The next generation of consoles officially began with the launches of the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X/S.
Though the new console wave technically began with the launch of the Nintendo Switch, the latest console generation kicked into high gear once all three major console manufacturers had started competing with their latest releases. The Switch saw Nintendo once again go in a unique direction with a console-handheld hybrid, while Sony and Microsoft continued to build upon the established formula of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
The biggest hardware selling point of the PlayStation 5 was the introduction of a solid state drive in place of the hard disk drive used in the PS3 and PS4. This allowed for significantly higher read speeds, letting data load in much more quickly. The PS5 also boasts higher specs than the PS4, but the SDD may have had a much greater impact than all the extra teraflops and RAM.
Sony first confirmed an incoming next-generation console in 2019 that would succeed the PlayStation 4 line of consoles. The new console was officially revealed in June 2020 with the official launch coming five months later on November 12, 2020.
The PlayStation 5 bucked PlayStation tradition by having two different models at launch. These models had different price points and different capabilities.
The PlayStation 5 Base Edition can run both physical and digital copies of games, while the Digital Edition can only run digital copies of games that are downloaded to the PS5 hard drive.
PlayStation has repeatedly toyed with the idea of digital-only gaming devices. The first experiment with this sort of hardware came in 2009 with the PSP Go, which dropped the PSP’s proprietary UMDs and exclusively ran digital games.
The PlayStation 5 Digital Edition cannot run disc copies of games. There is currently no way to change this and no external disc reader add-on that can serve as a substitute. It is unclear whether Sony will ever release a disc reader for the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition.
The PlayStation 5 uses the DualSense controller, replacing the DualShock 4 of the PlayStation 4. The DualSense controller adds a number of new features, most notably haptic feedback and adaptive triggers.
The haptic feedback of the PlayStation 5’s DualSense controller boils down to improved rumble capabilities. It’s similar to the “HD rumble” of the Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Cons, which can shake in more ways than past rumble features that largely amounted to a weight attached to a small motor that spins to shake the controller.
The adaptive triggers of the PlayStation 5 DualSense controller make a big difference as they can technically make the triggers serve as two separate buttons. These triggers were quickly used in a variety of ways by game developers.
Adaptive triggers can dynamically increase the resistance of the triggers. This is seen in Resident Evil 8 Village, where the sniper rifle requires much greater force be applied in order to fire than other guns.
Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart goes a step further with its Void Repulser weapon. The adaptive triggers make it so it’s easy to press the trigger down part of the way, then harder to press it from there. The Void Repulser opens a shield that protects Ratchet when pressed down half-way. Pressing it down farther will let out a burst that reflects back incoming fire. The player can comfortably press the trigger down to bring up the shield and can intuitively feel when it will let out the burst.