We have seen both Sony and Microsoft confirm that the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X are in active development, and information is slowly trickling out as we get closer to both systems’ Holiday 2020 release window. (As long as COVID-19 doesn’t interfere, that is.)
The details of the PS5 were first unveiled to Wired in some time with programmer Mark Cerny. The information that came out during an interview with PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan on CNET showed us more details, and the latest reveal in October last year. And in March, Cerny presented his Road to PS5 talk, initially scheduled for this year’s GDC, which was canceled/postponed, in a livestream. A full streamed presentation on June 11 finally gave fans a glimpse of what the new hardware and games will look like.
Microsoft used its stage during E3 in June 2019 to unveil the new system using a video with several developers sharing their stories about the desires and expectations of gamers, while also sharing details of what the new console can do. Phil Spencer confirmed the name of the new system at the Game Awards in December. In March, DigitalFoundry got a full breakdown, quite literally.
Here, we’ll round up everything we know about the two consoles, and we’ll make every effort to keep this information up to date as new details are shared with the press.
Both consoles are ditching old, mechanical hard-drives and instead will be utilizing an SSD. This SSD is probably one of the most significant advancements in technology in recent years and allows for exponentially lower loading times and other quality of life features. (PC gamers have been using this tech for years and can attest to the difference.) A demonstration video for Marvel’s Spiderman has already shown the difference that an SSD can make, even to an actual game, as shown below.
They will both be utilizing the power of AMD’s next-generation Ryzen Processor technology to power their systems. This hardware is significant as the technology is not even available (at the time of writing) to the crowd that this would generally excite the most, the PC gaming and building community.
Both game consoles will support games in 8K, double the current 4K standard currently available on their PS4 Pro and Xbox One X consoles. They will also be able to handle Ray-tracing, a technology that is very ambitious but makes a noticeable difference in the way games use reflections.
Finally, both companies appear to be utilizing Cloud-based gaming tech, though Microsoft so far is the only one to announce it officially with xCloud.
Everything we know about the PS5
For the PS5, we know there is still a big drive for Virtual Reality gaming. The PSVR headset is very much part of Sony’s long-term strategy. “I won’t go into the details of our VR strategy today, beyond saying that VR is very important to us and that the current PSVR headset is compatible with the new console,” Mark Cerny told Wired.
In a video that was originally posted on March 18, Sony’s lead architect for the PS5 Mark Cerny hosted a live stream originally intended for the Games Developer Conference that included a deep dive into some of the technology that will power their next-generation console.
In the presentation, there were three details highlighted that was the focus for Sony with the PS5.
- The custom-made SSD, or solid-state drive, was a heavy focus, delivering cranked transfer speeds from the memory to the gameplay that Cerny claims is fast enough to eliminate loading screens. Sony confirmed that the storage capacity will be 825GB, which Sony says is the “Sweet Spot” for console storage. There will also be an NVMe slot for SSD storage expansion.
- A graphics unit used in the system should allow for seamless loading of maps and assets to your screen, meaning that long corridors and elevator rides won’t be there just to allow the game to load in the rest of the map.
- 3D Audio that should produce life-like sound that can allow players to pinpoint sound far more accurately than in this generation. This should allow for cranked immersion when experiencing your games.
The specifications are comparable to its American rival, with a variable speed boost on the processor when required. In terms of raw computing power, the Xbox Series X has the edge. However, the system created by Sony has been praised by Epic Game CEO Tim Sweeney, who said at the unveiling of the Unreal Engine 5 that it can actually help to drive the future of the PC market.
On June 11, Sony finally unveiled several games coming to its new system during their ‘Future of Playstation’ presentation stream, as well as the console itself, which has divided opinion on its look. It is a black box that is surrounded by white trim that hides cooling vents. It can be stood vertically or horizontally. The hardware reveals also presented more of the DualSense controller and new hardware, including a controller charging dock, an HD Camera, and a 3D Audio headset designed to get the most out of the system’s audio. Which of these comes as standard is unclear.
The console will come in two forms. One will include a disc drive, situated on the side of the system, and the other will be a digital-only system, meaning that all games need to be downloaded from the Playstation Store.
