Here's everything we know about the upcoming PS5 - including specs and release date

Thursday, 28th May 2020, 1:02 pm
Updated Friday, 29th May 2020, 8:01 am

Tech giant Sony officially announced that the PS5 is in development last last year, choosing to make the next move in the so-called 'console wars' by quietly confirming the next PlayStation in an interview with Wired.

Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan and PS5 system architect Mark Cerny divulged details on technical specifications, new features and that all important release date.

And yes, it will be called the PlayStation 5. "It's nice to be able to say it," Ryan said. "Like a giant burden has been lifted from my shoulders."

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Here's everything we know so far:

How powerful will the new console be?

As more powerful hardware is developed, the console will be able to play games that look even more visually pleasing than the current crop.

That also means a machine that can easily play games at 4K resolution - the next step up from 'high definition' - and at the fabled 60 frames per second, which gives a much smoother playing experience.

However, the Financial Times reported that the PS5 "might not represent a major departure from the PS4, and that the fundamental architecture would be similar".

That makes sense given the 2016 release of Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro; an incrementally improved version of the PlayStation 4 that runs the same games as that earlier console, but faster and at higher resolutions.

For the first time on games consoles, the PS5 will support 'ray tracing', a graphical technique that models the travel of light to simulate complex interactions in 3D environments.

(Image: Epic Games/Sony)

"While ray tracing is a staple of Hollywood visual effects and is beginning to worm its way into $10,000 high-end processors," say Wired, "no game console has been able to manage it."

"Because it mimics the way light bounces from object to object in a scene, reflective surfaces and refractions through glass or liquid can be rendered much more accurately, even in real-time, leading to heightened realism."

The console will also feature a solid state drive (or SSD), which means it will be able to load games much faster than machines with more typical hard disc drives (HDDs).

To demonstrate the benefits of a solid state drive, Cerny fired up a PS4 Pro playing Spider-Man for Wired, a 2018 PS4 exclusive that he worked on.

"On the TV, Spidey stands in a small plaza," they reported at a previous PS5 demonstration. "Cerny presses a button on the controller, initiating a fast-travel interstitial screen. When Spidey reappears in a totally different spot in Manhattan, 15 seconds have elapsed."

"Then Cerny does the same thing on a next-gen devkit connected to a different TV. What took 15 seconds now takes less than one: 0.8 seconds, to be exact..."

That solid state drive also means a more efficient storage of data, freeing up more space for developers to take advantage of, whether with more detailed game worlds, or smaller file sizes.

The SSD also means game installation (which is mandatory) will be approached slightly differently to the PS4.

Now you'll be able to install just a game's multiplayer campaign, leaving the single-player campaign for another time, or just installing the whole thing and then deleting the single-player campaign once you've finished it.

On the physical side of things, games for the PS5 will use 100GB optical disks, and the console's optical disc reading drive will double as a 4K Blu-ray player.

What is the DualSense controller?

"We wanted everyone in the PlayStation community to get a first look at the DualSense wireless controller," said Sony in a blog post announcing the new console's controller, "and hear our vision for how the new controller will captivate more of your senses as you interact with the virtual worlds in PS5 games."

Long time PlayStation fans will notice one key difference already: this isn't a 'DualShock' controller.

Sony's gaming controllers have been going under that name for 30 years now; it appears as if the name change has been taken to highlight the new controller's focus on immersion through.

"We concluded that the sense of touch within gameplay... hasn’t been a big focus for many games," say Sony.

"We had a great opportunity with PS5 to innovate by offering game creators the ability to explore how they can heighten that feeling of immersion."

Perhaps the biggest is the introduction of "haptic feedback", which takes the rumble feature now commonplace in video game controllers and takes it to the next level.

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Rather than just vibrating at different intensities to simulate in-game impacts, haptic feedback now allows developers to programme distinct, tactile feelings into their games.

Haptic feedback "adds a variety of powerful sensations you’ll feel when you play," say Sony, "such as the slow grittiness of driving a car through mud."

It seems to be a feature hard to put into words - it'll likely be a case of experiencing it for yourself.

Coupled with the controller's adjustable resistance triggers - which allow you to "truly feel the tension of your actions, like when drawing a bow to shoot an arrow" - even the PS5's controller will be immersive.

Will it be backwards compatible?

Microsoft were considered to have scored a 'win' against PlayStation with their library of 'backward compatibility' titles, which allow games for older consoles to be played again on new Xbox machines, often with slightly improved graphics.

Keeping a similar internal architecture to the PS4 would allow the PlayStation 5 to run older games a lot easier, and Sony could then replicate a similar offering with relatively little technical expenditure.

"Because it’s based in part on the PS4’s architecture, it will also be backward-compatible with games for that console," confirm Wired, news that will no doubt be welcome to many PlayStation fans.

"The next-gen console will still accept physical media," they also verify, which means "it won't be a download-only machine."

When will it be released?

The million dollar question.

Sony have confirmed that the PS5 will release late this year: "Holiday 2020".

That puts its release window in the same time frame as Microsoft's Xbox Series X, so it will certainly be an exciting time for gamers.