PS5 — Sony’s 5 Biggest Pros and Cons Heading Into Launch
With Sony's next-gen console on the way, here are the biggest strengths and weaknesses that we see from the upcoming PS5 so far.
After what has felt like an eternal wait, the Xbox Series X/Series S and PS5 are less than a month out from release. Over the course of the past year, both Microsoft and Sony have shared their fair share on what to expect from the debut of their next-gen consoles, what they’ll offer in terms of new games to play, their hardware and technical capabilities, and much more. However, aside from the tech specs of the systems themselves, there’s the simple fact that the launch of a new generation of consoles always brings a level of excitement towards the experiences that we’ll get to play over the next several years.
With the next-gen consoles set to arrive this November, we wanted to take an overhead look at Sony’s release plans and strategies with the PS5 and highlight the biggest strengths and weaknesses that we see in the system so far. Alongside Sony’s next-gen console, you can also take a look at our breakdown of what Microsoft is offering with the Xbox Series X/Series and their own pros and cons.
PlayStation 5 — Five Biggest PROS
Of all the information that has come out about the PS5 so far, the system’s specs and technical capabilities have been among the most promising. Performance and speed have been some of the biggest attributes of the PS5 that have been touted by Sony so far, with the system’s custom solid state drive already showing the promise of what next-gen will have to offer.
From Mark Cerny’s talk on the system’s capabilities earlier this year, to the more recent details shown through the official teardown video by Sony last week, the PS5 is built with an impressive set of components to prioritize game performance and speed. Namely, the custom-built SSD of the PS5 will offer new opportunities for developers with drastically reduced load times, with a level of performance that wasn’t achievable with the PS4. Alongside its faster performance, Sony has also highlighted other features of the PS5 such as ray tracing support and its custom 3D audio chipset for a more immersive player experience, along with expanded support to play games in 4K resolution (and potentially at even up to 8K).
As one of the key reasons why the PS4 was so successful during this generation, it’s no surprise that Sony is putting a big emphasis on first-party titles for the PS5. Thanks to titles like God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, The Last of Us Part II, and more, the PS4 became the home to some of the most acclaimed games of the generation, and the PS5 already has several promising titles on the horizon.
Earlier in the year, Sony showcased a few of the first-party titles and exclusives that are set to debut for the PS5 in the future, including its two launch titles Demon’s Souls and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Even further in the future, Sony teased the return of long-time franchises with Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart and the next God of War alongside Horizon Forbidden West, the latest installment in Guerrilla Games’ new franchise.
While it has new competition from Microsoft after a series of studio acquisitions, there’s no question that Sony has a longstanding reputation for delivering stellar exclusives from its lineup of first-party titles, and already it seems like the PS5 is set to continue that tradition.
PlayStation Now and The PlayStation Plus Collection
Since its launch in 2014, PlayStation Now has undergone a series of changes as Sony’s primary platform for streaming a growing collection of games for subscribers. In its current form, PlayStation Now has expanded to include several hundred games from across the past few PlayStation generations, and that is likely to continue with the service coming to PS5.
With its main competition coming in the form of Xbox Game Pass, PlayStation Now will likely continue to see further changes on the PS5 to match the appeal that Game Pass has. But even then, PlayStation Now has evolved into a solid streaming service with a wide collection of games that can further expand the roster of playable games for PS5 owners with a subscription.
Additionally, the PlayStation Plus Collection–which was announced by Sony last month–will offer an additional incentive for PS5 owners on launch day with an 18-game collection of the best PS4 titles released. Including first-party games like God of War and Bloodborne alongside third-party favorites like Persona 5 and Fallout 4, the PlayStation Plus Collection is a reminder of what made the last generation so memorable and a bright look at the future ahead.
The DualSense Controller
Breaking from the traditional DualShock line of controllers that have been with PlayStation from the beginning, the DualSense controller for the PS5 is a notable departure with what we’ve seen from Sony. While the basic layout of the controller is similar to the DualShock 4, the form factor matches much more closely to the aesthetic of the PS5 alongside its most important new features.
Specifically, Sony is emphasizing immersion with the DualSense by integrating haptic feedback, adaptive triggers, motion controls, and a built-in mic and speaker so players can more effectively feel what is being shown on-screen. Though it’s likely something that will have to be experienced first-hand, it’s clear that Sony is aiming for the DualSense controller to be an extension of the PS5’s technical features and enhance the next-gen capabilities of the console itself.
A Head-start from Last-Gen
Where Microsoft had to play catch-up for a large portion of this generation after their initial troubles with the Xbox One reveal in 2013, Sony is in the opposite position coming out at the head of the pack. With the PS4 leading in hardware sales for the past generation, Sony is heading into the next generation with the benefit of knowing where its strengths lie and the reputation of the PlayStation brand.
For the most part, Sony seems to be playing up to the elements that have helped the company so well with the PS4 through a strong roster of exclusive titles and putting games at the forefront of the console experience. However, it remains to be seen how Sony will shift its strategies in response to Microsoft’s more aggressive moves, such as its increased focus on Xbox Game Pass and its numerous first-party studio acquisitions.
