Resident Evil 7 is the biggest shake-up the series has seen since the switch to an action-based focus in RE4. With a new first-person perspective and gameplay elements reminiscent of Konami's cancelled PT, this new horror title delivers a fresh take on Resident Evil that also manages to bring the series back to its core survival horror roots. From a technical perspective, a 60fps update offers up a level of smoothness usually reserved for remasters, rather than the latest current-gen instalments. The change in direction isn't just used to facilitate a return to survival horror gameplay either: it's also a direct result of the game supporting PlayStation VR, where the first-person action and 60Hz refresh makes an immersive low latency VR experience possible.
These aspects clearly drive the look and feel of the game, and used in combination with a heavy layer of post-processing, generates a vision unlike any other Resident Evil title. Boasting a dark and gritty aesthetic, liberal use of chromatic aberration, depth of field, static, scanlines, and other screen distortion elements, Resident Evil 7 generates a presentation resembling 'found footage' running on an old CRT. The result is a soft-focused image that is suitably grimy, but intentionally so, despite the high native resolution of the game across all platforms.
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Both PS4 and Xbox One present Capcom's bleak vision at a native 1080p, with raw clarity sacrificed in favour of a more organic video-like image. Both appear visibly soft, though the PS4 version looks more refined due to its implementation of higher quality anti-aliasing. Here Capcom appears to combine post-process AA with a temporal component, providing a clean image virtually free of edge-related artefacts. In contrast, shimmering is often visible on Xbox One across sub-pixel scenery and specular reflections resulting in a rougher overall look. A simpler post-process AA solution appears to be in effect here, seemingly lacking the additional temporal coverage found on the other versions of the game.
Image quality aside, there's little to distinguish the console versions. Texture quality can vary in some scenes due to a few unwanted streaming hiccups when interacting with various objects, but most of the time the core assets and effects work are essentially a match. Visible texture switching is more commonplace on PS4, while on Xbox One there are some scenes that play out with lower quality textures for the duration. On balance, the PS4 game looks more refined owing to improved image quality, though neither version is completely free of some occasional rendering quirks.
In terms of PS4 Pro support, only minor tweaks are present here. The game sees a small resolution boost from 1080p to 2240x1260 with the machine set to 4K output. It's a minimal increase in pixel count and doesn't provide much of an upgrade. Depending on how well your HDTV scales 1080p up to 4K, the resolution boost on Pro may deliver a slightly sharper image, though the difference is quite subtle. Outputting 1080p resolution from the machine seems to resolve a small degree of super-sampling, although image quality is barely given a boost owing to the slight increase in pixel counts over running the game on the base PS4.
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Beyond resolution, the only other noticeable visual gain comes in the form of brighter highlights across outdoor elements - such as sunlight reflecting odd tree leaves - and this matches the PC version in this area. HDR is supported across both PS4 consoles, and this option works at both 1080p and 4K on the PS4 Pro. Here, brighter highlights have a more pronounced glow, while there's a clear increase in resolved shadows detail in dark areas. This gives the presentation a nice lift over the standard SDR output, though the dark nature of the game means that a UHD TV with local dimming (or an OLED) is required make the most of these benefits.