I can’t say that I was all that impressed with the pairing of the PSVR and PS4 Pro. Maybe I expected too much? A quantum leap in graphics and fidelity that’d blow my mind all over again is what I wanted, though I can’t say I really expected it. What I did get was a little underwhelming and a sense that PS4 Pro wasn’t really made with PSVR in mind, but rather 4K TVs and HDR displays and all that jazz.
To be clear, I’ve rarely complained about the limitations of the PS4 and PSVR combo, and that’s the base PS4 I’m talking about. Obviously the controls leave something to be desired – yo, Sony, quit it with the Lazarus controllers and make a new solution! – and the image quality on some games is a bother, but I’ve never sat inside my virtual worlds and thought “this is shit.” Not until the PS4 Pro was introduced.
Naturally I’m not saying the PS4 Pro makes things worse, but it doesn’t exactly give things a massive boost either. I’ve spent the past two weeks dipping in and out of the many PSVR games that have taken up residence on my now-full 1TB hard drive. I’ve played DriveClub VR, Tethered, Batman: Arkham VR, The Brookhaven Experiment – you get the picture. I’ve basically put every game in the PSVR library through the PS4 Pro and only a few rare occasions was I a little more than impressed.
See, the problem is that the PS4 Pro is still a relatively weak console for virtual reality gaming. Sure, the extra power under the chunky hood gives regular games a nice boost, but PSVR games are seeing just minimal improvements. Some developers are going the extra mile to include extra little effects, though I’d argue that you’d be hard-pressed to notice them. I know I struggled to. Other games are simply opting to push the game through the pipeline at a higher resolution which is then drawn down for the PSVR’s display. This typically gives you a clearer image, but it’s not by a great margin.
For the purpose of this test I had both the PS4 Pro and the PS4 Slim sat next to each other under my TV. I’d try one game, then I’d go through the ball-ache of switching the PSVR over to the other console to see what was different. My poor back was a wreck after the fifth test… But it was my buyer’s remorse that really hurt. I don’t own a 4K TV so the advantages of the PS4 Pro would only be minimal for me anyway, but I’d hoped that I’d get my money’s worth by pairing it up with the PSVR.
At first I tested games that were specifically updated to include PS4 Pro support. I started with Crytek’s Robinson: The Journey. I couldn’t really tell what was different, but then I went through the annoyance of switching the cables back to the PS4 Slim and noticed that there were some differences: draw distances were better, textures looked a little clearer, and the general image quality was a bit sharper. It wasn’t anything mind-blowing, mind you, but the differences were there.
It’s a similar story across most games updated for PS4 Pro, so I’ll save you having to read 8000 words of me comparing the details. While it’s nice to see things a little clearer, in most cases I really had to flit back-and-forth between the Pro and the PS4 Slim to pick out the differences. Unfortunately, not every game benefits, most notably DriveClub VR. The VR edition of Evolution’s arcade racer took a massive hit in the graphics department to get it running on PSVR, so it’s a shame that the game didn’t get a bit of a boost to reduce the fuzziness and aliasing that is just about everywhere in the game.
In theory, PS4 Pro and PSVR should have been a match made in heaven; the promise of more power had me excited to see what could be done with PSVR, but when all is said and done I’m left a wee bit disappointed. The jump in quality isn’t huge and, while Sony still focuses on the regular PS4 as a platform that sits alongside the Pro, I don’t think we’re going to see games get much better in the short-term. PSVR is still an impressive platform that I use almost daily, but the real jump will come with the second edition and the PS5. So 2022, then, yeah?