15 things we still don’t know about the PS5

It’s October, and that means we can finally say the PlayStation 5 is out next month. In just six or seven short weeks, the console will be in excited early adopters’ hands, and a sign of the anticipation is just how rapidly pre-orders have sold out… twice!

Sony are sure to keep ramping up the excitement and anticipation for their next-gen console between now and its 12th / 19th November launch date, but it’s not just hype. There’s also an awful lot that we still simply don’t know about the next-gen console.

Compared to Microsoft, who have emphasised continuity of features and a cross-generational UI update, Sony have kept very quiet until now, leaving it very late in the day to really discuss many key details. We know the fundamental specifications, we know some of the advantages and limitations that could give us, but it’s really been the games and the experiential changes that Sony have emphasised. Even then, we’ve really only seen a handful of snippets of some key launch titles.


So here’s 15 things we want to know about the PlayStation 5:

How much actual space for games is there on the 825GB SSD?

Sure, it’s a universal flaw in how tech companies market their products, but that doesn’t stop the fact that you never actually get the full space that’s marketed on the front of the box. Between the marketing fib of storage capacities and the need to cordon off space for system files and functionality, users will not have 825GB of space to install games to.

We now know that the Xbox Series X will give users 802GB of usable space, but what about the PlayStation 5?

Can you backup PS5 games to an external HDD?

We’ve known ever since March that the PlayStation 5 cannot play PlayStation 5 games from an external HDD, but can play PlayStation 4 games from one, letting you reserve the precious internal storage for the games that need the ultra-fast SSD’s bandwidth.

One thing we don’t know for certain is whether or not you’ll be able to store those PS5 games on an external HDD as a backup. With many gamers still struggling with internet speeds and even download caps, it would be good to confirm that users can transfer PS5 games to an external drive to make space. Better yet, could the system still keep them updated?

Speaking of storage… where does the NVME drive actually go? 

Can you use the same external HDD on both PS4 and PS5?

On PlayStation 4, you can use external HDDs to take your games between systems, but with the PlayStation 5 having all-new system software, will this allow for external HDDs to be used between generations?

Also, can we get rid of the dumb behaviour of the PS4, where you can’t have a duplicate of a game on two drives and are forced to delete a copy? Please and thank you.

Will it have a Quick Resume feature?

One of most heavily marketed features of the Xbox Series X|S so far is Quick Resume, where the console can save the mid-game state of several titles at once, allowing you to hop between games and resume exactly where you were in just 5-10 seconds.

This obviously has an impact on the storage available for installing games, so depending on some of the answers to the above, could limit things even further.

What is the DualSense expected battery life?

Sony have now confirmed that the DualSense will feature a 1,560mAh rechargeable battery, making for a significant step up over the 1,000mAh battery found in the DualShock 4, but how does this translate to battery life during gameplay? The DualShock 4 is widely criticised for having mediocre battery life, thanks to its always-on LED lid bar and new touchpad, but the DualSense makes significant changes to the rumble motors and to the adaptive triggers that can actively change their tension and bite points.

So, how does all of that factor into the controller’s battery life? Will we still be reaching for a charge cable every 8 hours, or will you go 20 hours or more without needing to plug in?

What does the Create button do?

One of the key functions of the PlayStation 4 was the Share button allowing you to quickly capture, edit and share game clips to social media, but for the PlayStation 5, this button has been renamed to Create. To make such a distinction of this early on clearly means that Sony have big plans, and it quickly got us thinking about what it could mean, but not a sausage has been said ever since the DualSense was revealed way back in February.

Can you disable the DualSense adaptive triggers and haptics?

Both in the name of accessibility and player choice, can you disable the adaptive triggers and haptic feedback of the DualSense? Many pro gamers will turn off the rumble of their controller, so it would be strange not to allow this.

Side note: This would also make you question the decision to limit the DualShock 4 to backward compatible titles if you can

Will there be Custom Button Assignments, as on PS4?

