Obviously, the title of this piece is sarcastic (it’s absurd I even think I have to mention it) but we have had some information revealed about Sony’s next-generation console. Their low key approach continues as Mark Cerney discussed the console with Wired and showed them a few of the new things the console will be able to do. It wasn’t a full reveal, more of an update on what will be inside the box and how it will improve on the PS4. Hardware was detailed and a few elements of what this can do shown.
Now, I’m not concerned about the best possible graphics or the most realistic look going. I’m much more excited about the speed of load times and how much can be processed at any one time. With that, I think the inclusion of a solid state hard drive is a key feature, Mark Cerney pointing this out and showing how it affects the performance of Spider-Man. Load times decreased hugely whilst fast travelling across New York; they were back to web-slinging almost instantly. This is my ‘thing’. I want transitions to be seamless. I want to be back into the action and not slowed down when things need to be generated and rendered. I want as little interruption to an experience as possible. The console will, of course, have a new CPU and GPU. This is a given. Yet combined with the SSD this speed is my most coveted improvement. A big part of the GPU upgrade also detailed is ray tracing. Ray tracing provides a visual benefit as it tries to replicate how light travels and bounces off of objects. This won’t just improve realistic looking graphics in games but will improve the look of all artistic styles if used well. As Mark Cerney suggests it will also improve audio. Games have been trying to nail the feel of surround sound, especially in the horror and competitive shooter genres; Hellblade did this really well by assaulting you with a ton of overwhelming sound. Being able to hear someone behind you and discern where they are, as you can do in real life, would be great. Feeling more immersed in a world is something I am all up for. I can’t think of anything better than getting into a standoff with a Samurai in Ghost of Tsushima and hearing the wind whip around us. The first movement from myself or opponent triggered by the rustle of leaves beside us. (Wait, Ghost of Tsushima isn’t next gen is it? More thoughts on that in a moment).
Backwards compatibility is also believed to be coming to the next console as it is built on PS4 architecture. There is always an awkward transition between console generations. Games are either split between old and new consoles or some franchises throw more money in and release on both. We saw the latter of these with Assassins Creed Black Flag and Call of Duty: Ghosts among other games. Not all developers and publishers can do this. Games which release a year or more before a new console will be too far into development to release side by side with a new version. What follows then is a Remaster; The Last of Us being Sony’s dip to bring a PS3 game up to PS4 standard. We’ve had a ton since but what does backwards compatibility mean for this trend. Games through Game Pass and backwards compatibility on Xbox have been patched to bring them up to a standard. Great, I own a game and it’s now being heightened for a smoother, better experience using the new hardware. Perhaps the norm for remasters will be games like Crash Bandicoot, Spyro and Shadow of the Colossus. Pre-current generation, or even PS3/X360 games which have no option for that patching, no way to be upgraded unless built again. More interesting through I want to see how this will work for the upcoming unreleased games.
Just shot this scene… so… ? pic.twitter.com/uyjbpTdfxC
— Neil Druckmann (@Neil_Druckmann) April 17, 2019
Loads of outlets and people are speculating both Death Stranding and The Last of Us 2 will be cross-gen; I’d go so far as to say Ghost of Tsushima will be too. We don’t know what this would involve though. Could we get two different versions of these games, a PS4 and a ‘PS5’ version? These games have now been in development for years and for some reporting ‘PS5’ dev kits haven’t been out in the wild all that long; especially not for The Last of Us 2 which has just finished shooting. So should we expect a patch to upgrade the game, would this include ray tracing, altered audio or slightly crisper 8k textures? I can only hypothesise but I would hazard a guess these three games may be delivered differently. The Last of Us 2 will get a patch to upgrade it, Ghost of Tsushima will have two versions released possibly at different price points but alongside each other, and Death Stranding will be a PS5 game with a downgrade to PS4. Death Stranding has been in development the shorter of these three and although it’s being built on Guerilla Games Decima engine surely Kojima will be pushing the limit of what he can do (of course he is). As such it’ll be interesting to see what can be achieved through backwards compatibility. If I buy Ghost of Tsushima on PS4 (if I’m right that it will release on that console) can I then just keep playing it on PS5? Will this work with discs and digital releases? Are we finally in a place where my PlayStation library will be fully playable on all consoles going forward? I’ve too many questions that won’t be answered yet.
As a final thought when will we know more. I expect Sony to do as they have just done; they’ll provide little bits of information when they are ready to. This might be through more traditional means like a Wired article or through Digital Foundry for more in-depth testing when that time comes. They might also give small details through their State of Play videos and updates on the PlayStation Blog. After they’ve teased us enough I expect a reveal event, I think around this time next year, in 2020. They’ll unveil the box, the first few games, the price and the release date. I’m guessing late October or November 2020, again echoing the PS3. Just enough time for everyone to want one for Christmas.