Sony has given gamers a first look at the design of its next console as well as some of the titles it will play.
The PlayStation 5 has a black core surrounded by white edging, and was pictured in a vertical position.
Two sequels to bestselling PS4 releases were among the standout games announcements – Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and Horizon: Forbidden West.
Sony’s machine will launch alongside Microsoft’s rival Xbox Series X before the end of the year.
“While there’s still a lot of unanswered questions about the PS5, namely price and release date, I think Sony did exactly what they needed to with this reveal event,” commented Laura Kate Dale, a freelance games critic.
“It showed off an hour of games, mixing sequels to popular titles, and new franchises from its biggest first-party studios, for a solid hour.
“People on Twitter are very split on whether they like or hate the look of the box, but overall Sony spent an hour getting people excited.”
More than two dozen new games were shown off in total, with other highlights including a first look at Sony’s racing game Grand Turismo 7 and a brief look at Capcom’s zombie horror game Resident Evil 8.
It was not always clear during the event which titles were PS5 exclusives and which were not.
The PlayStation 5 is set to go on sale later this year, seven years after the PS4.
In addition to being able to deliver improved visuals, the new machine also has a customised hard drive that will make it possible to radically reduce load times.
Sony is building a library of launch titles that will only be available on its next-generation machine. This contrasts with Microsoft’s approach, which is to initially release new first-party games on both its current and next-gen consoles.
Sony opted to stream a pre-recorded video rather than a host a live event because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The video was broadcast at 1080p resolution, much lower than the PS5 is capable of.
The PS4 outsold the Xbox One globally by more than a 2:1 margin, but the gap has been much smaller in the UK.
In advance of Thursday night’s event, one industry insider said there were two things he was most excited about.
“The first is the new controller – the adaptive triggers offer deeper and more meaningful feedback for gameplay,” explained Robert Karp, development director at UK developer Codemasters.
“The other is the super-fast loading. On PS5, waiting to get into the action is a thing of the past.”
The new Spider-Man game acts a follow-up to 2018’s action-adventure game based on the Marvel superhero.
But this time round the protagonist is the Afro-Latino teenager Miles Morales rather than Peter Parker. The brief trailer showed him fighting and web-slinging through New York, showing off snow and electricity particle effects that would not have been possible in such detail on the PS4.
Several of the other reveals reintroduced familiar characters.
Aloy is back in the follow-up to Horizon: Zero Dawn.
In Forbidden West, the heroine was shown swimming underwater as what appeared to be a robot crocodile passed overhead, and battling against robot dinosaurs.
Assassin Agent 47 returned in Hitman III, IO Interactive’s stealth series. It is not due to go on sale until January 2021, however, so will miss out on launching alongside the PS5.
Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart marked a return to Insomniac Games’ cartoon-like third-person action franchise.
Oddworld: Soulstorm was a surprise, bringing back the former slave turned hero Abe, in a series that dates back to the original PlayStation.
And Sackboy also returned for more platforming in A Big Adventure, a follow-up to the earlier Little Big Planet Games.
There was also a first look at some new intellectual property, including:
- Project Athia, a which features a female protagonist on an alien planet who has to survive in a world populated by strange creatures
- Deathloop, which centres on two competing assassins battling within a “time loop”, which is being developed by Arkane Lyon, the makes of the Dishonored series
- Pragmata, a sci-fi adventure whose trailer showed a robot girl and a man in a flying suit tackling a space ship that had reversed gravity, which ends up transporting them from planet Earth to the Moon. It is not due for release until 2022
“What I found particularly great was the push on new IP,” gaming presenter Shay Thompson told the BBC.
“Most of the protagonists featured were women or girls, which is a huge deal. That would’ve been a pipe dream, even 10 years ago.”
There was no mention of any virtual reality games, however. Nor was was there any mention of a PlayStation 5 version of The Last of Us 2.
Sony also highlighted new features of the PS5’s hardware including 3D Audio and a 4K Blu-ray player. It also said the the new console would be released in a version that lacked a disc drive.
While Sony and Microsoft’s next-generation consoles will battle for sales, they both face the challenge of launching at a time when the coronavirus pandemic may not be over.
Although both firms have said that production is on track for winter 2020 releases, it is unclear what level of demand there will be.
“Console gaming has proven to be resilient to economic downturns because it continues to offer good per-hour entertainment value,” Piers Harding-Rolls wrote in a research note for Ampere Analysis.
“Even so, the recession and growing unemployment in key sales territories will undermine adoption – less so at launch [but] more significantly after mid-2021.”