Ratchet & Clank Demo Shows What the PlayStation 5 Is Capable Of


Ever since Microsoft and Sony announced their upcoming consoles, there have been questions about the design of both platforms. Historically, new console generations have always come with a large increase in available RAM. That’s not happening with the Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5, both of which will offer ~2x the RAM of their baseline predecessors, as opposed to the 16x increase from the Xbox 360/PS3 to the Xbox One/PS4. We’ve seen a few tech demos from companies like Unreal that hinted at the power of these platforms, but little to directly confirm it — until now.

A new, 6-minute+ gameplay trailer for Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart showcases how the high-speed storage of the PlayStation 5 can be used for fast world loads beyond anything we’ve seen from a current-generation title. Rift Apart appears to rely on twin portal mechanics, much like Portal and Portal 2, but amped to the nth degree. First, here’s the video, with some screenshots to follow:

The geometry processing/level transitions when Ratchet portal travels are very interesting. I’m going to show some image sequences as examples.

When Ratchet ‘hooks’ a portal, at first, it’s just a gold polygonal effect. Nothing all that crazy here.

The new area of the level effectively loads in while you’re still solidly in the first. This happens in fractions of a second.

Barely a blink later, and you’re already moving through the portal. This isn’t necessarily much different from what Valve gave us, though the execution is next-level in terms of visual fidelity and the transitions are quick and smooth.

The other warping mechanic is purple, and it seems to be used to move you much greater distances. In this case, you start off by falling towards a rift:

Plunging through it, you spend a second or two in this weird, disjointed fractional space. It’s clearly a disguised level load, but when you fall out of this space — which takes virtually no time at all — you’re in an entirely different area of the level. I left the YouTube player in the screenshot so you could see the geometry around Ratchet before and after he falls through the purple void area. It’s distinctly different.

This is the PlayStation 5’s SSD horsepower in action, but as we’ve previously discussed, these performance levels are going to be achievable on the PC as well. Sony clearly wasn’t kidding when it talked about being able to offset RAM usage with fast-enough SSD storage. There’s also evidence of true ray tracing throughout the demo, with Clank appearing to reflect the environment realistically at several points.

The visual effects in the game and its overall presentation, at least in this demo, are top-notch. The frame rate noticeably sags in some places — the game isn’t even hitting locked-solid 30fps — but there’s time to work those kinks out before the launch.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is expected within the PlayStation 5 launch window, but an exact launch date hasn’t been disclosed. That’s led to concern in some corners about whether there are going to be enough next-gen games ready at launch to justify launching new platforms at all. Personally, I’m more in favor of launching than not, but Sony and Microsoft continue to play things close to the chest on a lot of data points we ought to know by now, including launch lineup and pricing. Even if both companies wanted to cancel the launch, neither likely wants to be the one to announce it first. If Microsoft were to skip its launch and Sony refuse to do the same, the Xbox manufacturer would be handing its competitor an uncontested holiday season. Nobody is going to be anxious to make that mistake.

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