Unlike the PlayStation 4, Sony has taken a much slower approach to unveiling its next generation console. While Microsoft opted to start teasing fans at E3 2019, Sony skipped the show entirely and has been essentially drip feeding fans new information about its PlayStation 5 console.
The first reveal came earlier this year prior to the big show, where PS5 system architect David Cerny provided a few technical details, gave a small demo of the potential of the new console, and even hinted that a few first party PS4 titles could be making their way to the PS5 as well. Earlier this week, SIE CEO and President Jim Ryan gave fans another glimpse into the future by announcing the console's official name as the PlayStation 5 and revealed new details on the yet-to-be-named controller.
Even with the PlayStation 5 still at least a year away from launch, Sony has already detailed quite a few of the next generation consoles features. Here's a list of everything that has been confirmed:
Initially revealed earlier this year, the PS5 features an impressive amount of tech under the hood. The AMD Ryzen Zen 2 microchip will have eight cores with 16 threads which allow it to support 8K resolution and PlayStation VR.
Solid State Drive
One of the biggest reveals is that the PlayStation 5 will be coming with a Solid State Drive, replacing the current PS4 hard drive. This device significantly improves things like performance, rendering, and load sequences of games. Cerny's initial demonstration of this showcased Marvel's Spider-Man being loaded in less than a second as compared to its current 15 second on the PS4 Pro.
Customizable Game Installation/Deletion
While the PS4 and Xbox One required players completely install their games before being able to play them, Sony is planning something a little different with the installation process for the PlayStation 5. Thanks to the SSD, games are no longer treated like one big block of data. Instead, players will have more control over the install and delete process being able to add only the single player experience and then installing a multiplayer side later on.
The same process works for deleting games off of the system as well. If they want, portions of the game can be deleted such as the single player camapign once it has been beaten. Game installation is no longer an all or nothing situation. This added level of control should help players better manage their storage and remaining space better than the current systems can.
Ray Tracing Support
This past August, Microsoft announced a free ray tracing update for Minecraft, dramatically improving the visuals by rendering in detail the way light would look and interact with various objects in the game world. With the PS5, Sony is looking to bring that feature to the mainstream thanks to ray-tracing acceleration inside of the system's GPU hardware. While it's an option feature that various studios can, but don't have to, take advantage of, the inclusion should help make some really stunning experience in the next generation.
According to Cerny, the PlayStation 5 UI is getting a complete overhaul, replacing the somewhat bare bones look from the past couple of systems. Instead, Sony is implementing a technique it is calling real-time UI by pulling data from multiplayer game servers to allow the player to join in on activities currently taking place. On the other hand, single player games provide information on available missions the player can select as well as the rewards tied to finishing them.
These options and choices constantly update and are immediately available as soon as the console is turned on.
Reduced Load Times
Load screens can be fairly jarring for players as it not only takes them out of the experience, but it can seriously bog down the amount of fun a person can have. While Anthem was notorious for its many flaws, the load times were at the top of the list for many players. Unfortunately, load times are a necessary evil due to the limitations in technology.
However, Sony is hoping to make this issue a thing of the past with the PlayStation 5. As the Marvel's Spider-Man demonstration proved, this next gen console is looking to bring back the cartridge type experience where games loaded instantly. This is all thanks, once again, to the SSD storage technology that is shipping inside of the console. Cerny also confirmed that how developers utilize this new tech will likely be different as it gives more options to studios such as building a more detailed world or shrinking the overall size of games and their updates. Either way, being able to taking the massive open world of New York City and load it in less than a second should be proof that at least one main headache from this current console cycle won't be making a return.
Being able to play games from past generations has always been a big deal for video game fans and has come on strong for both the Xbox One and PS4 in the past couple of years. Just this week, Sony updated fans on this very topic for the PlayStation 5 and while there are still issues the company is trying to work through, things sound promising.
As of right now, the PlayStation 5 will be backwards compatible with PlayStation 4 games, though according to a Sony representative, the system does not have complete compatibility yet. Unfortunately, the company stopped short of explaining what that exactly means, though it likely indicates that the next gen system has a limited library of compatible titles similar to what the Xbox One can do. Thankfully, it was also confirmed that developers at Sony continue to work towards the possibility of complete compatibility, but has nothing new to share at the time being.
Sony has yet to confirm or deny that older generations of games from the PS3, PS2, and PSX eras will be apart of this backwards compatibility as well.
