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?
We've been reporting all of the PS5 news as it's been released and now have more concrete information than ever after the latest official PS5 event, which gave us our first look at the new consoles.
The PS5 console itself has now been revealed. In fact, make that consoles, because there are actually two versions of the PS5 on the way: one with an optical disc drive and a 'Digital Edition' that does without – and both will feature a dashboard that's had a "100 per cent overhaul" from the user interface on the PS4. We're expecting PS5 pre-orders to go live in the coming weeks.
Like the already-revealed 'DualSense' controller, the PS5 consoles are exceptionally stylish. In fact, we'd argue that this could be the most strikingly sculpted games machine ever created. For once, the myriad fanboy-created concepts were too conservative.
The event also revealed a number of new accessories, including a new Pulse 3D wireless headset, a DualSense Charging Station in which you can dock two controllers at once, and an HD Camera that mimics the look of the console itself. Sony has also taken the time to add a 'Ready for PlayStation 5' logo to its high frame rate-supporting Bravia TVs.
Of course, with this being an event about games, we now know loads about the PS5 games line-up, too. From an expanded and enhanced version of GTA 5 (yes, really), to yet another entry in the Resident Evil franchise and the hotly anticipated Horizon II, there's loads to get excited about.
We've been waiting a long time to get to this point. PlayStation’s lead architect and console producer, Mark Cerny, got the PS5 info-ball rolling back in an April 2019 interview and has since, alongside Sony CEO Jim Ryan, expanded on what we can expect from the games console in October.
We got another huge PS5 info dump courtesy of Mark Cerny at the March 2020 tech-heavy Road to PS5 presentation. Sony's live streamed PS5 "deep dive" on the PlayStation 5's architecture focused heavily on the inclusion of SSD storage and cast some doubt over whether or not the PS5 will be supporting Dolby Atmos. More on that below.
Sony officially confirmed some details, including the official name and rough release date, back in October 2019, and, at CES 2020, Sony confirmed the official PS5 logo. Sony has also leaked information about the PS5 DualShock 5 controller, which we now know to be the DualSense controller.
So, where do we stand now, after the biggest PS5 event to date? Read on and absorb all of the PlayStation 5 details currently available, and start saving for your next console.
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PlayStation 5 release date
If Twitter user @IronManPS5 is to be believed, Japan will see the PS5 on 14th November, six days ahead of North America and Europe (who'll apparently get it on 20th November) – but it's important to remember that this isn't an official announcement.
Previously, in an interview with Wired, Cerny had only said that the PlayStation 5 would not be available before April 2020, but at CES 2020 the company finally went on record with an end of year PS5 release.
When will we get the official release date? Having spurned the opportunity to put us out of our misery during its June PS5 games event, it's now anyone's guess, and perhaps the chaotic nature of a COVID-riddled globe is encouraging Sony to keep its cards close to its chest until much closer to launch. That said Sony has claimed that the coronavirus pandemic has not impacted the expected late 2020 PS5 release date.
Either way, we expect to see a steady stream of PS5 information from this point forth, so we could get a date as soon as July, or perhaps it will be announced as part of the virtual GDC 2020 in August.
Whenever it comes, the aim for Sony is to go big, and go big quick. Pre-Coronavirus, the plan was to reach sales of six millions units by March 2021. Those plans appear to have shifted in light of the global impact of COVID-19 with Sony so confident of an increase in demand for gaming that the company has doubled PlayStation 5 production and is aiming to have 10 million units in circulation by that same March date now.
Games consoles themselves generally sell for very small, if any, profit, and Sony will be looking to the content and services to help recoup costs. The more PS5s the company has out there, the faster that can happen.
PlayStation 5 pre-orders and price
The PS5 price wasn't revealed during the June games event and is likely to remain under wraps until closer to PS5 pre-orders go live. But we can draw predictions on pricing based on a number of things – namely past console price, comments by PlayStation representatives, and a number of leaks and rumours.
Top of the rumour pile here is Twitter user @IronManPS5, who has claimed via a series of tweets that prices for the full-fat console (the one with the disc drive) will be £449 / $499 / (approx. AU$730) while the digital-only console will apparently retail for £100 less: £349 / $399 / (approx. AU$506).
Of course, those figures are unsubstantiated, but Sony likely had price in mind when it chose to take the two-console approach, offering a full-fat, disc-playing PS5 and a (presumably) more affordable disc-less 'Digital Edition'. Perhaps the aim is that the Digital Edition will dip below the £400/$400 barrier, while the version with the disc drive will get closer to £499/$499.
