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PlayStation 5: Everything you need to know

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PS5 logo mockup

With the PS4 Pro and Slim now officially confirmed after months of leaks and speculation, it's time to turn our attention to the next big milestone in Sony's technological arsenal – the PlayStation 5.

It might seem a little premature to even be thinking about the fifth PlayStation. However, assuming Sony sticks to the unwritten rule that every console enjoys about five to six years before being replaced, the PS4 is now around halfway through its lifespan.

Sony's recently updated its range by introducing the PS4 Slim – which effectively replaces the original model and offers predominantly aesthetic improvements – and the PS4 Pro, which boasts additional power to display games in 4K resolution. This mid-cycle power upgrade shows that Sony is adopting a different tactic to previous generations, boosting the tech inside an existing system to prolong its lifespan. Ironically, though, it could mean that we see the PS4's successor sooner than expected.

PlayStation 5 release date: Coming sooner rather than later?

Some have argued that Sony and Microsoft – which has released the updated Xbox One S and has plans to challenge the PS4 Pro next year with the more powerful Xbox Scorpio – will seek to extend the shelf life of this current console generation with stop-gap releases.

But this approach could have the opposite effect – once these firms realise that consumers are happy to upgrade their systems every two to three years, it could result in both the PS5 and the next Xbox coming sooner rather than later.

Related: PS4 Pro vs Xbox Scorpio

ps4 proThe PS4 Pro is a more powerful PS4, but not intended to blur the line between console generations, according to lead system architect Mark Cerny

After all, people are quite happy to upgrade their phones every 12 to 24 months (albeit via a monthly contract rather than a one-off fee), so it's not a massive stretch to assume that console makers might adopt the same strategy.

PlayStation 5 specs: How powerful will it be?

With PS4 Pro, Sony's focus has primarily been about offering 4K visuals, but the company has stressed that developers have to ensure that games will run on both the new variant and the older PS4 models. That means that while "Pro" versions of a particular game will get performance boosts when played on newer hardware, there won't be any titles exclusive to the PS4 Pro. So we may not see the full potential of 4K gaming until the PS5 arrives.

Expect the PlayStation 5 to offer a massive improvement over the existing PS4 in terms of raw processing power. 4K gaming will no doubt be standard, and Sony will hopefully attempt to give the system the kind of horsepower that will ensure titles run at a silky-smooth 60fps. One of the big disappointments of this current generation is that too many PS4 and Xbox One games fail to meet that goal.

PlayStation 5 backwards compatibility: A link to the past?

This shift towards the smartphone hardware model – where devices such as the iPhone and Galaxy S are updated on an annual basis – could change the way we treat software, too. In exchange for asking users to update their systems on a more regular basis, Sony and Microsoft will probably try to maintain compatibility between versions, so your old games will still work on every PlayStation upgrade you purchase.

Related: FIFA 17 review

PS4 Slim

Sony is already doing this to a degree with its PlayStation Now service, which allows subscribers to play old classics via the cloud, while Microsoft is aggressively pursuing its backwards compatibility programme to make more and more Xbox 360 games playable on the Xbox One. Tying you in with games creates loyalty, and that's something both companies will need if they start asking players to upgrade more often.

PlayStation 5 controller – How will it look?

Despite the passage of 20 years, the PlayStation controller has changed remarkably little. Sure, the DualShock 4 has analogue sticks, force feedback and is totally wireless, but it shares the same DNA as the pad which shipped with the 32-bit PlayStation way back in 1994. For this reason, we'd expect the PS5 pad to remain largely unchanged – after all, if it ain't broke, why fix it?

The DualShock 4 is arguably one of the best controllers ever made, and we can't see any areas where massive improvements could be made. Perhaps where Sony can really experiment is VR, by creating new kinds of motion control devices to make the whole experience more realistic, such as the Aim Controller designed for Farpoint.

PlayStation 5 discs: The end of physical media?

On the topic of software, it's tempting to ask if the PS5 will use discs. By the time it launches, digital downloads will have become even more popular than they are now, and there will come a time when the idea of buying a physical game over a digital one will seem almost silly – that's already happened to the music and movie sectors, and games are sure to be next.

Sooner or later we're going to see a mainstream games console which launches without physical media, a move which will not only make the process of buying games more streamlined, but will also allow the manufacturer to save on production costs by removing the optical drive.

Related: Best PS4 Games

PS4 SlimThe PS4 "Slim" is the new standard PS4 hardware

Could Sony be the one to take the plunge? Perhaps, but this will need to be balanced by the fact that 4K resolution will mean bigger file sizes. Broadband speeds will have increased by the time the PS5 arrives and this will mitigate the issue, but even today it's a pain waiting for games to download on your PS4 or Xbox One. Imagine that wait with visuals that offer four times the resolution.

PlayStation 5 release date: When can you buy one?

Given that the Pro has only just been released, we'd guess that we won't see the PS5 until at least 2018 at the very, very earliest. There's a chance that Sony may feel the need to counter the threat posed by Microsoft's Project Scorpio – which is expected late next year – but we'd expect the Pro to give the PS4 range a shot in the arm and keep it relevant for at least another two or maybe three years.

PlayStation 5 price – How much will it cost?

