The PS5 (or PlayStation 5) is Sony’s long-awaited next-generation console, and its release date is expected in late 2020.
As of September 2020, we’ve glimpsed the PS5 design, seen the PS5 games line-up, including Horizon Forbidden West and Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and know a lot about the console’s specs and features. These include an SSD for fast loading, ray-tracing, a built-in 4K Blu-ray player and backwards compatibility with thousands of titles in the PS4’s game library.
What we don’t know right now is PS5 price or release date, though both reveals are likely imminent. Still, at this point, we know a lot about what to expect from the PlayStation 5 ahead of its “Holiday” release.
For one thing, the PS5 is a very different-looking console to the PS4, with its space-age black-and-white color scheme looking a little different to PlayStations of the past. There’s more than one PS5 console releasing this year, though, as Sony has also confirmed it’s going to be releasing a PS5 Digital Edition – a streamlined, digital-only console without a disc drive.
Finally, we know a lot about PS5 specs, thanks to Sony’s first March reveal event. Lead system architect Mark Cerny discussed the PS5’s system architecture, revealing the inner workings of the PS5. We’ll cover them in full below, but specs-wise, the PS5 is rocking an AMD Zen 2-based CPU with 8 cores at 3.5GHz, 16GB of GDDR6 memory and a custom RDNA 2 AMD GPU that puts out 10.28 TFLOPs of processing power. That might sound like nonsense if you’re not up on this kind of jargon, but prospective PS5 players have a lot to be excited about.
Want to know more? Here’s everything we know about the PS5 so far – and what else we’re hoping to learn about in the run up to the next-generation console’s launch.
[UPDATE: PS5 release date coming after Xbox Series X, says report. Read on to find out more.]
PS5: key facts
- What is it? The Sony PS5 is the next-gen PlayStation console.
- When will it release? “Holiday 2020”, so between October and December 2020.
- What can I play on it? Loads of games! They include a new Spider-Man entry, a Horizon Zero Dawn sequel, a Demon’s Souls remake, Resident Evil 8 and much more to come.
- What will the PS5 cost? TBC, but analyst predictions have placed the PS5 price in the region of $499 / £449 / AU$749.
- Can I play PS4 games on the PS5? The PS5 will definitely be backwards compatible with “almost all” PS4 games – earlier generations are still to be confirmed. It will launch with support for the majority of the top 100 PS4 games, but it’s been suggested support will extend to most of the PS4’s library.
- Will the PS5 support PS4 accessories? Mostly. The DualShock 4 controller will work with supported PS4 games, while officially licensed PS4 arcade sticks, flight sticks. racing wheels and some PS4 headsets are supported.
- Will PS5 have VR? Oh yes. The next-gen console will be support current PSVR hardware, and there are also rumors of PSVR 2.
- Will coronavirus delay the PS5 release? Sony has confirmed the PS5 release date is not currently delayed by coronavirus, and reiterated the fact that the PS5 is still on course for a “Holiday 2020” release in its end of year financial report.
PS5 release date
Sony has officially confirmed that the PS5 will release globally “in time for Holiday 2020”, so likely some time between October and December 2020 – putting it in direct competition with the Xbox Series X, which is releasing in the same window.
A report by VGC, claims that the PS5 will likely release in mid-November and that Sony has booked “significant marketing spend” for the week of November 13 (a Friday), with sources claiming that a launch during that window would fit with their expectations.
This date would be in the right window, as we’re predicting the PS5 will release in November, 2020. November is historically when we’ve seen new PlayStation consoles launch and it would leave time before Christmas to get those orders in.
Releasing in this time period would allow the PS5 to launch alongside upcoming AAA titles such as Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Cyberpunk 2077 and Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War which are all due to release in November, which could pad out the console’s currently quiet launch window while also avoiding the launch being lost in the shuffle of Black Friday – which falls two weeks later.
We’re expecting to find out the PlayStation 5’s official release date in the near future, with a September price reveal looking likely but not confirmed.
