Playstation 5 Showcase reaction

I feel kind of compelled to write something about the Playstation 5 Showcase that Sony streamed on June 6th, 2020, but the fact of the matter is, I didn’t come away with any strong feelings one way or the other about the system in general.

When I watch something like this (or Microsoft’s first game reveal a while back) what is going through my mind is this: am I seeing games that make it worth buying a $500 console to play. (No official prices have been shared yet, I’m assuming $500.)

The Games

I saw a lot of games that, on the surface at least, seemed like they’d work fine on the PS4 or Xbox One, or on a mid-tier gaming PC. So that was a bit of a disappointment. On the other hand, Ratchet & Clank seemed designed to show off what the PS5 can do thanks to its SSD setup. Watch in this trailer as the duo portal between vastly different tilesets really quickly. There’s an intermediate ‘realm’ that they’re in for maybe a second before heading into a new biome.

Now maybe that’s all pre-rendered in which case, no big deal. But if this was captured “live” then it’s pretty impressive.

Of course the feather in Sony’s hat is always exclusives, and the one game shown that made the PS5 a must-have for me was Horizon: Forbidden West. Horizon Zero Dawn is one of my all-time favorite games so I HAVE to play the sequel!

As far as I know we don’t have a release date for Horizon Forbidden West. I would assume if it was a 2020 title — a launch title — then Sony would’ve promoted that fact pretty heavily. So yeah I need a PS5 to play HFW, but that’s not for launch (probably).

In fact it isn’t yet clear what the launch lineup is going to look like; it seems like maybe the new Spiderman game is Sony’s big 1st party launch title. Thing is, I never bothered finishing Spiderman on PS4; I just didn’t like it that much.

One issue both Sony and Microsoft are struggling with is that the new consoles are about more than just graphics. Both companies are talking about fast loading times and higher frame rates than we’ve seen on the current generation. Sony is talking about the haptic feedback of the new controller, too. But you can’t really experience any of these features without actually playing the games

The Competition

Sony is going the classic console generation route. While some (many? most?) PS4 games will run on the PS5, the only ones we can be SURE will work are games coming out between about now and launch. Will there be enough to justify a purchase for me at launch? I’m still up in the air. And what about cross-generation games? If I buy The Last of Us Part 2 this summer, will Sony ask me to buy the PS5 version of The Last of Us Part 2 as a separate SKU? They did that during the PS3 – PS4 transition. Microsoft is NOT doing that. For their 1st party games, the same license covers Xbox One and Xbox Series X versions of the game.

Continuing with the Microsoft comparison, Microsoft is bringing games from 4 generations to the Series X. My understanding is (don’t take my word for it tho, I still need to confirm) that I can unplug the external drive from my Xbox One, plug it in to the Xbox Series X, and keep playing all those games, only they’ll run better. For example Destiny 2 will run at 60 FPS on Series X while it runs at 30 FPS on Xbox One X. That makes the Series X something I will buy on Day 1 since I’ll have a huge library to play while waiting for Series X games to arrive.

So for me the Sony showcase gets a “B” grade. I want the equivalent of an Uncharted or a Horizon to play on Day 1, if I can’t bring my old library with me. Hopefully before launch we’ll have a better idea of how many PS4 games will run on PS5. If it turns out MOST will, then PS5 becomes a more likely 2020 purchase for me.

The Hardware

I’d like to know more about the hardware, too. Will it be quiet? I rarely use my PS4 Pro because it is astonishingly loud. Even with headphones on, the sound is annoying: that high-pitched whine like a dentist’s drill. It’s awful.

I’d also like to see how many ports are on the back. PS5 is supposed to support PSVR, which means a port for the camera and a port for the PSVR breakout box. You probably want a port for an external drive as well. So I’m hoping there’s a good number of ports on the back. (The front has 1 USB-C and 1 USB-A.)

The PS5 comes with a TB of SSD space, and I’m reading that about 825 GB of that is available which for a game-grazer like me, isn’t a ton of space. You can add a second SSD drive, but not just any SSD drive; it has to meet certain specs we don’t have yet, and I’m guessing it won’t be cheap SSD drives. PS4 games can still be run off an external USB drive, though it isn’t clear if this will require a special format or if you can just plug in your PS4 drive and start playing.

So yeah, still lots of questions. I’ll be getting a PS5 to play Horizon Forbidden West whenever it launches, but I might make the unusual (for me) choice to skip the new console at launch. We’ll see what other info Sony shares with us over the coming months.