The presentation did not shed any light on the system’s price, nor did it confirm a release date for it. There is still a question mark as to how many games will be available via backward compatibility at launch. PS VR is also still up in the air after it was missing from the PS5 hardware line-up, though Mark Cerny has also previously been quoted as saying, “I won’t go into the details of our VR strategy today, beyond saying that VR is very important to us and that the current PSVR headset is compatible with the new console.”
However, there will be a level of cross-compatibility between the PS4 and PS5 ecosystems, enough to allow cross-generational gameplay. This means that friends playing on the PS5 can play certain games with those still on PS4. The games that have confirmed this so far are Destiny 2 and Chivalry 2, with Fortnite also likely to be possible too.
The presentation also included a plethora of titles that are coming to the PS5, many of which are exclusive to the system. These included several franchise returns, including Gran Turismo 7, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Resident Evil™ Village, and Horizon Forbidden West. There is also a remake in the form of Demon’s Souls, and a new chapter for Spiderman with Marvel’s Spiderman: Miles Morales, though there is some confusion as to whether it is a standalone game or an extension of the game on PS4.
There were also games from Square Enix with Project Athia, Arkane Studios (developer of Dishonored) with more gameplay on Deathloop, and Shinki Mikami’s Tango Gameworks with Ghostwire: Tokyo. Some smaller indie games were also released IO Interactive’s independent Hitman III, and story-driven adventure game Kena: Bridge of Spirits from Ember Labs, a group with a background in film and animation.
Related Article: Every PlayStation 5 game we know about so far
Everything we know about the Xbox Series X
Microsoft thus far has been far more open about the capability of their next-gen offering than Sony. For the Xbox One’s successor, we learned that the official name, previously known as Project Scarlett, is the Xbox Series X and that not only will it be capable of 8K, but it will also run at 120hz, meaning it will increase possible frame rates to up to 120 per second. This is powered by a graphics processing power of 12 teraflops. In layman’s terms, this puts it at roughly twice the power of the Xbox One X.
The console will use Microsoft’s Variable Rate Shading, allowing developers to prioritize power to individual elements on the screen, which results in better performance without affecting overall visual quality.
The console will also be hardware-accelerated for the first time, something which allows developers to further push the console boundaries. The processor sets aside dedicated cores directly for ray-tracing technology. Considering the amount of power the tech requires is an incredible amount to produce, there is intrigue to see if Microsoft can pull this off reliably.
Dynamic Latency Input (DLI) also claims to make input latency a thing of the past, leveraging the proprietary technology to make sure that games are more precise and accurate than ever. Combined with HDMI 2.1, it should make for almost lag-free gaming.
We also know what it looks like. It’s ditched the small form factor of traditional consoles in favor of a look more associated with desktops, with a concave grille at the top of the unit. The reaction to it has been mixed, but it may have been a necessary step to ensure that the promised tech can be accomplished. However, Microsoft has confirmed that previous peripherals, such as Xbox One Elite controllers, will work with the next-gen system.
A big plus for the new system is that titles from all previous Xbox systems will be backward compatible with it. The backward-compatible feature means that if you harbor an extensive collection of Xbox One games that are still on your to-play list or kept classics from the older generations of Xbox, the Series X will always be able to play them all. Considering that this has been a sticking point for the Playstation brand for the last two generations, this is a piece of excellent news for Microsoft to announce.
Currently, there are plenty of confirmed games for the new system, with the only game so far to be confirmed to launch with Xbox Series X being Halo Infinite. The other announced games include Senua’s Saga: Hellbade 2 from Nina Theory, Everwild from Rare Games, and a new installment in Forza Motorsport, likely Forza 8. Ubisoft has confirmed that Rainbow Six Siege, Rainbow Six Quarantine, Watch Dogs: Legion, and Gods and Monsters will all be coming to the Xbox Series X. At the same time, Cyberpunk 2077 will also get the next-gen treatment, with players able to get a free upgrade from the Xbox One to the Series X.
Game Pass is also still going to be very prominent, with Halo Infinite coming to Game Pass at the console’s launch. Similar to the PS5, though, we expect a plethora of games to be announced as we draw closer to the release.
Related Article: Every Xbox Series X game we know about so far
Like the PS5, there is currently no price for the Xbox Series X, likely waiting for the other to announce a price first.