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The Week in Gaming: PS5 on the horizon — Looking ahead to Sony’s console future
Welcome to The Week in Gaming, the place where we pause each week to take a look at the video game news beats both big and small that you might be missing — while also taking a peek around the corner at what's ahead. Check in each Friday for news (and occasionally even views) on everything from sprawling RPGs to Metroidvania platformers to the latest in VR and free-to-play. We'll even throw in a good old-fashioned board game every now and then!
One of the biggest games to land on the PlayStation 4 in its entire six-year history is only a week away (and is already drawing raves from critics), so it's almost crazy to think that The Last of Us Part II isn't singlehandedly stealing the whole PlayStation news show this week.
But such is life when the PlayStation 5 comes crashing the video game party. Sony's next-gen console introduced itself to the world this week, dragging behind it an avalanche of new game announcements that, together with our long-awaited first look at the hardware itself, still have our heads spinning in the immediate aftermath of Sony's epic reveal event.
No worries — we'll get to what the reviewers are saying about TLOU2 a little further down. But we'll kick things off at the top with our biggest takeaways from Sony's "The Future of Gaming" PS5 showcase, from what we've learned about the new console to what we know — so far — about some of the biggest genre games that'll soon be making their homes on Sony's beast of a machine.
First, the PlayStation 5 itself: Sony saved the world's first look at the PS5 for last in its big reveal event, capping its showcase with slick 360-degree camera sweeps that highlighted all the angles of its two PS5 flavors: the standard, disc-equipped edition, alongside a Digital edition that slims things down (and likely trims the price) by forgoing an optical drive. In a break from recent tradition, the PS5 took its first spotlight dressed all in white, cutting a curvaceous form factor that — we only noticed after getting over our first breathless wave of console envy — appears to be significantly larger than the current PS4 or PS4 Pro.Fortunately, players will have the option to stand the PS5 up with the provided tower stand, or lay it on its side for what we hope is a comfortable fit inside an entertainment cabinet. Sony hasn't yet said what we'll have to pay for all this sleekly packaged horsepower, nor exactly when it'll arrive in stores this holiday season. But we do at least have some solid tech-y details that should assuage anyone who's already spent some serious money future-proofing their TV and audio setup.
Here's what Sony has announced about the PS5's internal makeup (skip ahead if you just want to get to the features and the games):
- A custom-designed SSD drive that holds 825 GB of storage, with 5.5 GB per-second performance. Via The Verge, games must be installed directly to the SSD drive in order to take full advantage of the PS5's much-touted whiplash speed.
- General backwards compatibility with most PS4 games, with support for higher frame rates and display resolution.
- Support for both 4K and 8K graphics, with 4K graphics clocking a 120Hz refresh rate.
- A bespoke eight-core AMD Zen 2 CPU, running at 3.5GHz (with variable frequency), with a similarly custom AMD GPU, also with variable frequency.
- 16GB of GDDR6 memory.
- Support for both USB-A and USB-C via front-accessible ports, which will expand the PS5's storage and offer access to a broad variety of accessories.
- 3D audio, stemming from Sony's new emphasis on leveling up the immersive sound experience to accompany games that take advantage of the new technology. 3D audio-enabled games can project sounds at distances near and far, and can also suggest the direction they're coming from, especially when paired with the PS5's wireless Pulse 3D headset.
In addition to the headset, players will also be able to spring for accessories including a charging dock, a media remote, a dual-lens 1080p HD camera, and of course, as many extra DualSense controllers as your couch co-op playing heart desires.Will the PS5 come in black or other colors? Sony hasn't said. In a CNET interview, PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan said the design ideas was "to do something that was bold and daring almost," something "meant to demonstrate Sony's belief that the technology inside and the games that run on it are as eye-catching as the outside you see." Fans — most of whom were obviously giddy in spite of all their good-natured ribbing — wasted no time hopping on social media to compare the PS5's unique whiteout look and svelte shape with whatever silly objects it's already reminding them of, but it's a safe bet that few players will want to hide the new console behind a cabinet door.
According to Esports Charts, more than 7 million viewers had tuned in to Sony's reveal event by the end of the day, with Twitch analytics website SullyGnome reporting more than 1 million concurrent viewers watching the live event on Twitch alone. With Sony's fast-paced rollout of one gaming announcement after another dominating most of the event's hour-plus runtime, they definitely got what they came for. Yep — that's a less-than graceful way of segueing into a peek at the games themselves ... which is exactly where we're headed next.
