The PlayStation 4 Pro upgrades are arriving en masse - to the point where it's very difficult for us to keep up here at Digital Foundry. We'll be taking a look at as many games as we can, and since many of the enhancements are simple resolution boosts, we've decided to put together a single reference article that contains video analysis and a breakdown of the key enhancements.
We've moved our workflow on to 4K in order to fully capture exactly what ultra HD compatible formats like PlayStation 4 Pro and PC offer, but YouTube's high levels of compression makes getting a sense of the upgrade difficult in many cases. For that reason, we've recently launched a Patreon that offers access to everything we do in a pristine ultra HD downloadable format - h.264 at the moment, but we're currently researching HEVC for the same excellent quality with much lower download sizes. You can check out a sample at digitalfoundry.net.
In addition to covering as many PlayStation 4 Pro releases as we can, we'll also be updating with relevant patches that improve performance or add other features. We've recently revealed that the likes of Watch Dogs 2, Mantis Burn Racing and Deus Ex Mankind Divided had performance issues not found on the original PlayStation 4 and we're happy to report that patches have been issued for all of them, addressing our issues. In the case of Mantis Burn Racing, a native 4K at a locked 60Hz is confirmed and developer VooFoo Studios has also added HDR support too.
We'll be presenting these updates in the order that we look at them, with the newest coverage at the top of the page. We've had to split this guide into two pages, owing to its rapidly ballooning size, so here's the breakdown of titles.
- Diablo 3
- Mafia 3
- Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
- Assassin's Creed: The Ezio Collection
- Rise of the Tomb Raider
- Farming Simulator 17
- The Last Guardian
- The Last of Us Remastered
- Final Fantasy 15
- Assassin's Creed Syndicate
- Dishonored 2
- Uncharted 4
- Call of Duty Black Ops 3
- Battlefield 1
- FIFA 17
- Ratchet and Clank
- Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
- InFamous First Light/Second Sun
- Watch Dogs 2
- Call of Duty Infinite Warfare
- Call of Duty Modern Warfare Remastered
- Titanfall 2
- Batman: Return to Arkham
- Mantis Burn Racing
- Resolution: 1080p to 2160p dynamic
- Additional features: 1080p super-sampling, ambient occlusion and bloom tweaks
- HDR: No
Clearly sign-posted patch notes reveal the addition of PlayStation 4 Pro support for Diablo 3, with update 1.15 adding "4K support" to this celebrated game. On the face of it, this could mean anything in a world where Overwatch's 4K upgrade amounts to little more than improved texture filtering and a 4K HUD. However, Diablo 3 is a different beast entirely. The title uses a dynamic resolution on PS4 Pro, adjusting image clarity based on how taxing a scene is. So for example, you get a true native 4K for indoor areas, like the New Tristram tavern, and even the Cathedral dungeon with no enemies in sight. A full native 3840x2160 resolution is the upper bounds on PS4 Pro when faced with really basic environments.
With a maelstrom of effects and a screen filled with enemies, Diablo 3's renderer scales back down to 1080p on PS4 Pro. We tested using a level 70 character running through a hectic Nephalem Rift - and it really represents the lower bounds of what you can expect. In practise, that dynamic resolution actually rests in between 1080p and 4K for most gameplay - you get 1872p in the centre of New Tristram for example, and 1728p in the earlier dungeons. Essentially, it scales up and down so seamlessly, and uses a swathe of different resolutions that are typically much higher than the standard PS4's 1080p. And for Pro users attached to a full HD display - yes, this output is downscaled to 1080p for a much cleaner look.
Performance holds up well, with the dynamic scaler mostly locking gameplay to 60fps with only the most minor of stutter creeping in. However, a three-player session with lots of action on-screen did see the dynamic scaler plummet to 1080p, accompanied by a momentary drop to 30fps - classic double-buffer v-sync. A quartet of high-level characters flooding the screen with magic may have an adverse impact on performance, but overall, we found it hard to shift the frame-rate from the target 60fps.
