Despite a canceled Electronic Entertainment Expo and a delay amid civil unrest in America regarding police brutality, Sony finally revealed more details about its latest entry into the console wars this fall. The PlayStation 5 has promised a lot for the gaming public, and now we know just what to expect from the console when it gets released later this year.
We already knew what the PS5 DualSense controller would look like and the various features it would bring to the console, but we now know what the hardware itself will be playing. Sony’s “Future of Gaming” event on Thursday was an hour-long online presentation that featured our first official images of the console and new gameplay details about the first titles available on the PS5.
— PlayStation (@PlayStation) June 11, 2020
Sony waited until the very end to show us what the console looked like. There was not one but two PS5 models ready to show off, as well as the media remote, gaming headset, and controller charging station that will be available when the console launches in time for the holidays.
Here’s what we learned — and didn’t learn — from Thursday’s events and what you should expect later this fall.
New Networks Available
As far as aesthetics go, the Xbox Series S is firmly in the design category of a large external hard drive. It’s a big black rectangle with some input spots and exhaust ports. Nothing too flashy that won’t necessarily stand out on your entertainment center. The PS5, as everyone on Twitter has pointed out from the moment it was unveiled, looks a lot like a futuristic wireless router.
It’s a nice router, mind you, and there’s only so much you can do with hardware design that doesn’t already look like other pieces of technology. But the monochromatic black console with white fins certainly looks more distinctive than the blocky Xbox Series X. It also looks, if we’re being honest, a lot less fun to dust.
It’s not really the outside that counts with consoles, and it honestly isn’t always about the inside, either. Both the Series X and PS5 promise to provide improved graphics, but game selection and overall ease of use will determine which one gains favor with consumers quicker. Or, at the very least, which one gamers decide to drop their hard-earned money on first.
PlayStation Goes Disc-less
The biggest thing we learned from the reveal is that there will officially be two models of PS5: one with an optical drive and a digital media-only device that looks a bit slimmer.
It’s interesting that the console’s design creates a distinct bulge to its body shape when the optical drive is included. What gamers will get with that drive is a 4K Ultra Blu Ray player, which is nice, but the design almost implies the disc-less future is a cleaner, sleeker one. Plenty of gamers are skipping discs altogether in the wake of higher download speeds and expandable hard drive storage, but a disc-free PS5 is truly a departure for the console that ushered many into the compact disc gaming era. Each version has a (slightly different) stand that allows them to stay vertical, but they both can work horizontally as well, in case you’re in a space crunch under your television.
The Future Is The Past
There were a lot of new games and glimpses even into 2022, but Thursday’s PS5 event started with a game that you probably have already played. Grand Theft Auto 5 will hit the PS5 in 2021 as a free game for anyone who buys Sony’s new console. While many were hoping for an announcement of GTA VI, news that the latest GTA — which came out in September of 2013 — would be free on the PS5 was at least some consolation. The game’s Online version prints money for Rockstar, which is likely why they haven’t exactly raced to make a sequel just yet. But for many, a lack of new GTA news made Thursday an immediate disappointment.
Sequels were the name of the game on Thursday, starting with a Miles Morales-based Spider-Man game, Gran Turismo 7, a new Ratchet and Clank title, Hitman III, and a cleverly named Resident Evil 8. The trailer for Horizon Forbidden West looked absolutely gorgeous, too.
All of these titles promised new generations of familiar IP, and we got some glimpses of actual gameplay with Ratchet and Clank and Gran Turismo. They looked good, which is no surprise considering there weren’t any live demos and everything was meticulously planned out. But we’ll have to reserve official judgement until we get our hands on a console for ourselves.
Thursday’s event wasn’t without a slew of new IP, either. It’s just tougher to really say what will come of all that just yet. Gameplay and coming titles was a huge element to Thursday’s event. In fact, we learned very little new about the console beyond the images. And there were certainly some intriguing titles from established developers that were designed with the PS5 in mind.
The event did well to show a variety of game genres and graphical styles, and among the most interesting was Deathloop, which puts players on an island where everyone wants to kill them. The game boils down to a time loop where you try to outlast everyone else on the island, including a main rival assassin you’ll apparently be hearing a lot from.
“I don’t like watching you die. I like killing you,” she says. “There’s a difference.”
It looks fun, and the retro movie poster design of the title’s aesthetic fits perfectly here. It’s easy to get excited about highly-stylized trailers, but some were executed spectacularly on Thursday. Stray, for example, showcased a vivid post-human world where you were never quite sure just what was happening — or even what the game was really about — until the very end.
Other intriguing new titles included Ghostwire: Tokyo, Solar Ash, and Kena. We wrote much more about our favorites here.
What We Didn’t Learn
Well, the price for starters. Microsoft and Sony both seem dead set on waiting for the other to show its hand when it comes to pricing details for its latest console. Despite Sony going first with its Future of Gaming event, we didn’t learn any details about what it will cost to pick up either version of a PS5. Will the optical drive-less console be cheaper than one still playing physical discs and offering a high-end Blu Ray experience? Maybe, but we won’t know for sure just yet.
We also didn’t learn the hardware specs in each console. Presumably, the Digital Edition of the PS5 would have a much larger hard drive to store games on over the version that still has an optical disc. But it seems we won’t know about that until later in the summer, which means that anyone who wants to buy a PS5 will most likely have to wait at least a bit longer before deciding which version of the console to buy. And we’ll have to wait a bit longer to see what Xbox has planned for its launch, and what that will cost as well. Oh, and we’re still waiting on a release date, as Sony didn’t get into specifics beyond saying that the PS5 will hit shelves this holiday season.