A new PS4 emulator is in development from the creator of RPCS3, though it's likely years away from running games

The Last Guardian
(Image credit: Sony)

Exciting news, PC gamers: We now have yet another way to pine for Bloodborne on PC. A new emulator project appeared on Github on Saturday from the creator of excellent PlayStation 3 emulator RPCS3, this one named RPCSX. Its target platform? The PlayStation 4—an exciting prospect, since Sony's PC ports inevitably won't cover the system's entire library. For the foreseeable future, though, pining after PS4 exclusives like Bloodborne is all we'll be able to do, as the emulator is likely years away from making commercial games legitimately playable.

There are several reasons to temper your expectations here, including the fact that RPCSX currently isn't being built for Windows. "This is an experimental emulator for PS4 written in C++ for Linux. It's NOT possible to run any games yet. It's also unknown when it will become possible," says the Github page.

RPCS3 has been in development for a decade, and still 30% of the games in the PS3's library "either can't be finished, have serious glitches or have insufficient performance" in the emulator. Since RPCSX is just getting started, it could be a year or more before games so much as boot, let alone run smoothly. There are reasons to be optimistic here, though: RPCSX is being led by the same programmer who started RPCS3, with a couple other longtime RPCS3 contributors also on board. The PS4's x86 architecture is essentially the same as a modern PC's. Even though it does some things differently (memory is shared between GPU and CPU, for example), it should be much easier to translate than the PS3's notoriously complex Cell processor.

There will still be a million problems to solve, though: emulating the PS4's OS, dealing with encryption, shaders, building a UI, eventually adding Windows support… all those things take time. Enough time that I still wouldn't be shocked to see Sony remaster Bloodborne and bring it to PC before RPCSX can play it properly. This isn't actually the first project to tackle PS4 emulation: there's fpPS4, Orbital, Kyty, and GPCS4 are examples of several others, all in very early stages of development. It's possible the pedigree of RPCSX's developers quickly vaults it to the top in terms of interest, though, helping the open source project attract more contributors in the months to come.

One other exciting thing about RPCSX—that I have to again stress is likely years away—is PS5 support. The two use essentially the same architecture, and in RPCSX's burgeoning Discord channel, developer DH said that's where the "X" in the name comes in.

"PS5 has almost the same [firmware] and [hardware]," he wrote. "It will be emulator of PS4 only for long time. It seems good idea, but PS5 emulation is not in our priority, we will not upload any related with PS5 things soon … It will be emulator of PS4 only for long time."

This will be an exciting piece of software to watch develop, as I think it has a real shot at becoming a PS4 emulator that can run proper games. Just make sure you don't get it mixed up with PCSX4, a scam I wrote about several years ago. That one's completely fake—too bad the name is so similar! 

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).