The PS4 Pro Reveal Was a 4K Disappointment

The PS4 Pro – previously codenamed the PS4 Neo – was revealed by Sony earlier today during its PlayStation Meeting, with the company finally unveiling its 4K upgrade to its current-gen console. While I was initially excited to see what Sony would have to offer with its latest console, I didn’t factor in one inherent issue: that it’s impossible to correctly judge the quality of a 4K console while watching its gameplay footage on a 720p live stream.

On my Twitter feed there were a few journalists who had attended the live event in New York, each discussing how great this footage looked when displayed in 4K. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to mimic that level of quality on a Twitch or YouTube live stream, meaning that when PS4 lead architect Mark Cerny unveiled each new batch of gameplay, collected from games both old and new, those watching from home were forced to make do with the blurry images and the inconsistent resolution of a live stream. 

It’s not clear how one can correctly unveil a 4K console by way of streams outputting at 720p, delivered to monitors mostly outputting at 1080p, but the PlayStation Meeting certainly highlighted how not to do it. Featuring a complete lack of new game announcements and consisting solely of either new snippets from games already showcased during E3, or old footage of games such as Uncharted 4 and Rise of the Tomb Raider, there was nothing to maintain the interest of those watching from home.

PS4-Pro-Horizon

It was impossible to determine the quality of the PS4 Pro’s 4K graphics via live stream, making Sony’s decision to air so much gameplay footage questionable.

I own a 4K TV and was previously interested in the PS4 Pro, but after watching its big reveal I’m starting to reconsider whether or not I’ll take the plunge come its release on November 10th. Though it’s got a reasonable price point – retailing at $399 in the US, £349 in the UK – the real lack of any discernible excitement from its reveal has now left me scratching my head. Typically a new console announcement is accompanied by a wave of developers demonstrating its positive impact upon their games, but that was not the case with the PS4 Pro.

Instead the PlayStation Meeting felt rushed, as though Sony CEO Andrew House’s mom had called him to tell him that his dinner was getting cold halfway through the event. Lasting for around 40 minutes, the two games that garnered the most attention were Horizon: Zero Dawn and Days Gone. But I know what these games look like in 720p – I watched the E3 2016 streams. If I didn’t own a 4K TV but was interested in purchasing one for the sake of experiencing the PS4 Pro, watching from home there was nothing shown during the presentation that would have convinced me to do so.

Compare this to the Xbox One Scorpio announcement, which detailed the specs of the console, how it would impact existing games and its effect on the future Xbox One library, and the PS4 Pro reveal seems even more curious. Even the console’s touted impact upon PlayStation VR went unmentioned, with Sony instead choosing to continue to show gameplay footage without explaining any of the technology behind it. While this may have been just fine for those watching the PlayStation Meeting in its New York venue, the majority were left to do guesswork in regards to what they were supposed to be looking at.

Unfortunately, it’s still not clear exactly what the PS4 Pro is offering. We know nothing of the technology under its hood, nor its supposed impact upon PS VR. Instead we experienced 40 minutes of Mark Cerny unveiling unexceptional gameplay footage with the caveat that it probably looked really good in person. The end result was a company that looked completely disinterested in the new hardware it had to show off, with it being the antithesis of the enthusiastic, nigh-on untouchable Sony we’ve witnessed since the debut of the PS4.