There's obviously no solid indication of how much the PS5 will cost at this point, but we'd imagine Sony will be wise enough to keep the pricing similar to that of previous machines. Expect a launch price of around £400-500. Historically, consoles above this price range have struggled to sell, but with inflation we're going to see a £500+ system at some point in the future.

PlayStation 5: Things we'd like to see

More immersive VR experiences

The jury is still out on whether or not virtual reality is going to be The Next Big Thing or the next Kinect, but Sony is committing to it quite heavily, so it's fair to assume that barring a complete disaster, we'll see VR on the PS5 as well. If that's the case, we'd like to see Sony remove the annoying wires which currently plague the PlayStation VR experience; these physical connections tether users to the real world and shatter immersion.

Related: Best PlayStation VR Games

PS4 Slim

A fully wireless option has to be the way forward if VR is really going to dominate. The additional processing power of the console will also come in useful for creating more realistic visuals, of course.

Total backwards compatibility

The PlayStation brand has been going for two decades now and there's a multitude of amazing games that have been hosted by Sony's consoles in that time. The big issue is that it's not possible to fire up your PS4 and play every single PlayStation, PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3 release – and you really should be able to do by now.

Apple and Google have ensured a older iPhone and Android games are playable through the generations, and given the quality of the PlayStation back catalogue, we'd like to see this kind of compatibility introduced with the PS5.

Are there any particular features you'd like to see on the PS5? Let us know in the comments below.

Peter

September 22, 2016, 11:04 am

Decent article although i must strongly object to your comments on the inclusion of a disk drive. It made sense for music to go digital becasue suddenly a £1.99 single could be bought for £0.79 and you didnt even have to leave your home. However with games this idea is nonsense as many people want to sell the game to recoup some of their investment when they complete it (not something you do with a song you like). This also allows those with less money to take advantage of the trade in market. When you consider i can currently buy any game listed in the PS store cheaper in a store, own the disk and then sell it to recoup money once im done. A move to digital only will cut out price competition and leave you a slave to the over inflated prices Sony charge online. Considering there is no disk, instruction manual or any free gifts with a digital game i cant understand why its currently more expensive to download a game. For example I purchased the new uncharted game on its release date for £42 on disk. The online store wanted £8 more (49.99). Two weeks later having completed it i sold the game for £22 so it had only cost me £20 to complete and get bored of uncharted rather than £50

White_Mocha

September 22, 2016, 4:23 pm

Agreed. People make such a big deal out of it, but I'd rather be able to buy a new game rather than download it. Downloading something the size of Warframe took about 1 1/2 days in the beginning. If I buy a game, I want to play it now, nam'sayin. If I have the option, and I'd have to pay for the packaging costs on digital downloads, then I'll just go to the store

John Doe

September 22, 2016, 6:36 pm

Warframe took me about 2 hours to download, are u still runing 56k?Btw discs still need to be installed so its not insta play either.Trading games loses a lot of money to the industry so they have to make up for it with the digital downloads, but once discs disapear those prices will come down.Im almost 40 and i was used to having everything on disc but times change and we have to move forward.

White_Mocha

September 23, 2016, 1:46 am

i had preordered my ps4 and got warframe the day it was released, plus my university's internet wasn't very good. I don't trade my games, so the trade market means nothing to me. I'm 24, and I do buy music digitally, but like I said above, if I buy a game, I want to play it immediately, not have to wait for a digital download to complete. There's an allure about buying a disc. Popping it open; the new game smell filling my nostrils; and inserting it. it just does something to me. digital download doesn't. And if the connection is unreliable or drops? forgetaboutit.

Eric Higgin

September 23, 2016, 4:14 am

Most of North America has very basic high speed internet and most of the time its not good enough for regular online gaming, let alone total online everything. People from the city or nearby urban area's are pretty much the only one's with acceptable service. They have no idea how much better their service is compared to the rest of the population and how lucky they are in that some people will be stuck at 1mb/s to 5mb/s for a decade yet. Some small rural areas have fiber, but that's few and far between. I live in a large rural County in southern Ontario where only businesses can get fiber. Other than that, its 20mb/s cable at best here and there in the towns, but most everyone has 5mb/s DSL connections. Where I live specifically, the DSL is so overloaded, instead of getting 5mb/s we get 1.5mb/s. Bell just tells us the system can't handle all the users because its old an outdated, and that they will not be upgrading for many years to come because we aren't as important to them since they make way more money, much quicker, deploying new fiber in the city first. They basically tell us just be happy your not stuck with the crap 1mb/s wireless that a quarter of the County has no choice but to use. They offer no reduction in price or higher data cap because you either pay for more and receive less, or go back to 56k dial-up. Which by the way, we used to only connect at 28.8K here when we had dial-up, not 56K, so its even worse. As a console gamer, online multiplayer is a horrible experience with service like this, and since most new games are heavily focused towards online, it makes gaming not worth it. My friends and I all like to game and I know a lot of other people in this area that game as well, and most of them are already beginning to lose interest with the horrible internet service we have. PS and MS know this. Scorpio and PS5 will at the very least, have two versions with or without disc drive. If they went entirely disc less, they would lose A LOT of customers and they won't do that. If the gamers who are behind the times in terms of internet service, have to pay more for their system and games just to be able to play, most of them will, as long as they can play multiplayer and have a decent experience.

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