With the PlayStation 5, Sony’s game plan is quite straightforward — release a heavyweight console (albeit with a second digital-only variant in PlayStation 5 Digital Edition), make a bunch of PlayStation exclusive games and tie up with other studios for more exclusives, and then sell them individually (at a premium) and not as part of any enticing subscription, like with Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass. It’s hard to argue with that strategy. It worked so well that the PlayStation 4 has sold over two times the Xbox One. Sony is obviously the leader in the console gaming space, and it’s not looking to upset the apple cart. It’s not interested in alternative models to appeal to all kinds of consumers, but that doesn’t mean the PS5 is a slouch. It can easily go toe-to-toe with Xbox Series X and Series S.
The PS5 is capable of native 4K resolution gaming at 60 frames per second (fps), though it seems that most first-party Sony titles won’t bother with the latter. Sony says you can even go up to 8K or 120fps, assuming you’ve the hardware to carry it. Still, the PlayStation 5 is going to offer better graphics and more consistent performance than the PS4 era. Then there’s the promise of ray tracing, which equates to true-to-life lighting, dynamic environments, and accurate reflections. On top of that, the PS5 promises faster load times thanks to a solid-state drive (SSD) taking over from the hard disk drive (HDD). You might never see a loading screen in games on the PS5, and open world games should feel more fluid than ever.
In turn, that means the beloved PlayStation Studios franchises should look more realistic than ever. Be it the robot dinosaurs of Horizon Forbidden West (Guerrilla Games), New York City in Marvel’s Spider-Man (Insomniac Games and San Mateo Studio), the whirlwind mechanics of Gravity Rush (Japan Studio), the dystopia of The Last of Us Part II (Naughty Dog), the thrills of Gran Turismo (Polyphony Digital), the expanse of God of War (Santa Monica Studio), or the duelling in Ghost of Tsushima (Sucker Punch). Sony might not have as many studios as Microsoft (23 in total) now but it does have a few more: Bend Studio (Days Gone), London Studio (Blood & Truth), Media Molecule (Dreams), Pixelopus (Concrete Genie), and San Diego Studio (MLB The Show).
Where Sony seems to be falling behind with the PS5 is in actually delivering the next-gen console. As of now, it will launch November 12 in the US, Canada, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand; and November 19 in rest of the world. But we don’t have an India launch date yet. Sony India had put up November 19 on its website before redacting the date. Even in countries where the PlayStation 5 does have a release date, pre-orders have been a mess, which is something Sony apologised for. And though it promised to offer more PS5 units, it’s gone silent since then. Microsoft has done a much better job in this respect. The Xbox Series X and Series S are not only launching in India at the same time as everywhere else, but Microsoft has also done a better job with pre-orders.
Sony is offering two new PlayStations for next-gen gaming just like Microsoft, but it’s keeping things simple. The only difference between the PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition is that the former has a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray drive and the latter doesn’t. Owing to that, the PlayStation 5 has a higher starting price than the Xbox Series family.
We have yet to get India prices but global pricing has been announced. The PlayStation 5 Digital Edition costs $400 (about Rs. 29,500) in the US, £360 (about Rs. 34,400) in the UK, CA$500 (about Rs. 27,600) in Canada, €400 (about Rs. 34,800) in Europe, AU$600 (about Rs. 32,300) in Australia, NZ$650 (about Rs. 31,400) in New Zealand, and ¥39,980 (about Rs. 28,000) in Japan.
Its more expensive brother, the PlayStation 5, comes in at $500 (about Rs. 36,800) in the US, £450 (about Rs. 43,000) in the UK, CA$630 (about Rs. 34,800) in Canada, €500 (about Rs. 43,500) in Europe, AU$750 (about Rs. 40,300) in Australia, NZ$820 (about Rs. 39,600) in New Zealand, and ¥49,980 (about Rs. 35,000) in Japan. Mind you, not all these prices are inclusive of sales taxes in every market.
You have to pay the entire amount upfront as Sony doesn’t have a subscription programme, unlike Microsoft’s Xbox All Access for the Xbox Series X and Series S.
