Apparently, Red Dead Redemption 2 artificially boosts SDR source images.
Red Dead Redemption 2’s visuals have received no short amount of praise, and rightly so- in spite of being a huge, open world title, it exhibits a level of polish and detail that is hard to find even in games that are much smaller in scope. Shortly after the game’s launch, Digital Foundry’s analysis of the tech behind the game confirmed some pretty impressive stuff, native 4K on the Xbox One X being among those. Now, however, they have also discovered that the game’s HDR isn’t exactly “true” HDR.
Apparently Red Dead Redemption 2 doesn’t make use of actual high dynamic range, and instead upscales from standard dynamic range source images, similar to what the Xbox One release of Nier: Automata did earlier this year as well. Though it’s possible to hit 500 nits with HDR calibration maxed out, all that really does is boost the brightness from a source image that’s at 100 nits. In layman terms, the game uses tricks to give an SDR image the effect of an HDR one. This is something that Digital Foundry have noticed in all four versions of the game- PS4, PS4 Pro, Xbox One, and Xbox One X.
There’s always the chance that Rockstar could work on this with a patch in the future. Even if they don’t though, it wouldn’t be the end of the world- Red Dead Redemption 2, as I’ve mentioned, is a visually stunning game, and while actual HDR would be appreciated and would certainly boost image quality, the lack of it isn’t something that makes the game’s technical achievements any less impressive.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is out now on PS4 and Xbox One. Make sure you read our review here.