Yesterday, in one of the oddest console reveals I’ve ever encountered, Wired broke news about the as-of-yet unnamed new video game console from Sony. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll refer to this system as the PlayStation 5 or PS5. It’s possible Sony will end up calling it something else (PlayStation One, perhaps?) but I wouldn’t count on it.
In any case, the Wired piece reveals a number of key details about the new system, though many other important details (including images of the box itself) remain a mystery. Here are five things you need to know about the next Sony video game system.
1. PlayStation 4 games will be backward compatible.
This is some very good news indeed. Unlike the leap from PS3 to PS4, this time around the PS5 is built on the same basic architecture as its predecessor. That means PS4 games will be backward compatible and your entire library can migrate with you to the new system.
Backward compatibility has been one of the Xbox One’s strongest selling points. Microsoft has done an amazing job getting hundreds of older Xbox 360 and original Xbox games to work on the Xbox One. Some are even “enhanced” with better resolution, frame-rate or image quality.
I’m not sure that will be the case with the PS5, but simply being able to play all the games you’ve amassed this generation on the PS5 makes it a much more appealing purchase than the PS4. Your PSVR headset and games will also work with the PS5.
2. The PS5 will support up to 8k resolution, ray-tracing and 3D audio.
Okay, nobody cares about 8k resolution. Almost nobody owns an 8k TV. That could change over the next few years, but I think it’s safe to say that 4k is the sweet spot at this point in time, and the PS5 appears to be plenty powerful to handle that.
The internal custom chip is based off AMD’s Ryzen CPU line and the AMD Navi GPU. While we don’t have exact specs just yet, it sounds absolutely beastly. It will also support “ray-tracing” which will make games even more realistic. Here’s how Wikipedia defines ray-tracing:
In computer graphics,ray tracing is a rendering technique for generating an image by tracing the path of light as pixels in an image plane and simulating the effects of its encounters with virtual objects. The technique is capable of producing a very high degree of visual realism, usually higher than that of typical scanline rendering methods, but at a greater computational cost.
Ray-tracing can also help create more realistic sound, and the PS5 will support 3D object-based audio, creating much more immersive sound especially if you have a surround sound system or nice headphones. “If you wanted to run tests to see if the player can hear certain audio sources or if the enemies can hear the players’ footsteps, ray tracing is useful for that,” Sony’s Mark Cerny told Wired. “It’s all the same thing as taking a ray through the environment.”
3. The PS5’s secret weapon is the custom SSD hard drive.
It may not sound all that exciting, but the PS5 will include a solid-state-drive that is way, way faster than the current gen hard drives and quite a lot faster than the SSD drives many of us have already.
According to the Wired piece, fast-traveling in Spider-Man takes 15 seconds on the PS4. On an early build of the PS5, the same action takes just 0.8 seconds. That’s amazing. The faster drive also allows for faster rendering of environments meaning that not only can more happen at once at increased graphical fidelity, you can even move through the game world faster.
Hopefully these drives are also quite large as the more graphically intense video games get, the more space they take up. I imagine even 2 terabyte drives will fill up quickly.
4. Rumor has it, the PS5 will cost $499.99.
According to leaks and rumors, the PlayStation 5 will cost $100 more at launch than the PlayStation 4 did at launch. Five hundred bucks is a pretty significant asking price. That’s what Microsoft tried to charge for the Xbox One at launch, with Sony undercutting that price by $100.
This time around, Sony could find themselves in the opposite position if they’re not careful. Then again, with all this expensive custom hardware, I suspect the next Xbox will cost around $500 as well rendering it a moot point.
Then again, Microsoft could undercut Sony and get a head start in the next-gen console wars.
5. The PS5 isn’t launching in 2019.
I know some folk had their hopes up for a holiday 2019 release. Sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s not in the cards.
The good news is that it’s almost a certainty now that the PS5 will launch in 2020, seven years after the launch of the PS4 (though this generation had a mid-cycle refresh with the PS4 Pro and Xbox One S and X).
If the past is any indication, the PS5 will land in stores in November of 2020, just in time for the holiday shopping craze. Both the PS3 and PS4 launched in November in their respective launch years (in North America).
And there you have it. Five things you now know about Sony’s PlayStation 5. I imagine we’ll start hearing more and more about the system now that the cat’s out of the proverbial bag. For now, it sounds like a pretty great upgrade.