Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is one of the – if not the – best looking games this generation. Mixing a full physical-based rendering pipeline with beautiful environments, excellent animation and even managed to solve the crowd-rendering dilemma that allowed for large numbers of people in a single place. The overall attention to details was also praise-worthy and even if Naughty Dog was unable to hit a 60 FPS target with the 1080p resolution, it delivered some extremely sumptuous visuals to offset it. Uncharted 4 was just proof that you don’t need high frame rates to deliver next-gen looking visuals (though it did help that the game ran at a locked 30 FPS).
So it’s important to note right off the bat that the PS4 Pro version of Uncharted 4 does not run at 60 FPS. In fact, it doesn’t use native 4K or even checkerboard rendering. We heard a month ago that Naughty Dog was pursuing some other rendering solution for the PS4 Pro but what does that mean?
Essentially, Uncharted 4 opts for a 2K image upscaled up to 4K. This results in a 1440p resolution image running at 30 FPS. A 60 FPS buffer running at 1080p resolution might have been more preferable even if it doesn’t fit the “4K” bill. As it stands, this isn’t a huge upgrade at all. It’s more of an incremental visual bump. Nothing too shabby but definitely not the greatest showing.
Now, this isn’t to say Uncharted 4 looks bad – thanks to the number of rendering techniques and graphical features like TAA, trying to upscale it to 4K using checkerboard rendering would have required quite the resources. It’s also a question of the engine architecture as per-pixel velocity vectors, reprojection systems and fall-backs for the effects that don’t work in such scenarios would be needed. Game systems aware of single-frame effect limitations would also be needed.
Could Naughty Dog have achieved higher with more time? Is it a testament to the limitations of the PS4 Pro? Was the developer pushed to implement PS4 Pro support to properly cater to the console’s launch?
However you want to look at it, this is the current state of Uncharted 4 on the PS4 Pro. Again, it’s not terrible but it’s not exactly what we were expecting from one of the most stand-out visual experiences this generation. Your mileage may vary but we have to wonder what’s the point of a PS4 Pro update when it doesn’t make any bones about running the way that it does.