The PlayStation 4 is still the dominant console of this generation, and it's showing no signs of slowing down - with big exclusives like Ghost of Tsushima and The Last of Us 2 still set to be among 2020's biggest game releases.
Still, hardware has moved on, gamers expect more, and as a result the PS5 is on the way too, due before the end of the year. Sony hasn't yet given it a grand unveiling - so we know much less than we do against its future rival, the Xbox Series X - but little tidbits have slowly been revealed, giving us a pretty good idea of what to expect from the PlayStation 5 - and when.
When is the PS5 release date?
Sony has now confirmed holiday 2020 as the official time slate for the release of the PS5 - and yes, the company has also confirmed PS5 as the official name. Phew. We've also now got a logo - the one thing Sony announced for the PS5 during its CES 2020 keynote. It's not exactly rocking the boat though:
As we suspected it would, this puts it directly in line to compete with Microsoft's next-gen Xbox Series X, which is due for release in the run-up to Christmas 2020. The battle of the next-gen consoles is coming.
While Sony hasn't revealed exactly when during the 'Holiday 2020' release we should expect to see the console, but people seem to be getting excited about a tweet from Twitter user @PSErebus. Per the account, the PS5 will allegedly be released on 20 November 2020 in North America, and will cost $499.
Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) will launch PlayStation®5 (PS5™) in several countries in the holiday season of 2020 and will make PlayStation®5 (PS5™) available in North America on November 20, 2020 at a recommended retail price (RRP) of $499 pic.twitter.com/fe4jKlHmrH— PlayStation (@PSErebus) November 19, 2019
The alleged price and release date both sound realistic, but there are a lot of red flags. Firstly, the Twitter account features a stream of tweets with vague information and generalisations about the upcoming console, giving it a "throw everything at the wall and see what sticks" vibe. There's also a lack of a track record when it comes to the relatively unknown account's predictions, which is why we're so shocked that other sites have taken it as gospel.
Rather than a genuine insider, we suspect the account is run by someone trying to cash in on the pre-launch rumour fun. At the very least, we'd take this one with a pinch of salt.
One final thing: don't expect to find out any more at E3 this year. Sony has already confirmed that it will once again skip the year's biggest gaming trade show, so we won't see any PS5 news there. Instead expect Sony to announce its own event or stream at some other point during the year to show off the next-gen console in full.
How much will the PS5 cost?
Without knowing exactly what's on offer, it's impossible to accurately predict how much the PS5 will cost. Going by the RRP of the PS4 (£229) and PS4 Pro (£349), we can only assume Sony will stick around the £400-500 mark, but a recent interview with the company's Chief Financial Officer could suggest otherwise.
The issue, like with most issues in the world at the moment, stems from President Trump. Sony has stated in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that the PS5 price could be inflated due to the proposed tariffs on products imported to the US from China. "We believe, and therefore have told the U.S. government, that higher tariffs would ultimately damage the U.S. economy," Hiroki Totoki stated.
“[Tariffs] haven’t affected us that much, but we should remain vigilant about the potential risk,” the CFO claimed, and while he confirmed that the company is yet to make a definitive decision on how to tackle the tariffs, it is studying options including gamers "bearing the burden" of an increased launch price.
However, due to the changing nature of the gaming landscape, it could be possible that Sony won’t be seeking to make money on the sale of its consoles at all and will just aim to get them into as many homes as possible - relying instead on the sale of aftermarket services and game sales to generate revenue through the life cycle of the console.
What will the PS5 feature?
The PS5 will feature a CPU and GPU made by AMD with the aim of powering up to [email protected] gameplay experiences.
The CPU is based on the third generation of AMD’s Ryzen series, and will contain 8-cores on the company’s new 7nm Zen 2 microarchitecture - which sounds very similar to the next Xbox's CPU, also based on Zen 2.
The GPU will be a variation on Radeon’s Navi family and will support ray tracing, a graphics technology that allows the path of light to be rendered more realistically within a game - allowing for accurate reflections in water and deeper, more responsive shadows.
Ray tracing technology was originally debuted by Nvidia with the launch of its RTX cards at Gamescom 2018, and you can see its effects in the video below.
Though some had speculated that ray tracing would be done via a software-level fix, system architect Mark Cerny debunked this theory in an interview with Wired, stating "There is ray tracing acceleration in the GPU hardware."
The hardware improvement that has been most widely requested by developers and players alike is the SSD (solid-state drive). As games get bigger and graphics get better, more and more is required from the hardware that stores the games.
The event showed off an early prototype of the future console that demonstrated the difference in loading times using 2018’s Spider-Man title as an example. The fast travel feature requires the console to load an entirely new environment, and on a PS4 this took almost 15 seconds, while on the new prototype console it took 0.8 seconds.
The PS5's SSD is also much more efficient that its predecessor, which previously relied on the console using 'seeks' to read each piece of information off of the drive, including some pieces of data that have been duplicated hundreds of times on a drive. The SSD erases the need for duping, so its can read things much faster whilst also saving some much-needed space for game developers.
Therefore this massively increased data transfer speed will allow studios to create experiences where a character can move through a detailed world much faster than is currently possible. Currently, Spider-Man can only move through the world at his maximum webbing speed because the console can’t build the world around him any faster.
