The best PS4 Pro games: push your console to its 4K HDR limits

The best PS4 Pro games: push your console to its 4K HDR limits

It’s the most powerful console on the market, but if you’re looking for the best PS4 Pro games, you might have to do some research before splashing the cash at your local games shops.

You see, not all PS4 Pro games have been created equal.

And, to clarify, to call them PS4 Pro games isn’t quite accurate either – Sony’s mandated that all PlayStation 4 games going forward work on both the newest and oldest PS4 consoles. It means developers have to get creative in order to scale to both machines, something that some manage better than others, while some merely use it to firm up the performance of titles that stutter on the less powerful, older hardware.

But we’re not interested in stuttering missteps, or the disappointing 4K HUD improving half-assed updates to the likes of Overwatch. If you want to take advantage of the PS4 Pro in all its 4K or HDR glory, these are (on a technical level) the best games to show off your new console with.

If you’re looking for a PS4 Pro showstopper, Ratchet and Clank is a great place to start. It’s like playing a Pixar movie, with its colorful visuals, loveable characters and world-hopping sci-fi plot.

And, it’s actually a great case for the merits of not-quite native UHD 4K on the PS4 Pro. Rather than pumping up the resolution count to its maximum, Ratchet and Clank makes clever use of a technique called Temporal Injection. It’s essentially a very efficient and fancy upscaler, pushing the image quality up to a 2160p standard and removing jaggies without the strain of a native resolution push. At a capped, consistent 30fps and with HDR support switched on, you’re left with a blisteringly beautiful shooter that looks out of this world.

If you insist on a native 4K showcase for your PS4 Pro, EA’s latest and greatest FIFA 17 is perhaps your best option. While it sadly doesn’t take advantage of HDR brightness effects, it’s running at the max resolution the Pro can manage, without 'cheating' with upscaling techniques. Keeping a consistent 60fps throughout, it’s an impressive achievement – even if the beautiful game naturally wouldn’t have environments as complex as some of the more fantastical games listed here.

Other small enhancements include higher-quality grass (you’ll be looking at enough of it, so that’s no bad thing) and better depth of field effects.

Sure, it’s an older title getting a PS4 makeover, but Rez was always made for a silky visual set-up. Running at a native 4K / 60fps on Sony’s latest console, it’s an astonishing, trance-inducing, Tron-like shooter that’s never looked better than on the PS4 Pro. That it’s one of the best music-focused games of all time is a bonus, too, we suppose…

And, if you’re one of the lucky few to have that ultimate PS4 Pro / PS VR combo, then you’d do right by your eyes, your gear and your endorphin levels by firing up Rez Infinite on Sony’s virtual reality headset too, where it’s a subtly smoother experience.

Now here’s an interesting one. While it doesn’t offer native 4K throughout nor HDR, Diablo 3 shows Blizzard cleverly taking advantage of the PS4 Pro’s additional horsepower. It’s using a dynamic resolution scaler to allow the dungeon crawler better fidelity on consoles and improved lighting techniques, while maintaining a solid 60fps framerate.

When you’re in simple interior sections like the tavern in New Tristram or Deckard Cain’s house, you’re hitting that native 4K resolution, but when you’re more chaotic locales it can fall anywhere between 1080p and that top-end 3840 x 2160 wonder. For the most part it’s dramatically better than 1080p, scaling imperceptibly in motions and maintaining a high framerate to boot. It’s slick, and advanced bloom effects and ambient occlusion seal the deal to make it onto this list.

Sony’s smash hit conclusion to Nathan Drake’s globe-trotting adventures makes good use of the PS4 Pro, though don’t expect it to massively alter the already sumptuous feel of the original.

The PS4 Pro update for Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End pushes the resolution up to 1440p, which is a marked improvement over the original’s full HD limits, even if the intense action makes a 30fps target the goal. What is appreciated though is the HDR implementation – traipsing through old tombs by lamplight, or seeing the sun filter through dilapidated shanty town and jungle trees looks astonishing on the PS4 Pro.

Another resolution scaler, and another great way to show off the fidelity of your UHD screen thanks to its HDR features, too. Deus Ex Mankind Divided sits somewhere between 1800p and 2160p, using checkerboard upscaling to dynamically tweak the resolution depending on what’s happening on screen.

For the most part, it’s a wonderful experience, with the stealth-cyborg ‘em up looking gloriously futuristic – particularly in its Blade Runner esque slums where the HDR lighting effects come into full force. However, some stuttering and a recent revert to an adaptive v-sync in an attempt to ease the stuttering mar an otherwise smooth upgrade.

This one’s been a bit of a poster boy for the PS4 Pro hardware, and it’s easy to see why – with First Light previously a PS Plus giveaway, many prospective Pro owners will already have a high-quality test-subject to put their new machines through its paces.

Both Infamous Second Son and spin-off First Light are using a checkerboard effect rather than native resolution jumps, but you’d be hard pressed to notice the difference in the way it’s implemented here. Pushed to a not-quite-but-pretty-much UHD resolution of 1800p, the open world superhero title shimmers with HDR lighting effects, bringing fingertip flames and neon powers to life on premium displays.

Whether you’re hooked up to a 1080p screen or an eye-popping 4K number, Rise of the Tomb Raider is a sight to behold, with improvements offered optionally across the board.

As we’re most concerned with visual fidelity here, you’ll be pleased to hear that the 2160p checkerboard effect is once again put to great use. Sticking close to the 30fps target, even without a HDR mode the icy adventure looks super cool. It’s pin-sharp and gloriously detailed, perfect for capturing brag-worthy screenshots with.

It may be getting on a bit now, but Shadow of Mordor has been given so much love that it’s well worth revisiting on the PS4 Pro. Though it’s using a dynamic scaler again, for the most part the game now lives at a full 2160p resolution, rolling back rarely and imperceptibly. 

There’s no HDR feature at play here, which is a shame as those night-time orc encampment hunts would have benefitted from it. But for a rich and large open world to be running at a near-consistent UHD top-end, Tolkien’s world has never looked better on a console.

A full-on enhancement for the most ambitious Final Fantasy game yet, Square-Enix has yet to finish tinkering with PS4 Pro performance here, but it’s still looking a treat. Provided you can stomach a slightly jittery frame-rate (nowhere near game-breaking, we assure you), Final Fantasy 15 uses a checkerboard 1800p upscale, along with improved shadows and texture filtering. It’s a feast for the eyes.

And, if you’ve access to a HDR TV, it gets even better. Square-Enix makes full use of the high dynamic range afforded the PS4 Pro, making for blisteringly bright desert sun lights and deep dark cavernous dungeon blacks.

Think Jurassic Park, but with robot dinosaurs, and you're on your way to the breathtaking action that Horizon: Zero Dawn offers.

From the minds behind the Killzone series, the open world action adventure was a revelation when it launched in early 2017, being one of the most sophisticated sandbox titles available to PS4 owners. From sneaky stealth sections to gigantic face-offs with hulking mecha-rexes it got the heart pumping.

But perhaps most impressive was its visuals. It particularly shone on the PS4 Pro, where its 4K HDR visuals brought the flora and fauna of for a post-human future dazzlingly to life. It's a PS4 Pro showstopper, and a great way to show off the machine's capabilities.

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