Playstation 5: The Future of Gaming
2020 so far has been a year to forget. This year is a historic one for all the wrong reasons. However, for gamers the world over, 2020 marks an important gaming culture moment as next-generation consoles are unveiled, albeit in an agonizingly slow manner in the case of Sony’s next Playstation iteration. All the same, with the news and tech revealed on June 11th, 2020, the wait has been worthwhile. And what a wait it has been. The PS5 was initially announced by Mark Cerny, the lead architect, on a Wired Magazine interview in April 2019. After more than a year of speculation and over-the-top PS5 concept designs from every Tom, Dick, and Harry we finally know how Sony’s next-gen console will look like.
The Journey So Far
From that initial Mark Cerny announcement back in April 2019 what has followed has been a faint trail of information and rumors about the PS5. At the time, we were not even sure it would be called the PS5. Around May 2019 a video surfaced seeming to compare the load times of Marvel’s Spider-Man game on the PS4 Pro to the next-gen console that was still in the works. The section of the game being showcased on the PS4 Pro took over 8 seconds to load up while it took a meager 0.83 seconds to load on the next-gen console. That was just the first hint at how powerful the upcoming Playstation was going to be. In October 2019, Sony confirmed that the next-gen console was scheduled for release in the holiday season of 2020 giving gamers a window period from between October to December 2020 for when to expect the console.
At CES 2020 which took place from January the 7th to January the 10th, Sony revealed the official Playstation 5 logo which borrowed from the minimalist design of the PS4 and the PS3. In March 2020, Mark Cerny streamed a live presentation of the PS5’s specs in a video titled Road to PS5. Most people who tuned in for the presentation were left a little disappointed as the presentation was mostly geared to game developers and so was a tech jargon-filled stream that detailed the console’s specs. Talk of teraflops and SSD was all the rage at the time though most people had no idea what all that meant. In April 2020, gamers finally had something concrete about the PS5 that they could literally hold on to. The DualSense Controller was revealed.
The DualSense Controller was quite different from previous Playstation controllers. To start with, it did not adhere to the naming system Sony had used for its previous controllers. While the precursor controllers bore the name DualShock, derived from the two vibrating motors in the controllers, Sony named the PS5 controller DualSense. This was to emphasize the controller’s haptic feedback system that promised a more immersive gaming experience. The triggers would be more sensitive to the pressure applied to them. A common example cited was the case of drawing a bow in a game. The more pressure one applies to the trigger, the harder the character in the game pulls on the bow. Sony also promised to generate different kinds of haptic feedback for when a character moves across different surfaces in-game. For example, moving in mud will feel different from moving in, say, grass.
While the touchpad was retained in the DualSense Controller, the led light that features on the back of the DualShock 4 has now been moved to the sides of the touchpad. This is after widespread complaints that having the light at the back of the controller caused a reflection on the screen when gaming. The Share button has now been renamed the Create button. Sony introduced a microphone and speaker to the DualSense to allow for on-the-go chatting while playing a game. The headphone jack was also retained. However, the elephant in the design, so to speak, has been the adoption of what many deem to be an X-Box controller-like design. The analog buttons are still symmetrical on the DualSense but the ‘arms’ of the controller are longer and the overall design looks a lot like the X-Box controller. Sony also departed from a monochromatic color scheme as with previous controllers adopting a futuristic-looking blend of white, black, and blue.
The Playstation 5 Hardware
After the reveal of the DualSense Controller, PS5 concept designs flooded online as virtually anyone with any design skills and a love for gaming showcased what they thought the PS5 would look like. Earlier on, there had been next-gen developer kit designs that had been leaked online. A slab-like kit with a V in the middle that also served as a cooling outlet was what the leak showed. However, gaming aficionados had been quick to point out that developer kits usually looked completely different from the final console design.
Finally, after a deafening silence from Sony, an official reveal date was set for June 6, 2020. As gamers waited in bated breath, the reveal event was postponed indefinitely due to the ongoing protests in the US after the death of Goerge Floyd. Thankfully, we did not have to wait too long as a new date was set, June 11, 2020.
