I Hate How Much I Want A PlayStation 4 Pro

When I first heard about the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X, I thought they were the dumbest things. Upgrading a console at the midpoint of a generation was unfathomable to me, and I think developers should design for whatever framerate they want rather than whatever gamers demand. But as more games come out that push the limits of what consoles can do, I gotta say: Maybe upgrading isn't the worst idea.

I've never cared about a game's technical specifications, or the specific details of a piece of hardware. I am firmly of the opinion that the evolution of games should not be beholden to a broader consumer cry for "better graphics." That's the kind of mindset that plagued video games coverage in the late 90s and early 2000s, where magazines would break down their reviews into tiny parts.

Gameplay? That's a nine. But graphics? A six. So the game's a seven point five. Great. Those numbers meant nothing then and mean nothing now. What matters most to me is that something is interesting to play. What a game does is more important than how it looks.

So why is it that after playing with the PlayStation 4 Pro here in Kotaku's office, I'm seriously considering swapping my original console for its beefier brother?

It started with Monster Hunter: World and its lush environments. I love exploring the game's various jungles and caves, splashing around in the mud and sliding down ridges to leap on an Anjanath.

On my standard-issue PS4 at home, Monster Hunter: World runs at 30 frames per second, and it always felt great to me. But on the PS4 Pro, there is an option to run in "performance mode," sacrificing some visual fidelity in exchange for a smoother experience.

In a game about fast reactions and reading monster movements, I found that improvement very useful. Monster Hunter: World is gorgeous no matter the framerate, but I found myself having a better time playing it in a boosted performance mode.

I've never had that experience before and, for a while, didn't really know how to reconcile it with my broader thoughts on the relative unimportance of graphic quality.

When Nier: Automata and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild show their cracks, dropping frames or loading textures in chunks, I see something something beautiful.

I see worlds that make themselves known to the player, digital spaces that we can pick apart and examine. When the Shadow of the Colossus remake came out, I balked at the idea of performance mode boosting the frame rate.

I think that game was meant to be played at 30 FPS. I think that The Order 1886 could have worked at the film-standard 24 FPS. Games can be whatever they need to be - and yet, goddamn, Monster Hunter is really great on a Pro.

Technology moves at an incredibly rapid rate, driving new console iterations and making it difficult for all but the most powerful gaming PCs to keep up. As game development tools progress and teams get more proficient with the hardware they are designing for, games get more and more detailed.

For nearly five years now, teams have been building upon once-threadbare engines and understanding how to get the most out of this generation of consoles. It feels as if we are reaching a tipping point, where new AAA titles are pushing the original PlayStation 4 and Xbox One to the limits of their capabilities.

The advantage of having an upgraded console was even more noticeable to me with God of War. Playing it at our office in Performance mode, I started to appreciate the combat more than I had before. There was a sudden fluidity to fights that helped me crack the code of how to make Kratos move and dodge around enemies.

Higher resolution and high dynamic range seemed to make the world feel vibrant enough that I could almost forget how much of an arsehole Kratos was.

I started to focus on the world around him, the detailed bark on trees, the swirling mountain snow. Having these details brought into further focus made it clear that I had been missing out.

And still, I hate this. Buying a PS4 Pro feels to me like buying a new car when what you have still gets you where you need to go. PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X are absurdities built by corporations eager to make more money and yet, Lord help me, I think it might be time to upgrade.

If upgrading my console means being able to examine and enjoy a game's finer details with more clarity, I think that might be worth it.


Comments

    I am in the same dilemma. One thing gives me pause on upgrading... that PS5 is just around the corner, or is it?

      Still a few years off. I estimate that there'll be an 8 year gap between the PS4 and PS5. It was 7 years between PS3 and PS4, but this generation will be extended due to the mid-generation refresh. Something that has never happened before.

      Even if you don't have a 4k tv, The ps4 pro now has super sampling. Still i need a fancy tv lol.

    Hoping that AmazonAU have another amazing PS4 Pro deal on boxing day this year

    Oh dear...I want better performance so I have to buy another console...Ummm, isn't it pretty clear that the company that pushes the limits of your console is also selling you the upgraded version...*cough...scam...*cough...

      what's the scam about offering two tiers of performance at two different price points?

    Yup, I was in the same boat...I would feel burned if I bought one and 12 months later the PS5 landed. So I went out a blew a giant wand of cash on my PC. I haven't had a decent one in about 15 years (old fart with family).
    My i7 mega gig rig should keep me happy for a while and exclusives will just have to chug on my jet propelled original MkI PS4.

    I got a Pro last year for my birthday just after I bought a 4K TV. I really like it and often see my partner play on her TV (non-4K & non-Pro PS4) and notice the difference.

    Get one if you have a 4K and if you want to I guess?

    I'll be honest, as a PC Gamer first, I can't stand anything lower than 30 fps, and 60 fps is preferably where I want it to be.

    For example, I couldn't imagine trying to play Shadow of the Colossus on a normal PS4 - on a Pro, 4k mode is janky and awful, but performance mode is at least smooth and enjoyable.

    One of my biggest bugbears with console gaming has always been that 30fps limit. Not only do the faster frame rates on PC (and now, finally, the beefed up consoles) look slicker, it can affect gameplay as well.

    I have a PS4.5 (PS4 Pro if you must) and while it can't match my gaming PC, what it does for the price is incredible. What consoles do, and are doing better, is provide a standardised, mid-level gaming PC for an incredible price.

    I could imagine the PS4.5 replacing my PC (if budget constraints said it had to). I could not imagine replacing it with a standard PS4.