Other enhancements are thin on the ground - we noted improvements to ambient occlusion and a more impactful bloom effect. However, it's the way that the resolution boost makes the most of Blizzard's intricate artwork that really sells this Pro implementation. It's a beautiful game and if you've not played it, it's well worth a look. As things stand, the game's available in the current PSN sale for Ł15.99 - cheaper than many retail and online stores and a tempting proposition for Pro owners.
- Resolution: 1440p
- Additional features: 1080p super-sampling, minor shadow quality, motion blur and draw distance tweaks
- HDR: No
Mafia 3's PS4 Pro patch is another example of poor messaging - take a look at the patch notes and there's no mention at all of support for Sony's new console - but to suffice to say that booting up the game reveals an instant improvement, with increased resolution and tweaks to a few of the renderer's settings.
The native 1080p of the base PlayStation 4 title gets a bump up to 1440p, a perceptible upgrade for ultra HD display users running with 4K output engaged on the console. The picture is still soft though, owing to a combination of a heavy post-process pipeline and temporal anti-aliasing. Image quality isn't a revolutionary step forward and nowhere near a native 4K, but it's still a satisfying enough leap over standard PS4 hardware. Pro owners with 1080p displays also see the benefit of super-sampling down from the higher internal resolution - though there is a jarring reduction in quality when the game switches to one of its many pre-rendered cut-scenes, which remain as they were on base hardware.
Visual improvements consist of two minor upgrades - motion blur benefits from more samples, giving a cleaner, smoother look. Shadow quality also gets a small upgrade, but it seems to be limited to spotlight shadows. Overall though, the game's graphical make-up seems much the same - though it seems that LODs have had a minor tweak with road markings drawing in at a greater range on Pro.
In terms of performance, the uneven frame-pacing seen on PS4 at launch is now gone, replaced with a standard 30fps cap utilising adaptive v-sync - so you will see tearing when performance dips under its target. Pro keeps the frame-pacing fix and has no tearing at all, running with full v-sync throughout. However, in the game's most taxing areas, this does result in depressed performance compared to the base PlayStation 4 game - something we shouldn't be seeing.
Overall, Mafia 3's PS4 Pro turnout represents a decent enough upgrade overall, though it's hardly a game-changing revelation. Clearly a good amount of work went into it though, making the complete lack of signposting of Pro support in the patch notes something of a mystery.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
- Resolution: 1728p to 2160p dynamic
- Additional features: Quality mode for 1080p users
- HDR: No
Most console titles operate with a 30fps cap, often leaving us to wonder just how much horsepower is left untapped at any given point. Shadow of Mordor is similar to Skyrim in that a native 1080p presentation on base PlayStation 4 hardware evolves into a full-on native 4K on PS4 Pro. In effect, a 2.3x increase to GPU power is producing a 4x increase in resolution - and unlike Skyrim, there's no perceptible hit to performance. There's just one caveat: a dynamic resolution scaler is in play, seamlessly adjusting resolution from 80 per cent of native to full 2160p.
However, based on our pixel counts, this title is spending the vast majority of its duration at full 4K, even in the midst of intense action in the game's expansive open world. It's a remarkable upgrade for an already impressive game, and it's not restricting its enhancements for owners of particular displays. Two modes are on offer, designed for those who favour quality and those who prefer the resolution boost. The good news is that both modes are available to all Pro owners regardless of the attached display - just as it should be.
So what does the quality mode actually deliver? Truth be told, the enhancements are minimal, mostly manifesting in a much improved draw distance, reducing the amount of pop-in as you traverse the environments. However, the standard mode still handles this aspect fairly well, so the 4K resolution mode is our pick for this title, whether you have an ultra HD display or a full HD TV (where super-sampling resolves much of the title's aliasing issues). Two years on from release, Shadow of Mordor still holds up nicely - and on Pro, this title is well worth revisiting.
