Ultimately, it comes down to how developers use it, much like anything else.
One of the few hard facts we know about the PS5 (and the Xbox Scarlett) is that they will be using solid state drives. SSDs, as they are more commonly known, have no mechanical moving parts—this not only means lower chances of failure, but also that things load far quicker. By orders of magnitude, to be clear. Since the head of the drive no longer has to physically seek out the data it is looking for, loading can be near instantaneous.
And yes, Sony has played up the potential benefits of the SSD in the PS5 for all they’re worth, and on the whole and in general, there appears to be some expectation that load times will be magically gone across the board.
But that doesn’t have to be the case. As with everything else, it comes down to how developers choose to use the SSD. If they choose to have more intensive data packets streamed in real time, or if they simply don’t optimize their game for SSDs, then you won’t get that most commonly held benefit in that game.
This is something that Remedy’s technical director, Mika Vehkala, was quick to emphasize in an interview with PlayStation Official Magazine (Christmas 2019, issue 169). And while that may sound at odds with what Remedy has said before, it’s important to keep his full quote in mind.
“If games would stay the same in terms of scope and visual quality it’d make loading times be almost unnoticeable and restarting a level could be almost instant [in PS5 games],” Vehkala said.
“However, since more data can be now used there can also be cases where production might be cheaper and faster when not optimising content, which will lead into having to load much more data, leading back into a situation where you have about the same loading times as today.”
Basically, since PS5 is a next generation console, meaning players want better looking games, and better looking games are more data-intensive, requiring more data to be streamed in real time, it’s entirely possible there isn’t that much of a difference in loading times for some games—especially if their developers don’t optimize for the SSD in particular.
Which makes sense—developers do like to push graphics over all else, after all. I can only hope they do optimize their games for SSDs, and we start seeing more instantaneous loading. I think games look good enough as they are right now.