For years, gaming enthusiasts have been speculating about how Sony’s next-generation console would look like, what features it would have and also what name it would carry.
On Tuesday, Sony cleared the air by announcing that their next console would be named PlayStation 5 (shocker!), with the device going on sale in December 2020.
The Japanese electronics company had kept their mouths shut for so long, even going as far as skipping this year’s E3 Gaming Convention where rivals Microsoft unveiled a few details about their next-gen Xbox, codenamed Project Scarlett.
The PS5 will come with an all-new AMD Ryzen processor, a GPU based on its Navi family and a solid state drive (SSD) that will replace the spinning hard disk drive (HDD) that will no doubt improve loading and gaming speed. According to system architect Mark Cerny, the console will be able to support ray-tracing, a technique that can enable complex lighting and sound effects in 3D environments.
Regarding the switch from HDD to SSD, Cerny said it will turn loading of games from a hassle to a blink. “It’s not just the speed that makes the SSD formidable, but the efficiency it offers”, he explained. But data adds up too. “If you look at a game like Marvel’s Spider-Man,” Cerny says, “there are some pieces of data duplicated 400 times on the hard drive.” The SSD sweeps away the need for all that duping—so not only is its raw read speed dramatically faster than a hard drive, but it saves crucial space.
Physical games for the PS5 will use 100GB optical disks, inserted into an optical drive that doubles as a 4K Blu-ray player. Also, game installation will be a bit different from the PS4. “Rather than treating games like a big block of data,” Cerny says, “we’re allowing finer-grained access to the data.” That could mean the ability to install just a game’s multiplayer campaign, leaving the single-player campaign for another time, or just installing the whole thing and then deleting the single-player campaign once you’ve finished it.
The user interface will also be different in the PS5. Now you’ll be able to see which single-player or multi-player missions you or your friends have completed without having to launch a game from the home screen. “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 says. “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.”
The controller, which Cerny says doesn’t have a name yet, also comes with interesting features.
One is “adaptive triggers” that can offer varying levels of resistance to make shooting a bow and arrow feel like the real thing—the tension increasing as you pull the arrow back—or make a machine gun feel far different from a shotgun. It also boasts haptic feedback far more capable than the rumble motor console gamers are used to, with highly programmable voice-coil actuators located in the left and right grips of the controller.
Combined with an improved speaker on the controller, the haptics can enable some astonishing effects. For instance when playing a racing game like Gran Turismo Sport, driving on a race track will feel a lot different from driving on a dirt road. With the DualShock PS4 controller, the only thing you feel is a generic rumble when you bump your car against another and unlike the PS5 controller prototype, you feel nothing regardless of the track you’re driving on.
Sony was said to have almost brought those changes to the PS4 Pro controller but they decided to save them for the PS5.The next-gen controller uses a USB Type-C connector for charging (and you can play through the cable as well). Its larger-capacity battery and haptics motors make the new controller a bit heavier than the DualShock 4, but according to product manager Toshi Aoki, it will still come in a bit lighter than the current Xbox controller “with batteries in it.”
Sony has not yet released any official images of the console, but if the recently leaked renders are anything to go by, the PS5 will look something like this.
We won’t know what the design of the console will look like, and the same goes for the controller. However with the SSD, dynamic controller feedback, super-fast loading of games and the introduction of ray-tracing, the PlayStation 5 will be a wonder to behold for years to come when it officially launches in just over a year’s time.