PS5 (or PlayStation 5) is the next-generation PlayStation, with a release date planned for late 2020. Though Sony has remained tight-lipped about its new console, it has drip-fed us a few juicy details on what we can expect from its next-gen offering.
We’ve already had our first look at the DualSense PS5 controller, which boasts some impressive-sounding features such as haptic feedback, adaptive triggers and a built-in mic. But what is arguably most interesting about the DualSense controller is its radically different look and space-age black-and-white color scheme, which suggests the PS5 design will look something similar – and will be a big departure from its predecessors.
Just as important as the DualSense Controller are the PS5 specs discussed at Sony’s March reveal event. Lead system architect Mark Cerny provided us with a deep dive into the PS5’s system architecture, revealing the technical inner workings of the PS5. We’ll cover them in more detail down below, but for now know that the PS5 is rocking an AMD Zen 2-based CPU with 8 cores at 3.5GHz, 16GB of GDDR6 memory and a custom RDNA 2 AMD GPU that puts out 10.28 TFLOPs of processing power.
In terms of features, we know the next-gen console will have ray-tracing, a super-fast SSD, a built-in 4K Blu-ray player and will be backwards compatible with a huge swathe of the PS4’s game catalogue. Heck, it might even have voice assistant capabilities to tell you how long it will take to beat levels. So far, the PS5 is living up to the hype.
Want all the juicy details? Here’s everything we know about the PS5 so far – and what we hope will be revealed the closer we get to launch.
[UPDATE: We finally got our first look at next-gen gameplay thanks to the Microsoft’s Xbox Series X gameplay reveal – here are five things you may have missed.]
PS5: key facts
- What is it? The Sony PS5 is the next-gen PlayStation console, replacing the PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro.
- When will it release? “Holiday 2020” in the US, says Sony, 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 the potential for upgraded versions of in-development exclusives like Ghost of Tsushima.
- Will PS5 have VR? Oh yes. The next-gen console will be compatible with current PSVR hardware, and there are also rumors of PSVR 2.
- What will the PS5 cost? TBC. 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.
- Can I play PS4 games on the PS5? The PS5 will definitely be backwards compatible with “almost all” PS4 games – earlier generations are still to be confirmed. It will launch with support for the majority of the top 100 PS4 games, according to Sony’s Mark Cerny.
- Will coronavirus delay the PS5 release? Sony has confirmed the PS5 release date is not currently delayed by coronavirus.
PS5 release date
Sony has officially confirmed that the PS5 will release “in time for Holiday 2020”, so likely some time between October and December 2020 – putting it in direct competition with the Xbox Series X, which is releasing in the same window. A leak has suggested that the release date will be November 20, 2020 but that’s yet to be confirmed.
However, this date would be in the right window, as we’re predicting the PS5 will release in November, 2020. November is historically when we’ve seen PlayStation’s launch and it would leave time before Christmas to get those orders in.
Despite rumors, a Sony PR has confirmed the PS5’s release date has not been delayed by coronavirus so we should still see the next-gen console release in late 2020 – even if we’re not sure exactly when that will be.
AMD, the tech giant that’s been commissioned to make the processor and graphics chips in both the PS5 and Xbox Series X next-gen consoles, is “ramping up production” to prepare for their respective launches, AMD CEO Dr Lisa Su confirmed in early May 2020. This timing too is also suggestive of a November launch window.
We’re expecting to find out the PlayStation 5’s official release date in the coming months, having not been revealed at the March 18 technical talk.
Sony hasn’t officially confirmed a PS5 price yet and, according to the company, that’s because it hasn’t actually decided how much the next-gen console will cost.
In a quarterly earnings call (via Spiel Times), Sony’s chief financial officer Hiroki Totoki revealed the company still hasn’t nailed down the PS5 price.
“What is not very clear or visible is because we are competing in the space, so it’s very difficult to discuss anything about the price at this point of time, and depending upon the price level, we may have to determine the promotion that we are going to deploy and how much costs we are prepared to pay,” Totoki explained.
“First, we must absolutely control the labour cost, the personnel cost, it must be controlled, and the initial ramp up, how much can we prepare initially, we will work on the production and the sales and we will have to prepare the right volume as we launch this,” Totoki continued.
“It’s a balancing act it’s very difficult to say anything concrete at this point of time,” Totoki said. But we do know that Sony is aiming for “the best balance so that we will be profitable in the life, during the life of this product.”
While Sony may not have a price nailed down, there have been rumors about how much the PS5 could cost. While the latest PS5 price leaks are wild – and can’t be trusted – some predictions seem a bit more feasible (even if they’re not reliable).
One rumor has suggested that the console will cost $499 in North America when it launches. Naturally this should be treated with skepticism, 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 think this could be the most likely price for the console, however, that could be wishful thinking. A recent report by Bloomberg claims that Sony will not be making as many PlayStation 5 consoles for launch as it did for the PS4’s launch back in 2013, despite no delay to production or on sale date being expected.
