The PS4 Pro Makes Me Hope The Xbox Scorpio Is Something More

Posted: November 16, 2016 in Opinion Piece

pro

by Paul Tassi via Forbes

I’ve had my PS4 Pro for nearly a week now, my old, original PS4 currently tucked away in hibernation, waiting for me to decide who to donate it to. As I mentioned in my full review last week, I like the system, and think it was both the right call for me, someone with a 4K HDR TV, and for Sony.

Sales of the PS4 Pro seem to be going well so far, and it’s a way for Sony to expand their lead over the course of the next year, as Microsoft doesn’t have a similar offering, and it’s anyone’s guess how wildcard Nintendo’s Switch will perform later in the year.

And yet, something I’ve noticed after a few days with the Pro is that…I’m already starting to forget I own one.

This isn’t to say that the PS4 Pro does anything wrong in particular. It’s upconverting games to 4K, making use of HDR and better framerates in some games. But what I am saying is that my brain has “normalized” all this in pretty short order. This was never going to be a fully-fledged new console launch, given the specs and capabilities of the system, and it certainly does not feel like that in practice, that’s for sure.

As I mentioned previously, the largest step forward for me in the past year was buying the 4K TV in the first place, which began to upconvert all my games to 4K to some degree. Now, PS4 Pro does this better and more consistently, but the leap from PS4 on 1080p TV to PS4 on 4K TV was larger than the one from PS4 on 4K TV to PS4 Pro on 4K TV, if that makes sense.

While everything does look better, fundamentally, at least right now, we’re still getting the same games, and while most of them look/run somewhat better on the Pro, you’re not viewing these games as side-by-side comparisons. I played the first half of Dishonored 2 on my PS4, and the second half on my PS4 Pro, and if you had switched out the boxes and didn’t tell me, I am not sure there’s a guarantee I would have noticed a specific difference. Now, all games going forward I will be playing on PS4 Pro only, with nothing else to even compare them to, and I expect I will notice improvements even less when that day comes. This has already happened with Watch Dogs 2, a great looking game on PS4 Pro, but I have no idea what it would have looked like on my PS4, where most games were also great looking.

All of this is to say that while PS4 Pro certainly works as a better performing console, it makes me hope that the Xbox Scorpio, due out a year from now, ends up being substantially more than this. We already know that Microsoft is gunning for even more power than Sony, but the system still isn’t being treated like an entirely new console, indicating that a generational leap forward is still out of reach, four years after the launch of the original Xbox One.

It’s a chance for Microsoft to try to reclaim the upper hand, essentially going “last” out of the three consoles that will be out in the market by that point, with the opportunity to blow them away. Sony is committed to the PS4 Pro for a good long while now, and Nintendo is off in its own little world as it usually is, and barring some sort of miraculous Wii-like success, the Switch will probably not be a significant factor in the PlayStation V. Xbox battle.

But, like I thought when these consoles were just announced, it is a pretty tough sell for these consoles to offering marginal improvements in performance while players have to pay the full $400 cost of an entirely new system.

I know there are many technical-minded people out there who may notice consistent performance improvements on devices like the Pro to a greater extent than I do. But I also think many of these people are the type who own high-performing gaming PCs, where things like 4K and good framerates are more easily and consistently achievable.

Gaming has come a long way in the last few decades, but now we’re reaching a point where things feel like they’re stalling a bit. Where new consoles are not blockbuster new releases that feel like leaps into the future. Instead it feels more like a phone upgrade, your iPhone 6 just became a 6S, and it only cost you a few hundred dollars.

Perhaps after playing the PS4 Pro for a few months, then being forced to switch back to my old PS4, I would easily notice a difference and realizing I was idealizing how games used to run. But I can’t pretend like my brain hasn’t normalized the output of this new system in just a few days, and I hope that with the Scorpio we get something that’s a more significant step forward for the home console industry. Sony hasn’t done anything badly here, but I can’t deny that I just want more.

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