As the PS5 draws closer and closer, Sony continues to unveil the system in bits and pieces. Previously, we knew about its holiday 2020 launch, its impressive 8-core processors, its ray tracing capabilities and its ambitious SSDs. If the system works as advertised, it could drastically reduce load times while displaying more lifelike graphics than ever before.
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Now, Sony has revealed the PS5's controller: the DualSense. This peripheral looks quite different than Sony's previous DualShock lineup, with a two-tone color pattern, vertical grips and a mysterious "Create" button to replace the "Share" functionality.
Along with the system's RDNA GPU and ambitious 3D audio, the DualSense could help the PS5 differentiate itself from anything on the market today. To learn more, read on to find out what we know so far about the PS5, including its release date, confirmed specs, expected games and more.
PS5 cheat sheet: What you need to know
- What it is: Sony's newest console, the fifth non-portable PlayStation
- Release date: Holiday 2020
- Price: TBD
- Key features: 4K games at 60 fps, up to 8K resolution, up to 120 frames per second, ray tracing, fast-loading SSD
- Key games: Godfall, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, Outriders
- Specs: 8-core 3.5 GHz AMD Zen 2 CPU, 10.3 teraflop AMD RDNA 2 GPU, 16 GB GDDR6 memory, 825 GB custom SSD
- CPU: 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.5GHz
- GPU: 10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs at 2.23GHz, RDNA 2 architecture
- RAM: 16GB GDDR6
- Storage: Custom 825GB SSD
- Expandable storage: NVMe SSD slot
- Optical drive: 4K Blu-ray drive
Mark Cerny, a lead systems architect at Sony, hosted a talk on March 18 that walked users through some of the salient points of the PS5’s hardware. In particular, he discussed the PS5’s SSD configuration and 3D audio capabilities. We also learned about the system’s CPU, GPU and RAM structure.
The SSD is the PS5's secret weapon, at least according to the Epic Games developers. The PS5 targets a load rate of 5.5 GB/s. In theory, that’s almost 10 times faster than the PS4. To be cost-effective, however, the PS5’s default hard drive will be only 825 GB, rather than a full 1 TB.
Cerny also discussed the PS5’s custom RDNA2 AMD GPU, and the physical construction of the PS5’s CPU. The short version is that the control unit (CU) on the PS5 is 62% larger than the PS4’s, largely due to the amount of transistors present. This means the PS5’s CPU will be able to route more processes, more efficiently.
The GPU will also make use of both ray tracing and primitive shaders, which will affect both power consumption and heat management. Unlike the PS4, on which power consumption can variously tremendously from game to game, the PS5 will try to standardize power consumption for each game and make resources available as needed. This should prevent overheating, as well as excessive fan noise.
One of the most exciting —but also most technically demanding — aspects of the PS5 is its emphasis on 3D audio. Some PC headsets already feature 3D audio, but eventually, Cerny wants the PS5 to deliver 3D audio, regardless of platform: TV speakers, headset or soundbar. The key to 3D audio lies in Head Related Transfer Function, or HRTF. This feature maps out an individual’s hearing based on a sound’s frequency, direction and volume.
A Sony patent suggests that the PS5's 3D audio may also be dynamic, to some degree. The patent describes a "dynamic AI audio" system that responds to player cues in order to gauge a player's emotional state and adjust the music accordingly. This could be anything from changing a piece's tempo, to using a different piece entirely. On the other hand, the PS5 isn't mentioned specifically in the patent, so this could also be more of an experimental idea.
PS5 release date
Sony has announced that the PS5 will launch during the holiday 2020 season. This means it will likely come out within a few weeks of its competitor, the Xbox Series X. Anything past that, for the moment, is simply speculation. For context: The PS4 hit shelves on November 15, 2013.
According to a recent leak, the exact PS5 launch date might be November 20. A prolific source on Twitter claimed that the DualSense controller, by itself, was slated to come out on November 20, and cost $60. It stands to reason that the controller would come out on the same day as the console itself, in order to facilitate multiplayer games. (Each PS5 will come with one DualSense controller, of course.)
Like its release date, the PS5's price is shrouded in mystery. So far, all we have to go on is that the PS4 cost $400 when it first came out — a price that undercut the competing Xbox One by $100. Sony may not pull the same trick again, though, as Microsoft is in a better position to undercut its competitor this time around.
The only price listed at a retailer so far has been CA$560 (a little less than $400 USD) at a store called Play N Trade Vancouver. This seems to be a placeholder number rather than an official price from Sony, but it could be in the right ballpark. Other reports suggest that the PS5 could cost up to $500, though.
In April 2020, Sony officially took the wraps of DualSense: a radically redesigned PlayStation controller that will accompany the PS5. While DualSense has a familiar button layout and brings back the touchpad from the DualShock 4, its two-toned black-and-white design looks nothing like any PlayStation controller before it.