The current generation of consoles have made some of the biggest strides toward being more accessible and open to players of all ability levels, thanks to some system-wide accessibility features. One of the biggest here is the ability to customise the button layout on a system level, but the PS4 also supports Zoom, inverted colours, high-contrast, system-wide closed captioning, text options and more. It would be very disappointing for the PS5 to take a step backward in this regard.

PlayStation Activities as depicted in a patent filed by Sony.

What are PlayStation Activities?

We all want to know what the PS5 system software will look like and how it will work, but a specific next-gen feature has already been discussed. We have to go all the way back to 2019 to discover something about this feature, the name for which was leaked the team behind WRC 9 back in July. As Mark Cerny was teasing some of the intent behind the PS5’s system redesign, he said:

“We don’t want the player to have to boot the game, see what’s up, boot the game, see what’s up. Multiplayer game servers will provide the console with the set of joinable activities in real time. Single player games will provide information like what missions you could do and what rewards you might receive for completing them – and all of those choices will be visible in the UI.”

Will the PS5 have Netflix, iPlayer, Hulu etc. apps? Whether BC or native?

Even with the rise of Chromecast and Smart TVs, a lot of people still use their games consoles as media hubs for streaming TV and movies.

Going off the updated imagery of the PlayStation 5 Media Remote that they will have support for Netflix, Disney+, Spotify and YouTube, but what about BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and other more regional options? In theory all of the apps available on PS4 should work via backward compatibility at the very least, but it would be great to have native apps that can make use of the PS5’s enhanced functionality.

Will the system software have folders on day one?

Speaking of returning features and functionality, there’s fears that the PS5 could lose some of the core features built up over years of updates on PS4. Will the PlayStation 5 support organising games via folders on day one?

Sony’s Matt Maclaurin, VP of UX Design at PlayStation, previously said that the UI overhaul includes “cleaning up core functionality” alongside a new “visual language”, so keep your fingers crossed.

What sound setups will the Tempest 3D AudioTech engine support at launch?

Sony has lofty goals for its custom designed Tempest 3D AudioTech engine to make spatial audio possible across all possible devices, but they were also clear that it would be a technology that evolves over time. In particular, its HRTF sound profiles that tune the game audio to your ears will initially be limited to a handful of presets, while support for spatial audio will first support headsets and then other devices such as TVs and surround sound systems.

A long overdue update is needed to state definitively what parts of this will be available at launch, and what will be coming in 2021 and beyond.

Will PS5 support Dolby Atmos and DTS:X for multimedia?

While Sony talked up the Tempest engine’s advantages over other spatial audio solutions for video games, the film industry and other tech companies are fully on board with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X for object-based surround sound audio mixing. There’s plenty of options out there for home theatre systems that support these, and both Dolby and DTS have headphone-oriented solutions as well.

Sony will obviously prioritise the Tempest engine for games, but will the PS5 support these formats for UHD Blu-ray and streaming services like Netflix that feature them? You’d have to hope so when Sony’s film studios are pushing out PS5-branded collections of films that have Dolby Atmos…

Ghost of Tsushima will surely be compatible with PS5.

Which games will be backward compatible? And how will they be enhanced?

While limited to the PS4, backward compatibility is a great thing to have in the PlayStation 5, and after initially fumbling the message back in March, Sony have stated “We believe that the overwhelming majority of the 4,000+ PS4 titles will be playable on PS5.”

We also expect backward compatibility to largely be a smooth experience on PS5 – you just download it or put the disc in and play – but the question still hangs over Sony, and it’s high time that they definitively state which games have been successfully tested on PlayStation 5 and declared as compatible.

Not only that, but let’s confirm some games that can be tangibly enhanced on PS5. Sony said, “We’re expecting backward compatible titles will run at a boosted frequency on PS5 so that they can benefit from higher or more stable frame rates and potentially higher resolutions.” Compared with Auto HDR on Xbox Series X|S, is this the limit of Sony’s backward compatibility efforts? Will developers be able to tweak their games with “three lines of code” as on Xbox?

