Today marks the launch of Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro, an upgraded version of their existing hardware designed for modern 4k television screens.
It’s been just three years since the release of the original PS4, which makes this Sony’s first mid-generation console. System designer Mark Cerny announced at the Playstation conference earlier this year that, “PS4 Pro is not the start of a new generation, nor is it a console that is going to blur the lines between generations.” Games will be developed to work with both consoles and Sony will continue to support each of them, but Pro owners will see frame rate and graphic improvements.
The upgrades make Playstation 4 Pro the most powerful console on the market, at least until Microsoft’s Xbox Scorpio is released in late 2017 so if you have a spare £350, or you’re requesting an extravagant gift from Santa this year, the Pro console will likely be on your list. But with VR, Xbox One S and the upcoming Nintendo Switch, you may be deliberating hard on where to drop your hard earned cash.
To help you out, here’s a breakdown of the major Pros (get it?) and Cons of investing in Sony’s latest console.
Pro: Native 4k Gaming
The Pro exclusively offers some of the most beautiful gaming experiences available, with supported games running in 2160p and HDR, at 60fps. Whilst it isn’t a mind blowing difference (don’t expect the SD to HD jump), it is a noticeable jump and the most attractive console display available right now. Whilst the Xbox One S will play 4k Blu Ray and stream entertainment at 4k, it will only upscale games, making Sony’s new console the only way to experience native 4k gaming outside of PC.
If you don’t own a 4k television however, the perks of Playstation Pro are limited. The console offers several modes to improve gameplay at 1080p, including frame rate improvements, but ultimately if you don’t own and aren’t planning on buying a 4k TV any time soon the Pro isn’t designed for you.
If you’ve already invested in Playstation VR, the Pro will offer some improvements to the experience. The console’s increased power will upgrade your VR experience from graphics to loading screens, and it is a noticeable upgrade. Whilst VR works perfectly fine on the original PS4, Pro owners will be treated to a slightly enhanced, smoother experience but much like the 4k upgrade, the difference is subtle.
At £349, the Pro is both excellent value and an expensive upgrade. Compared to the price of putting together a computer capable of equivalent power and graphics, £349 is very reasonable, but with plenty of competition this season you might be reluctant to make the investment. The pricing puts the Pro in direct competition with another of Sony’s recent l hardware launches– Playstation VR (also £349) – as well as Microsoft’s Xbox One S (a more competitive £249). Its highly likely we’ll see the Pro drop in price in the next year, particularly towards the launch of Xbox Scorpio.
Con: 4k Blu Ray
With a strong shift towards streaming, Sony have declined to include an upgraded Blu Ray player in the new machine. In contrast, Microsoft’s Xbox upgrade will stream entertainment at 4k and play the latest Blu Ray discs. As someone who hasn’t bought a DVD of any kind for my own use in years, it makes absolutely no difference to me, but for many people choosing between the two consoles it’s easy to see how this could be the deciding factor. The reality is if you want 4k Blu Ray, Xbox One S is the more sensible choice by far.
Personally, I already own a 4k TV and could scrape together enough disposable income to make one more reckless purchase this year, but I’m still not planning to make the leap to 4k gaming just yet. I’ve experienced the difference between HD and 4k, and whilst it’s noticeable it isn’t mind blowing. You can see my lovely television above, with HDR 4k display and attractive ambilight running 2015’s Witcher 3 Wild Hunt in 1080p on a standard PS4. My Sony camera phone probably doesn’t do it justice, but it runs smoothly and looks beautiful. Most of this generations major releases already look incredible, and I really don’t need them to look any better right now.
Instead I would much rather experience exciting new VR technology or take the latest game releases with me on the go – investing 2017’s portable gaming solution, the Nintendo Switch. Whilst the Pro is a good boost to the existing machine, VR is a completely new experience and the Switch is an exciting solution to a problem I didn’t realise I had.
So my advice? If you have £349 spare, own a 4k TV and are still torturing yourself over this, you should seriously consider the purchase, but just keep in mind all the other awesome toys out there vying for your cash. Outside of hardware releases, we’ve got some amazing games this quarter; including multiple new FPS titles, Mafia III, Rise of the Tomb Raider Definitive Edition and Skyrim Remastered – keeping up with these titles could easily rack up to the cost of a new console. If you’ve also got your eye on VR, you’ll likely get a much more varied, exciting experience for your money. There will no doubt be another console on the way in the next few years, so if you can hold out for minor upgrades it might be worth waiting it out. At least until we know more about the Scorpio.
Bonus Pro: Launch Games
On the plus side, if you’re a graphics obsessed 4k TV owner with some spare cash, the plus side to the Pro is its large library of games. If you’re about to make the leap, here are all the games confirmed to have Pro support;
Call Of Duty: Black Ops 3
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
inFamous First Light
inFamous Second Son
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Ratchet & Clank
RIGS Mechanized Combat League
Rise Of The Tomb Raider
Robinson: The Journey
Super Stardust Ultra
The Elders Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition
The Last Of Us Remastered
The Last Of Us: Left Behind
The Playroom VR
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Until Dawn: Rush of Blood
World Of Tanks