Before we dive in, here’s a comparison of the PS5 vs PS5 Digital Edition —
|PS5||PS5 Digital Edition|
|Price||Rs. TBA||Rs. TBA|
|Resolution||4K @ 60fps, up to 120fps||4K @ 60fps, up to 120fps|
|Disc||4K UHD Blu-ray||None (Digital-only)|
|CPU||Custom 8-core AMD Zen 2 CPU @ 3.5GHz with SMT (variable frequency)||Custom 8-core AMD Zen 2 CPU @ 3.5GHz with SMT (variable frequency)|
|GPU||Custom AMD RDNA 2 GPU 36 CUs @ 2.23GHz (variable frequency)||Custom AMD RDNA 2 GPU 36 CUs @ 2.23GHz (variable frequency)|
|10.28 teraflops GPU power||10.28 teraflops GPU power|
|RAM||16GB GDDR6 RAM||16GB GDDR6 RAM|
|Storage||825GB PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSD||825GB PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSD|
|External storage||NVMe SSD Slot, support for USD HDD||NVMe SSD Slot, support for USD HDD|
|I/O throughput||5.5GB/s (raw), 8-9GB/s (compressed)||5.5GB/s (raw), 8-9GB/s (compressed)|
|Dimensions||390 x 104 x 260 mm (15.35 × 4.09 × 10.23 inches)||390 x 92 x 260 mm (15.34 × 3.62 × 10.23 inches)|
|Weight||4.5kg (9.92 pounds)||3.9kg (8.59 pounds)|
As you can see, there are no differences in terms of specifications between the PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 5 Digital Edition. Both have the same custom-made AMD RDNA 2 graphics unit and the 8-core AMD Zen 2 CPU as the Series X and Series S.
The PS5 GPU is clocked higher (2.23GHz) but has fewer compute units (36) than the new Xbox consoles. That results in a total GPU power of 10.28 teraflops, lower than the 12.15 teraflops managed by the Series X, but it’s not quite a direct comparison because the PS5 is capable of variable frequency (GHz).
Even with the CPU, the PS5 is again capable of variable frequency. While the Xbox consoles have two clock speeds — 3.8GHz / 3.6GHz with SMT for Series X, and 3.6GHz / 3.4GHz with SMT for Series S — the PS5 is clocked at 3.5GHz with simultaneous multithreading (SMT).
It’s unclear what will work better, but it will likely vary from situation to situation.
The PlayStation 5 has the same amount of memory (16GB RAM) as the Series X, but 175GB less storage on its solid-state drive (SSD), though the operating capacity for both is unclear.
Microsoft has announced that the Series X and Series S will support Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos 3D sound for gaming. Sony has its own Tempest 3D AudioTech for the PS5, but there’s no word on support for Dolby Vision HDR for gaming.
As we noted earlier, the only difference between the PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition is that the latter doesn’t have a disc drive. Just as it says in the name, the PS5 Digital Edition is digital-only which means you’ll have to buy and download all your games off the Internet.
You can expand PlayStation 5 storage with any external SSD, as long as it’s as fast as the one inside the PS5. Sony is taking a more open approach in this regard unlike Microsoft, which has partnered with Seagate on an official expansion card.
Lastly, the PS5 is slightly thicker (1.2 cm) and heavier (600 g) than the PS5 Digital Edition due to the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray drive. They are both much larger than the Xbox Series X, let alone the Series S.
PS5: DualSense controller
While Microsoft is keeping things pretty much the same with the new Xbox Wireless Controller, Sony has gone for a major overhaul with the PS5 Controller. Now called DualSense instead of DualShock, the PS5 controller takes on a whole new shape, but naturally all the buttons are still in the same places you’re used to. This includes the touch bar, though the light bar is now more of an accent.
Sony is also bringing haptic feedback to the DualSense, a generation after Microsoft has had it with the Xbox One controller. Hopefully, with both console parties on board, more third-party developers will now make use of this feature. It’s supposed to offer a more authentic feel when firing a weapon, like the ability to feel the tension of a bow string on your finger with the DualSense’s “adaptive triggers” (that’s L2 and R2).