As Sony confirmed before, DualSense will have haptic feedback and adaptive triggers, which will provide realistic, tactile rumble to simulate the feel of, say, driving through mud or firing a bow and arrow. The controller's Share button has been replaced by a new Create button, which Sony says will provide even more ways to capture and share your favorite gameplay moments.
DualSense also has a built-in microphone, which will let you chat with friends without needing to dig your gaming headset out. The controller's light bar now surrounds the touchpad, which lets you better see the glow emanating out of it and complements the white design nicely.
We haven't seen the PS5 interface in action yet, although a Reddit leak from a while back supposedly shows us what the PS5 dev kit's menus look like. The interface in this leak is nearly identical to the PS4, although as many users have pointed out, that doesn't necessarily indicate anything about the PS5's menus. Dev kits often use what already works rather than what might look pretty in the future.
Furthermore, a Sony patent application filed in 2018 might tell us a little more about a new addition to the PS5's interface. A "durational information platform" could use pop-up dialogue boxes to tell you how long any given level might take to complete, as well as whether doing so would conflict with any real-world obligations you have. The patent hasn't been granted yet, so this might not be a launch feature, if Sony ever implements it at all.
Sony filed a patent in August 2019 for a device that could be the PS5. It's an odd, futuristic-looking box with a V-shaped indentation in the top, and round fins for ventilation on the side. It also has a disc drive and a number of USB ports. Gizmodo later published photos of what appears to be a leaked dev kit, which looks similar to the patent image. It's not clear, however, whether Sony will adopt this design for the final product. Another "leaked dev kit picture" from a November Tweet told a similar story:
PS5 anyone? pic.twitter.com/cBggZTIty4November 30, 2019
We may know the console's design for sure in early June. A recent report suggests that Sony has a full reveal event planned for early June, where Sony would reveal both the PS5's final design and its initial game lineup. This would sync up pretty well with what the company may have initially planned to do around E3 2020, before the show was canceled due to ongoing public health concerns.
Two more reports recently backed up the early June reveal date, although these two pieces pegged the event on June 3 rather than June 4. Either way, the event is less than a week away, so if it happens, we'll know soon enough. Sony could also change its mind once again and delay information until later this summer, but it seems reasonable for Sony to show us the PS5 sooner rather than later at this point.
We recently got our first peek at PS5 live gameplay, thanks to an Unreal Engine V demo entitled Lumen in the Land of Nanite. While this was just a tech demo, not an actual title slated to come out, it showed us how at least one developer will leverage the PS5's powerful hardware for dynamic lighting and complex polygons. See the video below:
Most of the games confirmed for PS5 so far are third-party titles, which will also be available on the PC and Xbox Series X. The closest thing to a system exclusive is Godfall from Counterplay Games: a "looter slasher" that will also be on PC.
Ubisoft has confirmed that some of its upcoming titles, including Watch Dogs Legion, Gods and Monsters, Rainbow Six Quarantine and Assassin's Creed Valhalla will be on PS5, in addition to other consoles. People Can Fly's multiplayer shooter Outriders will also be available on both next-gen systems. We'll also be getting Fortnite, although that's no great surprise.
Guerrilla Games, the team behind the Killzone franchise and Horizon Zero Dawn, appears to be working on a new PS5 title. A hastily deleted job posting on Twitter suggested that Guerrilla is on the lookout for a senior AI programmer focusing on "[making] our NPCs come to life." Whether this is a sequel to an existing Guerrilla game, or a new IP, or simply a job posting fluke, we'll have to wait and see.
Sony has confirmed a major June 4 event in which it will be showing off the PS5 games lineup. Initially, we thought that Sony might show off the PS5's physical design in early June. That's not impossible, although Sony's announcement makes it clear that games are the focus for right now. The company hasn't shared which games will be on display, but we do know that the whole presentation will take more than an hour, so we'll probably learn about multiple titles, rather than just a deep dive on a single one.
PS5 backwards compatibility
The PS5 will be backwards compatible with most — but perhaps not all — PS4 games. Unlike the PS3, which essentially incorporated a PS2’s guts into early models, the PS5 will run older games via regularized software algorithms. In theory, this means that almost every PS4 game will be compatible with the PS5 right from the get-go. At launch, most of the PS4's 100 most popular games will be playable.
However, it's possible that this functionality won't be built into the PS5, instead requiring a software update. The Icelandic PS5 website claimed (then quickly took down the claim) that Sony's new console would let gamers "play a back catalog of supported PS4 games with system update." This could mean a number of things. Perhaps Sony will roll out game support piecemeal, or perhaps requires software updates on a title-by-title basis, like the Xbox systems. In any case, expect that you'll need an Internet connection to play older titles.