PlayStation 5 games
Any one of Sony's biggest game announcements would have lit up social media all on its own, but the hits just kept on coming. We've rounded up some of the biggest genre gaming reveals here, but it's worth sparing a quick moment or two on what we think (and the YouTube views can attest) are the big three: Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Horizon Forbidden West, and Resident Evil Village.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Aside from the console reveal itself, Spider-Man: Miles Morales drew more YouTube eyeballs than any other PS5 game Sony announced. It's a PlayStation exclusive, just like its smash hit Marvel predecessor on the PS4, and, via The Telegraph, Sony isn't calling it a sequel. Rather, as Sony's Simon Rutter explained, it's "an expansion and an enhancement to the previous game. There's a substantial Miles Morales component — which is the expansion element — but also within the game as well there's been major enhancements to the game and the game engine, obviously deploying some of the major PlayStation 5 technology and features."
Developer Insomniac cleverly spun a Spidey story in the first game that hewed closely enough to Marvel's movie-verse to allow tons of crossover content and DLC tie-ins to walk hand in hand alongside Spider-Man's big-screen appearances. The trailer for Miles Morales shows the PS5 will inherit a graphics-enhanced version of that same art style, all the better to tie in, down the road, with the planned sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and other places where the MCU version of Spidey decides to cast his web. Better still, we don't have a long wait: expect Spider-Man: Miles Morales to come swinging onto the PS5 sometime close to the console's holiday 2020 release date.
Horizon Forbidden West
We were too gobsmacked at first by Guerrilla Games' jaw-droppingly beautiful unveiling of Horizon Forbidden West to notice, but the sequel to the PS4's Horizon Zero Dawn is going coastal — all the way to the Pacific coast.
Fresh off her victory against an AI-led failsafe that's programmed to re-destroy the world more than a thousand years after its minion machines destroyed it in the first place, Aloy shows up in the first trailer for Forbidden West as a hero who's no longer reluctant to take up the hero's mantle. A new threat arises in the wake of her big win over the animal machines at the end of the first game, and whatever it is, it's taking her even farther toward the ocean.
As you might guess from the images above, at least part of Forbidden West will be set in and around San Francisco. Those ruined towers rising from the water are the hulking remnants of the Golden Gate Bridge. That overgrown triangular pillar that's poking through the mist? That's what's left of the Transamerica Pyramid. Beyond that, and the strange red stuff that appears to cover animal and plant life in ways that don't thrill Aloy too much, Guerrilla hasn't offered many details about the sequel's plot. But after the wholly unique sci-fi story that kept us up through long nights until we'd finished the first game, we've got patience to spare to see what new revelations about the old world Horizon Forbidden West has in store. Currently, the game doesn't have a release date, so stay tuned.
Resident Evil VillageAnyone who's worked their way through the main games in Capcom's storied horror series knows Resident Evil's multiple installments are more than mere variations on a single theme. And while story details are still light for the PS5-bound Resident Evil Village, Capcom's announcement trailer showed off more varied environments, and more ways to survive or start over, than pretty much any other RE game to date.
To our eyes, Village also looks as next-gen as any game in Sony's PS5 lineup. Light bounces just the right amount off of pots and pans hanging in a forsaken kitchen; particle effects dapple an eerie snowfall, and sepia-toned vignettes contrast flashback memories sharply with the opulent chandeliers and spiraling minarets of a gothic estate. For a game that'll no doubt rely heavily on the life-or-death difference between light and the unseen dangers lurking in the shadows, it just looks and feels right.
As for the story, we'll let the studio set the stage: "Years after the tragic events of Resident Evil 7 Biohazard, Ethan Winters has started over with his wife Mia, finally living in peace and putting the past behind them. However, Chris Redfield, the legendary hero from previous Resident Evil games, suddenly disrupts their life, throwing a devastated Ethan into a new and twisted nightmare in search of answers."
That's not a ton of setup, but with a preview trailer like this one, who cares? We can't help but be spellbound by Village's moody atmosphere. Capcom says on the game's website that more details are coming in August, with Resident Evil Village slated to emerge from the darkness sometime in 2021.
The best of the rest
Ready for a rundown of even more of the PS5 game announcements that caught our eye? So are we! Most of these games didn't come with a lot of details beyond what Sony offered up alongside their quick-hit preview trailers, but remember: Before this week's event, we didn't even know that some these games existed in the first place. Let's dive in — and be sure to catch our first-reaction post to snag a glimpse at even more upcoming PS5 games that would've made this list even longer.
Hitman 3IO Interactive is bringing Agent 47 to the PS5, wrapping up its World of Assassination game trilogy with new environments, new disguises, and even more creative ways to take down a target. Just like a finely tailored suit, our anti-hero's never looked better than on Sony's suave new system. Hitman 3 takes aim at the PS5 in January of 2021.
Kena: Bridge of Spirits
Indie studio Ember Lab surprised us with a delightful-looking adventure game that appears to drink deep from the well of open-ended exploration perfected by classics like The Legend of Zelda and Okami. Meet the plucky hero at the heart of Kena: Bridge of Spirits, designed from the same animation minds who created the Zelda-centric fan film Majora's Mask – Terrible Fate. Kena's release date wasn't revealed with the trailer, but when it gets here, it'll be a PS5 exclusive.