Additionally, the DualSense controller has a built-in microphone and a USB-C port for charging. The “Share” button is now called “Create”. And yes, the most obvious thing: the DualSense has a black-and-white, two-tone colour scheme to match the look of the console.
Sony hasn’t said if there will be more DualSense colour variants at launch. You will get one with the PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition.
There’s no word on India pricing or availability if you want additional controllers. The DualSense controller costs more than DualShock 4 at $70 (about Rs. 5,200) in the US, £60 (about Rs. 5,650) in the UK, CA$90 (about Rs. 4,970) in Canada, €70 (about Rs. 6,100) in Europe, AU$110 (about Rs. 5,730) in Australia, NZ$125 (about Rs. 6,050) in New Zealand, and ¥6,980 (about Rs. 4,900) in Japan.
You might not need to buy additional controllers if you have friends or family joining in, as DualShock 4 controllers and other officially licensed PS4 controllers will work on the PS5, but only with PS4 games.
Sony isn’t dropping support for all PS4 accessories. Officially licensed racing wheels, arcade sticks, and flight sticks will work with PS5 games. The PS Move Motion Controllers, the PlayStation VR Aim Controller, and the PlayStation Camera will also work with supported PS VR games on the PS5. You’ll need a PlayStation Camera adapter on the PS5, which Sony will provide for free to PS VR users.
A new PlayStation HD Camera is shipping with the PlayStation 5, which can capture in full-HD (1080p) and has a built-in adjustable stand that helps you attach it to your TV. Moreover, the new PlayStation HD Camera is capable of removing the background around you and placing you in your gameplay footage, just like a Zoom video call with a virtual background.
The PlayStation HD Camera costs $59.99 (about Rs. 4,500) in the US, £50 (about Rs. 4,700) in the UK, CA$80 (about Rs. 4,400) in Canada, €60 (about Rs. 5,300) in Europe, AU$98 (about Rs. 5,100) in Australia, NZ$110 (about Rs. 5,300) in New Zealand, and ¥5,980 (about Rs. 4,200) in Japan.
Another new accessory is the Pulse 3D wireless headset that is designed to make most of the PS5’s 3D Audio technology. It also has dual noise-cancelling microphones, USB-C port for charging, a 3.5mm headphone jack to make it wired, and an included adapter that works with PS4, PS5, Windows, and macOS.
The Pulse 3D wireless headset costs $100 (about Rs. 7,400) in the US, £90 (about Rs. 8,470) in the UK, CA$130 (about Rs. 7,170) in Canada, €100 (about Rs. 8,700) in Europe, AU$160 (about Rs. 8,330) in Australia, NZ$180 (about Rs. 8,675) in New Zealand, and ¥9,980 (about Rs. 7,000) in Japan.
Sony is also offering a DualSense Charging Station that allows you to charge two DualSense controllers at the same time by docking them. It costs $30 (about Rs. 2,200) in the US, £25 (about Rs. 2,350) in the UK, CA$40 (about Rs. 2,200) in Canada, €30 (about Rs. 2,600) in Europe, AU$50 (about Rs. 2,600) in Australia, NZ$55 (about Rs. 2,650) in New Zealand, and ¥2,980 (about Rs. 2,100) in Japan.
That leaves a new PS5 Media Remote which is designed for those that plan to use the PS5 as an entertainment centre too. In addition to the requisite play / pause, fast forward, rewind, menu, back, volume control, and direction keys, the PlayStation 5 Media Remote also has a voice button and four shortcuts to Netflix, Disney+, Spotify, and YouTube.
The PS5 Media Remote costs $30 (about Rs. 2,200) in the US, £25 (about Rs. 2,350) in the UK, CA$40 (about Rs. 2,200) in Canada, €30 (about Rs. 2,600) in Europe, AU$50 (about Rs. 2,600) in Australia, NZ$55 (about Rs. 2,650) in New Zealand, and ¥2,980 (about Rs. 2,100) in Japan.
