I have been questioning the real need for the PS4 Pro since rumors of its existence started circulating at this year’s E3. I am still angry at the fact that it’s been so little time between consoles, and this still may be replaced again next year. From a consumer point of view, it’s not fair to release a game system at 400 dollars only to release an incremental upgrade and ask for that same amount in less than 5 years. That being said, after giving the console a go for a full weekend, I am going to break down some of the arguments for and against the PS4 Pro.
The PS4 Pro is the system that we should have gotten from the beginning. It’s billed as the system that gives us 4K gaming – which is all fine and good – but I just question why Sony didn’t future-proof the original PS4 upon its original release with all of the bells and whistles that we are now getting in a new box. Considering that 4K technology has been around since 2003, with 4K televisions coming onto the market around 2012, it’s not like Sony didn’t know this was coming. We are talking about the same company that more or less forced blu-ray technology on the world with the PS3. As UHD TV prices are dropping rapidly, it’s baffling that the original PS4 didn’t have some of the features needed to make it compatible with 4K television weren’t already baked in. I would hazard a guess in that it’s possible that just 2 short years ago, the technology that Sony wanted to put into the PS4 would probably have made the system more expensive than what they wanted, plus it would have pushed some consumers to get 4K TVs if they truly wanted to get every drop of graphic goodness out of the system. Again, when you consider that the Xbox 360 and PS3 came out at the dawn of affordable HDTV, it still leaves a lot to question. The big question that still remains is, since this is a 4K gaming platform, why not include a 4K blu ray drive? Sony’s explanation is that streaming content is the way to go and that disks are obsolete, but don’t tell that to Microsoft, as they seemingly had no problem adding one to the Xbox One S. If Sony really wanted to make the Xbox One S irrelevant, adding that drive to the system would have been the way to go, and I am holding out hope that perhaps a firmware update will activate it…although I won’t hold my breath. It still makes no sense to force people to stream when there are still wide patches of places, just in the US alone, that are unable to get a strong broadband signal to stream.
From a setup point of view, the PS4 Pro was very simple to connect. Just an FYI, to get all of the graphical fullness from the system, you may have to hook it up directly to your 4K TV for it to display correctly (see here for more TV tips if you are having issues). As far as other setup issues, the only major minus was waiting for all of my games to get re-installed, which took a better portion of my Friday. Also, games with DLC such as The Witcher 3 and digital-based games such as Shadow of Mordor GOTY Edition took up a lot of time re-installing, and there was no way to run anything else while that was going on. Upon completion, I went into the settings and ensured that everything was set to take advantage of my 4K TV and then off I went. One of the things that still haven’t changed is that the load times for some games such as The Witcher 3, are still long. I was hoping that with the extra power being put under the hood would have helped with that. Beyond that, there is not too much I can complain about from the PS4 Pro.
The profile of the PS4 is just as sleek as that of its predecessor. Even though it’s a tad bit smaller than the original PS4, it almost looks the same. The controller itself feels slightly heavier, but not enough to distract you, and the analog sticks are noticeably tighter…or maybe I just played my old one so much that I loosened them.
“But Harry,” I hear you asking, “How to the games look?” Well, after spending some time tweaking pictures, and readjusting the settings of the games I own which take advantage of the system’s capabilities, I can say that the details are truly amazing. Shadow of Mordor looks measurably better with the graphical boost, even though it’s showing some signs of age, as it was one of the early releases in the PS4 lifecycle. That was a pleasant surprise for me. Uncharted 4, which always seems to have been a graphical feast for the eyes, is no slouch on the PS4 Pro. The details really get a pop, the framerates are steady, and the visual nuances in almost every level of the game make this one worth having in your library just to show off. Titanfall 2 showed up pretty decently, even though it’s not 4K native. That still doesn’t stop the game from looking better at 60FPS – which is impressive for sure – but Uncharted 4 still is my top game. Of course, I can’t leave The Witcher 3 out of the conversation. Even though the game was not optimized for 4K, it still somehow manages to be neck and neck with Uncharted 4 with the visual clarity and detail.
Therein lies the rub, though… If you take a game that’s already pushed to its limits, push it onto an upgraded system without giving it the prerequisite patches needed to make it look better, then should a gamer invest in the new system?
That will be the question that gamers will have to face in the next few months, considering that there will be games such as For Honor, The Last Guardian and Horizon Zero Dawn, which will already come optimized for the system. Right now, the only other reason I can give gamers to get the PS4 Pro, is to hurry and take advantage of the de-valuation of the PS4. Let’s be realistic: a lot of people aren’t readily sitting on $400 to buy a system, especially when you JUST spent that much less than 5 years ago, for what you thought was going to last another 10 years. Also, of course gamers will have to invest in a 4K TV with HDR capabilities to take advantage of the system. Which sucks considering the 8K TV and beyond are already making their way in to the consumer market. The PS4 Pro may be worth it in the long run, but unless you absolutely need to have it right now, there is no need to rush right now to buy. My biggest fear is that by the time gamers start moving to the PS4 Pro en-masse, the gaming companies will try to dangle a newer, shinier console in our face. I don’t think gamers would fall for that, though.
If you never had a PS4, and want one, now is a good time to get one or at least wait until more 4K games enter the market. If you already have a PS4, unless you fear what your trade in value will be, then wait.