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Sony PS5 console and controller on a graduated blue graphic background Graphic: James Bareham/Polygon | Source image: Sony Interactive Entertainment

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Everything we know about the PlayStation 5

Get ready for the next generation of PlayStation

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The next generation of consoles is right on the horizon, and by this point, both Microsoft and Sony have revealed most of the major details about their respective consoles.

Sony gave us our first proper glimpse of the PlayStation 5 at a June event called “The Future of Gaming,” where it showed off the system’s strange but striking design, the discless PS5 Digital Edition, and a laundry list of exciting games. In mid-September, the company revealed the consoles’ prices and release dates alongside some more game trailers.

But even with all the details Sony has shared, a few secrets remain, and of course, anything the company has said already could always change. For now, though, here’s everything we know about the PlayStation 5.

What is the PS5’s release date?

Sony will release the PlayStation 5 on Nov. 12, 2020, in the U.S., Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea. A global rollout of the PS5 — in Europe, the Middle East, South America, Asia, and South Africa — is planned for Nov. 19, 2020. (Sony said it is still exploring when it might release the PS5 in China.)

What is the PS5’s price?

The standard PlayStation 5 will cost $499.99 in the U.S., CA$629 in Canada, 49,980 yen in Japan, €499.99 in Europe, and £449.99 in the U.K.

The discless PlayStation 5 Digital Edition will cost $399.99 in the U.S., CA$499 in Canada, 39,980 yen in Japan, €399.99 in Europe, and £359.99 in the U.K.

Wondering how that compares to past PlayStation consoles? The PlayStation 4 debuted at $399.99; the PlayStation 3 started out at $499.99 (20 GB model) and $599.99 (60 GB model); and the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation both launched at $299.99.

What are the hardware specifications of the PS5?

a product photo from the front of the PlayStation 5 controller, the DualSense, standing up
The DualSense, Sony’s new wireless controller for the PlayStation 5.
Image: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Brace yourselves, because we’re about to get into some tech jargon. But before we do, let’s clarify Sony’s next-gen offering. The PS5 will be available in two models: the $499.99 standard console, known simply as the “PlayStation 5,” and a $399.99 version without an optical drive, the “PlayStation 5 Digital Edition.” The presence of a 4K Blu-ray drive is the only difference between the two consoles; they otherwise have the exact same hardware specifications under the hood.

Speaking of specs: The PlayStation 5 is over 5.5 times as powerful as the launch-model PlayStation 4, and almost 2.5 times more powerful than the PlayStation 4 Pro, according to Sony. The guts of the PS5 will allow the console to deliver content at resolutions as high as 8K and frame rates up to 120 frames per second — not at the same time, mind you — with cutting-edge graphics features like hardware-accelerated real-time ray tracing.

The PS5 contains a custom GPU from AMD based on the company’s RDNA 2 architecture. (RDNA 2-based graphics cards don’t yet exist, but AMD plans to release them later this year.) Sony went with a variable-frequency GPU, which means that the chip’s 36 compute units will not always operate at the maximum frequency of 2.23 GHz. Its peak performance is 10.28 teraflops — a power deficit on paper of more than 15% compared to the Xbox Series X’s GPU. Both next-gen consoles have 16 GB of GDDR6 RAM.

As with the GPU, Sony opted for a variable-frequency CPU in the PS5. The company settled on a maximum clock speed of 3.5 GHz, with simultaneous multithreading (SMT) always enabled, for the eight-core chip based on AMD’s Zen 2 microarchitecture. (SMT is a technique that can significantly improve computational efficiency by spreading work across processing “threads”; it requires more effort to program for it, and the majority of modern games don’t take advantage of it.) The Xbox Series X also has an edge over the PS5 in this category, albeit a much smaller one, with a CPU that runs at a constant frequency of 3.8 GHz with SMT disabled and 3.6 GHz with SMT.

However, Sony appears to have a trump card in the form of its unique storage solution. The company built a storage interface with a data throughput of 5.5 GB/s (raw) and 8-9 GB/s (compressed) — more than twice the read speeds of the Xbox Series X — for the console’s 825 GB SSD. That may not sound like a lot of space, but the PS5 will allow users to expand that storage by sticking an off-the-shelf NVMe SSD into the console’s expansion bay (as long as it meets the company’s certification program, to ensure compatibility).

What does the PS5’s design look like?

product renders of the PlayStation 5 (left) and PlayStation 5 Digital Edition standing next to each other, with a DualSense controller on either side
Note that the standard PS5 is slightly wider than the PS5 Digital Edition, which has a symmetrical design because it has no disc drive.
Image: PlayStation/Twitch

Sony’s most controversial choice with the PS5 may be the shell of the console itself. Both the default PS5 and the Digital Edition have the same basic exterior design. There’s more white than black in the system’s two-tone color scheme, which already makes it stand out in a typical entertainment center. And then there’s the actual case, a striking design with two curved wings that wrap around a central slab. Standing vertically, it looks like a fancy cable modem; lying horizontally, it could be a ... futuristic performing arts center.

