We knew something was coming, which may have spolit the surprise, but did it spoil the fun?
In case you weren’t aware, Sony held a conference in New York City tonight, which they used to showcase their new console: the PS4 Pro.
So what’s been crammed into that extra layer of the new console? Well, we were told to expect an upgraded CPU, boosted clock rate and a 1TB the whole conference lacked Sony’s usual (or perhaps just recent) sheen, which unfortunately meant that we were left in the dark about things like the exact technical specifications, unlike when the PS4 was revealed back in early 2013 and suddenly everybody pretended to know the difference between DDR and GDDR RAM chips.
What we were told, was PS4 Pro will make whatever game you play, even better. What does that mean? Well, in simple terms, PS4 Pro versions of new releases will use HDR (High Dynamic Range) to provide even clearer and crisper graphics for games played on the system.
HDR is an imaging technique which can be utilised to give a broader dynamic range of brightness, allowing brighter white and deeper black colours, which would not be possible using the technology currently available in most people’s homes. This means games will look sharper, with less murky areas when the in-game sun sets and less wildly varying contrast levels when the sun is up.
The trouble with this technology is that you can’t really tell the difference when being shown through the medium of your own TV. It’s a bit like why I’m not totally sold on VR; you can show me someone else using VR, but until I have a set on my head, I’m just not going to “get it”.
This conference showed us lots of footage of plenty of fantastic looking games, including fan favourites like Call of Duty (Infinite) as well as some of SONY’s upcoming exclusive titles like Horizon: Zero Dawn, Days Gone and Spiderman (whose costume looked fantastic in 4k) but to be fair, all of the footage shown looked pretty incredible. What they didn’t do, was show you the footage side-by-side with the current PS4 footage of those same games. They may have avoided that so that the current PS4 games didn’t look terrible in comparison, but it’s hard to see how impressed we should be with this new technology if we have nothing to compare it to.
In short, Sony claims the new PS4 Pro console will provide more immersive experiences and will offer players the chance to play games in ways that they never have before. Those who own 4k TV sets will see the biggest benefits, with those using regular HDTVs also benefitting from things like improved frame-rates.
Hardware refreshes like this are nothing new; even the PS3 had three different versions before the PS4 released. That’s purely because hardware is constantly evolving, shrinking and becoming obsolete and the further into the future we go, the faster this happens. The main difference here is that the PS4 will continue to be sold alongside the PS4 Pro. What does that mean for gamers? If you own a 4k TV, you’re going to want to get a PS4 Pro, but there wouldn’t seem to yet be a reason to upgrade to the Pro if you’ve yet to take the plunge with a standard console. The PS4 as you know it has simply been redesigned as a smaller, slimmer machine with all the same power that you’re used to.
This conference, for my money, fell far short of what I’ve come to expect from Sony, especially with the launch of VR such a short time away and rumours of a possible Rockstar reveal turning out to be false, but that’s not really anyone’s fault, so it can be blamed, at least partly, on internet hype. But in the end, I’m no fan of style over substance, so a sloppy conference showing me an incredibly powerful new console is just fine by me.
The PS4 Pro is set to launch November 10th 2016 and the price? The same as your original PS4: £349/$399.