^Stay tuned for Jim's explanation of Ragnarök's display settings, and how much they matter.
Is nine graphics options overkill for a console game?
It's a fair question. Last week, Santa Monica Studio published an infographic detailing the nine possible graphics modes for the much-anticipated God of War: Ragnarök. This seemed excessive to some people, especially as (so the argument goes) this is a console game, so surely all this visual optimisation stuff should be left up to the developers. Shouldn't it be, ultimately, up to them to decide how best to run their game on standardised hardware?
Well, there is merit to that argument, I suppose. But this infographic, despite looking like a spreadsheet at first, is just a basic piece of consumer information that tells you what to expect from the product in terms of its compatibility with your setup. There isn't a single use case where all of these "nine modes" come into play (unless you work for Digital Foundry, our sister site, and it's literally your job to compare them). In fact, if you've got a base PS4, which the vast majority of PlayStation's user base is still using, you don't have to worry about any of this. Your options are start or stop. The game is a PS4 title at heart, so you won't be getting a poor or cut-down experience: fear not, this isn't another Cyberpunk 2077 situation. It'll just work, and you'll have a great time.
On PS4 Pro and PS5, you have a choice between performance and quality modes which if you have either of those machines you should be more than used to by now. On PS5, there are modifiers to how these behave depending on your display's capabilities, and how your PS5 is set up on a system level. To put it simply, if you have a VRR and/or a 120Hz panel, the performance and quality modes are able to take advantage of those.
Of particular interest to me, as it goes, is the Quality + HFR + VRR configuration: Spider-Man has a similar mode and it's excellent. You wouldn't think that a 40fps cap is that much better than a 30fps cap, but it feels like a huge leap in performance. Not quite as snappy for the frame-heads out there who think that 60fps is an acceptable minimum at best, but for my own purposes, it's a fine trade off to get lovely judder-free motion without compromising whatsoever on image quality.
But that's by-the-by. If you don't care about any of this stuff, you absolutely don't have to. Just hit start and go! You're guaranteed a good time. It's just nice of Santa Monica Studio to accomodate those of us who have the gear, and the annoying habit of being pernickety about these things, to have a preference either way.
Choice! Choice is good!