PlayStation 5 is official, out in Holiday 2020 with hardware-based ray-tracing

On a seemingly innocuous Tuesday afternoon, Sony has revealed the existence of the PlayStation 5. Sony has been dancing around what its next-gen console is going to be called but, looking at their past form, it wasn’t exactly difficult to figure out what comes after PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4. 

So, the PlayStation 5 is the real deal. We’re still waiting to find out what it actually looks like but Sony PlayStation’s president has confirmed the PS5 will be launching during holiday 2020. The leaked patents and the renders (pictured above) are very much the real deal, although these actually depict the PS5 devkit. The home console should look very different, thank the lord.

Between an announcement on the official PlayStation Blog and a more in-depth interview with lead architect Mark Cerny over on Wired, plenty more juicy details have been spilled on what’s in-store from the PS5.

Starting with the hardware, Cerny has confirmed the PlayStation 5 will support hardware-based real-time ray-tracing. There was speculation it was some hokey software-based solution but Cerny put paid to this, claiming  “There is ray-tracing acceleration in the GPU hardware, which I believe is the statement that people were looking for.”

He also had a few more details to share on the use of an SSD. While fairly unremarkable on its own, adopting an SSD as the minimum standard does change things up from the SSDs we use for PC gaming. Games can be specifically engineer for playing on SSDs, meaning larger, more detailed worlds; smaller install sizes, and no need to mask load times with corridors and doors. 

“The SSD has me really excited,” said Bluepoint’s Marco Thrush, during the chat with Wired. “You don’t need to do gameplay hacks anymore to artificially slow players down—lock them behind doors, anything like that. Back in the cartridge days, games used to load instantly; we’re kind of going back to what consoles used to be.”

Storage of game data has also been simplified and it’s now much easier for developers to split up game installs into configurable installations. Players can choose to download just the single-player, for example, or grab the entirety of a Call of Duty title and just delete the single-player once the campaign is finished.

The games themselves will now ship on 100GB Blu Ray discs, indicative of a ballooning install sizes. 

Sticking to the hardware side of things, Wired also got a hands-on with the PlayStation 5 controller. It’s apparently very similar to the DualShock 4, albeit enhanced with adaptive triggers, haptic feedback, USB Type-C charging, a larger battery, and, potentially, voice-powered AI. 

The adaptive triggers can have their resistance programmed in on a case by case basis. As an example, drawing the bow string in Horizon: Zero Dawn could increase the resistance the further back you pull. Sony believes this will even allow guns to feel different to one another based on resistance alone.

Haptic feedback sounds suspiciously like the Nintendo Switch’s ‘HD Rumble’, so we’re not holding out too much hope for this aspect. During the demo session, Wired claims the controller actually felt different depending on the surface you were walking on. “Sand felt slow and sloggy; mud felt slow and soggy. On ice, a high-frequency response made the thumbsticks really feel like my character was gliding. Jumping into a pool, I got a sense of the resistance of the water; on a wooden bridge, a bouncy sensation.” We’re inclined to take a ‘believe it when we feel it’ stance on this one.

On the software side, Sony is completely revamping the OS and user interface for the PS5. The specifics aren’t ready to be shared yet but Cerny did confirm that players will be able to see from the menu what single-player missions are available, or multiplayer servers, or what your friends are playing, and then you can hop straight into that moment. To clarify then, Red Dead Redemption 2 could show on the system OS the next main story mission which is available to you. With the push of a button you can load right into that mission, skipping over the step of booting up the main menu, selecting your option, and then loading in.

And that’s about it in terms of the actual PlayStation 5. However, Shadow of the Colossus developer Bluepoint Games has confirmed they’re “working on a big [game] right now”. Demon’s Souls Remake, please and thank you.

With the name set in stone and dev kits flying all around the world, it’s only a matter of time until the PlayStation 5 is officially revealed in all its glory.