Harder, better, faster, stronger: First concrete details on PlayStation 5

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Christian Petersen/Getty Images /

Sony’s next console may or may not be called the PlayStation 5, but it will support backward compatibility, have an SSD drive installed and plenty of other features lead system architect Mark Cerny isn’t ready to talk about just yet.

As we near the end of this current generation of consoles for both Sony and Microsoft (Nintendo is just hitting their stride with the Switch; it will probably be quite a while before we see whatever they have next) there has been a ton of speculation of what exactly the next round of consoles will look like. How dependent will the be on streaming? Will the new box support physical media? Backward compatibility? Will there even be a box?

On Microsoft’s end, the moves they have been making seem to mark a fairly clear path forward; there will likely be a box, but you will probably also be able to play Microsoft games on a large variety of devices.

Sony has been considerably more quiet about their next machine which will likely be called the PlayStation 5. After all, they essentially won this previous round by, at least in theory, rejecting a lot of things that were at first considered the future of gaming whether people liked it or not.

There’s been a ton of theorizing and rumors about what the PlayStation 5 will be, but any previous articles had merely been rumors with nothing concrete. Today in an exclusive interview with Wired, lead system architect Mark Cerny – who also lead development on the PlayStation 4 and the modern “classics” Knack and Knack 2 – gave the first real concrete details of what would comprise Sony’s next system.

Cerny would not confirm or deny that the console will actually be called the PlayStation 5, but seeing the confusion and derision that has gone with other companies making confusing names for their new consoles, it’s a fairly safe bet. The PS5 will feature the hot new graphical buzzword feature – “ray tracing” – which has promised new revolutions in graphical capability and 8K support.

More interestingly, the PlayStation 5 will come with an internal SSD to help cut down on load times. In an example provided, it was revealed that the load time when fast-traveling between locations in Marvel’s Spider-Man was reduced from the 15 seconds it takes on a PS4 Pro to just 0.8 seconds on the new machine.

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PSVR is a key component of Sony’s strategy going forward as well, and while Cerny would not confirm a “PSVR 2.0,” he did say the current headset would be compatible with the PS5.

The PlayStation 5 is based on PS4 architecture, and as such it will be backward compatible with the PlayStation 4 library, but there was no mention of previous generations. It had been rumored that the PS5 would, in fact, be backward compatible with all previous Sony libraries, that does not appear to be the case though previous libraries could be made available through other means for all we know. The PS5 will also support physical media, but that’s not a big surprise as most have suspected this would be the case for at least one more generation.

Finally, in regards to the PlayStation 4, if you aren’t ready to make the generational jump in the next year or so, it doesn’t seem like you’ll just be left in the dust. Cerny mentioned a lot of games are being developed cross-gen for both systems, though it will be interesting to see what the gap is between one version, of say Death Stranding (which is still confirmed as a PlayStation 4 title), to the next.

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There are obviously still a ton of questions that remain unanswered about the PlayStation 5, but it’s good to get some real details that aren’t unsubstantiated reports and rumors. Sony started off this generation extremely hot but sentiment in their favor has cooled quite a bit with them being very reluctant on features such as crossplay and their lack of backward compatibility, as well as their streaming options being rather lacking compared to Microsoft’s.

Will the PlayStation 5 keep them in the lead or will they take a backseat next round? Hopefully, we’ll find out more details soon.