    It all comes down to what you prefer? I bought the ps4 pro on launch and sold my old ps4 due to owning a 4K tv. So if you have a 4K tv and you also have HDR then I feel it's worth it. It's not too expensive if you sell your old playstation, unless you want to keep it. I usually play games in resolution mode, some i choose performance but just depends on the game.

    With god of war in particular I stuck to resolution as when i watched digital foundry's video on God of War's performance, performance mode was only hitting 40fps and was inconsistent, while resolution mode stayed pretty much locked at 30fps. I do love 60+fps, but if it isn't consistent then you get those screen tears and artefacts from when it jumps.

    Higher resolution and high dynamic range seemed to make the world feel vibrant enough that I could almost forget how much of an arsehole Kratos was.

    That isn't in the Performance mode. Performance mode is locked to 1080p. The other mode goes to checkerboard 4k. So maybe you don't need to upgrade after all.

    I was in this predicament, but around 9 months ago, EB games had this massive sale, was a 1TB PS4 Pro with 4 games (Dishonoured 2, Evil Within 2, Wolfenstien 2, and Fallout 4 for something like $499. I ended up trading in my PS4, and my iPhone 6S+ and only paid like $50 out of pocket for it. Honestly couldn't have been happier for that trade off

    *facepalm*

    So this is basically console players discovering that, surprisingly often, 60 FPS actually IS significantly and noticably, life-improvingly better than 30, and the only reason they had previously claimed it didn't matter was because they couldn't have it.

    Well, welcome to the party, I guess. Glad you finally made it.

      Yeah but bizarely the author still clings to the claim that locking a low framerate is valid as an artistic choice, rather than something that needs to be accepted on console due to technical limitations.

      I suppose you could argue that it evokes a certain aesthetic and maybe in some extremely limited scenarios is used that way. I'd say it'd be equivalent to recording a film on old cheap cameras (or making it look like you had) in order to evoke a certain mood, which you do see in found footage films and such.

      But the aesthetic evoked by low framerates is something along the lines of "kind of janky and unresponsive," whereas I think Shadow of the Colossus was going more for something along the lines of "tragic epic fantasy." It's really hard for me to see how having a better frame-rate would do anything other than help when it comes to realising the game's aesthetic.

        "Its an artistic choice"

        is as much a valid excuse as

        "“The intent is to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes.”

        is

      But the human eye can't see higher than 30fps.

    Just mealprep at home for two weeks or so, that should get you enough money to trade in for a PS4 Pro, if you really are that strapped for cash.

    Until games can maintain a constant 60fps on the pro, or my old Bravia kicks the bucket and forces me to buy a new TV, I don't see any reason to upgrade - I find a constantly fluctuating 40-60fps way more distracting than a constant 30fps.

    PROTIP: Don't by a Pro for Monster Hunter World. It has the worst HDR implementation of any game I've seen and honestly looks better with HDR turned off.

      So much this.

      Absolutely fucking garbage, I thought something had happened to my TV that had reset my picture settings.

    I wasn't planning on getting a Pro because then I would've had to get a new TV also, but then the missus sprung one on me for my birthday last year.

    My biggest fear before and after was that it wouldn't be worth the money for the upgrades but I'm well over that now.
    I got it home and loaded up Ark on my PS4 and TV, before swapping it out for the Pro, the difference was noticible enough to put a smile on my face.
    Then went out and got a brand new 4K Sony TV and Horizon. I fired up Ark again, the difference was evident enough to quell my fears and Horizon made me grin from ear to ear.
    Also nearly my entire backlog were games that looked better on the Pro and I've been itching to get in to then all.

    On another note I went for graphics over performance in Monster Hunter and barely had much in the way of frame rate problems.

    I have a decent PC (GTX 1070, i5 2500k 4.8ghz OC) and a PS4 pro plugged into my lg c7 55inch OLED TV. I have to be honest, I used to be all about 60fps
    and higher but now I'm gaming at 4k, those lower resolution really look weak on a 4k oled screen even with a higher frame rate. I've been going for the resolution modes with all my PS4 pro games and not the performance modes. The resolution modes lock at 30 fps for most PS4 pro patched games. Give me a locked frame rate of 30fps any day over some unlocked "performance" mode that shifts framerate around and has frame pacing issues. I think you'll find the guys at digital foundry feel the same about unlocked frames compared to locked 30fps. Even on my GTX 1070 rig, I'm running games at 2160p and locked 30 just because it looks so freaking beautiful. But, something with a simpler aesthetic like overwatch, I take advantage of my TV's ability to show 1080p at 120 Hertz and run overwatch on my PC at 120fps. Depends on the game but most games I lock at 30fps on my pro and PC so I can get higher resolution.

    Traded my launch PS4 for a Pro day 1. Zero regrets. Mine you, already had a 4K TV.

    I bought a Pro when we got a 4K tv, but then it wasn't purely an upgrade as I'd set up our old tv and launch PS4 in my study. So I can play in either room without mucking about beyond grabbing latest saves from PS+ storage.

    I do notice the difference between them but it's mitigated by the older tv being quite a bit smaller. I did definitely notice with Monster Hunter World how much harder it is to read on the old PS4...

    Just buy it already so next week you can write an article about "Why did it take me so long to buy a PS4 Pro" followed by another article a week or two later titled "I regret buying a PS4 Pro"

    I figure as long as you can get a decent price back for your existing ps4, and manage to grab the pro at a good deal you may as well. Should still be able to sell a ps4 for just under 300 if in good condition, and should be able to snag a ps4 pro for about 520-530ish.

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