PS5 or PS5 Digital Edition: Which one should you buy?
The answer to that depends on two factors: Internet speed and game sharing.
If you pick up the PS5 Digital Edition, you will need to download every game you play, as there is no disc slot. Of course, even with the regular PS5, you will still need a good Internet connection to download updates and patches. But with the Digital Edition, you are looking at a greater need for fast broadband.
And with both new PlayStation 5 consoles capable of 4K, that means game sizes are going to increase. The big games today, as with the likes of Red Dead Redemption 2, are already over 100GB. Expect that to be the norm going forward, with download files only going to further soar as we go deeper into next-gen.
Lastly, since the PS5 Digital Edition is digital-only, you can’t share games with your friends. There’s no possibility of reselling games too or playing second-hand games. This is great for game publishers but not so much for consumers. With both Microsoft and Sony refusing to localise PlayStation and Xbox game prices (unlike Steam for PC) in markets such as India, the used games market can help you save quite a bit of money.
You should also look at your PS4 disc games, for those that are offering a free upgrade to their PS5 versions. If you buy PlayStation 5 Digital Edition, you won’t be able to snatch said free upgrade of your PS4 titles, as Sony needs you to insert the PS4 disc in your PS5 to authenticate the purchase. This is not a problem if all your PS4 purchases are already digital.
We’ve talked a lot about hardware but what ultimately matters with any gaming device is what games you can play.
At launch, Sony is offering five PS5 games from PlayStation Studios. That includes the standalone sequel spin-off Spider-Man: Miles Morales, vehicular combat Destruction AllStars, the Demon’s Souls remake, 3D platformer Sackboy: A Big Adventure, and complimentary 3D platformer Astro’s Playroom that feels more like a demo showcase of DualSense’s capabilities.
Unlike Microsoft, Sony has already revealed prices for its PlayStation Studios titles. Instead of Rs. 3,999, PS5 games can now go up to Rs. 4,999 in India. For those in the US, that means $70 instead of $60.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales is at $50, Sackboy: A Big Adventure comes in at $60, while both Demon’s Souls and Destruction AllStars will cost $70 / Rs. 4,999, the new maximum price. And oh, Astro’s Playroom is free and will be preinstalled with every PS5.
The PS5 will also enjoy a bunch of third-party titles that will also be available on the Xbox Series family. That includes Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Destiny 2: Beyond Light, Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition, Dirt 5, Fortnite, Marvel’s Avengers, and Watch Dogs Legion.
Beyond that, Sony is offering a total of 18 PS4 games as part of PlayStation Plus Collection for the PS5. Naturally, you will need a PS Plus subscription to play them. The list includes Batman: Arkham Knight, Battlefield 1, Bloodborne, Days Gone, Detroit: Become Human, Fallout 4, Final Fantasy XV, God of War, Infamous Second Son, Monster Hunter World, Mortal Kombat X, Persona 5, Ratchet and Clank, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, The Last Guardian, The Last of Us Remastered, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, and Until Dawn.
PlayStation Plus Collection seems like a reply of sorts to the Xbox Game Pass subscription, which offers over 100 Xbox One titles and all upcoming Xbox Game Studios titles, over 100 Windows 10 games, and EA Play that brings more free games and trials for new EA games.
As we move beyond launch, Sony has many PlayStation Studios exclusives in the works. The new Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart arrives in the “launch window”, Sony says. Two anticipated sequels — Horizon Forbidden West and God of War: Ragnarök — are set for 2021. There’s a Gran Turismo 7 in the works, and a sci-fi shooter called Returnal, both from Sony.
Sony has also managed some third-party exclusives, including Final Fantasy XVI, Square Enix’s Project Athia, GhostWire: Tokyo from Tango Gameworks (recently acquired by Microsoft) and Deathloop from the maker of Dishonored, Arkane Studios (also now with Microsoft). The last of them will launch in 2020, GhostWire: Tokyo is set for 2021, while the other two are without release dates.
