Everything We Know About The PlayStation 5

Illustration for article titled Everything We Know About The PlayStation 5
Photo: Sony Interactive Entertainment

In June, during an 85-minute event called “The Future of Gaming,” Sony finally revealed the PlayStation 5. Between the presenters who may not have been human, we got a thorough look at plenty of video games (and some technical stuff, too). Following that, the info feed surrounding the PS5 was a slow drip through the summer. Then, on September 16, in a 45-minute stream, Sony pulled back the curtain on pretty much all the stuff we didn’t know. With the official launch just weeks away, here’s everything we know about the PlayStation 5.

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[This post originally ran on 6/12/20. We’ve bumped it up as more information about the PS5 has become available.]

First things first: Talk to me about the games.

As Microsoft handily learned the hard way back in 2013, a console is only as strong as its library. Sony nailed things in the runup to the PlayStation 4’s launch. Based on yesterday’s reveal—which was largely dedicated to showing off an impressively robust slate of games—the same can be said about the runup to the PS5.

Fans of robust open-world games will be happy to hear that Horizon Forbidden West, the followup to 2017’s well-regarded Horizon Zero Dawn, made a splashy appearance. Like the first game, there are more robot dinosaurs than people. Aloy (voiced by the inimitable Ashly Burch) makes a welcome return, as does Lance Reddick’s character. But best of all, it appears developer Guerrilla Games took a page out of Tolkien’s book and introduced mechanized oliphaunts. It’s coming to PS4, too, but will have a free PS5 upgrade.

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Screenshot: Insomniac Games

Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a standalone adventure akin in size and scope to Uncharted: Lost Legacy. A recent gameplay demo showed off all of the superhero set-piece greatest hits—including that one scene where the hero saves a bunch of innocent civilians from a blown-up bridge disaster—and some of Miles’ sweet shock powers. It’s also coming out for PlayStation 4. An ultimate edition comes with a full version of 2018’s Spider-Man, itself a terrific game.

Brush off those dusty Wikipedia pages about Norse gods, because there’s another God of War in the works. It’s teased for 2021. Anyone else ready to gruffly say “boy” for a solid chunk of next year?

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In the Department of Remakes, Remasters, and Definitive Editions, Demon’s Souls is getting the top-to-bottom treatment. The 2009 action role-playing game will be remade for PS5 by Bluepoint Games, the very same remaster masters who brought a new version of Shadow of the Colossus to the PS4, and will come to the PS5 at launch. Thus far, the game looks to be coming along quite nicely:

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The PS5 is already shaping up to have plenty of third-party support. For day one, Gearbox is publishing an action-fantasy game called Godfall. Down the line, Bethesda is publishing two neat-looking games, Deathloop (from Arkane Studios) and Ghostwire: Tokyo (Tango Gameworks). There’s another Hitman, another NBA 2K, and another Resident Evil en route.

As the tea leaves foretold, yes, there’s a new Final Fantasy on the way! It’s called Final Fantasy XVI and it’ll come out sometime between now and the release of Final Fantasy XVII. Just how exclusive it will be to PS5 is unclear. Sony’s stream revealing the game indicated it would also come to PC, but PR reps for the game then said that wasn’t “announced,” whatever that means. The game’s official trailer has a big asterisk next to the phrase “console exclusive,” with a notation that it is only a timed exclusive. That makes it sound like PS5 will be the first console to get Final Fantasy XVI, but that it could eventually come to Xbox as well. No news, unfortunately, on the obviously-it’s-happening sequel to this year’s well-received scene band simulator, Final Fantasy VII Remake.

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Sony showed off plenty of smaller games, too, many of which look terrific. Solar Ash and Stray continue the tremendous pedigree of publisher Annapurna Interactive (If Found…, Outer Wilds, Sayonara Wild Hearts). A game called Goodbye Volcano High wowed many Kotaku staffers. Personally, I’m counting down the minutes until I can get my hands on the mystical Kena: Bridge of the Spirits.

Some of these games, like Forbidden West and Spider-Man: Miles Morales, are PlayStation exclusives. Some, particularly many of the third-party games, will come to other platforms, including PC and [gasp] Xbox Series X. Here’s a full roundup of all the games Sony teased in June, and a clarifier on which games are (and aren’t) PlayStation exclusives.

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Those all sound awesome, but what can I play at launch?

Consider the whole picture, and the PS5 launch library isn’t too dry. There are third-party, cross-gen titles like Watch Dogs: Legion and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.(Some games, like Marvel’s Avengers and Destiny 2, won’t be getting next-gen upgrades for a bit, though you can still play their backward compatible versions.) Devil May Cry 5 is getting a ray-traced redux that will be digitally available at launch. As will Godfall. Zany platformers Sackboy: A Big Adventure and Astro’s Playroom, too, with the latter coming pre-installed on each machine. Here’s the full list:

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We’ve actually had a chance to play Astro’s Playroom. While we can’t yet tell you about the whole game yet, we can say that the first level offers some tight, enjoyable platforming. Thanks to the DualSense gamepad, it feels like a truly next-gen game, with impressively dynamic vibrations, motion controls, and other neat controller-based tricks that you wouldn’t find in a comparable PS4 game. (It’s also loaded up with easter eggs.)

