Just prior to the release of Final Fantasy 15, Square-Enix teased an update that would enable faster frame-rates when playing the game on a PlayStation 4 Pro. Now, three months later, version 1.05 is finally available, promising enhanced performance up to 60fps. But does the final result actually match the target frame-rate - and have the title's troublesome frame-pacing issues in its 1800p/4K mode received any attention at all?

Prior to the arrival of this patch, users were presented with two options - lite and high. The former drops the presentation to 1080p resolution while delivering a smooth, stable 30 frames per second. This mode on PS4 Pro was our recommended way to play Final Fantasy 15 due to its consistency - the fact that, by and large, it produced a properly frame-paced 30fps. The high mode bumps the resolution up to 1800p using checkerboarding, and introduced enhanced visual features but consistent frame-pacing wasn't enforced, leading to a very jerky game in motion.

With 1.05 installed, the lite and high modes are still the choices available, but in adding a new, higher frame-rate mode, our only route to play FF15 with consistent frame-pacing is gone. Lite mode essentially unlocks the frame-rate, but performance doesn't reach anything like the mooted 60fps, averaging at around 45fps instead. Meanwhile, the high mode is the same as it ever was - the visuals are beautiful, but the consistency in the 30fps update is really poor. Frame-pacing definitely has not been fixed. It's a bit of a Hobson's choice then: in terms of performance, your options boil down to a highly variable unlocked frame-rate, or else a locked 30fps with inconsistent frame delivery, leading to a very jerky experience.

What's clear is that Final Fantasy 15's core engine design is tailored for a 30fps experience on current-gen console platforms - the actual 30fps mode for PS4 Pro gives the illusion of running at a lower frame-rate owing to the frame-pacing issues, while the lite mode's attempts to target 60fps full way short of the required performance level. In some ways, patch 1.05 actually feels like a retrograde step as opposed to a desirable upgrade.

The new patch 1.05 analysed in depth - frame-rate is higher but the overall experience isn't necessarily better.

At this point, both the Xbox One and standard PlayStation 4 now provide a smoother experience. PS4 still exhibits minor frame-pacing issues but the problem is less pronounced than the Pro's flagship high mode. Xbox One uses an adaptive v-sync solution that produces completely smooth frame-pacing throughout, leading to a stable experience. There is additional slowdown on Xbox One and a lower resolution overall, but at this point, Microsoft's system still provides the most consistent frame-rate.

Square-Enix has been receptive to user feedback during the game's development so there is hope here. If the frame-pacing errors can be eliminated when using the high mode, for example, the alternative unlocked frame-rate option would make a lot more sense. Conceivably, using the same adaptive v-sync solution that we see on Xbox One could eliminate the frame-pacing issues entirely.

Another option that could improve matters would involve giving users the choice between a capped or uncapped frame-rate, something that could work on either mode. Such an option would hopefully please everyone. Unfortunately, as it stands, the PS4 Pro is no longer our recommended way to play Final Fantasy 15. If you're looking for the most consistent experience, Xbox One and the standard PlayStation 4 are your best bets for now. Patch 1.05 for PlayStation 4 Pro is one update that we wish we could uninstall.

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About the author

John Linneman

John Linneman

Staff Writer, Digital Foundry

An American living in Germany, John has been gaming and collecting games since the late 80s. His keen eye for and obsession with high frame-rates have earned him the nickname "The Human FRAPS" in some circles. He’s also responsible for the creation of DF Retro.

More articles by John Linneman

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