Surely Sony wouldn't risk a launch price of over £500/$500... or will it? We've factored in everything that's been said and leaked to take our best stab at the PS5 price as well as likely windows for PS5 pre-orders and deal bundles:
What seems more solid is the price of the games themselves and it looks like the new normal could be $70 (£65/$100 AUD) for PS5 games after games publisher 2K announced that its sports sim NBA 2K21 would cost just that. That's a $10 rise on the standard $60 game price.
That $60 rate came in with the original Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 about 15 years ago, now, so perhaps this relatively small hike is well overdue and a lot more generous than it could have been.
So, that's two piece of good news in one - first, that pre-orders are close and, second, that there will be purchase limits to make sure that as many people as possible get a chance to order a PS5 in the first wave.
PlayStation 5 design: what does the PS5 look like?
After months of rampant speculation, leaks and renders, we finally know what the PS5 looks like, and it's not as anyone predicted. To these eyes, it's better: the utilitarian looks of the Xbox Series X and Xbox One (and, to a lesser extent, the PS4) have been eschewed in favour of something altogether bolder, more sculpted and more sci-fi. It will almost certainly prove divisive and may age quickly, but we're impressed at first glance.
So far, Sony has chosen to show the PS5 almost exclusively in its vertical orientation (it can also be positioned horizontally), where its white shell has the look of a high-collared catsuit with an opening that plunges down further than some might consider decent and creates a 'V' to denote that this is the fifth-generation PlayStation console.
That high, wide collar is separated from the black body of the machine by finned gaps that are almost certainly designed to allow the hot air generated by the console's processing bits and pieces to escape. Rather than hide this functional part of the design, Sony has chosen to highlight it with some lovely blue lighting. This is form and function working as one.
While official dimensions have not yet been revealed, a hard-working Redditor called GREBO7 has produced an image comparing the PS5 for size with every recent PlayStation and Xbox console. Spoiler alert: it's massive.
For what it's worth, while the PS5 is much taller than the Xbox Series X (and every other console on the list, for that matter), it is also slimmer, even with the disc drive. The PlayStation 5 Digital Edition is slimmer still, and its slenderness and symmetry make it undeniably the better looking of the two consoles, with the standard version's disc drive looking a little awkward, particularly when they're stood side-by-side. You might even assume that the Digital Edition was designed first, with the disc drive reluctantly added afterwards.
The design includes two slim slots or buttons (they could also be lights but neither was illuminated during the reveal) towards the bottom of the console's front, plus a standard (presumably 3.0-certified) USB socket and a USB-C further up. The rear of the machine has not yet been revealed, so the sockets it has back there remain a mystery for now.
Crucially, the final PS5 design is vastly different from that of the many leaks we've seen in the last few months. On 13th August, a patent was registered as a Sony electronic device and listed Sony technical director Yusuhiro Ootori as its designer. And below, thanks to LetsGoDigital, is a coloured in and graphically rendered version of the the black and white sketch that accompanied the patent.
To call that wide of the mark would be an understatement: this huge, flying V console was almost certainly a developer machine, or a concept for one, and was probably never considered as the final design.
That didn't stop ZoneOfTech publishing, on 10th October 2019, a leaked image of a developer version of the PS5 that looked very similar to the patent sketch from August.
Here's the official PS5 logo
Sony started its CES 2020 press conference with a segment on the forthcoming PS5 and while no new specs were released or images shown, Sony did confirm the official PS5 logo.
The design... won't shock you. It stays in line with previous PlayStation logos, keeping it simple with white lines on a black background.
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 we now have confirmation that the disc drive of the standard PlayStation 5 will indeed play 4K Blu-rays.
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.
Of course, if you're not interested in playing 4K Blu-rays (or buying disc-based versions of games) you can go for the disc drive-less PlayStation 5 Digital Edition instead. We expect both consoles to feature video streaming apps such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+, although there's so far been no mention of these.
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.
We know, for example, that Gran Turismo 7 will not be in 8K. The game's creator, Kazunori Yamauchi, said: "I think, display resolution-wise, 4K resolution is enough."
Instead, the Polyphony Digital studio boss told GTPlanet that he is more interested in raising the frame rate to 120 or 240fps to really add to the experience.
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.
It was for a time suggested by the likes of YouTuber Zenj Nishikawa that Sony would announce a PS5 Pro alongside a standard PS5, and that the Pro version would support, among other things, 8K video and higher frame rates. However, no PS5 Pro has so far been mentioned.
