Well, it’s finally happened. Through months of rumours and guesswork, through thinkpiece upon thinkpiece speculating on the specifications and nature of the machine, Sony has finally announced the successor to its wildly successful PlayStation 4. While we don’t have every detail about the machine yet, we know it exists, we know what it’s called, and we know it’s going to launch late next year. Here’s everything Sony has just announced about their new console, the PlayStation 5.
That’s right - it will be called the PlayStation 5. Like everything we previously knew for sure about the PS5, this news comes via Wired. In an exclusive interview with Sony’s Jim Ryan, the Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO - along with lead system architect Mark Cerny - revealed more details about the console. We all expected it to be called PlayStation 5, of course, but Ryan says it’s “nice to be able to say” the name of the console at last.
We also know the PS5 will launch in the holiday season of 2020. Again, we expected that; given that Microsoft has announced its Xbox Scarlett (name not final) will be launching in a similar time period, it was to be expected that Sony would try to compete with its longtime rival. Now, however, the news is official. We’ll be getting the PlayStation 5, along with Microsoft’s rival console, in holiday 2020. We think that probably means around mid to late November.
There are also some new technical details for the PS5. First, Mark Cerny is eager to talk about the console’s ray tracing technology. Since April, when Cerny last discussed the console, there have been some worries floating around that the ray tracing feature would be software-side. Cerny says this isn’t true; the PlayStation 5’s graphics hardware will be what pushes the ray tracing technology. Here’s a quick ray tracing guide if you haven’t brushed up on it.
Next in the new Wired interview, Cerny talks about the solid state drive in the PlayStation 5. He asks us to imagine a 5400-rpm vinyl record, and then to imagine a piece of technology that doesn’t need to read every individual groove on the disc over and over again. The SSD in the PlayStation 5 will be capable of a much faster raw read speed, but it will also save space on the drive, meaning that assets don’t need to be repeatedly stored and dramatically reducing load times or draw distance, for example.
The media the PS5 uses will be physical disc-based media. Sony is one of the crucial parties of the Blu-ray disc medium, so it’s no surprise to find that the PS5’s optical disc drive will read 100GB discs and will also double as a 4K Blu-ray player. It might be the case that 4K Blu-ray isn’t quite as popular as it once was, but Sony is still giving you a way to play your 4K media physically, which is nice. Presumably, the PS5’s discs will also be Blu-ray tech-based.
The PlayStation 5 will handle installation a little differently to the PS4. Cerny says you’ll be able to access specific parts of the data for each game to install separately. This means you could potentially install only the single-player or multiplayer component of a game, leading not only to drastically reduced install times but also to reduced load times and more customisable gaming experiences. Sounds like Sony wants to take Call of Duty’s lead on a more modular gaming style.
We know that the PlayStation 5 will feature a completely revamped user interface. Unfortunately, we don’t know what it’ll look like yet, but it will be much more dynamic than the current PS4 interface. Cerny says game info like single-player missions, multiplayer servers, and rewards will be visible right from the console’s UI, and you won’t need to boot the game up to see what’s going on in an individual game. You can just jump into whatever content you feel like.
Onto the controller. We don’t have a name for it yet (although tradition dictates it will likely be called the DualShock 5), but it’s got two major new features: adaptive triggers and haptic feedback. The controller’s adaptive triggers will feed information to players in real time - drawing a bowstring back will gradually increase the resistance, for example - and are designed to make actions using the triggers feel more realistic and intense.
It’s the haptic feedback Sony is seriously proud of, however. Wired’s interview talks of “programmable voice-coil actuators” which are located in the left and right hand-grips of the controller. This feedback allows surfaces to feel markedly different depending on where players are walking. Mud feels soggy, while sand feels slow and shifty. Ice feels slippery, and water resistance factors into how players feel when they’re wading through water. If Sony can pull this off, it’ll be remarkable.
There are still some unknowns surrounding the PlayStation 5. We don’t know what games it will launch with, exactly what it or its controller will look like (although we do have a prototype dev kit, courtesy of Wired), or an exact release date for it. Thanks to Mark Cerny and Jim Ryan, we do know two things: it’s called the PlayStation 5, and it launches in the holiday period next year. Get your calendars out and mark down November-December time, because it’s going to be a great Christmas next year.