Assassin's Creed: The Ezio Collection
- Resolution: 2160p
- Additional features: None
- HDR: No
We'll get the bad news out of the way first, because it's actually quite unbelievable. The Ezio Collection pulls off a creditable 30fps lock at full, native 2160p on all three of its component titles - if your PlayStation 4 Pro is attached to a 4K display. However, we were stunned by the fact that if you don't have an ultra HD screen, the game elects to bust you down to native 1080p - leaving Pro owners with absolutely no advantages over base PlayStation 4 owners. It's situations like this that really highlight that all Pro implementations should be available to all users, regardless of what displays they might happen to own.
So what of The Ezio Collection itself - and the quality of the remastering on each game? Well, it's a fascinating chronicle of a three year period of the last-gen era that saw radical technological progress. Assassin's Creed 2 and Assassin's Creed Brotherhood show their age: the Pro's pristine 4K presentation highlights some of the low quality textures and low-poly environments. The two older titles - AC2 in particular - also look poor in terms of animation and character fidelity, especially in cutscenes. However, it's fascinating to note that Revelations still holds up rather well: there's a clear technological leap here in all areas that would carry through to AC3 and Black Flag.
Actual remastering work on the collection is minimal. Improving geometry and textures would have effectively required this remaster to evolve into a full-on remake, but we would have liked to see aggressive shadow cascades and pop-in addressed. The technological limits of the era are often on full display here. The Ezio Collection is a touch disappointing, but it's the disregard for Pro owners using 1080p screens that really rankles here. Why wasn't downsampling integrated as standard?
Rise of the Tomb Raider
- Resolution: 2160p checkerboard
- Additional features: Super-sampling down to 1080p, enriched visuals or unlocked frame-rate at native 1080p
- HDR: No
The latest Rise of the Tomb Raider patch propels this title back into contention as one of the very best PlayStation 4 Pro titles money can buy with lots of love for both 1080p and 4K display owners. Patch 1.05 introduced visible jitter via improper frame-pacing but this is fixed with the recently released 1.06 update.
The standard PS4 title is absolutely beautiful and developer Nixxes has an excellent checkerboard 4K mode that demonstrates just how effective this technique can be. Unfortunately, larger 'hub' areas like the Geothermal Valley and the Soviet Installation can see frame-rate drops beneath the 30fps target. It's not a huge problem outside of certain stress points and overall it's still our preferred mode for playing this title, whether you're using a 1080p or 4K screen. On a full HD screen, the super-sampling implementation sees a huge visual upgrade - poor anti-aliasing is the main issue with the title's native 1080p modes, whether you're playing on a standard PS4 or on Pro.
If you're willing to accept the sub-optimal AA, the Pro's unlocked frame-rate mode sees performance touch 60fps in the more linear levels, dropping to around 40fps in the hub areas. The variance isn't quite our cup of tea, but we're sure there will be others who will appreciate it. The enriched visual mode retains 1080p image quality but adds improved PureHair tech, better texture filtering, more realistic reflections, higher LODs, sun soft shadows and more dynamic foliage.
Farming Simulator 17
- Resolution: 1080p/1440p/2160p
- Additional features: Enhanced mode for 1080p users with extended view distance
- HDR: No
Having been taken aback by some of the more lazy PlayStation 4 Pro upgrades recently, it's remarkable to see Focus Interactive's Farming Simulator 17 - developed by Giants - hand in one of the most comprehensive Pro upgrades seen to date. We'd heard reports of just how comprehensive this support was, so went ahead and bought the game to check it out. Users of full HD displays get the choice between a high frame-rate mode and enhanced visual quality, while owners of 4K screens can choose between native 1440p and 2160p display options. You really can't fault the developers for effort here, and the results stack up nicely.
First up, let's tackle the full HD options available. In standard rendering mode, Farming Simulator 17 racks up a completely flawless 1080p60, while opting for the enhanced mode can see stress-points drop to around 55fps, introducing judder. However, both options still manage to outperform the standard PlayStation 4 version, which features the same resolution and the standard mode's visual feature set. Of the two options available, we'd stick with the standard visuals. Draw distances are pushed out in enhanced mode, but it's really difficult to actually see any improvement.