Of course, it's worth noting that you'll need a compatible TV to be able to enjoy the high frame rates and resolution potential of the PS5. While the current choice isn't as vast as you might think, many new TVs do support 4K/120fps over HDMI. (This resolution and frame rate pairing is actually a HDMI 2.1 feature, although just because a TV supports HDMI 2.1 doesn't necessarily mean it supports 4K/120fps, and vice versa.) These compatible TVs include LG's 2020 OLED TV range, most of Samsung's 2020 QLED TVs. Sony has also recently launched a 'Ready for PlayStation 5' logo for its Bravia TVs to help make sure you're buying the right one.
While it's clear that the PS5 is going to be exceptionally powerful, it's also going to have decent green credentials. 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 audio: will the PS5 support Dolby Atmos?
It seems unlikely, at least for games. Again, the current crop of Xbox One consoles already 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
Cerny has promised that the PS5 will herald a new ‘gold standard’ in audio, but it looks as though the company is delivering this using new, bespoke technology.
At the end of the Sony's March 2020 PS5 update, Cerny left his audience with the distinct feeling that the PS5 would not be supporting Dolby Atmos. The PS5 will output native 3D audio using a newly-designed 'Tempest Engine' with Cerny stating that he wanted to include processing for far more than the 32 objects he claimed Dolby Atmos is limited to (Dolby has since refuted that claim).
So how will the PS5's 3D audio be delivered? In all likelihood, the focus will be on headphones, at least initially. The newly announced Pulse 3D headset will almost certainly lead the charge here, but it's also possible that the console itself will handle all of the processing and that standard headphones plugged into the DualSense controller's headphone socket will also be able to deliver 3D audio.
Could the console also be compatible with Sony's own 360 Reality Audio format? It seems likely.
But just because Sony is focused on its own 3D audio formats doesn't necessarily mean Atmos is definitely out. While there's been no news on that front, we wouldn't be surprised if the Dolby format is also supported, particularly for movies and TV shows. We also know that not every game will include Tempest audio, and perhaps these will utilise Dolby Atmos as a next best thing solution.
We certainly hope it's not a case of Tempest or bust. Not everyone likes wearing headphones for games, and it seems highly unlikely that Sony's new format will be compatible with all of the home cinema kit already on the market and in peoples' homes. The last thing we all want to do is have to go out and buy new soundbars and AV receivers.
PlayStation 5: DualSense controller
With each new PlayStation comes a new DualShock controller, except this time it doesn't. Sony has gone to the next level and created the DualSense controller to partner the PS5.
It's a sleek and modern-looking design with a two-tone finish instead of the standard single hue of the DualShocks. Sony has promised that the new controller "will captivate more of your senses as you interact with the virtual worlds in PS5 games. The features of DualSense, along with PS5’s Tempest 3D AudioTech, will deliver a new feeling of immersion to players."
That added immersion is set to come across primarily through a more evolved sense of touch. Haptics have replaced the rumble technology to create a broader range of more realistic feedback. Players will now get more nuanced sensations such as the slow grittiness of driving a car through mud. The L2 and R2 trigger buttons feature adaptive, programmable resistance so that players can feel more or less tension through certain actions.
DualSense is, of course, wireless. So far, there are no details on how long you get from a single charge but Sony has stressed that it's tried to maintain a strong battery life.
There's a built-in microphone array and speaker, which means players can chat to their friends without the need for a gaming headset, and the 'Share' button has been replaced by a new 'Create' button. It's to "create epic gameplay content to share with the world" according to Sony. More details on what that entails are promised closer to launch.
To fit these new components, the style and shape of the new controller has been tweaked. The angle of the hand triggers has been changed and the grip updated too The aim is to make the DualSense still feel light and small. The light bar has also shifted to the sides of the touchpad from its position on top of the DualShock 4, which is a rather pleasing aesthetic if nothing else.
If, for whatever reason, you can't stand the thing, then the PlayStation 5 should be backwards compatible with the PS4 controller.
PlayStation 5: SSD storage
According to Cerny's March 2020 PS5 update, an internal SSD was the most requested feature by game developers and, as expected, that's exactly what the PS5 is confirmed to deliver. According to Cerny, compared to an HDD, it offers 100x faster load speeds which means no load screens, ultra fast streaming and ultra fast boot speeds too.
In real terms, streaming is apparently so fast that a game can load all the graphics and textures behind an online player faster that the player can around.
The PS5's SSD is a custom unit with a capacity of 825GB. That's big, but not absolutely huge, especially when you consider how much space next-gen games are likely to take up. Thankfully, you can expand the console's storage, although doing so is a little complicated.