PS5: Backward compatibility
“99 percent” of PS4 games will play on the PS5, according to PlayStation chief Jim Ryan. But we don’t know about the 1 percent, that is which PS4 titles aren’t backward compatible. The PlayStation 4 games you’ve bought digitally can simply be downloaded on the PlayStation 5. And it will also accept PS4 discs, unless you go for the PS5 Digital Edition.
But unlike Microsoft, Sony hasn’t said much about optimising PS4 games for PS5. A “select” number of PS4 and PlayStation VR titles will be “boosted” to have higher and more consistent frame rates, Sony says, but that’s it. Nothing about 4K HDR, faster load times, and so on, as with Xbox Series.
For what it’s worth, Sony is also allowing developers to offer free next-gen upgrades, if a PS4 game also exists on the PS5. But Sony itself isn’t committing to this very well. While Microsoft will offer free Xbox Series upgrades to Xbox One titles such as Forza Horizon 4 and Gears 5, Sony will make PS5 owners pay for an upgraded version of Marvel’s Spider-Man.
On top of that, Sony is yet to say anything about PS5 backward compatibility beyond the PS4 era. While Microsoft is supporting hundreds of games from the Xbox One and original Xbox, Sony has said that PS3, PS2, and PS1 games won’t work on the PS5 at launch, if ever.
Again, for what it’s worth, some older titles are available with the PlayStation Now cloud gaming service. But there are two problems on that front as well. PS Now is only available in 19 countries: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and the US.
Additionally, Sony has yet to announce when PlayStation Now will be available on the PlayStation 5. For now, PS Now is only available on PS4 and Windows PCs.
PS5: Upgrading from PS4, PS4 Slim, or PS4 Pro
Now that we have covered every aspect of the PS5, some of you with a PS4 already at home might naturally be wondering: should I upgrade? That depends on what you are looking for.
If you want to be able to play all new PlayStation 5 exclusives, there’s no immediate need to jump on the PS5. The initial crop of PlayStation Studios PS5 titles — Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, and Horizon Forbidden West — will also be available on PS4.
We don’t know how that changes beyond Horizon Forbidden West. The trailer for Gran Turismo 7 (without a release date) simply says “PlayStation Exclusive” while the one for GhostWire: Tokyo (arriving 2021) calls it a “PlayStation 5 Console Exclusive”. Naturally, third-party developers (like Bethesda’s Tango Gameworks) have no obligation to keep supporting the PS4.
Of course, simply having support isn’t everything. As you can expect, the new Spider-Man: Miles Morales should look very different, depending on if you’ve a PS5, PS4 Pro, PS4 Slim, or PS4. There is simply no way for a seven-year-old console (like the PS4) to keep up in terms of performance with a next-gen one launching in November (PS5).
While the PS4 technically promised full-HD gaming, it wasn’t actually delivering on that in later years. Games such as Just Cause 4, Tekken 7, Soulcalibur 6, and Ace Combat 7 failed to deliver native 1080p, at times falling as low as 720p.
The differences will be minimised if you have the mid-gen upgrade PS4 Pro, which was already doing 4K or 60fps. Though to be fair, it was only capable of that on paper. In reality, most big games never hit that number.
Dishonored 2, Fallout 4, and Uncharted 4 stay around 1440p, Middle Earth: Shadow of War and Battlefield 1 hover around the 1620p mark, Final Fantasy XIV manages 1800p, and Sony’s The Last Guardian hit 1900p on the PS4 Pro.
With the PlayStation 5, Sony is promising that games will run at 4K 60fps, though Digital Foundry has discovered that most first-party Sony titles seem to be aiming for 4K 30fps. Spider-Man: Miles Morales is one of the few titles with 4K 60fps, though it will be labelled as an optional performance mode.
The PS5 is capable of stretching to 8K / 120fps, for what it’s worth. But you will need more advanced displays, with 120Hz refresh rate and support for 8K resolution, to make use of those features. Make sure it’s an HDMI 2.1 compatible display.
Will Xbox Series S, PS5 Digital Edition fail in India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.