It’s coming! Gamers rejoice! Sony announced earlier this year that yes, next-generation console PlayStation 5 is on its way. Obviously, it won’t see game shelves in 2019, but it has been confirmed by Jim Ryan, President and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE), via the PlayStation website to land in time for the holidays in 2020. No specific date was given, just the general timeframe.
THE NAME SAYS IT ALL
Along with Ryan’s holiday 2020 announcement, he also confirmed what most felt was a gimme. The new console will be called PlayStation 5 (PS5). It will be 7 years since Sony released the original PlayStation 4 and 4 years since the upgraded PlayStation 4 Pro. Has that been enough time for Sony to cook up enough new additions to entice gamers to drop a few hundred on it?
According to lead system architect Mark Cerny, the answer is yes. He told Wired, “The key question,” Cerny says, “is whether the console adds another layer to the sorts of experiences you already have access to, or if it allows for fundamental changes in what a game can be.” Cerny, who was also the lead system architect for the PS4, wants to make sure everyone knows this is not simply an upgrade.
The PS5 is nowhere near the level of upgrade Sony gave the PS4 to the PS4 Pro. It is much more. According to Cerny, the Playstation 5 has entirely new hardware that starts right at the heart of the matter. A new AMD chip. Let start with the CPU. It is from AMD’s Ryzen line (based on its third generation) containing AMD’s new 7nm Zen 2 microarchitecture.
Then there’s the GPU which is a custom variant of Radeon’s Navi family. The big deal though is the fact that the GPU will support ray tracing. For those not familiar with ray tracing, it is pretty much considered the Holy Grail of graphics tech. This will be one of the most significant graphic upgrades seen in years along the gaming landscape.
So, as simply as possible an explanation, ray tracing renders light and shadows in a gaming scene but in a way not seen in video games. It is extremely advanced and lifelike. The reason it hasn’t been seen/used in video games is that it takes a huge amount of horsepower to make happen. But with the Playstation 5’s new GPU, they now have the ability to make it happen.
To understand the significance of this, ray tracing is used mainly for movies and TV when they are developing computer graphics for them. Studios have the ability to use the power of an entire server farm to make this happen. Even with this at their disposal, it’s known to be a laborious process. The Playstation 5 has found a way to harness this power onto its GPU. And along with this power, the console will also be able to support 8k graphics. This won’t affect many to begin with, since most everything on the market it 4k, but it is good to know it has that capability.
THE EARS HAVE IT
Even though the benefits of ray tracing are clearly visual, the AMD chip will also have a massive impact on the one thing that has been a frustration for games. The audio.
A custom unit for 3D audio will be included on the chip. Cerny told Wired, “As a gamer,” he says, “it’s been a little bit of a frustration that audio did not change too much between PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.
With the next console the dream is to show how dramatically different the audio experience can be when we apply significant amounts of hardware horsepower to it.” Sounds now will be coming front behind, above, the sides, gamers will be immersed with sound. There won’t be any new external hardware required as these sounds will work with TV speakers and surround sound, but the most complete way to experience it will be with headphones.
LET’S GET… LOADED?
Sony is dealing with another gamer issue. Load times. The larger games take forever to load. Red Dead Redemption 2 is notorious for its load times and fast-travel times. They can drag, causing major frustration to games who want to on quickly. The way the PS5 is handling it this issue, Cerny calls it “a true game-changer.”
The Playstation 5 will be offering an SSD to replace the hard drive. Cerny gave those at Wired a demonstration, the results were better than anything seen, by far. Without the SSD, the demonstrated scene (he used the Spiderman game for this) took 15 seconds to render. Once the SSD was connected, the scene took less than one second. Cerny does not go into details on the SSD, saying nothing more than what he showed.
The promised power of the Playstation 5 is very exciting for the upcoming console. But what other tricks does Sony have up its sleeve?
THE NEW CONTROLLER
How about a new controller with upgraded abilities? The Playstation 5 is going to be shipped with a controller that will now feature haptic feedback technology in place of the earlier rumble technology. What this means is that the gamer will feel the difference between being tackled on a football field versus crashing into a wall in a racing game. You will feel the difference between slopping through mud and walking through a nice field of flowers.
Another upgrade with the controllers is what Sony is calling “adaptive triggers.” This means pressing the L2 and R2 will give you a different feeling depending on the task at hand. Stepping on a gas pedal will feel much different than, say, drawing a bow.
The new controller will also be jumping into the USB-C field. A larger battery for the controller and better speakers have also been confirmed.
Always a question for serious gamers filled with nostalgia. Cerny did confirm that there is backward compatibility with the Playstation 5. But, it will only be backward compatible with the PS4. For now it doesn’t look like the PS5 will offer backward compatibility with the PS3, PS2 or any original PlayStation games. One thing he didn’t rule out was the thought of cloud-gaming. Which could include PlayStation’s vintage catalogue. Cerny also told Wired, “We are cloud-gaming pioneers, and our vision should become clear as we head toward launch”.
Cerny was also able to confirm the PlayStation VR headset will work with the Playstation 5 but don’t be surprised if a new VR headset is released to go specifically with the new console.
A couple of other nifty upgrades will include a 4k Blu-Ray optical disc drive that will allow games to be shipped on 100-GB discs. Obviously though, to take advantage of the fast SSD, you’ll want to install the game on it.
Sony has also promised a much-improved user interface that allows for a quicker way to get into your game and show individual activities within the game.
DO WE HAVE A PRICE?
At the moment Sony does not have a price point for the Playstation 5. One thing for sure, it won’t be any less than the PS4s launch price of $399. Given everything the PS5 is boasting, expect the price to most likely be way north of PS4s initial entry fee.
With the excitement of the new Playstation 5 arriving in time for the 2020 holidays, more excitement was generated when Sony announced PS5 games that will be available upon release.
- Godfall was the first title Sony announced for the PS5 which they described as a “third-person fantasy looter-slasher focused on melee combat”.
- Watch Dog: Legion was a title confirmed by Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot.
- Another Ubisoft title is scheduled for release with the PS5 and that is Gods and Monsters.
- Rainbow Six Quarantine, the third Ubisoft title, will also be available for PS5.
Of course, as the date gets closer, expect more Playstation 5 titles to be announced.
The holiday season of 2020 looks to be a big one for gamers young and old.