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Sony hasn’t confirmed the PS5 price yet, but analyst predictions have placed the PS5 price in the region of $499 / £449 / AU$749. Naturally this should be treated with skepticism, but it would be welcome news if the console did launch at this price, as it’s only $100 more than the launch price of the PS4 and PS4 Pro. That being said, some industry analysts predict the console could come in at around $599.
That’s considered to be the price for the standard version, however, and as Sony’s June 11 reveal event has shown us, there will be two PS5 consoles at launch: a standard PS5 and the PS5 Digital Edition. That’s likely to come in lower, but we’re not sure by how much – though some predict it could come in around $499.
Rumors suggesting that we may get a PS5 pricing reveal in August didn’t come to fruition, so we’re hoping for a price confirmation in September. But, with Microsoft’s own Xbox Series X breathing down Sony’s neck, the generational competition is entering its most heated phase. If Sony was to announce the PS5 price and pre-order date first, they risk Microsoft working to undercut it at the last minute. The situation is also reversed, though, so this standoff is likely to continue for the time being.
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The PS5 design was officially revealed on June 11, 2020. This image above is what the console looks like.
When it came to the reveal of the console itself, Sony nailed it – the icing on the PS5 games reveal event, and with a few surprises in store too. Not one, but two PlayStation 5 consoles will launch – a standard edition with a 4K Blu-Ray disc drive, and a slimmer, disc-free PS5 Digital Edition (read more on this below).
Both make use of USB-C charging for their controllers, and can make use of a HD camera accessory, alongside a new PS5 wireless headset and media remote. The consoles themselves feature a striking design that’s sure to split opinion.
A curvy mixture of black and white plastics with blue highlight lighting, it’s far removed from the ‘black box’ designs of previous PlayStation consoles. What was not revealed however, were pricing and precise availability, which remain a mystery beyond the aforementioned “Holiday 2020” window.
In addition, Sony has said that the PS5 UI will be getting “a 100% overhaul of the PS4 UI” – which will be revealed soon.
Here are some shots of the PS5 design:
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- CPU: AMD Zen 2-based CPU with 8 cores at 3.5GHz (variable frequency)
- GPU: 10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs at 2.23GHz (variable frequency)
- GPU architecture: Custom RDNA 2
- Memory interface: 16GB GDDR6 / 256-bit
- Memory bandwidth: 448GB/s
- Internal storage: Custom 825GB SSD
- IO throughput: 5.5GB/s (raw), typical 8-9GB/s (compressed)
- Expandable storage: NVMe SSD slot
- External storage: USB HDD support (PS4 games only)
- Optical drive: 4K UHD Blu-ray drive
In addition to what the PS5 looks like, we also know a fair bit about the PS5 specs. Sony lifted the hood on the PlayStation 5 during its first official PS5 reveal event in March, giving us an idea of what the new PlayStation is packing under the hood – so make sure you check out our PS5 spec analysis.
The importance of the SSD
The SSD is key to the PlayStation 5 experience. Internal storage will be built in at 825GB for the custom SSD – that’s less than you’ll find in the Xbox Series X, but with just as clever an implementation of the technology.
SSDs don’t just load faster, but allow for bigger open worlds, theoretically. Developers don’t need to make games with smaller worlds due to the limitations of mechanical hard drives, while SSDs will also allow system memory to be used more effectively.
SSDs have more bandwidth, so data can be loaded from the SSD when it’s needed, rather than heaps of potentially needless data being loaded into RAM. In pure gameplay terms that means that games will suffer less from texture pop-in, while load times will be hugely reduced when using a game’s fast-travel option. Booting up from standby should be generally much faster, too.
You’ll also have more control over how you install and remove games, meaning you could just install a game’s multiplayer mode rather than the full block of data. This will allow for launch of direct gameplay, allowing players to jump straight into aspects of different games (such as match-making, continue save game etc) without having to boot up the full game.
As for expandable storage, Sony appears to be allowing for off-the-shelf NVMe PC drives, rather than proprietary storage systems that Xbox will primarily be relying on. However, there aren’t many drives on the market right now that use the PCIe 4.0 interface required – they need to be capable of at least a 5.5GB/s transfer speed.
PS4 games on the PS5 will work just fine if saved to a regular HDD, however, so you won’t need to tap into that precious SSD space unnecessarily.
When asked about the PlayStation 5’s speed compared to its current-gen console at a corporate strategy meeting, Sony made the bullish claim that PS5 will “revolutionize the game experience for users” in an official Sony document.
Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida added that the PS5’s custom-built SSD will enable processing speeds that dwarf those found on PlayStation 4 – with the PS5 boasting processing speeds 100 times faster than the PS4.
In fact, Epic Games has revealed that the PS5’s SSD is so fast that the developer had to rework its Unreal Engine 5 tech demo to take full advantage of it.
“The ability to stream in content at extreme speeds enables developers to create denser and more detailed environments, changing how we think about streaming content,” Epic Games VP of engineering, Nick Penwarden, told VG247. “It’s so impactful that we’ve rewritten our core I/O subsystems for Unreal Engine with the PlayStation 5 in mind.”
A custom processor and GPU – what that means for backwards compatibility
We were already aware that Sony will be using AMD’s Zen 2 CPU processor tech, with eight cores and 16 threads. However, during the March event, it was revealed that the PS5 will be delivering 3.5GHz frequencies – so, the PlayStation 5 will be running 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.5GHz (at variable frequencies) over the PS4’s 8x Jaguar Cores at 1.6GHz. That’s a huge jump in performance.
Move over to the GPU, and you’re looking at the AMD RDNA 2 GPU, itself customized. It makes use of 36 compute units capped at 2.23GHz. A compute performance peak of 10.28TF was stated during the event.
What’s smart is that the combination makes it simple for the PS5 to easily handle PS4 backwards compatibility – through GPU architecture rather than hours of coding. Almost all of the top 100 PS4 games will be fully compatible at launch. PS4 games will be supported natively on the GPU silicon, but here the GPU seems to be emulating PS4 and PS4 Pro graphics chips, which is a strange solution, and not as interesting as Xbox Series X’s method, which will also be capable of upscaling previous Xbox generation games and adding HDR to previously HDR-less titles.
Tempest 3D audio tech
The PS5 will boast 3D audio support, thanks to the new Tempest Engine. It’s an incredibly powerful system: if the PSVR can support “50 pretty decent sound sources,” according to Cerny – with the PSVR’s distinct audio system being one of the more complex audio systems in gaming at the moment – the PS5’s Tempest Engine can support hundreds.
The example Cerny used described it in terms of rainfall. Today, the sound of rain in a game is a single audio track, but the PS5 would theoretically be capable of letting you hear individual raindrops, in relation to where the player character is.
“Where we ended up is a unit with roughly the same SIMD (single instruction, multiple data) power and bandwidth as all eight Jaguar cores in the PS4 combined,” said Cerny.
The amount of attention Sony is heaping on its Tempest Audio Engine suggests it may be the secret weapon in the PlayStation 5 arsenal. At a corporate strategy meeting for Sony, a slideshow called the PlayStation 5 an “evolution of sound”.
“By installing a customized 3D audio processing unit in PS5, we have made it possible to deliver diverse and sophisticated 3D audio experiences,” the slide read. “Players can experience sound that moves in from front to behind, above to below, and all around them.”
“If we were to use the same algorithms as PSVR, that’s enough for something like five thousand sound sources – but of course we want to use more complex algorithms, and we don’t need anything like that number of sounds.”
Perhaps best of all is the way you’ll get to experience this – even a lowly pair of headphones at launch will be able to take advantage of the sense of presence and directionality Sony is promising here, with the company also committing to later support multi-speaker surround systems with the tech.
But this is an ongoing project for Sony. To accurately model surround data positioning, Sony needs to create a Head-related Transfer Function, or HRFT, map. Essentially, that’s a distinct algorithm that works best if the system knows the precise shape of your ears.
“Maybe you’ll be sending us a photo of your ear, and we’ll use a neural network to pick the closest HRTF in our library,” Cerny teased. “Maybe you’ll be sending us a video of your ears and your head, and we’ll make a 3D model of them and synthesize the HRTF. Maybe you’ll play an audio game to tune your HRTF, we’ll be subtly changing it as you play, and home in on the HRTF that gives you the highest score, meaning that it matches you the best.”
Backwards compatibility with PS4 accessories
While the PS5 won’t support all PS4 accessories, it does seems to support the majority of peripherals.
For a start, your trusty DualShock 4 will work on PS5, but only for supported PS4 games. That means you won’t be able to play PS5 exclusive games like Horizon Forbidden West using your existing pad, for example, but you will be able to use it when playing a backwards compatible PS4 game.
For gamers who have previously bought an officially licensed racing wheel, arcade stick or flight stick, these will also work with PS5 games and supported PS4 games. In addition, the Platinum and Gold Wireless headsets, as well as third-party headsets connected via USB or the DualShock 4’s audio jack, will also work on PS5. The headset companion app, however, is not compatible with PS5.
But what about PlayStation VR? Well, Sony isn’t dropping support for its virtual reality headset anytime soon. Both PS Move Motion Controllers and the PS VR Aim Controller will work with supported PSVR games on PS5, and the PlayStation Camera will also be compatible. However, the PlayStation Camera will require an adapter that will be provided at no additional cost to PS VR users.
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PS5 Digital Edition
Alongside the standard PS5, Sony is also releasing a PS5 Digital Edition – a disc-less version of the next-gen console. This solely digital console will boast the same specs as the standard PS5, just in a more streamlined package.
The PS5 Digital Edition sees Sony moving with what’s increasingly becoming a physical-media-free hobby, banking on players to make use of digital downloads and streaming services rather than buying games or movies on disc-based hardware.
It’ll certainly make swapping games with friends a challenge, as well as trading them in, and gaming stores will likely be a little worried by its presence – especially if it proves significantly cheaper than the main version of the machine. But for those that enjoy building a physical library, the disc-based console remains an option at least.
We’re expecting the PS5 Digital Edition to be cheaper, although it’s unclear just how much by. After all, there’s still a considerable amount of brand new power inside the Digital Edition – none of which comes much cheaper when the disc tray is removed. It might make for a more affordable option for those right on the cusp of purchase, but it’s unlikely to come cheap by any means.
The Xbox One S All-Digital Edition was around $50/£50 cheaper than it’s traditional alternative, meaning we can predict a similar price gap between the PS5 and the PS5 Digital Edition. But don’t expect a huge discount.
PS5 DualSense Controller
The PS5 will come with a new gamepad, one that Sony is dubbing the DualSense PS5 controller, not the DualShock 5, like you’d expect. Also a departure is the black-and-white color scheme that is bold – and likely to be divisive. That’s the confirmed design in the picture above, and it’s closely mirrored by the PS5 console design, as you’ve already seen.
The two-tone PS5 controller color scheme extends to the four face buttons, which still consist of Triangle, Circle, Square and Cross (or X), but they’re devoid of color. There is a pop of color around the side of the central touchpad, as the PS4 Lightbar has moved from the top of the gamepad on the PS5.
The PS5 controller includes haptic feedback in the L2 and R2 shoulder buttons that are going to be adaptive. Sony explains that these adaptive triggers are important to let players feel the tension of their actions, like drawing a bow to shoot an arrow. This will let developers program the resistance of the triggers to simulate actions more accurately.
The DualSense will include a microphone inside of the controller, allowing gamers to ditch their headset to communicate with friends. And the ‘Share’ button is dead. Long live the ‘Create’ button. That’s what Sony is calling the the button that’s in the same spot and still intended for gameplay content to share with the world, with the company teasing more details about this button ahead of the console launch.
