PS4 Pro: an upgrade worth having that “practically demands a new display purchase too”

By Stephany Nunneley, Friday, 9 September 2016 21:30 GMT

Digital Foundry’s Richard Leadbetter was able to spend a few hours looking at what PlayStation 4 Pro has to offer during the console’s reveal earlier this week.

According to him, the key takeaway from the game presentations was that while the GPU in PS4 Pro “lacks the horsepower to render out challenging content at native 4K,” the presentations showed a “worthwhile, highly desirable increase in fidelity over 1080p.”

“The good news is that several hours later, I emerged from the event impressed with the quality of the experience and respectful of the wizardry utilized to make this GPU punch above its weight,” he said. “However, fundamentally, there’s little doubt that PlayStation 4 Pro is going to be a tough sell.

“Traditional gaming media simply can’t capture and communicate the quality of the imagery I saw today, as there’s no real way to showcase HDR meaningfully. And this is actually a key component of the PlayStation 4 Pro experience. 4K is impressive and a worthy upgrade in its own right, but HDR takes it to the next level.”

In some scenarios, he goes on to say, HDR adds just as much extra detail as the additional resolution.

“In Horizon Zero Dawn, the skybox is transformed, on Uncharted 4, the beach on the island level we saw is washed out, completely lacking in texture until HDR is enabled,” states the Digital Foundry report. “What’s clear is that the perception of HDR having an impact on color vibrancy is only half of the picture. Yes, contrast is massively improved, but in turn, this allows for much more detail to be resolved in the presentation.”

With Rise of the Tomb Raider, Crystal Dynamics provides a pause menu feature which allows the user to switch between the various modes on the PS4 Pro version of the game: 4K30 presentation with HDR support; a 1080p30 mode that ramps up quality settings to the max; and unlocked frame-rate mode for 1080p.

The Tomb Raider title was “by far and away the best third party 4K title” DF saw at the PlayStation Meeting, per the report.

PS4 Pro will offer boosts to those with 1080p screens, but it will be limited when compared to the “big gain” which is in 4K and HDR.

“What we saw today is an upgrade worth having, but the reality is stark – right now, you’re not just looking at a console upgrade, but one that practically demands a new display purchase too,” sates DF.

“And the issue there is that getting the best 4K HDR experience certainly isn’t cheap, even when PS4 Pro itself looks set to offer great value. It’s a potential minefield and one we’ll be hoping to guide you through once the new PlayStation 4 Pro launches.”

In the report, he also discusses how developers at the meeting stated PlayStation architect Mark Cerny would touch upon the specifics of the custom hardware features in the next few weeks.

If you head through the link to Digital Foundry, you can read the full rather detailed report. In it, he also chats about some of the other games on display such as Days Gone By, Mass Effect Andromeda, and Infamous: First Light and a separate analysis for Horizon: Zero Dawn.

The release date for PS4 Pro has been set as November 10 for Australia, Europe, Japan and North America and will run you $399/€399/£349.

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