As the ninth console generation approaches, it’s time to look toward Sony’s future. Their system may not compare to Series X, but gamers forget hardware specs while absorbed in captivating games. If nothing else, Sony has the largest and most talented first party stable of all three console manufacturers. Here’s Gaming Instincts’ PlayStation 5 wish list.
Persona 5 Royal just released outside Japan, but it’s never too early to discuss the franchise’s future. This upgraded re-release of the three-year-old social simulation RPG reaches the series’ highest point. It’s difficult imagining a more lavishly produced game, but the jump to PlayStation 5 opens so many doors.
Developed as a cross-generation game, Persona 5 always felt held back by its PS3 origins. Loading screens aren’t long, but individual areas are too small to capture Tokyo’s bustling nature. Its running theme of corrupted individuals devaluing those below them conveniently fits its visual style, with dozens of faceless and repeated NPC’s materializing in and out of each scene. Its thematically consistent nature doesn’t excuse its existence as a means of fitting aging hardware. Looking at PS3 performance, Persona 5 exhibits severe screen tearing along with regular dips below the 30FPS target.
Palaces also suffer from its PS3 origins. Rooms and hallways look pretty at first glance thanks to excellent art design, though upon closer inspection, they lack fine detail. Rooms don’t feel lived in or cluttered enough, with few miscellaneous objects filling them out. Too many assets are re-used—a concession made to fit within the PS3’s limited memory pool.
With Persona 6, though, P-studio jumping two console generations to make a native PlayStation 5 game will provide the series’ most substantial leap between installments. Topping Persona 5’s slick UI may be impossible, but with the better hardware allowing for expanded design, Persona 6 has the potential to rank alongside its predecessor as one of the best RPG’s of all time.
New Naughty Dog IP
Naughty Dog pushes consoles beyond anyone in the industry. Whatever path they take moving forward, they’re the bastions of hope for showcasing the PlayStation 5’s capabilities. Given the logistics of real-world development, not every game will look next-gen.
In fact, many of last-gen’s most technically impressive titles like God of War 3 and Uncharted 3 bested most PS4 and Xbox One games their first three years on the market. The same should be expected in the transition to ninth-gen. The Last of Us Part 2 will probably look better than most PS5 games in its first two years.
Regardless of one’s opinions on the studio’s games, Naughty Dog will push Sony’s custom hardware to its limits in ways no developer except Guerrilla Games can. If any company can make a case for Sony’s high-speed SSD, it’s Naughty Dog.
God of War Sequel
The 2018 God of War positioned itself as a soft reboot, drawing in a new audience while honoring long-time fans with its treatment of Kratos’ character. God of War has always had decent enough storytelling for the kinds of games they were, but the series never would have won narrative awards.
That changed with the 2018 game—the most multilayered entry to date. Its combat broke from tradition, introducing deeper mechanics, but it’s the narrative that cemented its status. God of War 2018 ended on a borderline cliffhanger, opening the door for at least one more game. As the first title to explore Kratos’ psyche to such an extent, its sequel has a lot with which to compete.
With the franchise’s newfound intimate approach to storytelling, the inevitable PlayStation 5 sequel will pull at heartstrings. Given how intelligently prior games’ threads wove into Kratos’ character in this soft reboot, a more traditional continuation of his and Atreus’ journey is an exciting prospect.
Ratchet and Clank
The Ratchet and Clank reboot was far from the lombax’s highest point, with less inventive level design and weaker character interactions than the PS2 entries, but it was still a good game. Much of the reboot’s shortcomings can be chalked up to coinciding with the CG film—a grave error which led to most of the PS4 iteration’s shortcomings.
Its combat aped the original, with tighter controls and later games’ more creative weapons retrofitted into the experience. It felt good to play but lacked charm. Captain Quark wasn’t the same lovable dope as prior iterations. All side characters were forgettable too. Meanwhile, Ratchet and Clank’s nonexistent dynamic misunderstood why people love these characters.
By mixing an original story with a framework held back by the film’s take on these characters and the plot, the Ratchet and Clank reboot felt hollow. With a sequel to that reboot or a new game altogether, Insomniac Games has more breathing room to interpret these characters in a more meaningful fashion without a film dictating how far its writers can take its characters.
It doesn’t hurt that on a PS4 Pro, Ratchet and Clank borders on CG quality. With the PS5, Insomniac’s in-game visuals can exceed that film’s fidelity.
Horizon: Zero Dawn 2
Horizon: Zero Dawn 2 is one of Sony’s surest bets. Guerrilla Games shocked audiences with its seamless transition across genres after thirteen years of the same crap, Guerrilla Cambridge’s work on RIGS: Mechanized Combat League notwithstanding.
The Netherlands-based studio succeeded by marrying technology with game design. It’s easy to be wowed by Horizon’s visuals and attention to detail. It’s the most technically impressive open-world game to grace consoles, but Guerrilla Games used that tech to support its game design. Its procedural generation and level of detail system allows for a stunningly crafted world begging players to get lost without hardware limits intruding upon their immersion.
Complex animations and animation blending brought life to each of its mechanized dinos, adding weight to even the most mundane encounters. Horizon: Zero Dawn was a shocking first step for a developer whose decade-long history consisted of mediocre shooters. With its predecessor’s foundation, combined with lessons learned by the studio and more powerful hardware, Horizon: Zero Dawn 2 may become one of Sony’s classics, encroaching upon The Last of Us or Uncharted 2 levels of acclaim.
PlayStation 5 is Almost Here
There are other PlayStation 5 games worth showing excitement for, but this list stuck to games that would either show off the hardware or sequels that have nowhere to go but up. For example, a Spider-Man sequel on PS5 will be great, but there’s not much more Insomniac can do with that framework given its more solid foundation compared to their more flawed PS4 Ratchet and Clank game. A Ratchet and Clank sequel with better hardware and lessons learned has more potential than a Spider-Man sequel under the same circumstances.