This article originally appeared on the tech and video game site Solid State Now.
We’re running down everything that has been revealed so far about Sony and Microsoft’s next-gen consoles.
The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are nearing the inevitable end of their lifespans as Sony and Microsoft are once again gearing up to launch a new generation of consoles sometime this year.
Both companies have been teasing us with tidbits of information about their respective next-gen systems since they were officially announced in early 2019. While loads of details are still kept under wraps, what has been revealed is enough to give us some idea of how the consoles are shaping up so far. So we’re unpacking everything we know here.
Microsoft revealed at The Game Awards last December that its upcoming console is called “Xbox Series X” – a name that was criticized for being confusing. The company later clarified that its next-gen line is actually just called “Xbox” and “Series X” is the name of the model.
"The name we're carrying forward to the next generation is simply Xbox," a Microsoft representative told Business Insider. "And at The Game Awards you saw that name come to life through the Xbox Series X."
This seemingly hints that there will be other models aside from the “Series X” that will be released under this rebranded “Xbox” name banner.
Meanwhile, Sony announced that its next-gen console will be called “PlayStation 5”, or PS5, for short, as many expected. The company has been using the same naming scheme since it launched the PlayStation 1 back in 1995.
Going by what we currently know about the two consoles, the PS5 and Xbox Series X are not going to be much different from each other when it comes to their graphics rendering and processing capabilities.
Both machines will be housing AMD’s third generation of Ryzen processors, which features the new Zen 2 architecture, and Navi graphics cards. AMD’s hardware supports ray tracing – a rendering technique that pushes realistic lighting and effects in real time.
Ray tracing is being touted as the next big thing in gaming graphics, and there are already a number of games out now that support it. The caveat is that only the most modern and expensive graphics cards can handle the technology efficiently. But, the release of these next-generation consoles will likely lower the price barrier for this technology and make it more accessible to a wider range of players.
Another key hardware component that will be packed inside both systems is a solid-state drive (SSD) for storage. The biggest advantage it has over hard disk drives (HDD) from previous console generations is that it can improve overall performance of the system and significantly reduce loading times for games. For instance, according to WIRED, it only took 0.8 seconds for a PS5 dev kit to load a new area of Manhattan in the PS4 game Spider-Man compared to 15 seconds it took the PS4 Pro. The exact capacity of the SSD that will ship with the two consoles has not been revealed.
Both machines will reportedly output up to 8K resolution with a 120Hz refresh rate. In comparison, the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X only pushed resolutions up to 4K. 8K is said to be four times the overall pixels of 4K.
Both the PS5 and Xbox Series X will also come with optical drives for reading discs. Sony confirmed that the PS5’s optical drive will support 4K Blu-Ray discs, allowing the console to double as a media player.
Arguably the most talked about feature coming to both the PS5 and Xbox Series X is backward compatibility. Yes, both Sony and Microsoft confirmed that their new machines can play games from previous console generations, but it’s not entirely clear yet how the feature will work and what games will be supported.
"We wanted to make sure we had that, day one, we could deliver on the compatibility promise, and so I've been playing quite a few [Xbox 360] games on my [Xbox Series X] and Xbox One games on the [Xbox Series X] and that's just to ensure that we can be there day one," Xbox executive Phil Spencer said in an interview with GameSpot.
This confirms that Microsoft expects the feature to be available at launch, but to what extent has yet to be announced.
Microsoft is also planning to integrate its cloud gaming service, Project xCloud, to its game subscription service, Xbox Game Pass, sometime this year. This will give you the ability to stream the company’s growing catalog of games direct from the cloud.
Spencer said that the Xbox Series X was designed with cloud-based streaming in mind, seemingly confirming that the system will have features that take advantage of Microsoft’s cloud gaming services.
Sony, meanwhile, promised that the PS5 will be backward compatible with PS4 games and the PSVR headset, but has yet to talk about support for other console generations and when these features will be available.
Sony also touted that the PS5 will ship with a new controller that supports haptic feedback. What this does is give you distinct tactile experiences depending on what you’re experiencing in your game. This means walking on grass, for instance, will feel very different from wading through mud.
In addition, the PS5’s controller will feature adaptive L2 and R2 triggers, allowing developers to tweak and customize its resistance. This will reportedly make firing a gun feel different as, say, firing a bow.
The Xbox Series X controller, on the other hand, will be getting a dedicated share button, which you can use to share screenshots and videos with your friends. It will also be slightly smaller than the Xbox One controller.
The PS5 will reportedly also come with a feature that lets you decide which game modes to install first. For example, you can choose to only install the multiplayer mode of a game if you don’t wish to play through the single-player mode. This not only saves up space in the console’s storage but can also possibly lessen the time it takes to install games. It’s not clear as of yet whether the Xbox Series X will have a similar feature.
We have no doubt that Sony and Microsoft are working hard to create a launch lineup that will make us all want to shell out some cash to get their respective systems on day one.
The first confirmed title launching alongside the PS5 is Godfall created by Counterplay Games, a 75-person studio comprised of developers that worked on games such as God of War, Destiny 2, Horizon Zero Dawn, Diablo III, and Gears 5, and will be published by Borderlands developer Gearbox Studios.