It seems you can't go a day without encountering a news story or forum post about something going wrong with the PlayStation 4 Pro. Sony's souped-up alternative to the base PS4 features higher specs that offer more processing power, ostensibly to improve game performance, and superior video output to display games at 4K resolution. Yet the reality is that many games - particularly those that weren't developed with the PS4 Pro in mind - suffer from mind-boggling performance issues when played on the enhanced system. What gives?
One of the first games with reported problems was The Last of Us Remastered. After a 4K-compatibility update, the game super-sampled textures for a clearer image at 1080p resolution, but it actually ran worse than than if it were played on a standard PS4. A recent update finally fixed that problem, making it run at a smooth 60 frames per second, but came at the expense of super-sampling for users with 1080p displays. It seems there's no way to enable that visual boost anymore, which actually takes an option away from players.
Meanwhile, RPG fans have gotten the short end of the stick with this season's pair of Final Fantasy titles. Final Fantasy XV currently offers two display options on PS4 Pro, High and Lite. The former features higher-resolution textures but a less stable framerate, which the latter sacrifices a bit of visual fidelity for smoother performance. The problem is that even Lite doesn't lock the game at 60 frames per second. We have to wait for another patch sometime this month for that option.
World of Final Fantasy suffered a far worse fate, and one that seems to have gone largely unnoticed. Its depth-of-field filter appears to be broken on PS4 Pro, adding a blurry, washed-out effect to the entire game. Some areas and cutscenes are affected more heavily than others, but it's extremely noticeable, to the point where I had to turn the game off after a few minutes because it started to hurt my eyes. The kicker here is that Square Enix only officially acknowledged the problem this week, and has announced that a patch is on the way to fix it... on January 12, 2017. That's a full month from the time of this writing, and two months from the PS4 Pro's North American release date. It's great to know that you can't play a game you've already purchased for another full month without significant eye strain, isn't it?
Yet nothing is quite as frustrating as the poor performance of The Last Guardian on a PS4 Pro. The game runs well enough at 1080p - its baffling inability to maintain 30 frames per second notwithstanding - but boot the game in 4K and you'll experience performance dips as low at 10-15 frames per second. The only fix? Close the game, select the 1080p display option via the PS4's system settings, boot it back up, and then switch it back to 4K mid-game. How, after a decade of development, is there no option to toggle display settings within The Last Guardian itself? By most accounts, it's is an emotional masterpiece that I'm dying to experience, but this bewilderingly poor performance has left me with little desire to play it until these issues are ironed out.
4K gaming is clearly in its infancy. The technology is new and there are too many variables in terms of the plethora of display devices on the market. But Sony's marketing painted a picture of a 4K future that has yet to be realized, considering the mountain of issues that have already piled up in the short month since their beefed-up console released. The PS4 Pro should uniformly offer better visuals, better performance, or both; one should never come at the expense of the other, or else we're throwing money away for the imaginary prestige that comes with owning a console for so-called pros.