PlayStation 5 — Five Biggest CONS
As we learned with the last generation, games are getting much bigger with each generation, and having to juggle storage space on hard drives is getting more challenging. While the PS5 and Xbox Series X are alleviating a lot of developer pressure with the integration of high-end SSDs for faster loading and game performance, there is still the reality that most games will take up a lot of real estate on the systems’ storage space.
To that end, Sony hasn’t offered more concrete details yet on expandable storage options for the PS5 that are also compatible with next-gen titles. The system’s internal SSD itself will carry about 825GB of storage space, but taking out space for the operating system and other software features, it’s likely that the actual usable space for installing games is going to be much less. Given that we’ll likely see some pretty large download sizes for some of the system’s upcoming titles, and that SSD is going to fill up pretty fast.
So far, Sony has confirmed that the PS5 will be compatible with expandable storage options such as external SSDs and HDDs, along with the ability to install an NVMe drive in the system itself. External HDDs and SSDs will offer more flexible options to expand the PS5’s storage, but at the moment they will be limited to either playing backward compatible PS4 games or storing PS5 games to transfer to the console’s internal drive. NVMe drives are the best bet to be able to expand the system’s storage and play PS5 titles, but they are pricey and Sony has yet to clarify which third-party drives will be compatible with the PS5 itself.
The Launch Line-up
Typically, the launch line-up of games for many new consoles tends to be on the underwhelming side, aside from some exceptions here and there. With the transition between the current-gen consoles to next-gen hardware, both the PS5 and Xbox Series X are largely leaning on third-party games for this holiday season, but Sony has a slight edge over Microsoft with several first-party offerings at launch.
However, it’s up in the air as to whether the first-party titles coming to the PS5 next month are the type of system-selling experiences that might drive buyers to the console at launch. Demon’s Souls is likely going to be one of the marquee exclusives for the PS5 this holiday, but may have limited appeal outside of fans of the Souls series or those unfamiliar with the PS3 original. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is also one of the PS5’s big-ticket games, but PS4 owners will have the chance to play the title as well alongside Sackboy: A Big Adventure. Beyond that, there is also Astro’s Playroom (which is pre-installed on the system), Destruction All-Stars, and the remastered version of Marvel’s Spider-Man included in the Ultimate Edition of Miles Morales which all add to the launch line-up, but may not have the heft of being a system seller.
A (Potentially) Long Wait for Exclusives
Beyond the upcoming first-party titles expected at launch like Demon’s Souls and Miles Morales, the rest of the upcoming exclusives heading to the PS5 are likely much farther out. So far, Sony has detailed that a few exclusives are expected sometime in the near future such as Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (which is a “launch window” title according to Insomniac Games), Horizon Forbidden West, and the next God of War, which are both expected sometime in 2021 alongside other titles shown at the PS5 Showcase in June.
However, there isn’t a clear indication yet of some of the other PS5 exclusives that are likely further out, such as the recently-announced Final Fantasy XVI and Square Enix’s other PS5 title, Project Athia. Other titles revealed at the event such as Gran Turismo 7 also haven’t had dates assigned yet, so beyond the next few months, we’ll have to wait for clarity from Sony on more PS5 first-party games coming after launch.
Like with the Xbox Series X, the next-gen consoles are going to be among the biggest consoles that we’ve seen in recent memory, with the PS5 especially being a hefty piece of tech. Coming in at over 15 inches tall, 10 inches deep, and 4 inches wide, the PS5 is already being touted as the largest console released to date, and you’ll need to dedicate some substantial space for it in your entertainment center.
As seen during Sony’s official teardown video of the system last week, the size of the PS5 is largely in part for cooling and to make the system easier to clean. With its optimized airflow, that should make for a much quieter system than the PS4 and PS4 Pro were under stress, but with the system’s large size and unusual design, it’s likely going to be a console that sticks out a bit from the rest.
Mixed Messaging from Sony
It’s a given that 2020 has been a highly unusual year for not only the video game industry but the world at large with the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. But even removed from the circumstances around the pandemic and how it (likely) has altered some of Sony and Microsoft’s release plans for its next-gen consoles, Sony especially has been pretty muted and inconsistent with its messaging on next-gen and what to expect from the PS5.
With the system a month away from release, there are still several aspects of the PS5 that remain a mystery–such as the UI, expandable storage, and more–that haven’t had full clarity yet from Sony. As of now, Microsoft has already released Xbox Series X units for hands-on previews and has given extensive looks at some of the console’s features, such as Quick Resume, backward compatibility, and more, building more anticipation and excitement for its release in November. Sony, however, is still surprisingly tight-lipped about a new console that it’s shipping 4 weeks from now.
This is aside from the situation that Sony created for itself with the messy launch of its pre-orders last month following its September PS5 showcase. With important pieces of information left out from the showcase such as the timing of pre-order availability, details on cross-gen releases like Miles Morales and Horizon Forbidden West, and more, Sony’s approach to messaging for the PS5’s launch stands in stark contrast with the more upfront approach by Microsoft towards consumers.
The PS5 will launch starting on November 12, 2020 in select regions, followed by a larger worldwide release on November 19, 2020. For more on the system, you can check out our “Everything You Need to Know” PS5 guide heading into launch.