PlayStation 5: Everything We Know
Sony’s next-generation PlayStation 5 arrives later this year, and while a series of delays pushed the official reveal back, there’s already so much we know about the PlayStation 4 successor. While we count down the hours until we finally get our hands on the new console, let’s take a look at everything we know so far.
What we know about the PlayStation 5
Though we’re still ways out from release, here’s everything revealed about the PlayStation 5’s pricing, specs, release date, and games.
Confirmed: PlayStation 5 specs
In a somewhat backward turn of events, we learned a lot more about the PlayStation 5’s technical specs before anything else. We know almost everything about the console’s architecture, and what kind of grunt it’s packing under the hood. Here are the raw specs in table form. Read on for more information on technical highlights, and what each upgrade means for you.
|CPU||3.5GHz custom Zen 2|
|GPU||RDNA 2 10.28 TFLOPS @ 2.23GHz|
|RAM||GDDR 16GB @ 448GB/s|
|Internal storage||825GB custom SSD, 5.5GB/s read (raw)|
|External storage||M2 SSD expansion port, external HDD support|
|Optical drive||4K UHD Blu-ray|
|Max frame rate||120Hz|
|Backwards compatibility||Overwhelming majority of PS4 games|
|Release date||Holiday 2020|
Tech spec highlights
Let’s take a brief tour through the PlayStation 5’s architecture and pull apart the jargon and technical terms to decode what each upgrade means for the everyday user.
Ray tracing on PS5
Already, the upcoming console generation has been defined by a few key buzzwords. Still, none are more exciting than ray tracing, a significant graphics upgrade coming to both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.
Ray tracing is the latest advancement in light and shadow rendering. Ray tracing technologies used in video games, TV, and film simulate and track every ray of light in a scene. It takes a light source and uses an algorithm to trace that light and calculate how light interacts with the in-game environments and character models.
In short, it makes lighting and shadows in games seem much more natural and lifelike, which goes a long way in reproducing realistic graphics.
Thanks to NVIDIA’s RTX graphics cards, PC gamers are already privy to the benefits of ray tracing. But ray tracing requires a lot of computational power, which is why we haven’t seen it in consoles before 2020.
Unlike the HDR upgrade of PS4’s mid-gen jump to PS4 Pro, the difference made by ray tracing is night-and-day.
Look at NVIDIA’s in-depth video on ray tracing in Cyberpunk 2077 in the video below to see the results for yourself.
Budget-minded PS5 Digital Edition
In addition to the core PlayStation 5 console, Sony revealed a Digital Only version during the July 2020 live stream. The PlayStation 5 Digital Edition will likely be a budget alternative set to compete with Microsoft’s long-rumoured digital-only console, currently known as Xbox One Series S.
We only have a visual comparison for reference, as no technical specifications have been revealed for the digital version. We can safely assume that it will cost less than the core PlayStation 5 console, but by how much depends on the sacrifices made internally. We know from product photography that the Digital Only version doesn’t have a 4K UHD Blu-ray optical drive, so physical game discs and Blu-ray DVDs won’t be playable. That should shave between $50 and $100 off the Digital Edition, at least.
The existence of a Digital Edition raises more questions than it answers.
Is Sony finally ready to compete with Microsoft’s phenomenal Game Pass offer? Some countries have access to Sony’s lesser PlayStation Now streaming service, but that option isn’t viable in Australia (thanks to our unsteady broadband infrastructure). Will Sony offer an external optical drive for Digital Only users if they ever feel like upgrading? We’ll update this section as more details surface.
PS5 SSD (Solid State Drive) Solution
- Smaller, more optimised file sizes
- Configurable downloads (e.g. downloading/deleting single-player and online campaigns separately)
Next to ray tracing, Solid State Drives (SSD) is another significant tech upgrade coming to next-gen consoles. According to Eurogamer’s tech breakdown, there are a few huge benefits that the PlayStation 5’s SSD allows for.