During the controller reveal this week, Sony also confirmed that physical games the PlayStation 5 will use 100GB optical disks and an optical drive that can also be used as a 4K Bluray player. This will be a first for the company as its previous PS4 Pro did not have this feature due to Sony's stance that there was a lack of interest in physical media. With this announcement, it seems that Sony has changed its mind about the state of physical media or perhaps it wanted to better contend with its chief rival, Microsoft who has made sure to include it in its own consoles like the Xbox One X.
New controller features
The big news from this week was the new controller reveal. Although it doesn't have a name yet and at least one or two of its features remains behind closed doors, the new controller does have a few tricks up its sleeves.
The L2/R2 buttons have been outright replaced in favor of adaptive triggers. Through this feature, games can make the triggers have more or less resistance to better feel like the object the player is using. Examples included the tension of a bow string or making the various weapons in a game like Call of Duty feel more unique based on how they handle.
The other big feature is haptic feedback, which replaces the simplistic rumbling of older controllers. The goal with this feature is to make games feel more immersive by offering rumble feedback based on what's going on in game. The rumble reacts to a game's environment such as different surfaces that the player can move through like water, mud, or a wooden bridge.
Of course, with so many unknowns surrounding Sony's latest console, rumors have also been fairly common over the past few months. Here is everything that has yet to be officially confirmed or denied from Sony.
From Cortana to Siri, and Alexa, voice activated assistants are becoming more and more popular these days. Following that trend, the latest PS5 rumor indicates that the next generation console may be getting its own voice activated AI assistant as well. The information comes from a registered patent from Sony called PlayStation Assist, where ther player would be able to ask the AI to help them with tasks in a game such as directions to the next objective or where certain in-game items can be found. The AI would access Sony's own server network to find answers.
Sony isn't yet budging on the news, writing off the rumors by saying that the company files new patents on a regular basis.
While Virtual Reality isn't quite the industry standard as many expected it to become at this point, Sony appears primed and ready to continue pushing its technology forward. The popular PSVR headset technology may be getting an upgrade on the PS5 if a filed patent is to be believed. The new headset features a few enhancements including cameras on the front and back of the headset and the lack of wires. The PlayStation Move controller also comes with a camera on it.
Rumors indicate that the PlayStation VR2 likely won't launch alongside the PS5 due to the potential sticker shock of having to buy a new console and new VR set, though it'll likely launch sooner than the three years it originally took the original tech to debut on the PS4.
PlayStation Plus Premium Subscription
Subscription services have blown up over the past year, with most companies trying to carve out a section for themselves whether that's in video games, TV, or movies. Sony's own PlayStation Plus service has continued to evolve throughout the PS4's life cycle and according to reports, the PS5 version of PlayStation Plus may continue to look a little different.
While there's still a lot fans don't know, according to an anonymous European game developer, PS Plus Premium would guarantee access to assorted game alphas and betas as well as offer the ability to create private servers. Unfortunately, major details like price are currently unknown though based on the name alone, fans would likely be paying a bit more than the normal PS Plus price.
Earlier this year, Sony put in for another patent for a marketplace where players could essentially trade-in/re-sell their unwanted digital games. This would be a first for the games industry who has been slow to adapt to similar trends of gifting games or outright returning them.
Still, it's worth noting that there are still a ton of unknowns as to how this would work such as could players trade games in for their full value or would it be similar to what GameStop does in offering a lower price. However, considering that these would be only digital games, Sony wouldn't have to worry about scratched disks or physical copies. Still, does trading what is essentially license keys in order to access a game have any decreasing value after being used multiple times? It's a question that Sony will need to figure out before Holiday 2020.
Personalized Gameplay Experiences
Another Sony patent filed earlier this year could indicate that the PS5 may be able to use data to personalize gameplay for each individual player. This could potentially be for customizing an experience tailored to the experience level of the player such as automatically braking for a player in a racing game or making a difficult game more accessible for someone new to it. In addition, utilizing the data could help the system recommend titles the player may be interested in or offer tips on overly difficult portions of games.
The patent also covers game development as well. Specifically, it discusses the idea of authoring tools for game development or a game-integrated level editor that are customized based on learned data from player actions.
Touch screen controller
The Switch has managed to put Nintendo back on the map following the disappointing sales of its last console, the WiiU. One of the main draws is the portability as well as being able to dock the system for use at home. This portable touchscreen tech in the Switch may have gotten the attention of Sony, who has filed a new patent last year for a touch screen PlayStation controller. According to the filing, the new controller would have a touchscreen in the middle, likely replacing the touchpad section on the current DualShock 4. While Sony has yet to comment on this patent, it's likely that this device isn't for the PlayStation 4 considering that the PS5 is right around the corner.
PlayStation 5 launches holiday 2020.