PlayStation 5's Nioh Collection sees Tecmo Koei bring together both of its PS4 epics into one single package complete with all downloadable expansions, offering up a huge amount of content. On top of that, the publisher also promises enhancements to the existing PS4/PS4 Pro releases, with both titles delivering allegedly native 4K modes, as well as support for 120Hz gaming. On top of that is a new 'PlayStation 5 standard mode' - effectively a quality mode targeting the capabilities of the new hardware for a significantly upgraded experience. So how does it all pan out, and what kind of improvement are we looking at compared to the existing PS4 Pro version - which offers 4K, high frame-rate support of its own It's an interesting question to answer because fundamentally, the older renditions of Nioh on PS4 Pro offered a great degree of flexibility with their own performance and quality modes and as they leaned heavily into unlocked frame-rates and dynamic resolution scaling, you can already get an upgraded experience from the existing games simply by running them under backwards compatibility on the new Sony platform.
However, these are remasters and while the upgrades are hardly night and day improvements, they are substantial. For starters, Tecmo Koei has stripped out the somewhat dodgy checkerboard rendering from the PS4 Pro version (which possessed issues including obvious aliasing and double-width transparency effects), opting for native resolution rendering on PlayStation 5. Don't misunderstand us here - checkerboarding can look impressive, but Nioh's implementation wasn't particularly good, so the move to native rendering does deliver a boost to image quality you won't get from back-compat. Secondly, in Nioh 1 at least, 4K mode delivers just that, with just a hint of dynamic resolution scaling, while the PS5 standard mode ramps up settings but expands the DRS window, meaning 1800p and potentially even lower resolutions may be possible.
And then there's the 120Hz mode: resolution drops, but the improvement to input lag and visual response is truly impressive - for Nioh 1, it's my favourite way to play, especially as the detail level (beyond pixel count) looks comparable to the other modes. I'd dig into the video for a more detailed breakdown of how the various rendering variations stack up in terms of specific example, but think of this as a content-complete, more refined version of a truly excellent PS4 game and you'll understand how I rate it so highly.
Nioh 2 is a more challenging game in terms of its rendering demands - perhaps not surprising bearing in mind that it only launched back in March 2020 - so while the same three modes are deployed (and native resolution rendering retained), results aren't quite so pristine. The 4K mode isn't really running at ultra HD resolutions, but does get close, varying between 1944p to full 2160p for much of the duration, while the DRS range widens much further in the PS5 Standard mode, but does benefit from improved shadows and draw distances. The 120Hz mode isn't quite as successful as Nioh 1's either - the loss in detail is significant and shadow quality is poor.
Performance is important for the Nioh series, and this is fairly easy to cover off - Nioh 1 is mostly locked to 60fps in both 4K and PS5 Standard mode, while the 120Hz output is similarly dogged in its consistency, spending the vast majority of its duration delivering a full 120 frames per second. It's a big improvement over PlayStation 4, and it's a joy to play. The more demanding Nioh 2 isn't quite as successful - 4K and PS5 Standard modes are mostly fine, locking to target frame-rates but not quite as consistently as the first game. The 120Hz mode is also less consistent, often dropping to 90-100fps in more open areas.
It's here where the lack of VRR support on the PS5 platform is disappointing: a dropped frame in 120Hz mode is an 8.3ms stutter, and when many of them occur in a small time period, the stutter is noticeable. But at the same time, the per-frame persistence between 90fps and 120fps is less than 3ms - and with VRR, frame-time variances would be far, far more difficult to pick up by the human eye. I really hope to see a good platform level VRR implementation added to PS5 - the technology is extremely impressive, and already proven on Xbox Series consoles.
Returning specifically to the Nioh Collection, the loading times - or lack of them - are exceptionally impressive, to the point where both titles load so quickly, it's almost like a cartridge experience. It's a night and day improvement over last-gen consoles, and even a significant improvement over the last-gen code running under back-compat on PS5. It's further refinement on what is already a nicely improved game, and one that I highly recommend checking out. And one more thing for fans of the physical disc: the Nioh Collection is content-complete on Blu-ray, with one disc per game, and no additional downloads required to get the full experience. Nice.
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