In news that has stunned and surprised absolutely nobody Sony have unveiled the official name and release window for the next game console they will be releasing. PlayStation 5 is scheduled to release “Holiday 2020” which is almost exactly when everyone expected it. I personally feel ready for a new console, but the real questions are does PlayStation 5 have enough to convince me that a stay at home console is worth my investment in a world where game streaming services seem to be right around the corner.
There is a slew of technical information out about the Sony’s new flagship console. An article on over on Wired goes into detail on the Ray Tracing hardware that has been confirmed and an explanation of why the SSD hard drive is so superior to the current hard drives in games consoles. Less space is needed, and it can be accessed faster, so it’s all good news. To be honest, the power of games consoles is becoming less and less relevant, and the real selling point for any new console will be what it brings that I haven’t seen before or didn’t expect.
Each new generation is more powerful than the last and allows for games to be played at higher resolution and gives developers the horsepower needed to produce games with the size and scope of a Red Dead Redemption 2. What I need to get me excited is something new, something I didn’t see coming. Sony have realised this too it seems, and the most interesting innovations are not coming from what’s in the box under your TV, but from what’s in your hands.
The new controller, which is not officially called the DualShock 5, but we all expect it to be, features a couple of new features that genuinely sound like they will enhance the immersion for a wide variety of games. The new feedback that can be programmed into the triggers and analogue sticks is something completely new for consoles.
First, the triggers. The new controller will allow the developers to adjust how much resistance is felt when the player pulls on the trigger buttons. This seems like a novel idea but imagine how different it’s going to feel when you fire a sniper and the trigger resists a little before clicking as you shoot, and then it flings back into position. Or when you’re playing a driving game, and the break trigger will be harder to push the harder you break just like the real thing. This little kind of innovation has a lot of potential to make games feel a lot more intuitive and immersive which is where the next generation of consoles must start heading. With VR slowly becoming a bigger component, these types of physical feedback controllers will allow for entirely new ways to play games.
With the analogue sticks, it is even harder to visualise how these are going to work. Basically, it seems like they are going to feel different depending on the surface your character is walking through. So, for instance on Assassins Creed Odyssey, running through grass will feel different to sand, with the sand feeling a bit slower and feeling more resistant, and then on ice it will loosen up and slip about with ease. It sounds novel, but I am not sure how it will work.
Of course, I am not sure exactly how both these systems will combine until I have the controller in my hands but that is miles off. For now, I am just very excited that these kinds of innovations are where Sony is focusing their attention for the next generation. Their biggest problem, as I hinted in the intro, is that I am not convinced I will want to have a box under my TV.
Stadia and Xbox both are looking like they will be offering a streaming option for playing games, and for me that works better than any console. The one barrier to entry with all these streaming services is the quality of the internet and how good of a connection you need to be able to play latency free, HD to 4K games on them. If my internet at home is good enough to play games at that level, I am not so sure I will need a dedicated home console.
The ace up Sony’s sleeve of course is their range of first party exclusive titles. If it means missing out on TLOU3, Sequels to Horizon Zero Dawn and God of War, and other possible exclusives like Infamous or Spiderman, than I will not be sticking with just a streaming option.
Regardless of whatever software and hardware combination the next generation of gaming platforms arrive in, it’s the games that are available on them that will define them.