Though it's still a ways away, Sony has already revealed some of the first details about its next-generation console. We have some information, although we don't even know its name yet--it seems most likely to be called the PlayStation 5, if Sony keeps to tradition, and for convenience's sake, that's how we'll refer to it. The PS5 will have PS4 backwards compatibility and SSD storage, and it will support PSVR. Sony hasn't revealed a specific price point or release date yet, but we know the PS5 won't be released prior to April 2020.
Before we proceed, it's once again worth noting that we don't know the final title of the next PlayStation console. We're using PlayStation 5 and PS5 as a short-hand title but Sony could always "pull a Vita" on us and name it something different. Indeed, the PS5's lead system architect, Mark Cerny, has refused to explicitly call the console the PlayStation 5 for the time being, instead simply referring to it as Sony's "next-gen console." Right, with that disclaimer out of the way, let's crack on.
PS5 Release Date
This is surely the question on everybody's lips: when will the PS5 come out? Sony, as you'd expect, is tight-lipped on the matter, but in May 2018 the then-head of PlayStation, John Kodera, said that the PS5 was "three years" away. However, plans change, and it's also possible Kodera was merely trying to keep a lid on the rumors that were flying around at the time which were saying the PS5 would be released as soon as 2019.
Again, Sony has not stated how much its new console will cost, but it did say just recently that the PS5's price will be attractive to gamers. "I believe that we will be able to release it at an SRP [suggested retail price] that will be appealing to gamers in light of its advanced feature set," said Mark Cerny, the lead architect of the PS4 who's currently working on its successor.
Of course, you wouldn't expect Sony to say anything different, but one gets the feeling the company has learned from the PS3's exorbitant price tag--and the console's subsequent struggles--and the PS4's more reasonable cost and subsequent successes.
Will PS5 Be Backwards Compatible With PS4 games?
Cerny also confirmed the PS5 will be backwards compatible with PS4 games, as the two consoles are built upon similar internal architectures. This will be welcome news for those who were disappointed by the PS4's lack of backwards compatibility with PS3, PS2, and PS1 games.
SIE president Jim Ryan told GameSpot sister site CNET backwards compatibility and cross-gen are important for the PS5 to help players have a seamless transition.
"Whether it's backwards compatibility or the possibility of cross generational play, we'll be able to transition that community to next-gen," he said. "It won't be a binary choice about whether you have to be either on PlayStation 4 or next-gen to continue your friendship."
In yet more welcome news, PS4 games will even run faster than they do on your current console, in part because the PS5 will contain a solid state drive, as opposed to hard drives that current consoles ship with. Cerny has demonstrated a load screen from Insomniac's Spider-Man taking less than a second on a PS5 development kit, compared with 15 seconds on a PS4 Pro.
Sony showed off the faster loading times during an investor presentation in May. You can see the video below, which was captured by Wall Street Journal reporter Takashi Mochizuki.
Sony's official video comparing performance of PS4 Pro vs next-gen PlayStation pic.twitter.com/2eUROxKFLq— Takashi Mochizuki (@mochi_wsj) May 21, 2019
PS5 Specs And Disc Drive
This is where Sony has been surprisingly forthright with new information. The company has confirmed the PlayStation 5 will contain an AMD chip that has a CPU based on the third-generation Ryzen. It'll have eight cores of the seven-nanometer Zen 2 microchip. The console will also support 8K gameplay, but this will of course be dependent upon TVs catching up.
Graphics will be driven by a custom version of Radeon's Navi line. This graphics chip will support ray tracing, something which is starting to become popular in movies and video games. Although it is traditionally thought of as a lighting technique, Cerny says this technique could also improve game audio. In fact, PS5 will fully support 3D audio.
The aforementioned SSD is a big detail too, as it means games will load faster and be able to handle more objects on-screen at once than current HDD-driven consoles. Characters and cameras could move faster through game worlds, as environments could be loaded in much faster than they are at present.
As one final detail, we know the PS5 will not go the route of the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition, which doesn't include a disc drive. Instead, the PS5 will include a disc drive, so rest assured you'll still be able to buy and play physical games. We don't yet know though what kind of discs the console will support. It's possible it could handle 4K UHD Blu-Rays, which can carry around twice as much data as standard Blu-Ray discs.
Sony has also confirmed that the PS5 is capable of supporting 4K visuals at 120Hz for those who have TVs that can support that. 120Hz is a refresh rate around double the rate of standard TVs.
Will PS5 Support PSVR?
The current PSVR will indeed be supported by PS5, as will the PlayStation Move controllers. "I won't go into the details of our VR strategy," Cerny has stated, "beyond saying that VR is very important to us and that the current PSVR headset is compatible with the new console." The system architect stopped short of saying whether a new PSVR device will ever come out, however.
We don't yet know many confirmed games coming to PS5. There were rumors Hideo Kojima's Death Stranding would come to PS5, but that game's sooner-than-expected PS4 release date has cast doubt on that particular rumor. When asked by GameSpot whether Death Stranding would come to PS4, PS5, or both, Sony avoided answering the question directly and simply listed the game as one of many that "PlayStation fans have ... to look forward to on PS4."
Aside from Death Stranding, it's reasonable to presume annual titles like FIFA and Call of Duty would make the jump to PS5, though their developers haven't stated anything concrete.
The only confirmed game to be playable on PS5 is the Final Fantasy VII remake, after Square Enix's president and CEO Yosuke Matsuda said: "I believe that our teams have made it so that the game will support both the next generation and the current generation of consoles. I believe it is being developed so that it is going to be playable on both, so I'm not really concerned about that and I believe that the fans are also going to be able to enjoy it on both, including the next-generation of consoles."
However, it's not clear whether Matsuda was referring to a dedicated PS5 edition of the game, or if he was simply referring to the PS4 version being playable on PS5 via backward compatibility. If it's the latter, then we can technically count every PS4 game as playable on PS5.