Today’s PS5 reveal event saw lead system architect Mark Cerny present the future of PlayStation, honing on the specifications and explaining how the console will impact the future of gaming as we know it.
It was a meaty conference full of jargon and technical titbits, so we thought we’d cut through the fog and pin down the five things you need to know about the PS5, to save you watching the conference in full.
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The SSD will enable “blink and you’ll miss it” fast-travel in games
Early in the talk, Cerny outlined how “the key to the next generation” was the SSD, and how he’s been traveling around the world talking to developers about what they want from the PS5. Given that developers don’t want to spend time working around load speeds, the most-requested feature was an SSD for the PS5.
He touched on how a subset of level design is attempting to skirt around the confines of an HDD, using the example of Haven City in Jak 2. The PS4 HDD would load data at roughly 50-100 MB/s, a gigabyte taking roughly 20 seconds. With the SSD in the PS5, 5 gigabytes can be loaded in a second, with an instantaneous seek time. 1 gigabyte of data could be loaded in 20 seconds on the PS4, whereas 2 gigabytes of data will be loaded in 0.27 seconds on the PS5.
This is a staggering increase in power, which will improve loading screens and aid in streaming content. Cerny talked about how fast-travel becomes “blink and you’ll miss it” in-game.
The SSD will fix long patch installs
Mark Cerny surprised no-one by talking about how long it takes for the PlayStation 4 to install a patch after it has been downloaded. According to Cerny, this will be a thing of the past thanks to the SSD baked into the PlayStation 5.
He mentioned that the reason for this was because when part of the file is changed, the data can be downloaded quickly, but a new file has to be made that includes the changed portion, which leads to hitching in-game after many patches. However, an SSD will remove the need for making new files from old files, so installs will be, to quote Mark Cerny - “different.”
The custom Tempest engine will revolutionize audio in games
Cerny said during the conference that a game is “dead without audio” and that unfortunately, audio received a fraction of the Jaguar core’s power in the PS4, which is a shame given how important it is to create a sense of realism in games, and how the PS3 and PSVR have since made great strides in audio technology.
The PS5 will support hundreds of advanced sound sources and focus on enabling a sense of presence and locality. Raindrops are used as an example to create a sense of presence - by using 3D audio the team can help increase immersion and realism and make you feel like you’re in the middle of a storm.
With 3D audio, Cerny uses the example of Dead Space - in the past, you couldn’t really tell where that final, growling enemy is. With the PS5, you’ll know about it! Cerny says this has been achieved by studying the ears of many volunteers and taking advantage of the results when rendering audio.
You can expand the PS5’s storage with third-party SSDs
The PS5 has a sizable 825 GB SSD, but that may concern many players as games balloon in size, with many reaching 100 GB if installed in a digital capacity. Fortunately for players who like to hoard all of their games on the console, the PS5 will support certain M2 external SSDs. There’ll be a bay inside of the console which you can use to add storage to the console.
Bear in mind though, it has to be as fast as the PS5’s lightning SSD, which loads games at 5.5 GBs per second. Expect manufacturers to announce these drives in the near future. You can also just connect an external hard drive to the console to load your games from, but naturally, they won’t benefit from the speed of the internal drive unless you copy them over. This is something of a blow to the Xbox Series X, which has proprietary SSDs, meaning you can only buy storage expansion from Microsoft rather than third-parties.
Almost all of the most-played PS4 games will be playable on PS5 at launch
Here’s where that 10.28 Teraflops will come in handy - as well as playing PS5 games in what Cerny referred to on the slide as ‘Native Mode’, the system will incorporate the logic of previous consoles to ensure that PS4 and PS4 Pro games can be played on the PS5 thanks to the PS4 Legacy and PRO Legacy modes.
He made reference to 100 of the most-played PS4 games and claimed that “almost all of them” will be available to play on launch. It’s unclear how old-school games like PS1, PS2, and PS3 titles will fit into the backwards compatibility vision, but don’t trade in your PS4 discs just yet!
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Jordan Oloman is a journalist and documentarian with experience across the pop culture/tech spectrum writing reported features, reviews. news, guides, op-eds and more for a wide variety of outlets. He is also an affiliate streamer on Twitch and have previous experience in scriptwriting, podcasting, game consultation and creating video content.