PS4 Update Supersampling Feature Analyzed, Offers Visual Boost for Many Games

Good morning, PlayStation gamers! If you're a PS4 Pro owner, then you have a lot to look forward [...]


Good morning, PlayStation gamers! If you're a PS4 Pro owner, then you have a lot to look forward to with the next big system update coming down the pipline. System update 5.50 is bringing a lot of new features and upgrades for all PS4 owners, but by far the most exciting is system-wide supersampling for Pro owners. This morning Eurogamer (which owns Digital Foundry) released a rather optimistic analysis of the new feature. It's producing mainly great results, but there are a few drawbacks.

What is supersampling, anyway, and why is everyone so excited about it? Here's the layman's breakdown. The PS4 Pro is capable of displaying games in 4K resolution, which is 2160p, right? Well what if you only own a 1080p TV? What if you could crank up your games to the 4K resolution anyway? Wouldn't that make everything just appear super smooth and sharp on your 1080p display? Well yeah, it would, and that's exactly what supersampling does. It's like the ultimate anti-aliasing, and it makes images appear super sharp by brute-forcing a higher resolution to be sampled down to your display.

According to Eurogamer, this works brilliantly on a number of titles. "By enabling super-sampling in firmware 5.5," Thomas Morgan writes, "the game believes you have a 4K screen connected and the system takes over from there, downscaling the image and producing beautiful anti-aliasing in the process. The improvement to image quality is clear; jagged edges are smoothed over, more detail can be resolved in some cases, while flickering is also reduced in motion on sub-pixel detail."

It's not all rainbows and butterflies, though. By forcing a game to render at higher resolutions, you may also bring upon yourself some of the performance issues that come with pushing more pixels. In the case of The Last Guardian, for example, enabling the supersampling can cause performance to tank, with FPS dropping as low as the mid-twenties at points. Eurogamer pointed that this can happen in Call of Duty: Black Ops III as well. The dips won't be as dramatic, of course, but any drop in frame-rate in a Call of Duty game is anathema. It's just not done.

The bottom line? It's good to have options, and for the games that handle it well (like Rocket League), supersampling will offer you the best picture available on a 1080p set.