Sony spent a lot of time talking about how PS4 Pro (opens in new tab) will make your games look better on both 4K/HDR TVs and HDTVs yesterday. But The Witness (opens in new tab) developer Jonathan Blow has put together the best explanation I've yet seen on how game creators can choose to mete out that extra power.
Blow announced on The Witness' official site (opens in new tab) that his team at Thekla is working on a PS4 Pro patch for the first-person puzzle game and what players can expect from it. Before I go into Blow's tech synopsis, remember that this is just one way people could decide to get their games running on PS4 Pro (opens in new tab), and the details aren't final yet. Despite those limitations, it's still an illuminating look at how developers can pursue different visual and performance goals (opens in new tab) based on what kind of display their game is running on.
So first, the ideal use case: a PS4 Pro plugged into a 4K and HDR compatible TV. For these well-appointed conditions, Blow says the team is aiming to bump up The Witness' native resolution from an upscaled 900p (with 1080p for user interface elements) to 1440p "or possibly higher". The game should still run at a steady 60 frames per second despite the resolution bump.
Second, the less-hyped but probably-more-common setup: a PS4 Pro plugged into a standard HDTV. In this case, the overall resolution will be boosted to 1080p across the board while maintaining 60 frames per second. The game's anti-aliasing (that's the graphical technique that makes images appear smoother than a grid of pixels has any right to be) will be increased from 2X to 4X MSAA. Leftover processing muscle could be used for other graphical improvements like better detail for faraway objects.
Blow added that some of Thekla's work should benefit non-Pro PS4s thanks to the upcoming HDR system update (opens in new tab)… and that the studio was just as surprised about that update as we were. They thought HDR was just going to be for PS4 Pro! Pleasant bonus or concerning rift in communication on Sony's part? You decide!
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