Firstly, the SSD allows for custom game install/uninstalls. Say you’ve burned through the latest Call of Duty campaign, but you still want to play the online mode – maybe you only ever wanted to play the campaign or online multiplayer – on the current generation of consoles, deleting a game would mean removing both modes from your hard drive. The PlayStation 5 will let you download and delete these modes separately, freeing up a lot more space on your hard drive.
It’s also an excellent feature for Australians on slow or capped broadband plans, as you will be able to select which features you want to download first.
For example, let’s say you want to play the latest Call of Duty on launch day. Typically, you’d be looking at a download up to or above 100GB for the combined campaign/multiplayer download. That’s an overnight download (at least) for many Australians. But on PlayStation 5, you will have the option to only download the campaign or online multiplayer, reducing the download size and time-to-play significantly. Ultimately, the developers will need to provide support for this functionality, but it’s a promising future for people struggling with slow internet.
Overall, game downloads should be smaller or better optimised on PlayStation 5 too. The new SSD solution eliminates the need for a lot of bloat that developers currently need to create to help their games smoothly run on PlayStation 4. Developers will choose how they take advantage of that extra space; some will use it to reduce the game download size, and others will take advantage of that extra space to make their games larger and prettier.
PlayStation 5 backward compatibility
Sony has confirmed that the “100 most-played” PlayStation 4 games will run smoothly on the PlayStation 5, but not every game has been tested. Due to the significant power boost in the PS5, it’s hard to say with confidence that every title will run as expected.
Partly confirmed: PlayStation 5 games
Over 28 games confirmed.
In the leadup to the PlayStation 5 reveal, many AAA developers already jumped the gun, confirming their games for PlayStation 5. Ubisoft confirmed Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla would be heading to PlayStation 5 on its pre-order page, and the Watch Dogs: Legion delay suggests we’ll see it at launch too (though unlike Valhalla, the Legion page doesn’t advertise PlayStation 5 availability).
However, it wasn’t until the live stream reveal that we got our first look at games running on PlayStation 5 and a lineup of 28 games heading to the next-gen console.
Here’s the list of titles confirmed for PlayStation 5 during the live stream.
PlayStation 5 Exclusives
These are the first and second-party games coming to the PlayStation 5 that will be exclusive to the console (e.g., not available on any other device).
- Astro’s Playroom (Japan Studio)
- Demon’s Souls (Bluepoint Games / Japan Studio)
- Destruction All Stars (Lucid Games / XDEV)
- Gran Turismo 7 (Polyphony Digital)
- Horizon Forbidden West (Guerrilla Games)
- Marvel’s Spider-Man Miles Morales (Insomniac Games)
- Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (Insomniac Games)
- Returnal (Housemarque / XDEV)
- Sackboy A Big Adventure (Sumo Digital / XDEV)
PlayStation 5 third-party games
Next up are the third-party games coming to PlayStation 5. These games will be available on PlayStation 5, but they will also make their way to other platforms (like Xbox Series X and PC).
- Bugsnax (Young Horses)
- DEATHLOOP (Bethesda)
- Ghostwire: Tokyo (Bethesda)
- Godfall (Gearbox Publishing / Counterplay Games)
- Goodbye Volcano High (KO-OP)
- Grand Theft Auto V and Grand Theft Auto Online (Rockstar Games)
- HITMAN 3 (IO Interactive)
- JETT : The Far Shore (Superbrothers)
- Kena: Bridge of the Spirits (Ember Lab)
- Little Devil Inside (Neostream Interactive)
- NBA 2K21 (2K, Visual Concepts)
- Oddworld Soulstorm (Oddworld Inhabitants)
- Pragmata (Capcom)
- Project Athia (Square Enix/Luminous Productions)
- Resident Evil Village (Capcom)
- Solar Ash (Annapurna / Heart Machine)
- Stray (Annapurna / Blue Twelve Studio)
- Tribes of Midgard (Gearbox Publishing / Norsfell)
- The Pathless (Annapurna / Giant Squid)
Loosely confirmed: PlayStation 5 release date
For the longest time, we knew more about when the PlayStation 5 wouldn’t release than we did about when it would. Mark Cerny revealed to Wired that the new console would not launch by April 2020. Then CES 2020 rolled around, and a loose release date for “Holiday 2020” was announced (as well as the anticlimactic PS5 logo reveal).