The demo showed off a character moving at a speed closer to a fighter jet, with pauses to show off the fully detailed world being loaded in despite how fast the character was moving. This really opens up a huge amount of possibilities for the future of gaming - though it's worth noting that as with the CPU specs, this SSD will be matched more or less by the hard drive in Microsoft's upcoming console.
Game installation will also be getting a switch up, making the process more configurable for users. For example, if your game comes with both a single-player and multi-player campaign, you'll have the option on whether you want to install just one or the other to save space on your console. You can also delete these campaigns after you've used them, keeping the core game data but deleting what you don't need.
In terms of multiplayer, the PS5 will have game servers which will allow players to see joinable games in real-time, as opposed to having to boot up each individual game like on the PS4. Single-player games meanwhile will include information on mission rewards in the UI - should you wish to view it. We don't know yet what this UI will look like exactly - but when we have more details we'll let you know.
The new AMD chip will also contain a custom unit for a 3D audio, allowing for much more immersive audio as you’ll be able to hear sounds distinctly from all directions. This will be available through all speakers but the gold standard will always be through headphones for the best audio experience. There have also been rumours of a voice-driven AI assistant on the console, but this isn't confirmed yet.
The controller will include 'adaptive triggers' to make gameplay feel more realistic and immersive. For example, if you're shooting a bow in a game, the controller will change the level of resistance depending on the level of tension in the weapon as you pull back. The haptic feedback, in general, will be far more complex, allowing for varying levels of vibration and feedback. Testers remarked that playing in different environments (like ice, mud and water) affected how the controls operated.
The PSVR headset will be compatible with the new console too, and as it will be built on a similar architecture to the PS4, there will be a cross-over period where titles will be released on both systems. It will also be backwards-compatible so you’ll be able to play PS4 titles on the next-gen console.
Will the PS5 offer VR support?
Sony has confirmed that VR will be a focal part of its next-generation console which won’t come as a huge surprise. However, we don’t have any firm details on what exactly the strategy will look like as Sony is keeping it firmly under wraps for the time being.
The current PSVR headset will be compatible with the next-generation console, so you won’t need to buy a new one. However, we would be surprised if a newer generation headset didn’t appear at some point to make use of the new level of hardware see on the upcoming console. For more on a potential next-gen headset, take a look at the latest PSVR 2 news.
What will the PS5 look like?
The design is a striking departure from previous PlayStation consoles, sporting a unique V-shape design. The V-shaped design looks to improve airflow to keep the console cool, while also representing the number 5 in Roman numerals (V).
The patent claims that it was designed by one of Sony's Technical Directors, Yusuhiro Ootori, and features the same Locarno classification (Class 14.02) as a pre-release PS4 patent, lending authenticity to the patent.
Of course, this design hasn't been confirmed by Sony and it's possible that it's one of many possible designs that the company is currently considering - or simply the look of the console dev kits. We kind of like the V design, especially if the improved airflow means the PS5 is quieter than the Concorde-esque PS4!
In terms of the controller, press have reported prototypes to be looking very similar to the current PS4 DualShock controllers, and that seems to be confirmed by DualShock 5 patent leaks.
Patents from the Japan Patent Office suggest the next-gen DualShock 5 controller will be near-identical to the DualShock 4 in terms of design, but with a handful of key differences. The patents show a controller with larger triggers, smaller analogue sticks and the removal of the battery-draining Light Bar featured in the current-gen controller. There also seems to be a built-in mic, suggesting the rumours about a built-in assistant could be true.
This lines up with a recent Reddit post, seemingly made by a cleaner at a certain studio that starts with U, who has shared pictures not only of the PS5 development kit but the new DualShock 5 controller too.
PS5 Devkit Cleaning from r/PS5
Though not the clearest photos, it's clear to see that, as mentioned from various other sources, the DualShock 5 controller will look pretty similar to the DualShock 4. There are a few significant changes though, including a more rounded design, although there's no sign of the built-in microphone mentioned above.
Will it be portable like the Nintendo Switch?
One of the other major questions around the PS5 is whether Sony will follow in Nintendo's footsteps and release a handheld/home console hybrid along the lines of the Nintendo Switch.
There's some precedent of course - Sony previously released both the PlayStation Portable and PlayStation Vita, and the latter can even link up to the PS4 and be used as a remote screen and controller for games.
Still, disappointing sales of the Vita mean it's unlikely that Sony has much appetite to return to the portable market. And besides, the PS4's current dominance was driven partly by its position as the most powerful console on the market - we just can't see Sony making the sort of compromises on specs necessary to make the portable form-factor work.
However, May 2018 comments from John Kodera suggest that it could be on the table. In an interview with Bloomberg, Kodera said "In my opinion, rather than separating portable gaming from consoles, it’s necessary to continue thinking of it [portable gaming] as one method to deliver more gaming experiences and exploring what our customers want from portable. We want to think about many options."
What PS5 games have been confirmed?
While we can speculate about plenty of PS5 games - God of War 2 seems likely, and surely Spider-Man 2 to boot - there's only one actually confirmed so far: Godfall.
The fantasy 'looter-slasher' from Borderlands publisher Gearbox was announced at The Game Awards 2019 and sounds likely to be a launch title, with a 'Holiday 2020' release date. It's a PS5 console-exclusive, with no Xbox launch planned yet, but it will arrive on PC too. Watch the launch trailer right here: