The PlayStation has always offered more to the AV world than just games. It has scored well with DVD playback, Blu-rays and 4K streaming over the years. So what will the PlayStation 5 have to offer at launch? Will it be an 8K machine? Will it still support optical media? When is the PS5 release date? How much will the PS5 cost?
While we can’t quite answer all of this just yet, Sony PlayStation’s lead architect and console producer, Mike Cerny, did drop a whole load of what to expect from the PS5 in an April 2019 interview and has since, alongside Sony CEO Jim Ryan, expanded on that in October. Sony has also, finally, officially confirmed some details, including the official name and release date, and there's even a leaked image of what looks like the very first glimpse of the PS5 and some PS5 accessories too.
So let's dive in. Everything the world knows so far about the PlayStation 5 is just a scroll away...
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PlayStation 5 release date
Previously, in an interview with Wired, Cerny had only said that the PlayStation 5 would not be available before April 2020. Now the company has finally gone on record with an end of year PS5 release.
A recent leak had suggested the PS5 would be launched on the 12th February 2020. It's rumoured the console might be unveiled at an event called 'Playstation Meeting 2020'. Could this mean discounts on the PS4 this Black Friday? We shall see...
Will the PlayStation 5 have a 4K Blu-ray drive?
Yes, the PS5 will play 4K Blu-rays. Cerny initially only confirmed the PS5 will have an optical disc drive, but has now, according to Wired, confirmed the presence of a 4K Blu-ray player.
It was disappointing that the PlayStation 4 didn't include a 4K Blu-ray drive, so we're glad to see Sony supporting the 4K disc format in the new console. Currently both the Xbox One S and X come with 4K disc drives which gives them extra appeal over the PS4 for home cinema enthusiasts. But the PS5 will bring the Ultra HD Blu-ray fight to Xbox...
Will the PlayStation 5 support 8K video?
The PS5 will support 8K video, at least to an extent. The PlayStation 5 will ship with an AMD Ryzen chip — a 7nm chip on Zen 2 architecture — and a GPU from the Radeon Navi-family. It will also come with SSD storage. The promise from this trio of hardware is fast load times, large bandwidth capabilities and oodles of graphics grunt.
Enough grunt for true, native 8K gaming? Perhaps, but possibly only when dealing with simpler titles. Big budget blockbusters might well employ a new version of the sort of checkerboard upscaling that Sony currently uses to make PS4 Pro games look ace on a 4K display.
Both the PS4 and PS4 Pro are already HDR-enabled, supporting the HDR10 format, and there’s no reason to believe that this would be any different for the PS5. Will we see a more advanced version of HDR, such as HDR10+ and Dolby Vision, also employed? We certainly wouldn't rule it out, particularly as the current Xboxes already support the latter, but nothing has so far been announced on that front.
One idea currently doing the rounds is that Sony will announce a PS5 and a PS5 Pro at launch. That's according to YouTuber Zenj Nishikawa. It's expected the the PS5 Pro will be much more powerful and offer more features; 8K video and higher frame rates could be two such examples.
PlayStation 5 audio: will the PS5 support Dolby Atmos?
We hope so. Again, the current crop of Xbox One consoles outstrips the PS4 in the audio department, certainly on paper, with Sony's consoles limited to 7.1 audio.
Microsoft's machines, on the other hand, both come with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio for gaming and for 4K Blu-ray playback, although Cerny has promised that the PS5 will herald a new ‘gold standard’ in audio.
It's claimed a redesigned 3D audio engine will deliver more immersive sound and this will apparently require no new hardware to achieve. It will simply work through your existing TV speakers and compatible headphones. Make of that what you will. Could this mean the console will be compatible with Sony's own 360 Reality Audio format? We think so.
Hopefully there'll be Dolby Atmos support for both gaming and movie content straight out of the box. Of course, you’ll still need a compatible AV receiver and speaker set-up to truly appreciate the extra dimension of height that Dolby Atmos adds, but if you’ve already got a tasty 5.1.2 system installed or are planning to do so, this would be the icing on the cake.
PlayStation 5: console
On 13th August, a patent was registered as a Sony electronic device and listed Sony technical director Yusuhiro Ootori as its designer, as filed, apparently, back in May 2019. And below, thanks to LetsGoDigital, is a coloured in and graphically rendered version of the the black and white sketch which accompanied the patent.
It's certainly a design change from the PS4 with its, possibly vented, central flying V. There look to be five USB ports at the front for headphones, controllers, hard drives and other accessories. There's an optical drive and, other than that, there's not much one can tell.
Oddly, we can't locate the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) listing itself, just in case you need another reason beyond the outlandish design to doubt it, but it certainly looks interesting.
That said, on 10th October 2019 an image was leaked of what may well be our very first glimpse of a real, live PlayStation 5 - or at least a developer version. This time it was ZoneOfTech that published the picture and it certainly marries up with the patent sketch from August. As ever, though, developer models are often very different from the physical design that finally hits the shelves.
One thing we do know for sure is that the PS5 will be a more environmentally-friendly games console than the PS4. The Head of Sony Interactive Entertainment, Jim Ryan, revealed a feature called "suspended gameplay" which gets through less power than the current console. If it was used by one million PS5 owners, that would represent a reduction in electricity consumption equivalent to 1000 US households.
PlayStation 5: accessories
A patent leak on 5th November 2019 might just have given us a look at the first PS5 accessories. Sketches of a mystery cartridge turned up for what many believe are going to be expandable SSD storage modules.
On the one hand memory modules are not new to PlayStation consoles but having easy slot-in, slot-out external hardware could be a game-changer when talking units of 500GB or more. Rather than just saved game data and other media, it could well offer the storage for game libraries instead.
