Lucky beta testers who have been able to download the forthcoming 4.50 PS4 firmware have enjoyed quite the embarrassment of riches. From the milestone and long overdue feature of external HDD support (up to 8TB, no less) to the ability to watch 3D Blu Ray movies through PSVR, few would argue against the fact that 4.50 is the most significant firmware release that Sony’s home console has seen in quite some time.
Oddly absent though from the official list of features for firmware 4.50, was the true megaton for PS4 Pro owners; a togglable setting called “Boost Mode” which enhances the framerate of games that haven’t had the good fortune to be graced with a bespoke PS4 Pro patch. Beta testers have already nicknamed the new functionality “Beast Mode” and seemingly, it’s a moniker that has been earned with good reason.
These same beta testers have taken to popular forum NeoGAF to report their findings, and the consensus is that Boost Mode is the most significant upgrade to happen to a PlayStation console in quite some time. In practical terms, with Boost Mode switched on, PS4 Pro owners are seeing massive leaps in performance, with games like Bloodborne, Assassin’s Creed Unity and Until Dawn displaying much improved framerates, while the improvements lent to other titles, such as the notoriously tech-troubled Just Cause 3, are described as “a revelation”.
Clearly, many 1080p screen owners have felt underserved by Sony’s mid-generation home console refresh. With the promise of picture improving supersampling going unfulfilled by more than a few titles, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that the uptake of PS4 Pro hardware amongst 1080p players is lacking to say the least. Crucially for this overlooked audience then, these gains are for all PS4 Pro owners to enjoy, and as such provide real incentive for standard PS4 owners to trade up to the new hardware.
Now, there is so much tech jargon to underpin all this that my brain hurts just thinking about it (something that is best left to others, arguably), but as good as Boost Mode would appear to be, there are limitations in place that should in turn inform realistic expectations. Boost Mode cannot, for instance, improve framerates beyond their locked caps, so games such as The Witcher 3, won’t magically shoot up to 60FPS all of a sudden. Equally, other visual issues, such as frame pacing won’t be addressed either; thus, while Bloodborne shows markedly improved performance, the judder caused by frame pacing issue still remains.
Despite such boundaries and limitations however, Boost Mode would seem to be icing on the PS4 Pro cake that 1080p PlayStation gamers have been craving in order for them to take the plunge, and when a full set comparative metrics come out, we’ll no doubt see some real improvement on a raft of other PS4 titles, too. Critically, improved framerates is something that is a lot more tangible to PS4 owners than the addition of something like HDR, and as a result, “Beast Mode” could be just what Sony need to sell PS4 Pro to folks who haven’t yet hopped on the 4K bandwagon.
Ostensibly then, it looks like this latest firmware release is truly one for the players.