Hot on the heels of the Path Finder update, Hello Games has swooped in with a new patch to address No Man's Sky's outstanding console performance issues. Patch 1.23 now improves performance by up to 5fps on PS4 Pro in its 4K mode, and also adds the ability to lock or unlock frame-rate on both of Sony's PS4 consoles.
It's a double-whammy of good news for PS4 Pro owners though. If you're playing using the 4K output mode (rendering at a native 1800p), the game now avoids noticeable dips under 30fps. It's much improved, and engine optimisations in patch 1.23 keep the game above of the 30fps line, especially useful when paired with the new capped frame-rate feature.
Until now we've no choice but to play this 4K mode completely unlocked, meaning a jarring range of 30-50fps that never felt great in motion. If you want to push the bar with performance still further, No Man's Sky still runs flawlessly at 60fps in 1080p mode, but once again, you need to set your Pro to output at full HD on the system menus. This is pretty much the only outstanding criticism we have of No Man's Sky's PS4 Pro implementation - desirable features like a 60fps lock should be available to all users regardless of how the system menus are configured.
It's positive news for PS4 Pro owners then, and there's no forcing of your hand either. If you prefer to leave the frame-rate unlocked as before, you can - but there's a curious wrinkle to add to this. Not only do we get this 30fps lock/unlock option on PS4 Pro, it's also added to the standard PS4 game as well. Until now, the title has always operated with a 30fps ceiling by default. Now, for the first time on the original PS4, we can unlock the frame-rate, to see how fast the engine actually runs on base hardware.
The results are illuminating, once and for all confirming that a regular PS4 can run select sections of No Man's Sky at a true 60fps, as we saw in some pre-release footage. This applies to space stations and travel between planets, where the bulk of play holds at this top number, dipping to 50fps once NPCs enter the screen. However, when you actually land on a planet, performance drops to a more uneven 30-50fps - where the case for reinstating the 30fps cap becomes much stronger.
No Man's Sky's journey of refinement is much closer now to its final destination, but some rough edges remain. The Path Finder update's HBAO implementation still looks a little off, especially indoors where patches of shade can seemingly float above furniture. It's also worth noting that the PC's new light shaft effect is still missing on both PS4 consoles. But the overall outlook with patch 1.23 is positive overall; we have upgraded performance and new options to play the game with the performance profile of our choosing, on PS4 hardware both old and new.