You can connect an external hard drive via USB, but it seems likely that such a drive won't be fast enough to handle PS5 games. In which case, there are a couple of potential uses for an external USB hard drive that we can think of: to store PS4 games, and as a backup for the PS5 games you aren't currently playing but don't want to delete. The latter use would negate the need to re-download a game from the internet, potentially making it much quicker to get back into the action.
You can also expand the internal SSD storage. It's not yet clear whether doing so would involve replacing the existing 825GB SSD or adding an extra one, but we do know, thanks to Digital Foundry, that either way you are going to have to get a particularly fast, PlayStation-approved, PCIe 4.0-based drive - a standard SSD won't necessarily have the speed to play PS5 games.
PlayStation is in the process of testing potentially compatible drives but, interestingly, Cerny says that none so far have hit Sony's minimum spec. They are expected to do so by the end of the year, and PlayStation will offer specific recommendations once the PS5 has launched, but these next-gen SSDs are likely to be very expensive for a while.
At least we're talking about SSDs that are (or at least will become) of an industry standard and aren't bespoke for PlayStation: a patent that leaked on 5th November 2019 showed sketches of a mystery cartridge that many believed was an expandable SSD storage module for the PS5, but that appears now to not be the case. That's probably a good thing, as it means prices will be defined by the market as a whole and not by Sony.
PlayStation 5: accessories
As well as revealing the design of the PS5 console itself, Sony used its June PlayStation event to reveal a number of PS5 accessories.
The most interesting of the bunch is undoubtedly the Pulse 3D headset, which we expect Sony to push as the primary way to enjoy the PS5's new 3D audio. In design terms, it doesn't look dissimilar to the current Platinum Wireless Headset, albeit with much more matte white on show. Given how good Sony's last couple of gaming headsets have been, we've got high hopes for this new model.
We've also now seen the DualSense Charging Station (for docking and charging two controllers at once) and HD Camera, and yet more accessories will surely be announced closer to launch.
We've also just started seeing third-party PS5 accessories arriving. The Audeze Penrose wireless gaming headsets have PS5 and Xbox Series X in mind. Both headsets feature the US firm's highly regarded 100mm planar magnetic drivers, in addition to a detachable 'broadcast quality' boom mic for chat and streaming. Audeze says the mic is capable of reducing an impressive 20dB of background noise, so you should be able to clearly hear fellow gamers sling insults at each other.
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?
After a huge amount of guess-work and speculation, we now have titles for a whole bunch of games that are coming to PS5 and how they'll look on the shelves. Here's the list of games confirmed during the June PS5 games event:
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)
Bugsnax (Young Horses)
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™)
Project Athia (Square Enix/Luminous Productions)
Resident Evil Village (Capcom)
Solar Ash (Annapurna Interactive / Heart Machine)
Stray (Annapurna / Blue Twelve Studio)
Tribes of Midgard (Gearbox Publishing / Norsfell)
The Pathless (Annapurna Interactive / Giant Squid)
These games are all either exclusive to PS5 or will arrive on PS5 before any other console, but it's worth pointing out that the only one we know will launch on the same day as the console is Astro's Playroom, which will come bundled in.
We are also aware of plenty of other games that are on the way, including Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Cyberpunk 2077, Outriders, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, Madden 21, Quantum Error, Cris Tales, Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One, Dustborn, Metal: Hellsinger, Chivalry 2, Paradise Lost, Dirt 5, WRC 9, Chorus, Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, and Observer: System Redux.
Gamesindustry.biz also reports that Ubisoft is planning to launch Watch Dogs Legion, Rainbow Six Quarantine and Gods & Monsters on PS5.
That's plenty to be getting on with, but we're expecting plenty more besides. There's plenty of talk about a PS5-enhanced version of The Last of Us: Part 2 being in development, and the still-far-off The Elder Scrolls 6 will almost certainly one day make it to the PlayStation 5.
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.
The PS5's backwards compatibility will not cover every PS4 game but, in a blog post on playstation.com, PlayStation's Hideaki Nishino stated that "we believe that the overwhelming majority of the 4,000+ PS4 titles will be playable on PS5".
It seems that games are being made backwards compatible on a title-by-title basis, with the upshot being that PS4 games that do run on the PS5 will do so with "higher or more stable frame rates and potentially higher resolutions". Nice.
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 there's been no official confirmation of this.
It's also worth mentioning that Sony has told PlayStation 4 game developers that any new titles submitted for certification after 13th July must also be compatible with PlayStation 5 (thanks, Eurogamer).
PlayStation 5 gaming
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 a 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!"