There's a straight choice between resolution and frame-rate when moving to the higher resolution display modes. The 1440p option offers the best balance overall, dropping frames occasionally but still handing in a mostly smooth presentation. However, 4K isn't bad at all - mostly operating north of 50fps but dropping down to the mid-40s in, um, crop-heavy scenes. But the point is that the developers has pulled out all the stops to offer choice to the Pro user - up to a point at least.
The one glaring omission is the lack of down-sampling support. Those 1440p and 4K rendering options are only available to owners of ultra HD screens. And that's a real shame, as offering this option would - in our opinion - provide better value for the full HD gamer compared to the less than impressive enhanced 1080p mode. We're hopeful that the developer can address this, but in the meantime, there are actually two takeaways here.
Firstly, Farming Simulator 17 offers up one of the most exhaustive range of Pro upgrades seen to date but perhaps more importantly, while the game itself is obviously not a triple-A tour de force, we were quite impressed by how comprehensive and polished the simulation actually is - it even supports mods, tweakable field of view and HUD scaling. And it's fast too, not just in frame-rate terms but in its lightning-swift user interface and - yes - the ability to instantly skip past intro logos. Overall then, obviously Farming Simulator 17 isn't standard Digital Foundry fare, but we went into this one with an open mind and came away having had a lot of fun.
- Resolution: 1080p
- Additional features: Additional geometry, pushed out LODs, procedurally generated foliage, contact shadows, screen-space reflections, volumetric light shafts, bloom, volumetric fog enhancements, camera/object motion blur
- HDR: No
In the wake of recent controversies surrounding Pro functionality locked to specific display resolutions, Epic's Paragon is a title we wanted to try out because there's absolutely no support for 4K displays whatsoever. Instead, the developer has opened the Unreal Engine 4 toolbox to deploy a vast array of graphical upgrades instead. That's not to say that resolution doesn't get a bump - Paragon on base PS4 operates at 900p. The Pro version bumps that up to 1080p, offering a much cleaner presentation, before beginning its onslaught of additional graphical refinements.
These upgrades are legion. Most noticeable is the inclusion of procedurally generated grass, filling out the scene and making the base PS4 version look rather spartan by comparison. Screen-space reflections take shiny surfaces to a whole new level, while certain light sources are enhanced with additional bloom. Complementing the additional resolution is the addition of longer draw distances. Other additions - such as contact shadows and higher levels of volumetric fog - are much more subtle, but welcome nonetheless. HDR isn't supported but we hope that Epic considers adding it.
Rounding off the enhancements is the inclusion of per-object and camera motion blur. Perhaps it's not totally essential on a game targeting 60fps, but again, it's an additional level of refinement. Performance itself is essentially on par with the standard PS4 - operating in the 50-60fps area. We do wonder whether sacrificing a couple of the enhancements could have locked us to 60Hz.
Overall though, Paragon is a fascinating example of a 'what if' - that is, what if PS4 Pro was a 1080p60/ultra settings machine as opposed to a unit designed primarily for 4K support. Pursuing this strategy was perhaps easier for Epic than it would be for other titles running at half-refresh (the base PS4 title targets 60fps too, so it wouldn't hit CPU limits) but regardless, it's nice to see a different approach to utilising the Pro's power. Jump from base hardware to Pro and the upgrade is clear, but it's actually in returning to the standard PS4 game where you realise how much you're missing.
The Last Guardian
- Resolution: 1890p
- Additional features: Native 1080p mode with more consistent performance and some higher quality textures, 4K mode boots into an 1890p presentation
- HDR: Yes
Years in the making, The Last Guardian offers two PlayStation 4 Pro modes - and which one you get is entirely dependant on what video mode your hardware is set to. If your console is configured for 1080p output, the game operates at full HD resolution with much smoother performance than Pro's 4K mode and indeed base hardware. If your console is set to 2160p output, a full-on 1890p presentation - upscaled to 4K - is what you get.
Our preference is actually for the native 1080p mode, and we've put together instructions on how to access this higher performance mode if you have a 4K screen - though Sony should be offering all modes to all users regardless of the screen they own. The 4K mode looks beautiful, but aliasing issues at 1080p are more than offset by a far higher level of performance.