Sony has confirmed that the DualShock 4 will work on PS5, but only for supported PS4 games, with the company stating that “PS5 games should take advantage of the new capabilities and features we’re bringing to the platform, including the features of DualSense wireless controller.”
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PS5: what will I be playing?
We finally got our first look at Sony’s “compelling” PS5 games line-up on June 11, with announcements from first and third-party developers. The June 11 games reveal was a strong showcase for what’s to come for PS5, mixing first and third-party developers for more than an hour’s worth of gameplay.
Dozens of games were shown off, and a wide variety of indies sat alongside big name studios like Capcom and Bethesda. But there were a few standout stars among them.
Crowning the show was Horizon Zero Dawn sequel, Horizon Forbidden West. A game that undeniably showed off the pizazz of next-gen visuals, it featured sun-kissed beaches and tropical reefs, complete with the robot dinosaurs that terrorised the original game. It’ll see protagonist Aloy head to the ruins of America, and looks a must-buy straight out of the blocks.
Other franchises are set to return too. Sony’s take on Spider-Man, helmed by Insomniac Games, will swing back into action with Mile Morales taking the role of the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man in another open-world title across a to-scale Manhattan.
The long-rumoured Demon’s Soul PS5 remake was also confirmed, for those who like their RPG’s with a side of masochism. And the Resident Evil franchise will be making another first-person outing, with the mainline series getting a new sequel: Resident Evil 8: Village looks like it will be taking a journey back to the creepy European climes that terrified in the classic Resident Evil 4.
A new Ratchet and Clank game, a new Oddworld title and a new Gran Turismo title were all also revealed, as well as the news that an ‘expanded and enhanced’ version of Grand Theft Auto 5 for PS5 will also land, marking the third generation of consoles the crime caper has now featured on. Arkane’s Deathloop was also shown off once again too, following its initial reveal at E3 2019, looking like Dishonored if directed by Quentin Tarantino.
Since the event, plenty more third-party PS5 games have been confirmed. For a full look at the dozens of PS5 games on the way, check out our full PlayStation 5 games round-up.
But what else do we know about the PS5’s games, beyond the reveal event?
Well, for a start, we know that an “overwhelming majority” of the more than 4,000 PS4 games available will also be playable on the PS5, including PSVR games, through backwards compatibility. While “almost all” of the top 100 PS4 games will be playable on the PS5 at launch, this backwards compatibility library may be extended through regular system updates.
Not only will we see backwards compatibility with PS4 games, but expect any first-party PS4 game that’s been recently released – such as Ghost of Tsushima – to be cross-gen titles (though Sony hasn’t committed to this yet). In addition, any new first-party PS4 games submitted to Sony for certification after July 13 have to be PS5 compatible – essentially making them forwards-compatible titles.
If you’re holding out hope that any of Sony’s PS5 exclusives that were revealed during the showcase will come to the PS4 too, you will be disappointed.
In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Sony Interactive Entertainment’s president and CEO Jim Ryan seemed to shoot down the possibility of PS5-exclusives games coming to PS4 in the future.
“We have always said that we believe in generations,” Ryan said. “We believe that when you go to all the trouble of creating a next-gen console, that it should include features and benefits that the previous generation does not include. And that, in our view, people should make games that can make the most of those features.
“We do believe in generations, and whether it’s the DualSense controller, whether it’s the 3D audio, whether it’s the multiple ways that the SSD can be used… we are thinking that it is time to give the PlayStation community something new, something different, that can really only be enjoyed on PS5.”
In addition to the gameplay reveals, we’ve also seen what the PS5 is capable of in Epic’s Unreal Engine 5 reveal. This tech demo is running on PS5:
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What about a PS5 Pro?
We’re not sure if there’ll be a PS5 Pro, but the reveal of an all-digital PS5 suggests that Sony is planning multiple versions of the console. A PS5 Pro feels possible, but we’d expect it deeper into the next generation of consoles.