PlayStation 4 Pro Preview
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As is tradition in every console generation, Sony has recently unveiled the semi-successor to the traditional PlayStation 4 console: the PlayStation 4 Pro. Boasting 4K resolution support, an upgraded Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) and Central Processing Unit (CPU), and a new High-Dynamic Range coloring system (HDR), Sony has spared no expense to make sure this new addition to the Playstation family is a powerful one.
Not too long ago, Sony hosted a “PlayStation Meeting” in New York to announce the “future of PlayStation,” which as many people predicted, meant the announcement of a new PlayStation console. The PS4 Pro didn’t exactly come as a surprise to many people; just days beforehand, much of the info for the new console was leaked, under the project title of “PS4 Neo.” Sony also has a history of releasing better versions of their consoles, releasing both a “Slim” and “Super Slim” model for the PlayStation 3. Not only that, but with Microsoft announcing the new Xbox One titled “Project Scorpio,” many people were waiting to see how Sony would compete.
During the PlayStation Meeting, Sony showed off the Playstation 4 Pro in action (as well as a smaller version of the original PS4) and began talking about the specifics – since really the Pro is only better when it comes to the specifics. Sony’s Lead System Architect, Mark Cerny, led the presentation by talking about the four key points of the PS4 Pro: 4K resolution, HDR, enhanced effects for standard HD TVs, and VR capabilities. Let’s dive into these points one by one.
A game’s display resolution is the total amount of pixels that are able to be displayed, usually shown as width x height. A typical HD resolution would be 1920 x 1080 pixels (1080p resolution), and while that can look pretty good visually, max game resolutions have steadily been increasing for many games. Problem is, it takes a lot of processing power to get higher resolutions, so getting a resolution of 3840 × 2160 pixels (4K resolution) is tough unless you have a proper gaming PC. Well, according to Cerny, the PS4 Pro is able to achieve a 4K resolution with it’s new GPU, allowing you to play games in crystal-clear quality. Keep in mind that not all TVs can actually support 4K – some TVs are limited to 1080p resolution or lower – so you won’t see much of a difference with a regular TV.
This crystal-clear quality also comes from the PS4 Pro’s HDR capabilities, or it’s ability to show a lot of colors. As Cerny says, “conventional” TVs simply aren’t able to display all the colors that the human eye can actually see. HDR-capable displays aim to improve that, as they are able to display a variety of colors which standard TVs cannot. Although much like 4K, true HDR capabilities can only be seen through TVs that support HDR, so it won’t mean much if you plan on playing the PS4 Pro with your same old TV.
Cerny also elaborated on how the PS4 Pro is still worthy of a purchase even if your TV doesn’t support 4K resolution or HDR. With its new CPU, the PS4 Pro allows developers to subtly upgrade the visuals of their games so that they can look better even on a standard television. Cerny showed Epic Games’ Paragon before and after PS4 Pro upgrades were implemented, and highlighted how small details such as the grass textures and bloom effects were enhanced even on a regular HD TV. Cerny went on to explain how developers can go back and create these optional PS4 Pro improvements for any game, calling this process “forward compatibility.” Games like Sucker Punch’s Infamous: Second Son and Warner Brothers’ Shadow of Mordor enjoy PS4 Pro’s subtle improvements even though they released months ago for the standard PS4.
And last but certainly not least, Cerny touched on the benefits the PS4 Pro brings if you plan on picking up the PlayStation VR, Sony’s horse in the virtual reality race. Virtual reality is very demanding when it comes to processing power, and for good reason too – virtual reality needs a very high framerate to match the speeds we’re used to when looking around in real life. Thanks to the PS4 Pro’s upgraded GPU and CPU, it’s able to put out the framerates necessary for acceptable virtual reality gaming. So if you’re looking to buy a PSVR headset in the future, you may want to put some money aside for the PS4 Pro.
The PlayStation 4 Pro is an excellent choice for gamers looking to buy their first PlayStation console for this generation, with its several small benefits and advantages over a standard PS4 console. But the key word here is ‘small;’ all these upgrades are relatively miniscule and you’ll notice even less of a difference if you don’t have a 4K HDR-capable TV. So, if you already have a standard PS4, I recommend waiting for the inevitable PlayStation 5 unless you have an extra $400 to spend and you really want that grass to look extra-realistic.