That’s cool, but when can we play those other games?

If all goes as planned, the new year will start off with a (silenced) bang with Hitman 3. Agent 47’s next adventure will wrap up the trilogy that started with 2016’s episodic Hitman. The rest of 2021 seems pretty full too. Resident Evil Village and Ghostwire: Tokyo will assuredly scare some people, but not me, because I am too tough and strong. Both of the Annapurna games, Solar Ash and Stray, are planned for 2021, as is Goodbye Volcano High. Before 2021 wraps up, Grand Theft Auto V will release on the PS5, marking the third console generation for Rockstar’s open-world bad-boy game. It’ll be free for PS5 owners for the first three months.

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Stray
Stray
Screenshot: Annapurna Interactive

Just one game is currently scheduled for 2022: Pragmata, a game about… Um… Well, there’s a feline hologram. Times Square makes an appearance, looking not unlike how it does currently. Then it’s off to the moon. Whatever else you hear, Pragmata can only be described right now with two words: “Who knows!”

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Plenty of games—including Horizon Forbidden West, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Returnal, and the upcoming God of War sequel—weren’t announced with release dates.

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What’s the box art look like for these games?

Well, those who enjoyed the PS4 box art won’t complain. The PS5 box art is more or less identical to the PS4 box art, except with a white banner and black text, rather than a blue banner and white text. Really, that’s not a joke. See for yourself:

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Speaking of the PS4, what’s the deal with PS5 backwards compatibility?

Good news: The PS5 will be backwards compatible—well, mostly. Speaking to The Washington Post, PlayStation’s Jim Ryan confirmed that “99 percent” of the PS4 4,000-game catalogue will be playable on the PS5. According to Mark Cerny, the new console’s lead architect, due to some technical restrictions, each game has to be hand-tested for PS5 functionality, so it’s only natural the biggest games get first crack on the shiny new console. Ghost of Tsushima, for instance, will be available from day one via backward compatibility. It’ll boost framerates to 60 FPS and apparently, somehow, against all known laws of technology, load even faster than it does on PS4. (Sony pointed to just 10 PS4 games—including Joe’s Diner and Hitman GO: Definitive Edition—that won’t work on the PS5.)

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What’s more, for Ghost of Tsushima and all supported PS4 games, members of PS Plus will be able to transfer their saves to the new generation with the service’s cloud storage option. Those without a PS Plus subscription will need to carry over their old saves by using either a LAN cable or an external USB storage device. That said, save transfers are a per-game decision left up to the developer. If a developer doesn’t support cross-platform saves, you’re out of luck.

Beyond that, members of PS Plus are getting access to a new games-on-demand service. Called PS Plus Collection, the service will allow players to boot up hit PS4 games on PS5. Some of the games planned for the service’s launch include Fallout 4, God of War, Uncharted 4, Days Gone, Detroit: Become Human, The Last Guardian, and Mortal Kombat X. Here’s a full list.

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Will PS Now work on the PS5?

Yes.

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What’s the UI look like?

Whereas Microsoft is gunning for a universal operating system, there’s a notable difference between the main menu of the PS4 and that of the PS5. For one thing, the icons are notably smaller. There’s also a whole lot more visual space dedicated to background art. In games, you can pull up an “activities” tab which, among other things, can offer hints for various parts of a game. You can also join party chats without leaving your game. Here’s a fuller look.

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What’re the technical specs for this thing?

In May, Epic Games showed off an eye-popping tech demo “running on PS5.” For the tech enthusiasts, Kotaku’s Mike Fahey has the full rundown of the stuff under the hood. For everyone else, here are the key tidbits:

  • It’ll have 825 GB of internal storage. That’s significantly more than the 500 GB included in first-edition PS4s, but still less than the 1 TB promised in Microsoft’s Xbox Series X.
  • That storage will be a solid-state drive (SSD), rather than a hard disk drive (HDD). SSDs tend to offer faster load times than HDDs. Technical footage we’ve seen thus far corroborates this.
  • But worry not! The PS5 will support external HDDs via USB.
  • A digital edition will also be available. It won’t have a disc drive, so you’ll have to download all of your games.
  • The PS5 will have ray-tracing, which, to put it simply, will make lighting effects work much like light works IRL.
  • Thanks to proprietary tech called Boost, the PS5 will be able to automatically adjust GPU and CPU usage to make games run smoother.
  • The I/O throughput is–

Yeah, yeah, yeah… How many teraflops?

10.28.

What’s the word on virtual reality?

Speaking to CNET, Sony’s Jim Ryan confirmed that “the current PlayStation VR is compatible with PS5.” The camera seen in Sony’s big PS5 event was “peripheral” and won’t be included with launch editions of the console. So current PSVR units need to make use of the PS4’s PS Camera and plug it into a PS5 adapter. This week, Sony set up a website that allows you to request said adaptors. You’ll need one if you want to use your existing PSVR unit. The PS5 lacks the requisite port, and the new HD Camera doesn’t work with the current PSVR headset.