The front panel on both models offers one USB-A 2.0 port, one USB-C port, and a power button; on the standard PS5, there’s also an eject button above the power button. The PS5’s rear port array features (from top to bottom, or right to left, if the console is lying on its side) two USB-A 3.0 ports, a gigabit Ethernet port, an HDMI 2.1 port, and a power input.

As for the size, well, the PS5 is an absolute unit. It may be the largest video game console ever made, and it’s certainly the biggest PlayStation of all time. In its vertical orientation, the PS5 stands 15.35 inches tall — 3.5 inches higher than the Xbox Series X — and is 10.24 inches deep. The standard model is 4.09 inches wide, while the Digital Edition is a little under half an inch slimmer without the disc drive, coming in at 3.62 inches wide.

What PS5 accessories are there?

Sony will launch the PS5 with a line of accessories led by the console’s new wireless controller, the DualSense ($69.99). The DualSense’s biggest upgrade over the PlayStation 4’s DualShock 4 is its capacity for precise haptic feedback — the ability of the gamepad’s vibrating motors to convey the feeling of what you’re doing in a game, such as “the slow grittiness of driving a car through mud,” according to Sony. The feedback extends to the controller’s new adaptive triggers, which are also designed to impart a sense of the action that’s on the screen. The DualSense connects wirelessly to the PS5 via Bluetooth 5.1.

PlayStation 5 hardware and accessories: from left to right, the DualSense controller, PS5 (standing vertically), PS5 Digital Edition (standing vertically), Pulse 3D Wireless Headset, Media Remote, DualSense Charging Station, and HD Camera
The PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition standing among Sony’s lineup of peripherals — the DualSense controller, Pulse 3D Wireless Headset, Media Remote, DualSense Charging Station, and HD Camera.
Image: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Like the DualShock 4, the DualSense features a capacitive touchpad, six-axis motion sensing, a mono speaker, and a stereo headphone jack. A new feature is that this gamepad comes with a microphone, so you can use the controller for voice chat without having to plug in headphones or buy a headset. The DualSense weighs 9.88 ounces — it’s 33% heavier than the DualShock 4 — and should have significantly improved battery life, thanks to a battery capacity of 1,560 mAh, 56% higher than that of the DualShock 4.

The DualSense — or, to be specific, two of them — will slot into the DualSense Charging Station ($29.99), an official accessory of a type that’s typically reserved for aftermarket manufacturers like Nyko and PowerA. What’s interesting is that the bottom of the controllers is the part that plugs into the unit, even though the gamepads’ USB-C port is on top. PS5 owners will also be able to buy another input device, the Media Remote ($29.99), a simplified clicker that looks more like an Apple product than a traditional Sony remote control for a TV or Blu-ray player.

The company is also releasing a depth-sensing camera for the PS5 called, simply, the HD Camera ($59.99). It will probably be required in order to use the console with the PlayStation VR headset, although the PS5 may also end up being compatible with the PS4’s PlayStation Camera. And finally, there’s the Pulse 3D Wireless Headset ($99.99), which goes hand in hand with the PS5’s custom hardware unit for 3D audio: Tempest 3D AudioTech.

Will the PS5 get delayed past its release date?

For now, Sony has assured fans that the PlayStation 5 is currently on track to hit its Nov. 12 release goal, despite worldwide supply chain complications from the novel coronavirus pandemic.

What kind of games will the PlayStation 5 have?

Spider-Man shocking an enemy lying on the ground in Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Spider-Man: Miles Morales, a PlayStation 5 launch title.
Image: Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment

The PlayStation 5 will have all of the third-party releases that you would expect from every console. That means that games and franchises like Call of Duty, Destiny, Fortnite, NBA 2K, and FIFA will all be on the console. But the real draw of a console is its exclusive games, and Sony is very committed to that idea.

The PlayStation 5 already has a wealth of console exclusives headed its way. Here are the console exclusives that Sony announced during its Future of Gaming event on June 11:

In September, Sony also revealed that Square Enix’s Final Fantasy 16 is in development for PS5 as a console exclusive, and announced that a sequel to 2018’s God of War is coming to PS5 in 2021.

Here’s the launch lineup of Sony-published games. Note that Sony is raising the prices of first-party titles for this new console generation, charging anywhere from $49.99 to $69.99.

  • Astro’s Playroom (free, installed on all PS5s)
  • Demon’s Souls ($69.99)
  • Destruction AllStars ($69.99)
  • Sackboy A Big Adventure ($59.99)
  • Spider-Man: Miles Morales ($49.99)
  • Spider-Man: Miles Morales Ultimate Edition ($69.99, includes an upgraded version of the PS4 game Marvel’s Spider-Man)

Will the PS5 play PS4 games via backward compatibility?