Bloomberg’s sources are anticipating shipments to max out at six million consoles through to March of 2021, whereas the PS4 sold 7.5 million over the same post-launch time period – despite itself suffering a delay.
According to the report, Sony is simply anticipating less demand. This is likely due to what is expected to be a higher asking price for the PS5 than the PS4 launched with. The PS5 is expected to really push the boat out in terms of high-end components, and as such will be met with a higher price tag.
However, Microsoft’s plans for the Xbox Series X are key here, and Sony could well decide to sell the hardware at a slight loss to stay competitive with the other console. The PS4 benefited from a lower cost than the Xbox One, and Sony likely won’t be keen to reverse that for this generation. We hope.
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, with the Xbox Series X, that Microsoft will repeat the mistake it made by launching the Xbox One at a prohibitively high price point, so Sony will have to ensure that it doesn’t make a similar mistake by making the PS5 too expensive.
- CPU: AMD Zen 2-based CPU with 8 cores at 3.5GHz (variable frequency)
- GPU: 10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs at 2.23GHz (variable frequency)
- GPU architecture: Custom RDNA 2
- Memory interface: 16GB GDDR6 / 256-bit
- Memory bandwidth: 448GB/s
- Internal storage: Custom 825GB SSD
- IO throughput: 5.5GB/s (raw), typical 8-9GB/s (compressed)
- Expandable storage: NVMe SSD slot
- External storage: USB HDD support (PS4 games only)
- Optical drive: 4K UHD Blu-ray drive
Sony finally lifted the hood on the PlayStation 5 during its first official PS5 reveal event, giving us a better idea of the specs the next-gen console will offer. But what do we think?
What’s interesting so far is Sony’s commitment to custom silicon, with a full focus on raising gaming capabilities to the next level, without alienating developers now comfortable with developing on the PS4. Custom hardware in the PS3 proved to be a difficult element for devs to get their heads around, but the PS5 aims to be as developer-friendly as possible.
The importance of the SSD
As has already been explored, the SSD is key to the PlayStation 5 experience. Internal storage will be built in at 825GB for the custom SSD – that’s less than you’ll find in the Xbox Series X, but with just as clever an implementation of the technology.
SSDs don’t just load faster, but allow for bigger open worlds, theoretically. Developers don’t need to make games with smaller worlds due to the limitations of mechanical hard drives, while SSDs will also allow system memory to be used more effectively.
SSDs have more bandwidth, so data can be loaded from the SSD when it’s needed, rather than heaps of potentially needless data being loaded into RAM. In pure gameplay terms that means that games will suffer less from texture pop-in, while load times will be hugely reduced when using a game’s fast-travel option. Booting up from standby should be generally much faster, too.
You’ll also have more control over how you install and remove games, meaning you could just install a game’s multiplayer mode rather than the full block of data. This will allow for launch of direct gameplay, allowing players to jump straight into aspects of different games (such as match-making, continue save game etc) without having to boot up the full game.
This means you could be able to jump into Overwatch match-making, for example, straight from your home screen and would prevent the need to take steps such as booting up an entire game and selecting particular games modes. It would also make it easier for players to quickly jump between the games they have installed.
As for expandable storage, Sony appears to be allowing for off-the-shelf NVMe PC drives, rather than proprietary storage systems that Xbox will primarily be relying on. However, there aren’t many drives on the market right now that use the PCIe 4.0 interface required – they need to be capable of at least a 5.5GB/s transfer speed.
“NVMe PC drives will work in PlayStation 5,” said Cerny. “The only problem is that PC technology is significantly behind PS5. It’ll take some time for the newer, PCIe 4.0-based drives with the bandwidth required to match Sony’s spec to hit the market.”
PS4 games on the PS5 will work just fine if saved to a regular HDD, however, so you won’t need to tap into that precious SSD space unnecessarily.
A custom processor and GPU – what that means for backwards compatibility
We were already aware that Sony will be using AMD’s Zen 2 CPU processor tech, with eight cores and 16 threads. The reveal stream, however, also revealed that the PS5 will be delivering 3.5GHz frequencies – so, the PlayStation 5 would be running 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.5GHz (at variable frequencies) over the PS4’s 8x Jaguar Cores at 1.6GHz. That’s a huge jump in performance.
Move over to the GPU, and you’re looking at the AMD RDNA 2 GPU, itself customized. It makes use of 36 compute units capped at 2.23GHz. A compute performance peak of 10.28TF was stated.