The PS5 was now a real tangible thing. The design has been described to be futuristic-looking in a bold way, perhaps in tandem with the PS5 slogan: the future of gaming. As expected, the console has the same color scheme as the DualSense Controller. It features cooling vents that are cleverly and subtly incorporated in the design serving both a functional and aesthetical purpose. The PS5 comes with two iterations, the standard version and the PS5 Digital Edition which does not have a disk drive. Obviously, if one goes with the latter iteration one has to download all of one’s games as one cannot use game disks. The decision to have this second iteration may be informed by two things. One is the price. The feature-rich PS5 is expected to be a tad bit more expensive than previous consoles. Having an iteration without a disk drive may lower the cost making the console accessible to more people. Another reason may be to signal what the future looks like. Disks may very well become extinct much like VCR tapes as internet access and speeds across the world rise.
The June 11 virtual event also showcased a few accessories such as the controller charging dock, the HD camera, a media remote, and the 3D sound headphones. 3D sound, whatever that is, has been a feature Sony has advertised will come to the PS5 and we can only wait to find out how much of a gamechanger this will be.
One of the reasons the Playstation always dominates every generation of the console wars is the rich lineup of exclusive games it has. The highlights of the show were definitely Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Horizon Forbidden West. Both games are successors to previously successful versions of their respective series. Other games showcased were Grand Theft V (a sort of remastered version), Gran Turismo 7, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, Project Athia, Stray, Returnal, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, Destruction Allstars, Kena: Bridge of Spirits, Goodbye Volcano High, Ghostwire: Tokyo, Jett: The Far Shore, Godfall, Solar Ash, Hitman 3, Astro’s Playroom, Little Devil Inside, NBA 2K21, Bugsnax, Demon’s Soul, Deathloop, Resident Evil Village, and Pragmata.
Back in May 2020, Unreal Engine revealed Unreal Engine 5 with a demo game played on the PS5. This was the first look at what next-gen games on the PS5 might look like. The demo showed an improvement in the graphics, however, the leap from current-gen graphics was not as huge as with previous console generations. With graphics already being so good, there is little room for improvement. On the other hand, what the demo showed us was the other aspects of games that would massively improve going into the next generation of consoles. Lighting is one such aspect. Cinematic textures will be much easier to import into gameplay helping create more realistic looking virtual worlds. The artificial intelligence of environmental components of a game’s world will behave more realistically. For example, a swarm of bats in a cave will move and behave like a swarm of bats in the real world.
At this point, it is perhaps only prudent to highlight the specs these games will be running on. The PS5 will feature an 8-core 3.5 GHz AMD Zen CPU 2, a 10.3 teraflop AMD RDNA 2 GPU, 16 GB GDDR6 memory, and an 825 GB custom SSD. All that while also supporting 4K gaming at 60 fps which can all go up to 8K gaming at 120 fps with ray tracing.
What We Still Don’t Know
There is still quite a lot we are yet to know about the PS5. From key aspects such as the price to more trivial aspects such as how the backside of the PS5 looks like. What are they hiding? A lot of factors point to the PS5 being rather pricey. For starters, the specs on this piece of tech are quite premium. Secondly, Sony already stated that they would be initially producing a relatively limited number of consoles as they expect a good number of would-be customers might be priced out of the new console. Thirdly, with the current COVID-19 pandemic, reports have cited the fact that Sony is having a hard time sourcing some components needed for the production of the PS5. This is due to the breakdown of the global supply chain as a result of the pandemic.
We also do not have an exact launch date. Rather, we have a three-month period when the console will be available for purchase. If what we’ve seen from Sony so far is anything to go by, expect details to be limited and far in-between before then.
Whatever the case, the PS5 looks like an exciting piece of gaming hardware that we can’t wait to get out hands on. The future of gaming is upon us!