After the PlayStation 5 live stream reveal, that’s still all we know about the console’s release date. Holiday 2020 is a vague way of saying the console will be out sometime before Christmas. Both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 released in November, so that’s when we’d expect Sony to release the next-gen console.
We’d put money on the PlayStation 5 releasing mid-November 2020, assuming there are no manufacturing or distribution delays, which is highly possible in 2020.
Speculation: PlayStation 5 price
We estimate around $600 to $700 for PlayStation 5, a little cheaper for PlayStation 5 Digital Edition.
The biggest question of all: how much will the PlayStation 5 cost? We’re not even sure Sony knows the answer to that question yet. Sony and Microsoft are in a bit of a stalemate at the moment, but holding back pricing information until one of them announces first. If Sony reveals its hand first, Microsoft has a chance to undercut the PlayStation 5 with Xbox Series X pricing. And Sony would likely do the same if Microsoft jumped first.
There’s an unquantifiable competitive factor at play. For a ballpark figure, we can look at past launch pricing for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro.
As detailed in this analysis from Twitter user ConsumeProgeny, the PlayStation 4 launched at slightly above $600 AUD when adjusted for inflation, and the PlayStation 4 Pro launched at just below $600 AUD when adjusted for inflation.
Alright Aussies; here's every Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony console launch price graphed in AUD. First graph is price at launch, second is adjusted for 2019 inflation as per the Reserve Bank of Australia. This is Australia's console pricing history.#xbox #playstation #nintendo pic.twitter.com/8cKIZEoeHo— consumeprogeny (@ConsumeProgeny) June 11, 2020
When compared against the Xbox One X, which launched at $649 in November 2017, the PlayStation 4 Pro’s $559.95 launch price seems quite cheap. Those two consoles launched a year apart, and the competition was nowhere near as fierce as it will be this generation.
Based on past pricing, and what we know about the PlayStation 5’s architecture, our best guess would be somewhere in the mid-$600 mark.
Using the current price difference between the 500GB PlayStation 4 ($439.95), and the 1TB PlayStation 4 Pro ($559.95), the more wallet-friendly PlayStation 5 Digital Edition will likely cost around 20% less, landing it somewhere between $500 and $515.
PS5 Controller: DualSense 5
- Haptic feedback
- ’Adaptive feedback’ in R2/L2 triggers
- New Create button replaces Share button
- Built-in microphone array
- USB-C charging
In the PlayStation 5 timeline, we were introduced to the DualShock 4 replacement, the DualSense 5, long before the console itself. In a blog post on the official PlayStation website, Sony’s Hideaki Nishino outlined the updates and design philosophy of the PlayStation 5 controller.
Firstly, there’s a focus on feedback. The DualSense 5 will have haptic feedback over traditional rumble, allowing for more precise physical feedback that reacts to in-game environments. Little details, like driving from asphalt to a dirt road, will be felt through the DualSense 5, and the L2/R2 triggers’ adaptive feedback’ will react to things like gunfire, or the tightening of a bowstring in a game like Horizon Forbidden West.
These two features are only new to Sony. The Nintendo Switch Joy-cons use haptic feedback that it brands as ‘HD rumble,’ and the Xbox One Wireless Controller already offers trigger-based feedback.
Besides the feedback improvements, there are also a few more design changes. The lightbar is now positioned on the front of the controller, and the DualShock 4’s Share button has been replaced with a Create button (though it ostensibly offers the same functionality). There’s even an in-built microphone array, so even players without headsets can jump into party chat.
Lastly, and most importantly, the DualSense 5 will charge via USB-C, rather than micro-USB, which has become a particular pain point for PlayStation 4 users as the console has aged.