What’s smart is that the combination makes it simple for the PS5 to easily handle PS4 backwards compatibility – through GPU architecture rather than hours of coding. Almost all of the top 100 PS4 games will be fully compatible at launch. PS4 games will be supported natively on the GPU silicon, but here the GPU seems to be emulating PS4 and PS4 Pro graphics chips, which is a strange solution, and not as interesting as Xbox Series X’s method, which will also be capable of upscaling previous Xbox generation games and adding HDR to previously HDR-less titles.
Tempest 3D audio tech
Perhaps the biggest reveal of the day was the 3D audio support, thanks to the new Tempest Engine. It’s an incredibly powerful system: if the PSVR can support “50 pretty decent sound sources,” according to Cerny – with the PSVR’s distinct audio system being one of the more complex audio systems in gaming at the moment – the PS5’s Tempest Engine can support hundreds.
The example Cerny used described it in terms of rainfall. Today, the sound of rain in a game is a single audio track, but the PS5 would theoretically be capable of letting you hear individual raindrops, in relation to where the player character is.
“Where we ended up is a unit with roughly the same SIMD (single instruction, multiple data) power and bandwidth as all eight Jaguar cores in the PS4 combined,” said Cerny.
“If we were to use the same algorithms as PSVR, that’s enough for something like five thousand sound sources – but of course we want to use more complex algorithms, and we don’t need anything like that number of sounds.”
Perhaps best of all is the way you’ll get to experience this – even a lowly pair of headphones at launch will be able to take advantage of the sense of presence and directionality Sony is promising here, with the company also committing to later support multi-speaker surround systems with the tech.
But this is an ongoing project for Sony. To accurately model surround data positioning, Sony needs to create a Head-related Transfer Function, or HRFT, map. Essentially, that’s a distinct algorithm that works best if the system knows the precise shape of your ears.
“Maybe you’ll be sending us a photo of your ear, and we’ll use a neural network to pick the closest HRTF in our library,” Cerny teased. “Maybe you’ll be sending us a video of your ears and your head, and we’ll make a 3D model of them and synthesize the HRTF. Maybe you’ll play an audio game to tune your HRTF, we’ll be subtly changing it as you play, and home in on the HRTF that gives you the highest score, meaning that it matches you the best.
“This is a journey we’ll all be taking together over the next few years. Ultimately, we’re committed to enabling everyone to experience that next level of realism.”
There’s still been no official PS5 design reveal, but the reveal of the DualSense PS5 controller has given us a fairly good idea of what we can expect the next-gen console to look like (we’ve even created our own PS5 render, which you can see above, based on what we know so far).
While we’re mostly dealing with speculation, we can assume that the PS5 console’s design will match (or at least be similar to) that of its controller. To date, PlayStation controllers have always matched their console counterparts – it would be odd for this not to be the case.
And, what’s immediately striking about the DualSense controller is its new design; and, in particular, its two-tone white and black color scheme. This suggests that we could see a two-tone white and black PlayStation 5 console, similar to the controller, with the console itself boasting a primarily white design with black lining or sections.
Not only is the DualSense controller’s color scheme different from what we’ve seen in previous PlayStation gamepads, but its overall shape and design is also a huge departure.
Sony has gone futuristic with the DualSense’s design. And, while we know that the PS5 won’t look anything like the dev kits we’ve seen so far, the alien-futuristic design may be in the right vein. The controller is white (as we’ve discussed) but looks pretty simple and sleek. With a boomerang-like rounded shape, no definition in the button colors, and a blue light on either side of the touchpad, it looks like Sony is aiming for a minimalistic, futuristic design for the PS5.
As we pointed out with the color scheme, PlayStation controllers often match their counterpart consoles, so we can expect a similar minimalist design for the PS5 – likely with blue lighting, slightly rounded edges and little definition when it comes to buttons and ports.
However, all of this is mere speculation and we won’t know for sure until Sony official unveils the PS5 design. We’re expecting Sony to host another PS5 reveal around June or July to reveal the console’s price and design – similarly to how it did with the PS4.
While we may not know exactly what the PS5 will look like, Sony did reveal the PS5’s official logo at CES 2020. It’s essentially just the PlayStation 4 logo with a ‘5’ replacing the ‘4’.
PS5 DualSense Controller
The PS5 will come with a new gamepad, one that Sony is dubbing the DualSense PS5 controller, not the DualShock 5, like you’d expect. Also a departure is the black-and-white color scheme that is bold – and likely to be divisive. That’s the confirmed design in the picture above.
The two-tone PS5 controller color scheme extends to the four face buttons, which still consist of Triangle, Circle, Square and Cross (or X), but they’re devoid of color. There is a pop of color around the side of the central touchpad, as the PS4 Lightbar has moved from the top of the gamepad on the PS5.
The PS5 controller includes haptic feedback in the L2 and R2 shoulder buttons that are going to be adaptive. Sony explains that these adaptive triggers are important to let players feel the tension of their actions, like drawing a bow to shoot an arrow. This will let developers program the resistance of the triggers to simulate actions more accurately.
