I have spent a few days with the PS4 Pro, and sure you can go ahead and watch performance analysis videos on YouTube, but I am here to give you some real feedback on the experience I have had playing a couple of the games that have been updated with Pro support. I am a gamer at heart, so take this as some honest advice to what I think of the PS4 Pro’s power and just how well it uses 4K. I have already covered the Pro's specs and mentioned how it is also a 1080p console, and now that I have witnessed it for myself, I can give some honest feedback on what the big deal is about the console.
All the games below were tested on an LG 55″UH617 TV that supports both 4K and HDR.
First, some perspective about 4K Gaming
It is important to keep in mind that 4K gaming is not easy. I have a GTX 1080 PC, with 16GB of RAM, and a fairly decent Core i7 processor, and I spent the weekend trying out all the latest games in 4K. Many of them did not handle well, with Rise of the Tomb Raider failing to run at 60fps in 4K. Older games like Borderlands 2, ran without a hitch, but anything from this generation would need a Titan card to accomplish true 4K in 60fps.
After I realized this, I buried my hatchet. Sony has crafted a powerful console in the PS4 Pro that can output 4K, or close to 4K at times, for under R7000. You have to appreciate that. A PC of its power will cost over R15k, or more. Okay enough about that, what about the games?
Please note: All screenshots and in-game footage captured on the PS4 Pro.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
The first game I just had to try was Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, and although I thought the visuals would be outstanding, it was not as breath-taking as I hoped. The game’s HDR support is beyond anything I have ever seen before, but the Pro renders the game at 1440p, which in my opinion is a high jump from 1080p, but not a high enough jump to really make an impact.
When we look at Watch Dogs 2, which has gone from 1080p on the standard PS4, to 1800p on the Pro, then the changes are noticeable. Still, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End looks amazing, just as good as it did when it released, and that darn HDR cannot be unseen.
The latest game to release and the one that everyone is talking about, is Dishonored 2. Although the game looks fantastic on the standard PS4, as the Void Engine is amazing, there were some issues I faced while playing it.
The engine did some strange render mechanic for distant objects as they appear blurry until you get close to them. I know most games use this and it is a common practice, but Dishonored 2 had it much closer than I have ever seen it done before. The PS4 Pro runs the game at native 4K, and the differences are substantial. From the title screen, I could already see the image quality sharper than before, and upon loading into the, there was a massive difference. Everything was sharper, and the overall quality of the game improved. Even distant objects lost that blur, and were much more visible.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Rise of the Tomb Raider was one of the games that I tried to get running on my GTX 1080 PC, but even on 4K with ultra-settings, it was hard to keep a stable frame rate. It is the same on the Pro, but Rise of the Tomb Raider offers an enhanced 1080p mode too. The 4K looks stunning, and the 1080p mode looks great too as it is rendered in 4K and down sampled to 1080p.
This means that all those jagged edged will be super-sampled and won’t be present. Interesting enough, the best option I found was the 1080p 60fps mode, that ran the game smoother than ever.
Rise of the Tomb Raider is one of the better examples of how the PS4 Pro takes advantage of 1080p displays.
The Elder Scrolls Online
The Elder Scrolls Online is a great looking game, but it suffers from some bland visuals on the PlayStation 4, mostly the lack of ambient occlusion, and water reflections. On the PlayStation 4 Pro, this is fixed, but at the cost of 4K.
The 1080p mode, lets the game render gorgeous water reflections, as well as improved lighting, draw distance, and ambient occlusion. The 4K mode, on the other hand, has none of these enhancements. If you look at the images, the effect is quite noticeable, and once you have seen the 1080p mode, you would not want to go back.
Watch Dogs 2
Watch Dogs 2 is a great looking game, and on PlayStation 4 Pro its 1800p resolution is not the only thing that has been added. The game’s lighting looks better; draw distance is much further away, and the water, oh my gosh the water, looks exceptional.
Watch Dogs 2 is a perfect example of the power of the PS4 Pro, not just for 4K gaming, but also for better visual output. I could not care less that the game is not native 4K, as the world looks so much better than the demo I played in 1080p. Its lower 1800p resolution.
Ratchet and Clank
Did you ever wish to play a Pixar film? Well, Ratchet and Clank on the Pro is the closest we will get for now. The game’s native 4K and its HDR is a match made in heaven. It is pure eye candy and something that once seen, cannot be unseen. Throughout the game's planets, the HDR gives the game a crisp and realistic look, that along with the checkerboard 4K, just creates perfection.
PS4 Pro Gaming: The Good, and the Bad
There are a few other titles that make use of the PS4 Pro, but I cannot say that the improvement was as drastic as I hoped for. These include Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2, Black Ops III, and Infinite Warfare. Sure, all these games run at a native 4K resolution, but the other games I mentioned above, have done other things to the engine, to improve on visuals and resolution.
The overall effect of the higher res, in hand with say, water reflections, and improved draw distance, results in a much nicer visual fidelity than just 4K rendering.
Watch Dogs 2, as I mentioned above, is the perfect example of this as the game’s 1080p mode looked blurry and washed out. Ubisoft, instead of pushing for 4K, they settled with 1800, while at the same time adjusting the engine to improve on other aspects of it. The results are beyond what I thought was possible with the Pro.
It is a gamble what you are going to get when loading up a new game, but overall I have not been disappointed so far. Watch Dogs 2 is by far the most impressive I have seen, and then Ratchet and Clank comes in with its adorable visuals. I have also say that Dishonored 2 looks much better than it did when I played it last week on my old PlayStation 4.
I hope developers don’t try to push 4K that much in my opinion. I hope that they kind of skimp on the resolution, to improve on other things like Ubisoft did with Watch Dogs 2. 1800p is more than enough to make the game look crisp, and then engine tweaks can take place to make the game look even better.
The PS4 Pro takes massive screenshots, of which you cannot appreciate here. I have put together some which I took while doing this article, you can view them all by visiting this link (please note, it's a big download).
Below is a gameplay compilation of some of the games I played on the PS4 Pro, remember it was captured on a 4K TV, so you won't see the same quality unless you're viewing it at the same resolution.) The only game that nears that “ugly” border is the Assassin's Creed remaster.
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