Less than two months out from the release of Sony’s PlayStation 5, there is still quite a bit we don’t know about the next-gen console. While the most recent PS5 showcase live stream answered a few of our burning questions, most notably the price and release date, there are a number of PS5 features that are still unknowns. Here are 10 things we still don’t know about the PS5.
Everything We Still Don’t Know About the PS5
PlayStation 5 UI/OS/Firmware Features
What does it actually look like to play the thing, to have it on our screens? We’ve received loads of alleged rumors, reports, and leaks about the UI, including word that it is 100% redesigned and will allow us to interact with our games in new and interesting ways, but the most we’ve gotten from Sony is a brief tease of what seems to be the startup screen. Sony has promised some “really cool stuff to come” on the user experience front, but less than two months out, it’s still a mystery.
While we’re on the subject of user experience changes, how will the PlayStation Store be changing for the PS5 experience? Will it become more closely tied in with the overall interface? Will it be getting layout changes and a new look, or remaining largely the same as what we see right now? How will it differentiate between PS4 games and PS5 games, assuming you can buy backwards compatible PS4 games through the PS5 store? The store experience is… fine… as it is. But it could at least use a fresh new coat of paint for the PS5, and maybe some better discoverability methods for unique and non-featured games.
Anyone who follows my writing knows I’ve been harping on this point for ages. Mark Cerny promised us a console teardown back in March when he gave his admittedly dev-focused but also rather zen PS5 tech talk. We’ve seen the physical design, now the tech nerds out here want to know how the console fits together. How does its cooling solution work? I guess I’ll continue watching the ASMR version of Cerny’s PS5 talk while I wait.
PS5 Extended Storage Solutions
The PlayStation 5 experience hinges on its custom-architectured SSD, and the onboard storage is a scant 825 GB. Rumors said the SSD would hypothetically drop file sizes thanks to eliminating the need for duplicate assets, but reports of PS5 game sizes aren’t exactly promising (and we haven’t even heard how big Call of Duty will be next-gen). Microsoft recently revealed its 1 TB SSD expansion card for the Xbox Series X would cost $220. Sony’s custom SSD is going to further limit compatibility for extended storage, and likely make the options available rather expensive, but Sony hasn’t yet talked about how people can solve bumping up against that 825 GB cap.
In addition, there are still a lot of questions about extended HDD storage. Sure, we know we can use existing external hard drives to store and run PS4 games via backwards compatibility, but how does that work? Can I simply plug in the drive I am using on my PS4 and continue using it without issue on the PS5? Do I need to redownload hundreds of games, or will the PS5 recognize the hard drive as registered to my PSN account without any issues? Sony needs to address PS5 storage solutions from all angles soon.
DualSense Create Button
Remember when the DualSense was revealed and the DualShock 4’s “Share” button got a big change to “Create,” with vague promises to talk about how the functionality of this button would be evolving in the future? We still have no idea what the Create button actually does. This ties in with needing more information about the PS5 firmware features. The Create button will likely activate and access new options and features in the PS5 UI, but we’ve been left with “Create” as a big mystery in favor of focusing on the controller’s haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. Could it enable a hardware-based photo mode?
PS5 Dolby Atmos Support/Tempest Engine
With recent images of the PS5 console, we got a glimpse of the Dolby Atmos logo on the bottom of the console, indicating the console will at least support Atmos for video. This is great news for people who have Atmos capable soundbars and can access content that has Atmos audio, such as Jack Ryan or The Boys on Amazon Prime. The bigger question is if it supports Atmos for games, or if and how the Tempest audio engine will interact with Atmos-capable devices. According to Cerny’s March tech talk, the audio engine specifically works best for full 3D audio using headphones, but they’ve been working on adapting it for other speaker setups. Sony still hasn’t officially announced the Atmos compatibility though. It’s just inferred from the glimpse of the bottom of the console. Sony needs to talk a lot more about how the Tempest engine will work at launch and going forward.
PSN Family Linking/Digital Game Sharing
Sure, Sony won the day back in 2013 with the infamous “How to Share Games” video, but that only applied to physical discs. Having multiple PS4 consoles in a single house became a bit of a chore, requiring workarounds with activating certain ones as primary consoles, but that can also cause licensing issues if the internet or PSN goes out. There’s no word yet if there will be improvements or changes to this system going into the PS5. Will my wife and I have to keep jumping through hoops to get games on both of our consoles with the PS5, or will Sony streamline the family account linking process?
Google Play already has an easy solution for this, allowing the two of us to link our Google accounts so that we seamlessly share all purchased apps. If she purchases an app or game on the Google Play Store, I have access to it, and vice versa. I can think of numerous solutions for PS5, such as verifying they are both connected to the same WiFi source or are in proximity of each other. I just hope the process of having multiple consoles and PSN accounts in a single home is eased next gen.
PlayStation Plus on PS5
As one of the central ecosystem subscription features for PlayStation, there’s a lot of questions about how the service might change and evolve heading into next-gen. So far, Sony has announced the PS Plus Collection, which gives PlayStation Plus members on PS5 instant access to nearly 20 iconic PS4 games. Aside from what appears to be a single bonus feature heading to PS5 for PlayStation Plus members, there hasn’t been any other word on what the service might entail. Will we get two free PS5 games per month? Will PS4 owners continue to get free games? Are there any other service updates or changes coming to Plus? So far there hasn’t been much talk about this subscription that’s remained relatively stagnant for years.
PlayStation Now on PS5
Sony’s second PlayStation subscription service, PlayStation Now, is Sony’s cloud gaming service, ironically coming long before the likes of Stadia and xCloud, but also falling behind those services now. Logically, as the gaming industry pushes more towards cloud services, PlayStation Now should evolve and grow. But Sony has made nary a mention of PlayStation Now leading to PS5, save for basically saying they don’t want a service like Microsoft’s Game Pass.
What I’d love to see is PlayStation Now evolve to allow me access to my own PlayStation library and account remotely from anywhere. PlayStation Now has the potential to be the next evolution of PlayStation remote play, using Cloud services to run games instead of requiring a direct and often unstable connection to your console. I’ve heard word that PlayStation Now will be getting some big changes and a big push in 2021, with Sony focusing heavily on the console itself this year. But what those changes and evolutions may be, I’m not privy to just yet.
PS4 Game Saves With Backwards Compatibility
We know that 99% of PS4 games will work on PS5 via backwards compatibility, but a lot of questions remain about how backwards compatibility will work in practice. One of the biggest unanswered questions is what happens to our PS4 saves on the PS5. Will Sony give us the opportunity to transfer them over easily? Will it be limited to cloud saves, or can we upload them to a USB drive and then put them on the new console? Backwards compatibility is a big feature allowing us to pull our PS4 library forward with us (notably as digital increases in popularity), but a big part of that is going to be allowing players to continue their saves.
To be absolutely clear here, I am talking strictly about backwards compatibility, not wholly new PS5 applications like Marvel’s Spider-Man: Remastered on PS5 (which is confirmed not to carry over saves from the PS4 game). What happens when I load up that original PS4 version of the game via backwards compatibility? Can I bring that PS4 save forward?
There are only 49 days as of this writing until PS5 releases in some regions (and another week for the rest of the world). That’s just seven weeks. People have already been through the chaos of trying to preorder the system. And yet, aside from games looking and running great, and the DualSense features, there’s not a whole lot we actually know about the experience of using the PlayStation 5. Hopefully Sony turns the knob on its communications over the next two months to let players know just what kind of experience the next-gen console will bring, and clear up the lingering questions we all still have.
Did we miss anything in our list? Is there anything else about the PS5 that you still want to know? Let us know in the comments below.