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Why does the PS5 look like that?

We got our first look at the console during the June event, and the internet writ large immediately went to town. Within a matter of minutes, social media meme machines went into overdrive and compared the PS5’s design to [deep breath] default ISP routers, the Barclays Center, a Wii cosplaying as Batman, Destiny helmets, air humidifiers, popped collar polos, ducks, and Detroit: Become Human characters.

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Personally, I think it looks magnificent and belongs in a museum—preferably behind four-inch thick glass, where cats and children will never be able to besmirch that pristine powder-snow plastic. [UPDATE 10/29: I hereby rescind this statement.] But I’ll let you judge for yourself:

You can set up the PS5 vertically or horizontally.
You can set up the PS5 vertically or horizontally.
Photo: Sony Interactive Entertainment
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You’d think the PS5 controller would be called the DualShock 5. Think again—this one’s called the DualSense. Whatever you think of the design, it’s a marked improvement over the already-solid DualShock 4. The DualSense will have adaptive triggers, meaning you can feel the tension shift as you do in-game tasks. It’ll also feature haptic feedback. And the Share button is gone, replaced by a “Create” button. (Sony hasn’t shared what, exactly, the difference is between the two.)

A close-up look at the DualSense.
A close-up look at the DualSense.
Photo: Sony Interactive Entertainment
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A few of us at Kotaku have had our hands on PS5 units for a week or so now. The consensus? This thing is enormous—like, “wow, where should I put it?” enormous. (For context, we all have units with the disc-drive, rather than the slimmer all-digital edition.) It’s also not the most convenient shape, so, as a result, we’ve all set it up in different ways. For the curious, here’s a look:

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And, in case you were wondering, the PS5’s power button is (marginally) easier to find than the PS4’s.

How are the memes?

Amazing. Top-notch stuff.

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How much is all this gonna cost?

The base edition will cost $500. The all-digital version—the one that’s functionally the same but doesn’t have a disc drive—will cost $400. Picking up a DualSense piecemeal, meanwhile, will run you $70. That’s not outrageous compared to what’s currently on the market (Joy-Cons, the standard Switch controller options, are $80) but the price of some PS5 games might raise eyebrows: Demon’s Souls will retail for $70, as will the PS5 versions of Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War and NBA 2K21. (Their PS4 counterparts will sell for $60.) Destruction All-Stars was planned as a $70 release at launch, but has since been delayed to February, where it will be available to members of PS Plus at no extra cost.

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When can I get my hands on one?

It’ll be available November 12 in the United States, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea. Everyone else will have to wait until November 19. Preorders are technically available at many retailers, but fair warning: They’re sporadic, and have been a mess so far.

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Will I have trouble getting one at launch?

Maybe—but maybe not. According to reports in Nikkei and Bloomberg, Sony plans on ramping up initial production from around 5 or 6 million units to roughly 10 million. For context, according to The Verge, the PS4 sold 5 million or so units in its launch window. This nearly doubled PS5 output likely indicates that Sony is anticipating a lot of excitement for the latest console. Of course, the covid-19 pandemic shows no signs of abating any time soon, and we have no clue how it will impact the supply line later this year; shipping these units across the Pacific could prove difficult. Only time will tell on this one.

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Are we still talkin’ ‘bout Bugsnax?

Oh, most definitely. Members of PS Plus will particularly have no escape, as Bugsnax will be one of the service’s bonus games for November—but just for PS5 owners.

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Update: 10/29 6:15 p.m.: We’ve updated the post with information about the system’s physicality, user interface, and VR functionality, alongside some info about those ever-changing release dates.

Update: 10/9 6:00 p.m.: We’ve added info about backward compatibility and virtual reality.

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Update: 9/17 2:30 p.m.: We’ve updated the post to include information about the price, the release date, the launch lineup, and everything else that was unclear all summer long.

Update: 7/30 1:30 p.m.: We’ve updated text throughout for relevancy and also added information about virtual reality, console production, and game box art. We’re also still talking about Bugsnax.

Staff Writer, Kotaku

DISCUSSION

Look, I still don’t see how $599 was some kind of “insane” asking price. You can’t demand companies keep pushing hardware limits, giving you bleeding edge tech with unlimited teraflops and then also demand they do it for “As Seen On TV” prices.

Either you want an “economy system” that makes compromises to keep the cost down, or you don’t. You can’t have it both ways.

I fully expect a 499 to 599 price range, probably for the Digital and Non-Digital versions respectively.

And considering that Apple and Samsung have, together, shipped multiple tens of millions of phones that cost between $699 and $1200 in the last few years alone, you cannot possibly argue that $599 is some sort of ludicrous asking price for significantly more powerful tech. And yes, I am fully aware most people finance their phones through a subsidized plan; that does not, in any way, change the fact that virtually no one thinks a $1000 phone is a pricing debacle, but a console that costs less then some GPUs is somehow “crazy