The next step in gaming was taken only a couple of days ago, as PS4 Pro, the overpowered counterpart of Sony’s latest entertainment system, was released worldwide. Ever since its proper reveal back in September, where a strong emphasis was put on the console being optimal for ‘4K’ and HDR gaming, Full HD TV owners like yours truly have been wondering about many things.
Sony came out and explained that 1080p display owners would also see benefits, such as better performance, framerate and texture detail, with the degree of features varying and depending on what each developer decided to do with the tech at hand. Even in this relatively dubious situation, I decided to take a leap of faith and purchase a PS4 Pro to plug it into my Full HD display and see for myself whether if it was worth it or not. Now that I have, I can tell you some.
PlayStation 4 Pro is undeniably a PlayStation 4
One of the questions that I’ve seen many people ask on social media was whether if the UI and overall feel of the PS4 Pro would differ from that of its junior sidekick. In utter short: it does not in the slightest. PS4 Pro looks and feels exactly the way PS4 does, with the same features and UI appearance and functionality. Every added feature to PS4 Pro has no effect on the appearance of the system when you boot it up, so former PS4 gamers will feel right at home.
The system establishes 100% similar connections to other PS4 systems, whether Pro or otherwise. The friend list looks the same as ever, trophies, profile, settings, voice input…..it’s all there.
The volatile Pro sparkle
Once I made sure the system felt like a PS4, I proceeded to showcase what sets it aside from its predecessor by booting up two games that have been Pro-Enhanced: Rise of the Tomb Raider and World of Final Fantasy.
Before playing RotTR on PS4 Pro, I played a bit of it on my original PS4 in order to be able to establish some visual contrast. When I booted the game up on PS4 Pro, I immediately noticed how the settings had the 3 performance modes available for the game.
I started with ‘Improved framerate’, which unlocks the game’s framerate (fluctuating between 40 and 50 fps) and maintains solid 1080p resolution. A couple of minutes was all it took for my jaw to drop. The difference in performance is strongly noticeable, with the game fluidly blending animations, environmental circumstances and all sorts of effects with seamlessness. I switched to ‘Enhanced Visuals’, which locks the framerate on 30 but applies all sorts of texture-enhancing solutions that called for a crisp, always-clear image quality. Jumping back to 30fps was again very noticeable but the level of detail dramatically increased as well. By selecting ‘4K Visuals’ on a 1080p display, downsampling happens, allowing once again for a really good-looking image running at 30fps.
Out of the 3, I continued to play using the ‘Improved framerate’ setting, which offered a more meaningful set of advantages to my experience with the game.
In the case of WoFF, I knew how it looked on the original PS4, as I finished it on that console. However, booting it up on PS4 Pro brought a very unsettling reality: the game does not look good. If anything, it looks worse than it does on PS4, and is in dire need of a fix.
— Omar Bousfanj (@BousfHearts) November 12, 2016
What this shows is that how bright PS4 Pro shines is all up to what the devs make of it in the developing process. Some games will excel and offer relevant improvements, while some will suffer and need fixes or simply not offer a substantial enough upgrade for the system to be meaningful. I truly hope there’s most of the former.
I own a 1080p display. Should I dive in?
I have seen this question being asked more times than I can count. Many people and Sony themselves have offered answers but I felt like giving my 2 cents.
As you could read above, my experience with RotTR was quite a shocking one. But I also know why it was like that. I haven’t played any top-tier games on a gaming PC, or games which offered different display methods, prioritising different elements.
What I mean to say is that, if you, like me, have always gamed on consoles, PS4 Pro will feel relevant enough from day one and it will feel like a worthy purchase at its full price. However, what PS4 Pro does is still less than what high-end PC gaming has been doing for quite some time. If you are a PC gamer, much of what PS4 Pro has to offer on a 1080p display won’t hold any surprise factor.
There are many positions to take at this point in time: you can jump right into it and hope for it to prove its worth, you can wait until more Pro-Enhanced games are in the market to see how many of them make a strong statement of improvement, you can be on the lookout for potentially elusive Black Friday deals or you can simply wait for a price drop to roll in while you enjoy games on your PS4.
Regardless of what each gamer chooses to do, I am personally excited to be on board for PS4 Pro’s journey now, and I have my faith placed in developers who should do their best to make their games shine at their brightest with the system’s tech.