'Skyrim: Special Edition' outputs native 4K on PS4 Pro at the cost of performance

The upgraded PlayStation 4 version of Bethesda’s open-world RPG The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim offers native support for 4K resolutions when played on a PS4 Pro console, but Digital Foundry warns the game’s performance takes an unexpected hit as a trade-off.

According to Digital Foundry, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition offers PS4 Pro owners a choice between 1080p and 4K resolutions, though players who paid a premium for the resolution bump may be disappointed when they see the game in action.

As Digital Foundry demonstrates in the video above, the 4K PlayStation 4 Pro version of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition appears at first glance to be “basically identical” to the PC version running at native 4K with Ultra settings. The PlayStation 4 Pro’s 4K mode removes the temporal anti-aliasing seen at 1080p, resulting in greater visual clarity and a crisper presentation overall.

Other visual improvements players can expect to see when running The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition on a PlayStation 4 Pro unit include improved foliage draw distance and increased environmental detail. The PS4 Pro’s streaming technology that enables enhanced foliage does not extend to elements like rocks, street signs, and other geometric objects, however, giving the 4K Ultra PC version a distinct advantage.

“Streaming here is identical to the base PlayStation 4 game. There’s no upgrade,” Digital Foundry’s David Bierton said. “Similarly, shadow quality is identical to the base game running on PlayStation 4, and the effects work is also the same. So PC owners still benefit from general streaming improvements, higher-quality volumetric lighting, and higher-resolution shadows.”

Further testing reveals that “performance isn’t quite as solid with the game running on the PlayStation 4 Pro,” according to Digital Foundry. When running at 4K, the game is locked to a framerate of 30-frames-per-second and occasional dips in performance can be seen throughout. Alpha effects seem to be especially taxing on PlayStation 4 Pro hardware, as Digital Foundry observes that the game frequently runs at a lower framerate on the PS4 Pro than on standard PlayStation 4 units.

Players hoping for a smoother framerate at 1080p will also be disappointed, as the PlayStation 4 Pro opts to downsample 4K textures for its 1080p mode. This tactic results in similar performance across both resolutions, and Digital Foundry reports frequent hitching and framerate drops at both 4K and 1080p on the PlayStation 4 Pro.

“It’s not a dealbreaker,” Bierton concludes, “but if I’m paying £350 for a machine designed to give you a premium experience, I expect performance to be a little bit better.”

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: heat-powered watches, phone cases with reflexes

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Deals

Take a look at the best 4K television deals for January 2019

There's no doubt that a good 4K smart TV is the best way to take your home entertainment setup to the next level to enjoy all your favorite shows, movies, and games in glorious Ultra HD. We've got the best 4K TV deals right here.
Gaming

One game console is better than the rest, and we're not afraid to say it

We've seen a relatively large influx of new consoles in the last year, including the Nintendo Switch and Xbox One X, so we've updated our recommendations for the best dedicated game hardware.
Gaming

PS4 vs. Switch: After weighing the pros and cons, which one comes out on top?

Nintendo Switch versus PlayStation 4: Which one has better overall value? We break down the pros and cons of each platform to tell you which of these consoles is truly worth the money.
Gaming

Verizon video game streaming service leaked, currently testing on Nvidia Shield

Verizon is currently testing a video game streaming service that is already running on the Nvidia Shield set-top box, according to The Verge. The platform, named Verizon Gaming, will also eventually launch on Android smartphones.
Gaming

Dataminers discover SNES games, more emulators for Nintendo Switch Online

Nintendo Switch Online may soon launch SNES games and more emulators, according to data miners. The list of hidden SNES titles include Breath of Fire 2 and Star Fox 2, while the other emulators may be the Nintendo 64 and Nintendo GameCube.
Gaming

‘RollerCoaster Tycoon 2’ ride takes 12 years to complete

A RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 player has constructed a coaster in the game that will take more than 12 years to complete from beginning to end, and is actually a tiny ride taking up a small portion of the landscape.
Gaming

‘Battlefield V’ adds Squad Conquest mode in ‘Lightning Strikes’ update

Electronic Arts and DICE have detailed what is included in the Battlefield V update Lightning Strikes. The update includes access to the mode Squad Conquest through the end of January.
Gaming

Here's everything you need to know to trade in 'Pokémon Go'

After literally years of waiting, Pokémon Go finally gives trainers the option to trade Pokémon with others. It's not easy, though, and the cost is quite high if you try trading with strangers.
Gaming

You're never too broke to enjoy the best free-to-play games

Believe it or not, free-to-play games have evolved into engaging, enjoyable experiences. Here are a few of our favorites that you can play right now, including Warframe and the perennially-popular League of Legends.
Gaming

Transport your Nintendo Switch in style with these nifty cases

The Nintendo Switch, which boasts both wired and handheld modes, needs a good case to ensure it doesn't get beat up while you're on the go. We scoured through dozens of Switch cases to bring you the best ones.
Gaming

‘Rocket League’ is the latest game to get full cross-platform play

Psyonix has announced that Rocket League now supports full cross-platform play across PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC, joining Fortnite as the only games to do so.
Gaming

Here's what you need to know about 'World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth'

World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth is the latest expansion for the now 14-year-old MMORPG. It goes back to the roots of the Alliance vs. Horde conflict. Here's what you need to know.