PS4 Pro review: 4K PlayStation 4 gaming is GREAT, but it’s not without its flaws

PS4 Pro review: 4K PlayStation 4 gaming is GREAT, but it's not without its flaws
The PS4 may be well ahead of the Xbox One in the sales stakes, but that doesn’t mean Sony is resting on its laurels and taking anything for granted, especially with Microsoft seemingly closing the gap.

Sony has released three new pieces of hardware over the past few months, beginning with the PS4 Slim, then the PlayStation VR virtual reality headset, and now the PS4 Pro.

Unfortunately, however, despite bringing 4K gaming and HDR support to the PlayStation brand, the PS4 Pro is actually the hardest of the three to recommend.

Read on for Express Online’s PS4 Pro review, a 4K gaming console that’s not without its flaws

In terms of design, the PS4 Pro looks like a regular PS4 with another storey added on top.

It’s definitely not the best looking console, it’s really heavy and it will take up more real estate under your TV. It does, however, feature one or two tweaks that make a difference.

For starters, you can now actually see the power and eject buttons, which means no more fumbling around and accidentally pressing the wrong one.

There’s also a USB slot at the back of the console, which is good news if you’ve got PlayStation VR, because you can plug the processor unit into the back of the PS4 Pro and hide those messy wires.

The Dualshock 4 controller has also been given a slight redesign, although the battery life doesn’t seem to have improved. There’s now a light strip along the touch bar, which makes it easier to spot any light-based, in-game notifications.

But it’s what’s inside that counts, and the PS4 Pro is a faster and more capable console that supports 4K resolution and HDR.

This means that in theory, PS4 Pro supported games like Uncharted 4, Call of Duty Infinite Warfare, Battlefield 1 and Hitman, should all run at higher and more consistent frame-rates. In addition to smoother performance, PS4 Pro supported games look clearer and more detailed – which is thanks to the improved resolution – and display a wider spectrum of colours – which is down to HDR.

The differences aren’t always immediately clear, and it’s not until you go back and try these games on a regular PS4 that you really notice the difference. That said, titles like Rise of the Tomb Raider and The Last of Us look absolutely stunning on a PS4 Pro, and you can spot the differences straight away.

Granted, they were pretty good looking to begin with, but the difference is still pretty astounding. With more games taking advantage of the visual boost in the future, and developers getting to grips with the hardware, expect games to look even better as the months go by.

Unfortunately, the differences are harder to spot in VR, bar slightly faster loading times and smoother texture loading. Put simply, if you thought you needed a PS4 Pro to really get the best out of PlayStation VR, you don’t.

The PS4 Pro does have a few other useful tricks up its sleeve, with significantly faster download speeds compared to the original PS4 and a 1TB hard drive for more game storage.

But beyond the flashy visuals and steadier frame-rates, there are one or two drawbacks that might leave a sour taste in your mouth, particularly if you owned the original PS4 and shelled out the cash to upgrade.

For starters, it’s really annoying that because of PlayStation VR’s lack of HDR support, you’re going to need to switch HDMI cables if you want to go from virtual reality back to regular PS4 games with HDR.

Having to switch cables may be the very definition of a First-World problem, but if you’ve invested all that money in a high-end console and a virtual reality device, it’s a problem that feels like it could and should have been avoided.

As an LG TV owner, I’ve also had a few issues with the screen blacking out when quitting HDR games. It seems to be a TV issue and not Sony’s fault – and it’s pretty easy to fix with more cable jiggery-pokery – but it’s still disappointing that this is happening at all.

LG has said that it’s working on a fix, so all being well, this isn’t an issue that will plague you for long. Still, if you are an owner of a 4K LG TV with HDR, it might be worth waiting until the problem is fixed before you invest in a PS4 Pro.

Also, while apps like Netflix now support Ultra HD content on PS4 Pro, it’s unfortunate that the console doesn’t have a UHD Blu-Ray drive. It’s a situation made worse by the fact that the Xbox One S does have one – and it’s significantly cheaper.

It’s also a shame that more games haven’t been given the PS4 Pro treatment, especially a couple of personal favourites like Bloodborne and The Witcher 3 – the latter of which would have looked unbelievably beautiful.

So should you buy a PS4 Pro? Well it really all depends on what equipment you’re rocking to begin with, and even then it’s not a clear cut answer.

PS4 Pro review: 4K PlayStation 4 gaming is GREAT, but it's not without its flaws

If you already own a PS4 and DON’T have a 4K TV – and aren’t likely to get one any time soon – then the answer is most definitely not. The same is true if you don’t own either, but want to buy a new PS4. For that we’d recommend the cheaper PS4 Slim.

If you already own a PS4 and DO have a 4K TV with HDR, then it becomes a bit trickier. It’s not really worth spending £350 for a second PS4 with flashier graphics, but if you can get a good console trade-in deal, then you should definitely consider it.

Likewise, if you’ve got a 4K TV and don’t have a PS4 at all, then it’s the best version of an already excellent console, so it’s probably the one you should go for. Of course, you could save at least £100 by opting for the PS4 Slim, but you might regret it a year from now when the PS4 Pro really hits its stride.

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