The PS4 was off to a great start when it released in late 2013, it outsold the Xbox one for a very long time after both consoles were available in the market. I won’t get into the reasons of which one sold better and why, but over 3 years have passed since their launch, and it’s only in the past few quarters that we’ve seen games hitting strides in the visual department.
The along came the PS4 Pro and, while this was an industry shocking mid-console upgrade, I think it set off a lot more hype then it should have. Since it’s release about 6 months ago, we’ve seen some pretty nice looking games come out, especially Horizon: Zero Dawn – which, I think is a game for the PS4 Pro done right. Resident Evil 7 is another game that the PS4 Pro does really well, and benefits from HDR, adding to the already creepy feeling throughout the game.
Now, leaving visuals aside – the other expectations from the PS4 Pro was smoother gameplay. With the introduction of Boost Mode, it has made this somewhat better, but here’s the reality of it; it’s not at par yet. Most games come locked with 30 or 60 FPS, with dips in the minimum frame rate for others which deter from the overall experience. the PS4 Pro alleviates this to some extent, but sometimes not nearly enough.
Fundamentally, it isn’t the hardware or the technical capabilities that are being pushed. It’s the user base. When I have a large enough user base of hardware that can handle the enhanced capabilities of the PS4 Pro, that’s when we’ll start truly seeing the console stretch it’s legs. Now, I’m not advocating that everyone goes out and buys a PS4 Pro, or upgrades to it – it’s just economies of scale. I’ve always maintained that the mid-console upgrade was more or less to introduce VR and capitalize on it, but, in that process it’s left gamers and developers at a cross road.
I don’t know how far out the PS5 or the next PlayStation console is – but given that the PS4 Pro is so new that we still need to allow developers to find that fine line, between catering to the mass PS4 audience and then providing “enhanced” content to the PS4 pro users. In the interim texture patches, boost modes and the like are what we’ll get.
The 3rd dimension to all of this is the the user base having 4K TVs. I’m not saying that you MUST have a 4K TV – but it’s the logical choice. Some games use a method called Super-sampling to improve the graphics for players on 1080p TVs, but not all games will. Right now, I don’t I think it’s worth upgrading from your existing PS4 if you don’t own a 4K TV. This is again leaving gamers at cross roads. With little no visual improvement on the non 4K TV, it’s almost pointless to upgrade. Sure, you’ll still get a performance boost – but that’s like tilting the road downhill to make something go faster. This is actually a smart move by Sony as the boost mode now gives reasons to those without a 4K TV to invest in a PS4 pro.
At this point, it can be said that the support for the PS4 Pro is spotty at best – but given time, and as the user base increases, we’ll start to see some significant strides. I’d imagine that if it took nearly 3 years for a console to hit it’s peak, for a mid-console cycle, it would take at least half that time. I reckon another year out from here, we should be seeing significant changes provided
- Sony gives more reasons for those without 4K TVs to invest in the PS4 Pro
- this would result in the increased user base of the PS4 pro and hopefully compelling enough reasons for those
- without 4K TVs to upgrade.
Of course, VR continuing to grow will also be a big point. Visually, there’s no real conclusive evidence that the PS4 Pro is better than the PS4 for VR. This may change in the future.
Although if you have a 4K TV and are on the fence about picking up a PS4 Pro, here are some great games that will get you the most out of it:
- Horizon Zero Dawn: This is the first PS4 exclusive designed specifically with the PS4 Pro in mind. It looks stunning, so it’s must-have for any PS4 Pro owner.
- Resident Evil 7: An excellent game that really benefits from HDR, adding to the already creepy feeling throughout the game.
- Rise of the Tomb Raider: One of the best examples of PS4 Pro upgrades. While it doesn’t support HDR, visual improvements in both ‘4K’ and 1080p make this is a visual treat.
- The Last Guardian: Supports both 4K and 1080p high performance modes on PS4 Pro and the HDR. HDR works on the existing PS4 as well, however.
- The Last of Us Remastered: Probably the best game for HDR in the PS4 Pro line-up, it supports native 4K at 60fps and looks great.
- Hitman: No HDR support, but both performance and textures are improved on PS4 Pro.
- Battlefield 1: One of the best PS4 Pro upgrades around. There’s more terrain detail and you’ll even get a performance advantage in busy multiplayer games.
- Watch Dogs 2: Looks great in the 4K and 1080p super-sampled versions thanks to improved anti-aliasing.
Now, oddly, where users may opt for the Xbox One Scorpio is the PS4 Pro, will NOT support Ultra HD Blu-Ray. No patches, no updates etc. will provide this support, as it’s a hardware limitation. It does support 4K HDR content from the likes of Netflix and other streaming services.
To summarize – I’d give the PS4 Pro another 8-12 months before calling it out again. Having said that, there’s still plenty of fun to be had with the current generation of consoles. It’s a matter of “when” and not a matter of ‘if”, it will get better. Until then, we’ll continue to keep an eye out on all the developments and continue to keep you posted.