What’s going on with cross-gen saves?

Spider-Man: Miles Morales will have cross-gen saves in some capacity, but as of today Spider-Man Remastered, Dirt 5, Maneater and Yakuza Like a Dragon have all been confirmed not to let you take your progress from PS4 to PS5. So, what’s the dish with that?

We know that Smart Delivery games on Xbox will have cross-gen save files automatically handled by the Xbox Live cloud, and we also know that online games like Destiny 2, Marvel’s Avengers and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War can store player progression and unlocks through their servers. So what’s the issue for single player games?

We’ve reached out to a bunch of developer and publishers to find out what’s happening with their games, because players considering cross-gen releases and games with free upgrades to PS5 really deserve to know if they’ll have to start from scratch on next-gen.

That’s our list of 15 questions, and I’m sure many will be answered in due course, but what burning questions do you have about the PS5?

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  1. It really is time Sony shared those details. Hopefully it’s not a case of the massive preorders giving them the notion that they can skimp on the details for now.

  2. Maybe they’re not sure what the reaction will be so better to say nothing than have negative press pre-launch?

  3. I was very surprised we didn’t see the GUI during the last Days of Play (or whatever it was called), that’s what I want to see most.

  4. As the infamous billionaire playboy of Gotham City once wondered… does it come in black?

  5. We don’t need Sony to say which PS4 games will work on the PS5. If they have to do that, they’ve fucked up in a big way. They should all just work fine. Except in whatever rare cases it goes wrong.

    Exactly the same situation with MS. Except Sony are saying they expect almost everything to work, while MS are saying absolutely everything works. Which is clearly a lie.

    And is the Series X “Auto HDR” thing really that automatic? It looks like it’s being disabled on some games where it causes problems. Or possibly only enabled on games they know it doesn’t cause any issues?

    And if “everything” works with BC, that solves the problem of all those streaming services. Although theses days, does anyone use those on a console when they’re all built into all TVs now anyway?

    The main question I want answered is “can we have some detail about VR??”. When and how do we get the adapter for the PS4 camera? Will PS5 games be able to do VR? And will the PS5 have a decent media player built in for watching all those VR videos of, erm, nice scenery and things like that. (Or terrifying porn if you must, I guess)

    I’m guessing we’ll get all the answers over the next month. Sony have been showing off the important stuff so far, but I’m sure they’ll just dump all the rest on us in the next few weeks. Some people will still be asking “but what about…” or deliberately misinterpreting everything they say.

  6. Why is it a lie when MS say absolutely everything works in BC? And yet Sony get a pass for saying the much fuzzier ‘they expect everything to work’?

    We definitely need all the VR details though – it’s one of, if not the, biggest differentiator between the two consoles. PSVR has been very good as an entry point to the VR space, and if there’s all the power of PS5 behind it – and/or a new headset incoming – things in the VR space could explode.

    • Because MS have clearly said everything that runs on the XBone (including those from the previous consoles) will run on the Series X/S. That’s clearly not something they can guarantee. Have they tested every single game? Something is going to not work properly.

      The number of things that don’t work is going to be tiny though. Assuming MS have done their job properly.

      And with the PS5, it’s going to be exactly the same situation. Something won’t work. Almost everything will.

      At least Sony are being honest about it and admitting something might not work. Unlike MS.

      And yes, VR with the PS5 power behind it could well be massive. The headset itself is up to the job. Tracking the headset works well, and the display is pretty decent. The PS4 just doesn’t have the power to fully take advantage of it. New controllers that track better would be nice, and then a new headset later. But the current headset working on actual PS5 games, with a drop in price given the age of the thing would be huge.

      And a good way to stop millions switching to XBox. How many is it now? Around 6.5m?

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