As a side-note, HDR is quite remarkable on this title, and works on both Pro modes just fine - and base PlayStation 4 hardware is obviously supported too.
The Last of Us Remastered
- Resolution: 1800p (60fps mode), 2160p (30fps mode)
- Additional features: Completely locked 1080p60 mode with higher quality shadows when console is set to 1080p output
- HDR: Yes
There are plus and minus points to The Last of Us Remastered on PS4 Pro - firstly, we must say that the HDR implementation here really is beautiful, really making the most of the intricate artwork. It's a feature on both base and Pro versions of the game, of course. The Pro benefits from 3200x1800 resolution in 60fps mode, providing an impressive upgrade - and patch 1.08 resolves prior performance issues that saw this game operate at lower frame-rates than base hardware in stress-point areas. The 30fps mode - which adds higher quality shadow-maps and runs at native 4K is also quite beautiful.
However, patch 1.08 perhaps isn't so good for 1080p display users. Version 1.07's super-sampling option mysteriously vanishes, which is particularly hard-hitting on users who were using the 30fps mode. On the plus side, a new mode that runs at native 1080p and never drops from its 60fps target is added, with higher quality shadows added to the mix too. But the fact that developers are now locking out Pro functionality depending on your display is a disturbing trend that surely can't be allowed to continue.
Final Fantasy 15
- Resolution: Checkerboard 1800p
- Additional features: Improved visuals in 1800p mode, 1080p30 lightweight mode (1080p60 mode in development)
- HDR: Yes
Before we begin, we should state that Pro support on Final Fantasy 15 is very much work-in-progress. However, what we've seen so far is looking impressive. First of all, Square-Enix deserves kudos for one of the most vivid, impressive, breathtaking implementations of high dynamic range we've seen. Combined with a properly configured 4K screen, this is a treat. This is backed by higher resolution in the form of an 1800p checkerboard solution along with improved image quality via tweaked LODs, improved shadows and improved texture filtering. It should be said that the combination of checkerboarding and temporal anti-aliasing does produce a somewhat soft image, despite the higher resolution.
There's also a 'lite' mode that pares back the Pro to standard PS4 visuals, albeit with far fewer instances of dynamic resolution scaling. Think of it as a cleaner version of the base game. Right now, frame-rates are pared back to the standard 30fps, but apparently the developer is working hard on a 1080p60 mode. The big issue right now is performance. The base PS4 version and the high resolution mode on Pro suffer from bad frame-pacing issues that make the 30fps update look distractingly jittery, actually giving the illusion of a lower frame-rate.
The Pro can mostly avoid this issue by invoking the lite mode - you're effectively locked to 1080p30 and frame delivery is mostly consistent, with only minor stutter intruding. And even then, it's mostly on the cut-scenes. In our opinion it's the best way to enjoy a consistent experience and the game still looks incredible, but we can't help but hope that Square-Enix fixes this issue on both base PS4 and indeed the high resolution Pro mode.
Assassin's Creed Syndicate
- Resolution: Unclear - checkerboard 1620p is our best guess
- Additional features: Downsampling over sub-optimal image on 1080p screens
- HDR: No
Unexpected, but welcome, Ubisoft may not have a key Assassin's Creed title for us this year, but the opportunity to revisit the excellent AC Syndicate on PlayStation 4 Pro proved irresistible. The only problem is that the actual advantages of the upgrade are unclear. Clearly, something has been done to change the resolution of the game, but the question is... what? Certainly, the quality of the presentation is poor, with some remarkably ugly scaling.
The actual native resolution of the title in Pro mode is debatable. Running on a 4K screen, pixel-counting is a fraught process with the upscaling algorithm blitzing image quality, even on straight geometric edges. We took a range of still shots across various content and can only theorise about Ubisoft's intentions here. A vertical resolution of 1620p comes up frequently, while 1440 pixels across seems to be the most common pixel-count. Stippling artefacts similar to checkerboarding also appear - so our working theory here is that we're seeing an attempt at a 2880x1620 presentation here.
