The time seems right to revisit Quantic Dream’s Beyond: Two Souls, especially in light of the announcement for Detroit: Become Human on the PS4. Things get a little confusing early on though – Sony originally announced PS4 remasters for Beyond: Two Souls and Heavy Rain. There were no indications as to when they would release…until Beyond: Two Souls’ release date was announced for the PlayStation 4 five days before its actual launch.
It’s a little strange, especially in light of the company’s muted marketing of a similar game like Until Dawn – which went on to become a significantly large success – and how mum it stayed with PS2 emulation even after the recent Star Wars bundle of PS2 games confirmed the existence of as much. Regardless, the focus here is on Beyond: Two Souls and how competent of a remaster it is for the PS4. It just really makes you wonder sometimes about the overall marketing plan of Sony and how it emphasizes some remasters much more than others.
Much like Until Dawn, The Order: 1886 and Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls represents Sony’s focus on big-budget, highly cinematic games with unorthodox gameplay and presentation. Beyond: Two Souls is especially interesting because it released on the PS3 mere months before the PS4’s launch and laid the foundation for much of what we see in Detroit: Become Human. Along with Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Gears of War 3, it was arguably the best looking game of the previous generation.
Head to head comparison between PS4 and PS3 versions. Select 1080p and 60fps option for best possible video playback quality.
Despite the technological limitations of the PS3, Quantic Dream’s custom hair rendering technology was capable of rendering each strand of hair while the facial motion capture was capable of showcasing complex emotions like anger, happiness, etc. without a hitch. There aren’t a lot of games nowadays that have been capable of capturing the range of emotions that Jodie Holmes (Ellen Page’s character) displayed in Beyond: Two Souls. We also saw very exceptional implementation of lighting, animation, skin shaders and materials.
The PS3 version’s depth of field and bokeh effects were impressive but tended to come across as pixelated. That’s no longer a problem on the PS4 version which utilizes a native 1080p resolution (compared to the sub-HD resolution of the previous gen version) and high quality depth of field. This reduces the pixelated effect but doesn’t eliminate it entirely. Thankfully, the higher quality renderer offsets it and you’ll be hard pressed to notice any pixelation in the PS4 version.
In terms of performance, there isn’t much to worry about during gameplay – the PS4 version runs at 30 FPS. The 1080p resolution visuals bring other improvements, including motion blur, bloom and depth of field effects. Lighting and shadows have also been improved. Dynamic lighting has a range of nuances, from the light bouncing off of the pre-baked environments to the sweat dripping down some one’s cheek and the enhanced sub surface scattering that comes with it. These look especially beautiful on the PS4 and in many ways, Beyond: Two Souls is one of the first AAA titles to use a physically based rendering pipeline. Though every material doesn’t use physically based rendering, the foundation is more evident in the PS4-bound Detroit: Become Human.
If you want to see the biggest difference in visuals between the PS3 and PS4 versions, simply check out the horse sequence. Better texture filtering, a better filtering solution, improved draw distances and high quality textures make the PS4 version the clear winner by comparison. There’s also better post-process anti-aliasing when compared to the PS3 version.
In terms of gameplay enhancements and new features, you’ll notice the DualShock 4 speaker being used for more immersive sound when playing as Aiden. It’s also possible to play the game’s events in chronological order and decisions at the end of each scene are highlighted and subsequently compared with other players, in case you’re curious to know how badly you messed up in some cases. Controls have also been improved in action sequences with a particular fight scene sporting increased difficulty. There’s also the Enhanced Experiments DLC to look forward to.
When observing Beyond: Two Souls, it’s easy to see how much processing potential the PS3 had (and how it may have never been utilized to its fullest by most developers). Back then – and we’re talking about 2013 here – it was incredible to note how everything was running in real-time and the visuals maintained such a high level of consistency throughout.
The PS4 version takes those intricate details and production values and boosts them even more, presenting the action in crisp 1080p resolution without compromising on the core cinematic presentation that defines the experience.
Beyond: Two Souls on the PS4 is also proof in some regards as to how Quantic Dream is readying for the current generation. It’s a decent remaster overall – if you haven’t played the original release, the PS4 version is well worth looking into. We’re not sure if you’ll appreciate it as much as, say, Until Dawn but Jodie’s journey, running across both the living and the dead, is as unorthodox as Quantic Dream can get with its adventures. That’s as good an incentive as any to hop in.