By Jay Parks (GrimlockTheDino9)
Release Date: November 10, 2016 Developed By: Sony Retail Price: $399.99
We have just celebrated the PS4's 3rd birthday (November 15th) and what a great time it has been! This month also marks the launch of the new PS4 Pro. Because of this, we all now have a big decision to make: do we need to upgrade to the PS4 Pro? I made the jump to the new system, and I can now speak to all the enhancements it has provided, as well as the headaches that this console has caused.
Back when the PS4 Pro was revealed, I was not a huge fan of the system's new look. I love the original model's design and own the Darth Vader model, which is super badass. But upon getting my PS4 Pro, my thoughts changed; I really like the design and finish of this system. The all matte finish will not scratch and scuff like the original PS4's did (due to the original having a glossy finish). The port layout is improved; all ports were lowered towards the bottom of the system, which helps reduce stress put on the ports. There is also clear and easy access to the hard drive via an access panel on the back of the system. Lastly, the look of the system just feels grown up, and the chromed out Playstation logo is straight up sexy.
The day after I bought the PS4 Pro, I went out and bought a 4K TV with HDR support. So let's clear some things up, since the marketing around this system seems very lacking. If you are playing on a 1080p TV, there are enhancements like better frame rates, improved operation of the operating system, and increased storage space. But the PS4 Pro truly shines when paired with a TV that supports 4K HDR. Running at 2160p with HDR enabled and playing a game that has been patched to use the PS4 Pro's enhancements shows you what the future of gaming holds for us. I have been playing Infamous Second Son. It has been a nice revisit to a game that I really enjoyed initially, and this game has never looked this good. The city of Seattle is gorgeous, the particle effects look amazing, and frame rates have never been this smooth. I have also played several games (Destiny, Overwatch) that are not currently patched for the PS4 Pro; these games still are up-converted to run at 2160p and the colors look improved as well. Overall, the PS4 Pro's game support at launch was impressive, with 30 games available.
This was a big question because no one really explained how the PS4 Pro would improve the VR experience. You will not see 4K VR or HDR, but you will get improved frame rates, improved lighting and textures, along with better depth of field. I got to play a lot of Rigs and Batman VR back at the launch of PlayStation VR; with the PS4 Pro I played the same two games and saw improvements in both. I then started playing Robinson: The Journey and again i am noticing some great results from the PS4 Pro that i was not getting on my original PS4. Overall, this is a nice small enhancement to the PSVR.
There are a few snags that I do need to point out. The first one is that PSVR has no HDR pass-through, which is a big design flaw. Sony not thinking about all the gamers who just picked up a PSVR weeks before the launch of the PS4 Pro who now have to unplug and switch HDMI cords around depending on the experience they want is ridiculous. The second issue is an industry problem: the confusing world of HDR and which TV has it or maybe supports it. Finding a TV that truly supports HDR and wide color gamut to get the full power of the PS4 Pro was insane. So many TV units out there say they support HDR, but be warned: this does not mean it will actually give you a real HDR experience. Do your research before purchasing; many of these lower cost TVs and holiday bundles do not have wide color gamut and some of them do not even have proper HDR 10 bit boards and simply use software to fake HDR effects. Once you have a TV that supports the PS4 Pro, make sure to go into your settings and configure it to accept the HDR signal from the PS4 Pro. This again is not directly Sony's fault; the industry is fractured when it comes to HDR and hopefully it will become clearer soon.
Overall, I am impressed with the launch of the PS4 Pro, patch work for existing games (30 games support the PS4 Pro at launch), and performance of the PS4 Pro operating system. It really makes me hopeful that future games will be fully developed for the PS4 Pro. The few issues I had with the overall setup were minor and everything is running great now. But the PSVR having no HDR pass-through is a problem and hopefully Sony can come up with a solution. Until then you are stuck with swapping HDMI cords.