OK, maybe we were a little bummed that Elden Ring, FromSoftware's upcoming game collaboration with Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin, didn't put in an appearance at Sony's big event. But another FromSoftware classic is headed exclusively to the PS5 in a completely remastered and graphics-enhanced update with Demon's Souls, lavishly upgraded by Japan Studio and Bluepoint Games. No release date was given, but we probably needed the extra time to go back and get good again at the notoriously difficult game that spawned the entire Souls franchise we've come to know and love — in spite of the controller-smashing challenge.
Robots, holograms, exo-suits, and a protective bond to shield a young girl gifted with a hidden power to stave off unknown threats from the skies: We don't know quite what to make of Capcom's announcement trailer for Pragmata, an all-new IP set to arrive in 2022 — all we know is that it looks sci-fi unique.
Little Devil Inside
Developer Neostream took the wraps off a new action-adventure RPG called Little Devil Inside, rendered in a cel-shaded style and set, according to Sony, "in an atmospheric, semi-open world" from a bygone era. A mysterious professor has employed you to set off on a dangerous hunt for research he's not willing (or perhaps not able) to get for himself, and it's up to you to brave hidden dangers in the wilds of Little Devil's Inside's lush but foreboding environments. There's no release date for this one, so we'll keep watching.
- No Spoilers here; just some pleasant post-apocalyptic foreshadowing: The Last of Us Part II is a hit with game critics. Just how big a hit? A huge, enormous, almost-unheard-of one. In the early going following the lifting of the game's June 12 review embargo, TLOU2 is sitting at an near-unimaginable 96 average reviewer's score on Metacritic. Be sure to check out highlights from our review roundup — and then mark your calendars: The Last of Us Part II lets players in on its winning secrets when it arrives on June 19.
- Speaking of The Last of Us, Sony is giving newcomers an incentive to catch up on the franchise before Part II arrives next week. From now through June 18, download the PS4-remastered version of the 2013 original game for $9.99 at the PlayStation Store, before The Last of Us Remastered reverts to its regular $19.99 digital price.
- We can't let Destiny 2 get lost in the shuffle amid all this week's seismic next-gen news. The upcoming Beyond Light expansion looks to take the long-running game in a whole new direction this fall, while stacking new abilities, new storylines, and a new villain on top of Bungie's increasingly compelling space shooter.
In addition to previewing Beyond Light, Bungie also just laid out an ambitious multi-year roadmap for where Destiny 2 is headed after its current season rounds the corner from the expansion's icy date with the mysterious Jovian moon of Europa. Next year will see the story advance further with The Witch Queen expansion, followed in 2022 by an expansion titled Lightfall.
It's safe to say that Bungie is committed to Destiny 2, so expect to see PS5 and Xbox Series X versions of the game as the next console generation swings into view. In the meantime, Beyond Light arrives for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Google Stadia on Sept. 22.
- Bethesda is heading back to Skyrim with The Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor, a big new expansion to the MMO version of its iconic fantasy series that places players 1,000 years before the events of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Longtime Skyrim fans will recognize familiar landmarks, which frame a gothic-flavored new storyline packed with vampires, werewolves, and witches (and, of course, magic). Greymoor is out now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and MacOS, and is set to land at Google Stadia on June 16.
- From the tabletop to the screen, deep-space horror is making the frightening leap with Nemesis: Distress, an upcoming first-person multiplayer game from Ovid Works and Awaken Realms that sets you adrift among aliens, "with a hidden traitor aspect, as well as shooter and survival elements," according to the game's Steam description. A quick peek at the teaser image above assures this board game-to-video game crossover will at least be easy to look at, even if it does scare the oxygen right out of us. There's no release date, but you can check out more screenshots and a teaser video at the game's Steam landing page.
- Let's wave goodbye to this week's future-forward news by taking things old school. Who needs a flashy new console when you can have something a little more retro — even if it means having to sell your dining room table to make room? Arcade1Up has announced the latest in its lineup of 3/4-scale game cabinets, highlighted by 1980s staple Ms. Pac-Man — which via IGN, comes with two more throwback Pac-Man games, plus bottom-scrolling space shooter Galaxian. And if that's not retro (or large) enough, we don't know what to tell you ... other than to make the ultimate floor-space sacrifice and go all in on the upcoming Marvel Pinball cabinet. It's all coming our way later this year, so stay tuned to Arcade1Up's Twitter feed for the latest.
What a week! Until next Friday (when we'll no doubt be all aflutter over the imminent release of The Last of Us Part II), kick back and take one last breather before things really go up a notch. After all the reactions from this week's PS5 reveals, haven't we all earned it?