That frees up the need for buying a PS5 with an enormous hard drive to begin with and could make for a much cheaper console. Down that avenue of thinking has emerged the idea of an affordable, entry-level PlayStation 5 which gamers could upgrade for space as and when needed. It certainly fits in with Mark Cerny's promise of lightning fast load times.
PlayStation 5 VR: will the PS5 be PSVR compatible?
Most definitely. Comments from Mark Cerny point towards an even bigger VR push from Sony with the PS5. VR technology is set to be hard designed into the build of the GPU. He didn’t mention whether there would be a PlayStation VR2 headset launched to go with the PS5, though.
Given PSVR is not as strong on resolution as other headsets such as the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive it could make sense to launch a suitably powerful and impressive next-generation headset with the new console.
One interesting twist is Sony may be working on a 3D hologram accessory for the PS5 for multiplayer games. A light emitter with an eye tracker could project an image directly to the user's retina to give the impression of a hologram floating in mid-air. Exactly what images Sony has in mind is another thing but you may want to reconsider multiplayer gaming in your pants.
Which PlayStation 5 games have been announced?
Expect plenty of announcements in the run up to the 2020 launch but there’s been nothing official from Sony on PS5 launch titles. That said, we've spotted a few clues here and there dropped by the games developers themselves.
CD Projekt Red, the developer behind the popular Witcher franchise, has confirmed that its dystopian future game Cyberpunk 2077 is being developed for next generation consoles, which will doubtless include the PS5.
Other than Cyberpunk 2077, it’s all educated guesswork at the moment. However, there’s plenty of talk around the likes of post-apocalyptic adventure The Last of Us: Part 2, Starfield, a brand new space RPG from Bethesda Studios and, the next instalment of Bethesda fantasy epic, The Elder Scrolls 6.
Other games long since trailered but possibly waiting for the next wave of console launches include Feudal Japan adventure, Ghost of Tsushima, and Hideo Kojima’s next project, Death Stranding.
Indeed, according to the 13th August PS5 leak Ghost of Tsushima is a sure thing and will be a PS5 exclusive. It's unclear whether it will be ready from developer Sucker Punch at launch, though.
PlayStation 5 games: will the PS5 be backwards compatible?
‘Incredibly powerful’, that’s how Sony has described the backwards compatibility of the PS5, which is potentially good news for both PS5 owners and PS4 owners who don’t wish to upgrade just yet but still want to play online with their friends that do.
What’s not clear is whether this backwards compatibility will be a blanket implementation, or whether it will only work for certain titles. We’d guess a large number of PS4 titles will be compatible, but it will be hit and miss with older PlayStation games.
One online report suggests that the PlayStation 5 will be able to act as an emulator for PS4, PS3, PS2, and even original PlayStation games but we’ll have to wait to see how much truth there is in that. Fingers crossed.
PlayStation 5 games
It's believed Sony will increase its focus on the subscription-based PlayStation Now cloud gaming platform and its Remote Play feature too.
Microsoft and Sony recently announced that they're working together on cloud computing technologies, which will almost certainly give a boost to PlayStation Now. Until now the platform has been incomplete as far as top gaming titles go and there have been issues with lag and disconnects.
Sony also filed a patent back in 2014 for a service whereby PlayStation games on the platform could be streamed to user devices other than the console itself; something to rival the upcoming Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud platforms.
Sony is looking to 5G technology to help out while gaming on the move with Remote Play. The service currently allows players to stream games from their consoles to other devices such as tablets, mobiles and the handheld PS Vita. However, this might be bundled in as part of an all-new online platform.
Another interesting part of the connectivity proposal is that it could link players up to a voice assistant. Rumours are that Sony is working on an service which can provide in-game help including whereabouts of game objects as well as hints and tips. If applied with the proper contextual cues, it should be far more efficient than a separate internet search. "Ok, PlayStation. Give me the cheat codes!"
PlayStation 5 DualShock 5 controllers
With each new PlayStation normally comes a new DualShock controller. And Sony has now confirmed then new controller and a couple of features.
Sony says it's adopting haptic feedback to replace the “rumble” technology with a broader range of more realistic feedback, and launching something it's calling adaptive triggers. Again, this aims to allow for more realistic gameplay driven by programmable resistance within the trigger buttons.
Previously, a leaked image from a developer kit in March 2019 showed a device with a touchscreen on top which did not go down well with gamers, given the extra battery drain of a display. Of course, this image could be a fake.
What would this screen be for? Well, some have suggested the controller could become a smart device and the screen could be for controlling other bits of kit or, indeed, be used to display notifications from your smartphone. Whether this kind of interruptive, Swiss Army Knife-type design is really what people want is debatable.
Automatic charging over Wi-Fi has been discussed by fans as a way of powering such a controller and, while that sounds interesting, all of this technology would almost certainly add extra pounds (or dollars) to the final retail price.
PlayStation 5 price
The PS5 price is is likely to be under wraps until closer to launch at the back end of 2020. The original PlayStation and PS2 launched at £299/$299, the PS3 started at £425/$499 and the more recent PS4 came in at £350/$399. The sensible guess for the PS5 right now is that it will sit just above the PS4, perhaps around £499/$499.
This kind of extrapolation may not be entirely accurate, however. The trade war between China and America may well have an effect when it comes to manufacture and shipping. Indeed, back in June 2019, Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft issued a joint statement warning of such price rises if the trade war continues. Enjoy that one at your leisure.
The result could mean a considerably more expensive device, another reason, perhaps, why there may be two consoles launched - an expensive PS5 Pro and a more affordable PS5. According to YouTuber ReviewTechUSA, the price difference will be in the region of $100-150.