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Image: FalconDesign3D

The world may seem bleak right now, but in PlayStation 5 there’s lots for us to look forward to. Sony may not have done a particularly good job of unveiling the system so far, but behind architect Mark Cerny’s recent sermon are some inspiring features which have us champing at the bit for our next-gen fix. We’ve put our editorial heads together in attempt to illustrate why we’re so hyped for the upcoming console.

God of War PS5 PlayStation 5 1

PS5's Custom SSD Is the True Next-Gen Catalyst, Reckons Rob

Have you tried going back to the PS3 recently? I love that old thing, but you can practically hear the last-gen hardware creak and groan as it boots up and attempts to load, well, anything. And it's starting to feel like the PS4 is reaching similar limits, both in and out of games.

Now don't get me wrong, Sony's current-gen console is still more than capable of pushing some seriously impressive software – but I can't help but think about the potential of the PS5's highly touted SSD. Based on what we know, I think this is the real next-gen game changer. Developers have been singing its praises ever since Sony started boasting about it, and anyone who's slapped an SSD into their PC will know just how much of a difference it can make.

The PS5 promises things like near instantaneous load times, and truly seamless open worlds, all thanks to that precious SSD and the optimised innards that it's working with. The notion of buttery smooth operation across the board already has me sold – but it's the impact on game design itself that makes my head spin.

Imagine God of War without the need to squeeze through gaps or duck under big rocks – concealed loading screens that break up the pacing. On PS5, it could be all action and all exploration, all the time. Imagine Assassin's Creed Odyssey, except you're not greeted with five minutes of load screens - you're just in the game as soon as you hit 'continue'.

Honestly, I don't think we quite understand the impact that this is going to have on how we play games, and that's what makes it so exciting.

PS5 3D Audio Platinum Headphones
Image: Digital Foundry

3D Audio Will Be the Game Changer You Can’t See, Says Sammy

Back when I was in a terrible high school band, I was obsessed with the idea of audio positioning. I somehow managed to convince the group to let me record a concept album, and there was a mid-section where I added helicopters flying overhead and rain pattering against windows. It was awful, of course, but I fell in love with the concept of “presence” all the way back then.

I’m super excited for the PS5’s Tempest Engine, then, because I feel audio in games tends to get short shrift. I own a pair of Sony’s Platinum headphones, and when paired with supported games like Days Gone, the 3D audio is staggering. Not only does it improve the immersion, but it also helps with gameplay, as you can literally locate enemies based on their footsteps alone.

But all of this is a drop in the ocean compared to what will be possible on the Japanese giant’s next-gen hardware. The organisation offloaded the audio processing to the breakout box in PlayStation VR, but PS5’s Tempest Engine alone is roughly as powerful as the PS4’s eight Jaguar Cores. This opens an immense number of possibilities, and you’re probably going to need to experience them first-hand to appreciate them.

I just love how intricate the Japanese giant’s getting with this feature. It wants to model the shape of your head and the position of your ears in order to calculate the miniscule delays that you experience in real-life that help you to process the position of sounds. As an average Joe, I’m salivating at the possibilities here – audio engineers must be doing cartwheels around their sound booths.

PS5 Controller PlayStation 5 DualSense

DualSense's Fancy New Features Will Elevate PS5 Games, States Stephen

With a new console comes a brand new controller, and it'd better be good. You'll only be using the blasted thing for, oh, the entire time you have the machine, so it's in a platform holder's best interests to concoct a pad you actually want to hold in your hands. Sony has been refining its DualShock controller since the PS1, with each iteration updating the design and adding more and more functionality. PS4's DualShock 4 is the best version so far, but PS5's pad is primed to be even better.

Haptic feedback will replace the rumble motors we're all used to, allowing developers to truly customise the physical response supplied by the controller. An example from Wired assures we'll be able to tell the difference between two surfaces in racing games like Gran Turismo Sport. There are so many ways this extra nuance could add to our favourite games – imagine firing various guns and having the pad react differently with each one.

There's equally plenty of potential in DualSense's adaptive triggers. L2 and R2 are getting a major upgrade; devs will be able to change up how they feel to press down, depending on context. Another example we've heard is firing an arrow in Horizon: Zero Dawn. As you draw the bow string back with R2, the trigger will become harder to push as the resistance is ratcheted up. Imagine web swinging in Marvel's Spider-Man and having R2 tense up as gravity pulls the superhero through the curve. These two new features – haptic feedback and adaptive triggers – will go a long way to making games feel more immersive.

New features on a controller are often maligned as gimmicks, but think of DualShock 4's Share button; an ingenious addition that's been adopted by all modern controllers in one way or another. The maligned touch pad has also come into its own, often used as a map button, but devs have found all kinds of ways to utilise it. Similarly, we should expect creators to find some brilliant uses of DualSense's new features. The controller is the gateway to all our games, and PS5 could have Sony's best one yet.

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PS4 Backwards Compatibility Is the PS5's Unsung Hero, Believes Liam

For the past year or so, I've been converting my physical collection of PS4 games into digital versions in anticipation of the PS5. Sony threw me through a bit of a loop with its recent stint of poor messaging when it comes to PS5 backwards compatibility, but we've come out the other side understanding that the vast majority of today's current-gen titles will be playable on the hardware manufacturer's next console. That's something I'm looking forward to in particular, especially so when a select few are primed to receive PS5 enhancements to make them look and run better than ever before.

I'll be upfront, I'm buying Sony's new, swanky machine to play brand new titles. The sort of experiences the Japanese giant can deliver next-generation could reach new heights, but I'll always appreciate being able to take a step back into the past. PS4 games won't find themselves in a Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots situation – stranded to a single system unless you really want to stream them.

As such, I'll be able to dip back into The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt whenever I like. Red Dead Redemption 2 will be waiting for me in my PS5 library, presumably from day one for a second playthrough. We no longer have to worry about keeping an outdated console hooked up to our 4K TVs, taking up room and splitting our libraries between two consoles. However, it's the improvements that the PS5 will bring that has me excited.

This is Bloodborne's chance to shine. The exclusive never received a PS4 Pro patch, meaning it continues to suffer from frame rate issues. Sony could well and truly put that complaint to bed with a next-gen update that gives the Lovecraftian-inspired experience a makeover. Phwoar, just the thought of it gets me hyped.

We're more than likely not getting backwards compatibility support for PS1, PS2, and PS3 games, but then I doubt the majority of us were actually expecting that to happen. PS4 support is enough to make me excited for the PS5, meaning I can take my library of 400+ digital games with me and have easy access to them for the next seven or so years.

What’s got you most excited for the PS5? Is it the super-fast SSD, the 3D audio, or the new controller? Maybe you just want to see some shiny new graphics? Whatever the case, let us know in the comments section below.

Which PS5 feature are you most hyped for?