But it is only a theory as the wildly variable image quality really is a problem with this title. And that translates into the quality of the experience, which isn't an appreciable upgrade from the standard game. Certainly, up against the PC version running at 4K or even 1440p, there's no competition.
- Resolution: 1080p/1440p
- Additional features: None
- HDR: No
So here's a weird one. Dishonored 2 does offer a nice resolution boost, scaling up to 1440p resolution. However, based on our tests, this only happens when the PS4 Pro is connected to a 4K display. When hooked up to a full HD screen, native resolution settles at 1080p - so there's no super-sampling advantage here for those that don't have ultra HD televisions. It's highly strange, especially as performance seems to be identical in engine stress-points (perhaps suggesting a CPU bottleneck).
Just like the standard PS4 Pro version, Dishonored 2 operates with a 30fps cap, but adaptive sync is completely disabled, giving a perfectly v-synced presentation. Frame-rate can drop beneath 30fps - most notably during engine-driven cut-scenes and in these scenarios, the Pro does out-perform the base PS4 hardware. The performance uplift is especially noticeable in combat situations with several enemies - an area where the standard PlayStation clearly struggles.
- Resolution: 1440p
- Additional features: Super-sampling down to 1080p and improved performance
- HDR: No
Io Interactive's Glacier Engine is a thing of beauty, and the upgrades in Hitman are palpable. Resolution is the key benefit here, with a 78 per cent increase in raw pixel-count, taking the game up to 1440p. On a 4K screen, it looks fine - a little soft perhaps, but the anti-aliasing solution combined with upscaling works well in filling out an ultra HD pixel-count.
There are other improvements too. Hitman operates either with an unlocked frame-rate, or else with a 30fps cap. The Pro benefits in both scenarios - firstly, the 30fps mode is absolutely locked, with none of the drops seen on PS4 or indeed Xbox One. In the unlocked mode, you get a good 10fps improvement at the minimum in many scenarios - so the wobbly mid-30s seen boost up to 50fps.
Loading times are improved and texture streaming also sees a tangible upgrade, to the point where you may think that the Pro actually has higher quality assets (in truth, they simply take longer to resolve on base PS4 hardware). This is a lovely game with a great Pro upgrade.
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
- Resolution: 1440p
- Additional features: Super-sampling down to 1080p
- HDR: Yes
Naughty Dog's PlayStation 4 epic is the best technological showcase of base hardware, so you may think that this title would push the Pro too. However, it's actually a case of more refinement as opposed to a huge boost to image quality. By and large, performance is on par with the base PlayStation 4 version, meaning that there are rare dips beneath 30fps of equal impact when running on Pro. The biggest improvement comes via resolution.
When we saw the title running at the PlayStation Meeting, we noted what looked like checkerboarding artefacts along with some performance drops. The final patch appears to have opted for straight upscaling to 1440p instead, producing a somewhat soft presentation on 4K screens, though the title's excellent temporal anti-aliasing all but eliminates the kind of edge shimmer typically seen on standard upscaling. HDR is also supported on both base and Pro hardware, resolving more detail and offering much improved contrast - though night and day improvement varies depending on the screen you're using.
In summary, PlayStation 4 Pro is a curious piece of hardware. At best, with titles like Ratchet and Clank, FIFA 17, Infinite Warfare and Rise of the Tomb Raider, we're looking at a machine capable of handing in a viable 4K gaming experience. Meanwhile, it's interesting to note just how many games are coming in with a 1440p framebuffer. When we built a PC with a GPU running to the PS4 Pro's graphics spec, this did seem to be the natural resolution for the hardware, but we didn't quite expect to see so many titles appear with this exact pixel count.
That said, it is early days for the new console, and developers have been sharing their higher resolution techniques and technologies, so we fully expect to see improvements generally across the months as game-makers become more au fait with the new hardware. In the short term, it's also been heartening to see many developers take our criticisms about sub-par performance onboard, releasing timely patches to address the issues. We'll be keeping this guide updated frequently, so look out for more analysis soon, and remember that we have a big bunch of additional analysis of Pro titles on the next page