The PS4 may still be riding one hell of a wave since its release back in 2013, but it’s no secret that Sony is already deep into research and development for its inevitable successor, the PS5.
Most industry estimates peg the console as likely to release in the final few months of 2020, and while that would leave us around two years out from it finally hitting stores, word about the platform’s specs and features have started to leak out as Sony starts to nail them down.
Thanks to patent findings made available online and word from industry leakers with strong track records, there’s actually a pretty decent amount of information out there about the PS5, and the picture’s quickly becoming clear about what kind of console it will end up being.
If the PS4 swerved sharply away from the PS3’s divisive design and technical execution, it seems that the PS5 won’t veer too far from what’s made Sony an easy market leader for the last five years.
It’ll be a beefier unit, of course, but you can mostly expect Sony to double down on their current initiatives and hopefully provide a few neat quality-of-life fixes to the eco-system.
So, while we probably won’t have an official PS5 unveiling until 18 months from now, here’s what the trusted early word on the street tells us…
8. Faster Start Times For Games
As fantastic as the “suspend/resume” feature has been on the PS4, Sony is reportedly planning an even faster solution on PS5.
Resetera user console lover discovered that Sony apparently wants to find a way for next-gen games to launch “instantly” as they would on, say, a Mega Drive cartridge, and the company filed a fascinating patent this past January to that effect.
If you can sift your way through the technical jargon, it basically suggests that the PS5 will most likely feature RAM-intensive loading systems which can near-immediately load game assets, and most likely a last known save, from the moment you hover over a game icon and before you’ve actually pressed the launch button.
As handy as suspend/resume is, if the PS5 can genuinely do away with splash screens and dive in and out of separate games within a matter of seconds, that’s a major leap forward indeed.
7. Backwards Compatibility Is Finally Happening
One of the PS5’s worst-kept secrets is that it’s definitely going to include a comprehensive form of backwards compatibility with prior generations of hardware.
It goes without saying that it’ll support PS4 games, but a recent patent filing by Sony makes it clear they’re pursing “remastering by emulation,” and have been working on it for around two years.
More specifically, the patent relates to players inserting a legacy software disc into a contemporary machine, which will then download remastered visuals and audio on-the-fly to replace the more dated assets.
Considering how deep we are into the PS4’s life cycle, it makes all the sense in the world that Sony would save it for a PS5 announcement in early-to-mid 2020.
Plus, it’d be a fantastic way to sell the console and finally compensate for the PlayStation lagging behind the Xbox in this area.
6. Renewed VR Support
If you were worried that VR’s rather middling level of esteem in the gaming world might cause support to drop off, it sounds like that’s not the case at all.
Renowned leaker SemiAccurate, who has a history of delivering correct reports on industry tech, reported earlier this year that VR will be “baked in” at the silicon level on the PS5, effectively making it able to play VR content on its own without the need for the cumbersome breakout box that PSVR 1.0 currently requires.
Furthermore, new patent filings suggest that Sony is currently prototyping new VR controllers to replace the awkward, 8-year-old PlayStation Move controllers, and that this controller may be able to detect individual finger movements thanks to an unprecedented camera system.
It’s entirely possible the Move 2.0 ends up somewhat different than the patent, but it’s abundantly clear that Sony has zero plans of dropping PSVR support for PS5. As such, it’s reasonable to expect PSVR 2.0 to land within a few years of PS5’s release.
5. It WILL Have A Disc Drive
There have been depressing rumours in recent months that, due to the uptick in digital sales in recent years, next-gen consoles may end up ditching disc drives entirely in favour of a download-only content delivery system.
Thankfully industry analyst Michael Pachter has pretty much stamped those worries out by insisting that both consoles will indeed have disc drives. He claims that it ultimately comes down to Sony and Microsoft maintaining a healthy relationship with brick-and-mortar stores, which they rely on to sell consoles.
If they suddenly cut storefronts out of the games media business, there’s not much incentive for them to bother selling the consoles either, so doing away with disc drives entirely seems like a mightily risky move. Plus, in countries with strict data caps like Australia, digital-only would be absolutely devastating.
It’s certainly possible that Sony could release a cheaper PS5 model without a disc drive, but the base console will 100% have one.
4. A More User-Friendly PSN
One of the biggest complaints about the PlayStation dating back to the PS3 has been the rather awkward infrastructure of PSN itself, namely the lack of accessibility features compared to Xbox Live, and worst of all, the inability to simply change your bloody username.
The PS4 era has seen some encouraging improvements, but it’s been an awfully long time getting there, and only this past month did Sony actually formally confirm that username changes are set to arrive in an upcoming firmware update. It’s only taken them over a decade.
Windows Central writer and industry sleuth Jez Corden recently stated that he heard Sony was working on a “big infrastructure/platform update” in time for the PS5, and that it may be heavily rooted in cloud technology.
Given that Sony could be doing so much more with PSN, it’s somewhat encouraging to see them setting the table for a more intuitive and, yes, user-friendly PSN on PS5.
Wouldn’t it also be neat for the PS5 to also include a “time played” tab for every game, as Nintendo consoles have been doing for years and years? We know that the PS4 tracks time metrics, but sadly doesn’t make them available to players.
3. It Will Run On AMD Ryzen CPU Tech
Numerous reports have stated that the PS5 will continue Sony’s relationship with AMD, and that the new platform will run on their Ryzen CPU, which has been honed specifically for it.
The PS4 of course ran on the AMD Jaguar CPU and has been lauded for its stability and ease-of-use in games development, so there’s really no incentive at all for Sony to look anywhere else.
So, what does this mean outside of the technical gobbledegook? Eurogamer did a fantastically comprehensive rundown, positing that the PS5 could see a massive computational boost over the PS4, bringing it closer to the level of a high-spec desktop PC.
It depends on a ton of factors, of course, and not merely the CPU, but it’s certainly an encouraging sign all the same.
2. The Disc Format Will Be 128GB BD-XL
With recent news that Red Dead Redemption 2 will ship on two discs due to its 100GB install size – and digital users will need an extra 50GB to unpack the game – there’s been plenty of discussion about whether the current Blu-ray disc format will actually be viable for PS5.
After all, so many AAA games require patches, updates and additional downloadable content counting in the tens of gigabytes, so it would certainly be beneficial for the PS5 to move beyond the 50GB limitations of one dual-layer Blu-ray.
Numerous rumours and more convincing industry reports state that Sony will be making use of their new four-layer BD-XL discs, which can hold a stonking 128GB each.
While this may end up boosting the cost of PS5 games, it’s at least nice to know that Sony won’t be sticking with a media size that’s seemed increasingly restrictive in recent years.
1. V-Sync Support (Finally!)
With another patent we have yet another confirmation of Sony’s plans for the future. A filing from last month makes it clear that Sony is working on V-sync support for the PS5, which eliminates screen tearing by matching a game’s frame-rate to the display’s own refresh rate.
It’s a GPU-intensive technology and therefore not typically a part of the game console equation, but it looks like Sony’s about to change that with the PS5.
It’d be a major step forward for bringing consoles further in line with gaming PCs, and while not a major selling point to the casual gamer, will certainly prick up the ears of those who do most of their gaming on a desktop at present.
What do you make of these confirmed PS5 features? Excited or disappointed? What else would you like to see? Shout it out in the comments!