The DualSense will include a microphone inside of the controller, allowing gamers to ditch their headset to communicate with friends. And the ‘Share’ button is dead. Long live the ‘Create’ button. That’s what Sony is calling the the button that’s in the same spot and still intended for gameplay content to share with the world. Sony is teasing more details about this button ahead of the console launch.
PS5: what will I be playing?
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.
And while we don’t know much about PS5 exclusives, we do know Sony will continue to focus on “strong narrative-driven, single-player games” with the PS5.
But what about third-party titles? We’ve had confirmation that Gearbox’s new IP Godfall is coming exclusively to PS5, as is a title from Bluepoint Studios that’s rumored to be a Demon’s Souls remake. We will also see a remake of THQ Nordic’s cult classic Gothic, Gollum, WRC 9, Battlefield 6, Dying Light 2 and Outriders land on PS5. In addition, Ubisoft has confirmed that Watch Dogs: Legion, Rainbow Six Quarantine, Gods and Monsters and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla are all coming to Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 – with a new Far Cry also rumored to be coming to the platforms. We also know Rainbow Six Siege will be available on PS5 and Xbox Series X from launch. However, Ubisoft has said that it could delay these games if the next-gen consoles don’t make their launch window.
While this is a good start, we’re expecting plenty more third-party games to be announced in the coming months – and we may see some of the Xbox Series X games announced at the Xbox Series X gameplay reveal making their way to PS5. However, while we know of a few third-party games in the pipeline for the 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.
One rumor also introduces the concept of “Instant Demoes” on the PlayStation 5 in-console store. Before purchasing a game, it’s been claimed that you’ll be able to use PlayStation Now streaming technology to instantly play a chunk of a title to see whether or not it’s something you’d be interested in. There’s the possibility that making such a demo available would also be mandated for all PS5 developers.
In addition, for those torn between picking up any EA games before the release of the PS5 or after, then you’ll be pleased to hear that EA has confirmed that certain games the company is launching this year on current-gen consoles “can be upgraded for free for the next generation” i.e. on the Xbox Series X and PS5. While we won’t know which titles, this suggests we may see other game publishers taking the same route, and the PS5 could have a feature similar to Xbox Series X Smart Delivery. However, Sony hasn’t confirmed this and we can only speculate.
Sony has also confirmed that the PS5 will prioritize AAA games over indie games in an effort to focus on “serious gamers”.
PS5 reveal event
Sony has already hosted a PS5 specs deep-dive reveal but, while it was informative, it wasn’t exactly the event we were hoping for. We didn’t see the PS5 in all its glory, we heard little about features and nothing about price or PS5 games.
We’re expecting that Sony will host another (likely digital) PS5 reveal event in the coming months, showcasing the PlayStation 5’s features, design, price and some of the games we’ll be playing on the next-gen console.
According to a Restera post by GamesBeat’s Jeffrey Grubb (who correctly leaked last month’s Nintendo Direct date) the PS5 reveal event is “currently planned for June 4”. But this hasn’t been confirmed by Sony.
However, this date would fall into the predicted PS5 reveal event window. The company has previously said that it’s following a similar reveal roadmap to that of the PS4, although the Covid-19 pandemic may have disrupted this somewhat. The PS4’s specs were revealed in February 2013 before Sony revealed the console, its pricing and launch lineup of games in June of that year, at E3 2013.
Sony revealed the PS5 specs in February of this year (in lieu of a GDC presentation), so we’ve been expecting a full PS5 reveal event to take place in either June or July (this has been made harder to predict by the fact that Sony wasn’t planning to attend E3 2020).
But, it’s worth noting that, when its come to the revealing details about the PS5, Sony has been somewhat of a wildcard – posting the controller reveal as a blog post and spec details by interview.
We will update you as soon as we have official news on the PS5 reveal event.
What about a PS5 Pro?
Rumors have cropped up suggesting that Sony will double down by launching the PlayStation 5 Pro at the same time as its base-model PS5.
Spotted by Wccftech, noted Japanese games journalist Zenji Nishikawa made the claim in a video on his YouTube channel, and while that kind of thing wouldn’t normally be considered a rock-solid lead, Nishikawa has been proven correct in the past with his predictions about 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”.
NeoGaf user FXVeteran (via TweakTown) has since added fuel to the fire by claiming Sony plans to release two PlayStation 5 models at the same time: a PS5 Pro and a PS5, with the PS5 Pro being “top of the line” to compete with the Xbox Series X’s potential iteratively more powerful versions.
While a PlayStation 5 Pro is likely on the cards, we don’t think it’ll release at the same time as the regular PS5. In our opinion, it’s more likely that Sony will wait around three years (2023) before giving the console an upgrade – usually this happens mid-cycle and the PS5 lifecycle is estimated to be around six to seven years.