At this point, backward compatibility is probably the murkiest element of the PS5. The latest from Sony is this: As of September, the company has tested thousands of games from the PS4’s library — which totals more than 4,000 games — and found that 99% of them are compatible with the PS5. (Sony has to test games on a “title-by-title basis” to ensure compatibility, according to lead system architect Mark Cerny.)

Ellie, on horseback, standing outside a city overtaken by nature in The Last of Us Part 2
The Last of Us Part 2 launched in mid-June on PlayStation 4. Will it be immediately compatible with the PlayStation 5?
Image: Naughty Dog/Sony Interactive Entertainment

Sony hasn’t given any details on which PS4 games will be playable on PS5. The company is reportedly requiring developers to ensure that any PS4 game submitted for certification after July 13 is compatible with the PS5 — which would likely function via backward compatibility — but we haven’t seen any official public communication on that front.

We also don’t know how backward compatibility will work, exactly. Presumably, owners of digital PS4 games could just download them on PS5 and start playing. And with the standard PS5, it might be as simple as popping in a PS4 disc and booting up the game. But will there be any way for buyers of the PS5 Digital Edition to play the physical PS4 games they own, via a disc-to-digital program or some other solution?

Whatever happens, Sony hasn’t made backward compatibility a focal point of the PlayStation experience the way Microsoft has with the Xbox brand, where the company is promising compatibility with “four generations” of games from the original Xbox through the Xbox Series X.

Are there cross-generation games across PS4 and PS5?

Maybe, but there’s really no guarantee. Sony hasn’t announced some kind of all-encompassing system (like Microsoft’s Smart Delivery) that will make sure you get the upgraded versions of games that debut on PS4 and are later enhanced for PS5. And while there’s no word from Sony on what will happen with new PS4 games like The Last of Us Part 2, third-party publishers have begun to announce their own Smart Delivery-esque initiatives for free PS5 upgrades of PS4 titles. That includes Electronic Arts with Madden NFL 21 and FIFA 21; Square Enix with Marvel’s Avengers; and CD Projekt Red with Cyberpunk 2077.

It’s worth noting that Sony is reportedly requiring developers to ensure that any PS4 game submitted for certification after July 13 is compatible with the PS5. But there remains a lack of clarity around whether customers will have to buy PS4 and PS5 versions separately.

One thing we do know is that Sony isn’t adopting Microsoft’s strategy of maintaining cross-generation compatibility, wherein first-party Xbox Series X games will also be released on Xbox One for the next year or two. “We believe in [console] generations,” PlayStation boss Jim Ryan said in a May interview with “We are thinking that it is time to give the PlayStation community something new, something different, that can really only be enjoyed on PS5.” In other words, if there isn’t also a separate PS4 version of a PS5 game, you’ll need to buy a PS5 to play it.

However, Sony did surprise some people by announcing in September that three first-party PS5 games — the launch titles Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Sackboy A Big Adventure, as well as the upcoming Horizon Forbidden Westwill also be released on PS4.

How will PlayStation Plus work on PS5?

Kratos grabs Atreus by the arm in God of War (2018)
God of War (2018) is included in the PlayStation Plus Collection.
Image: SIE Santa Monica Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment

PlayStation Plus is a subscription that’s currently required to play games online on the PlayStation 4. It costs $9.99/month or $59.99/year. Alongside online play, PlayStation Plus also provides players with discounts on certain games, as well as two free PS4 games every month. Once you claim these games, you’ll have access to them as long as you have an active membership.

Sony hasn’t officially announced that PlayStation Plus will be required for online play on PlayStation 5; however, it seems almost certain, given the program’s popularity on PS4. By the end of March 2020, Sony had racked up 41.5 million PlayStation Plus subscribers. There’s no word yet on when or if Sony will start to offer free PS5 games to PS Plus subscribers.

However, in September, Sony unveiled the PlayStation Plus Collection, a curated library of digital PlayStation 4 games that PS Plus subscribers will be able to download for PS5 at no additional cost. Confirmed titles included as part of the PlayStation Plus Collection are Batman: Arkham Knight, Bloodborne, Fallout 4, God of War, Monster Hunter: World, and Persona 5.

Sony also offers a service called PlayStation Now, a $9.99 a month subscription which allows players access to a huge library of PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, and some PlayStation 4 games that players can stream instantly or download. Sony has yet to clarify whether or not PlayStation Now will be available on the PlayStation 5, or whether you will be able to play all of the games on the service on the new console.

Update (Sept. 18): We’ve updated this piece with a wealth of new details revealed on Sept. 16 during Sony’s PlayStation 5 Showcase.

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