the controller will be a bit heavier because of this change.
Beyond the DualSense controller, which will be priced at $69.99, Sony also announced the following peripherals:
- PULSE 3D wireless headset (offering 3D audio support and dual noise-cancelling microphones) - $99.99;
- HD Camera (featuring dual 1080p lenses for gamers to broadcast themselves along with their epic gameplay moments) - $59.99;
- Media Remote control with built-in microphone to navigate movies and streaming services with ease - $29.99;
- DualSense Charging Station for convenient charging of two DualSense Wireless Controllers - $29.99.
Lastly, the PlayStation VR headset will be compatible with the PlayStation 5. There is no information on a next-gen VR headset in production at this time, though Sony reiterated the importance of pushing VR going forward.
The recent PS5 showcase event finally provided us with a solid look at the games that we can expect to see in the first year or so of the console's launch.
First and second-party games
Insomniac showcased two titles, Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales (a standalone adventure said to be comparable to Uncharted: The Lost Legacy in scope) and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. The first one will be a launch title, while the new Ratchet & Clank is likely to release next year.
As expected, Guerrilla Games also unveiled the gorgeous Horizon: Forbidden West, scheduled to hit at some point in 2021. This ambitious sequel will see Aloy moving to the Pacific Coast (San Francisco's ruins are seen in the debut footage) to stop a new global threat.
The long-rumored Bluepoint project turned out to be none other than the Demon's Souls remake, which will support raytraced shadows and a selection between visual fidelity and frame rate modes. Polyphony Digital showcased the first look at Gran Turismo 7 and Sumo Digital did the same for Sackboy: A Big Adventure, seemingly a LittleBigPlanet spin-off.
Surprises included third-person shooter Returnal from Housemarque and a vehicular combat game called Destruction AllStars from Lucid Games. Lastly, Astro's Playroom is in development at Japan Studios and will be a 'fun platformer' that comes bundled and preloaded with the console.
Sony also announced a few partnerships with third-party developers to bring timed exclusives to the PS5. Bethesda will publish DEATHLOOP and Ghostwire: Tokyo as console exclusives on the console, for example, and the same will be true for Godfall and Tribes of Midgard from Gearbox Publishing. Other timed console exclusives include Oddworld: Soulstorm, Project Athia (from the developers of Final Fantasy XV), and smaller games such as Kena: Bridge of Spirits, Stray, Solar Ash, Little Devil Inside, Jett: The Far Shore, Goodbye Volcano High, and Bugsnax. The Pathless from Giant Squid (the studio behind Abzû) also confirmed that the game will be available on PS5, as well as on PS4 and PC as previously announced.
The following third-party titles are currently confirmed for the PS5:
- Assassin's Creed Valhalla
- Chivalry 2
- Cyberpunk 2077
- Destiny 2
- Dirt 5
- FIFA 21
- Gods & Monsters
- Gothic Remake
- Grand Theft Auto V
- Hitman 3
- Madden NFL 21
- NBA 2K21
- Observer: System Redux
- Paradise Lost
- Resident Evil: Village
- Scarlet Nexus
- Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One
- The Lord of the Rings: Gollum
- Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Quarantine
- Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Siege
- Watch Dogs: Legion
- WRC 9
Official - Backward compatibility was confirmed for PlayStation 4 games, in a change from previous Sony consoles. It was also confirmed that select PS4 games will run on a 'boosted frequency' on the new console, enabling 'higher or more stable' frame rates as well as 'potentially higher' resolutions. One example is Sucker Punch's Ghost of Tsushima, which will feature a 60FPS option when played on the PlayStation 5.
The following PS4 games have been confirmed to be currently not working on PS5:
- Afro Samurai 2 Revenge of Kuma Volume One
- TT Isle of Man - Ride on the Edge 2
- Just Deal With It!
- Shadow Complex Remastered
- Robinson: The Journey
- We Sing
- Hitman Go: Definitive Edition
- Joe's Diner
All the others should work.
The User Interface (UI) has been entirely overhauled, according to PlayStation 5 Lead System Architect Mark Cerny. It's now capable of displaying much more detailed information on what your friends are doing during their game sessions.
The installation process for PlayStation 5 games will allow gamers to control which parts of a game they want to install. For example, they might want to select only the single player campaign or only the multiplayer mode, leaving the rest of the game uninstalled to save space.