The PlayStation 5 is on its way; here's everything we know (so far)

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Sony is gearing up for the PlayStation 4’s eventual successor.

While development on the PlayStation 4’s successor has likely been going on for years, Sony has officially confirmed that it’s in the works and is on its way for the holidays. Here’s everything we know about it so far.

  • What will the PS5 look like?
  • What are the PS5 specs?
  • Does it have backward compatibility?
  • What about the next-gen DualShock controller?
  • It will have a more responsive user interface
  • What about virtual reality support?
  • What is it officially named?
  • What the launch games are
  • What it may cost
  • The PS5 releases Holiday 2020

What form will it take?

According to a report from the Financial Times, sources familiar with Sony’s plans have stated that the future console “might not represent a major departure from the PS4, and that the fundamental architecture would be similar.” Mark Cerny, lead system architect of the console, went on to confirm as much in his interview with Wired.

This indicates that Sony is not working on a streaming-only platform, though the future does look to be more streaming-friendly as internet speeds and connections improve around the world. PlayStation has even partnered with Microsoft to further its cloud gaming efforts.

The devkit design resembles that of the Roman numeral for 5, but odds are the final product that ships to consumers will look much different.

What are the specs?

Cerny spoke exclusively with Wired about what fans can expect from the upcoming next-generation console.

Cerny is, of course, the lead architect on the PS4, so it makes sense that he would lead the design of the PS5. According to him, the CPU will be based on AMD’s third-generation Ryzen line, with eight cores of the new 7nm Zen 2 microarchitecture. It will also apparently include a custom unit for 3D audio.

The GPU, which is a custom variant of Radeon’s Navi family, will support ray tracing, which is a huge win for Sony. Ray tracing is a rendering technique that models how light travels and interacts with virtual objects. Wired notes that this is something Hollywood employs in big-budget movies, but it has not made its way to any video games consoles yet (although it’s becoming more common with PC games).

To clarify whether or not ray tracing would be achieved on a software level or through built-in hardware integration, Cerny confirmed the latter. “There is ray tracing acceleration in the GPU hardware,” he said, “which I believe is the statement that people were looking for.”

Ray tracing doesn’t just deliver visual benefits, though, according to Cerny. “If you wanted to run tests to see if the player can hear certain audio sources or if the enemies can hear the players’ footsteps, ray tracing is useful for that,” he said. “It’s all the same thing as taking a ray through the environment.”

The crème de la crème is that the PS5 will come packed with a solid-state drive (SSD) as opposed to an hard-disk drive (HDD). SSDs are historically more powerful, faster, and make for a much better gaming experience. Cerny demonstrated what took 15 seconds to fast travel in Spider-Man on PS4 took only 0.8 seconds on a next-gen devkit. It will even support 8K graphics, though most people will likely have TVs that only deliver up to 4K resolution.

Because more simplified game data is possible through the use of an SSD, the way that game downloads work will differ from the PlayStation 4. On the PS5, downloads will be more configurable, and parts even removable. “Rather than treating games like a big block of data,” Cerny said, “we’re allowing finer-grained access to the data.”

This means that players could choose to download either the single-player or multiplayer portion of a game depending on what they wanted to play, or they could download the entire game and delete one part of it, like the single-player.

We still don’t have exact number details on the PlayStation 5 specs, but we’ll keep you updated on all new info.

Backward compatibility

Both Cerny and PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan have stated that the next PlayStation will be backward compatible. Ryan even went so far as to see that the company plans to offer cross-generational play, where players can start a game on PS4, pick up where they left off on PS5, and hop back to PS4 if they wish.

“Whether it’s backwards compatibility or the possibility of cross-generational play, we’ll be able to transition that community to next-gen,” Ryan said. “It won’t be a binary choice about whether you have to be either on PlayStation 4 or next-gen to continue your friendship.”

The Xbox One already has remarkable backward compatibility support, and it’s something that PlayStation fans have been wanting from Sony. If Sony wants to stay relevant, it’s the type of technology the company should invest in. It is unclear if Sony has a plan in place that allows players to access their digital PS4 library on PS5.

A patent has also led people to believe that the next PlayStation may offer backward compatibility with PS3, PS2, and even original PlayStation games. The patent appears to be for an emulation software that would allow the PS5 to mimic older consoles through the use of multiple processors. At this time however, PS3, PS2 and original PlayStation support remains unconfirmed.

Next-generation controller

Wired broke that the next-generation PlayStation controller, or at least the current design being used with its devkit, looks like a DualShock 4 controller, through Cerny would not reveal if it was called the DualShock 5, stating “it doesn’t have a name yet.” It features haptic feedback technology and adaptive triggers.

To that end, there are two key innovations with the PlayStation 5’s new controller. First, we’re adopting haptic feedback to replace the “rumble” technology found in controllers since the 5th generation of consoles. With haptics, you truly feel a broader range of feedback, so crashing into a wall in a race car feels much different than making a tackle on the football field. You can even get a sense for a variety of textures when running through fields of grass or plodding through mud.

The second innovation is something we call adaptive triggers, which have been incorporated into the trigger buttons (L2/R2). Developers can program the resistance of the triggers so that you feel the tactile sensation of drawing a bow and arrow or accelerating an off-road vehicle through rocky terrain. In combination with the haptics, this can produce a powerful experience that better simulates various actions.

There’s a little hole on it that looks like it could be used for the voice-driven PlayStation Assistant, which was recently uncovered in a patent, but a Sony representative told Wired that the company files patents all of the time, with only some making it into finished products. Cerny said that they’ll discuss the purpose of that on the controller at a later time.

The next-gen controller will also use USB-C charging and will be slightly heavier than the current DualShock 4, though it will still weigh less than the current Xbox One controller with batteries.

User interface

The user interface on the PlayStation 4 is fast and works well, but it’s also static and can not provide a ton of information. The PS5 is set to change this.

“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,” Cerny said. “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.”

Virtual reality compatibility

Though you shouldn’t expect a new VR headset to launch alongside the PlayStation 5, Sony has big plans for virtual reality going forward. Sony Global Head of R&D for PlayStation Dominic Mallinson wants the next headset to be lighter, easier to put on, and have fewer cables. A fully wireless headset is difficult to put on the market right now because it would be more expensive for consumers, but he believes that is the way the market is trending.

Mallinson is excited about the possibilities of eye-tracking, and stated that he expects the resolution to almost double in future VR headsets, with FOV increased to over 120 degrees.

Cerny has also said, “VR is very important to us and that the current PSVR headset is compatible with the new console.”

Sony has patented a new, wireless VR headset however you should still not expect this headset at launch alongside the PlayStation 5.

What will it be named?

Sony has confirmed that the next PlayStation will indeed be called the PlayStation 5. No funky naming conventions here.

What are the launch games?

Right now, only one PlayStation 5 launch title has been confirmed, a console exclusive game called Godfall. We know Bluepoint Games is working on a PlayStation 5 title but we don’t know what it is or if it’ll be a launch game.

What will it cost?

Again, we don’t know for sure, but it’s safe to say likely $400 or more given the technology that may be utilized and the prices of previous hardware.

When will it release?

The PlayStation 5 will release Holiday 2020. This coincides with the release of Microsoft’s next Xbox console, Xbox Series X.

Updated January, 2020: Added the latest information.