Sony revealed its high-end PlayStation 4 console at its “PlayStation Meeting” event in New York on Wednesday, with the “PS4 Pro” ushering in an all-new territory for the home console market.
The PS4 Pro console will launch on Nov. 10 for $399.99 with improved hardware for supporting both 4K resolution and high-dynamic range (HDR) gaming and media with 1TB of hard drive storage.
During the nearly 40 minute presentation, Sony discussed some of the technical aspects behind the new Pro hardware, describing how 4K and HDR will change gaming on the new console and give players better experiences on the system through higher graphical effects and improved frame-rates.
The PS4 Pro is designed for the “highly discriminating gamer” who were desiring more technological advancements from their games in the current console cycle, according to Andrew House, president and global CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment.
While it features improved hardware and capabilities, the new system’s name symbolizes that the Pro still represents this current console generation and is specifically targeted at the hardcore gamer, according to House.
Sony first confirmed PS4 Pro in June under its code name “Neo” but didn’t provide any details on what it would look like until the official reveal on Wednesday.
Sony is focusing on 4K and high-dynamic range gaming with the PS4 Pro, while still delivering the same gameplay experiences to owners of the current market standard of high-definition televisions on regular PS4s. Even HDTV sets will be able to take advantage of the increased power of the PS4 Pro, allowing games to look better for players who haven’t upgraded their televisions to 4K.
The look of the Pro console features a new design, one that’s somewhat larger in size over the standard PS4 currently being sold since the system’s launch in November 2013. It also features a matte black finish instead of the glossy look of the original model while also removing the light bar down the console’s center.
The PS4 features improved hardware inside the box, including an upgraded GPU at 4.2 teraflops, a boosted clock rate through a customized 8-core “Jaguar” CPU, 8GB of DDR5 memory while having up to 310W of power consumption. The original PS4 had 1.84 teraflops of GPU power based on AMD Radeon, a similar but unclocked Jaguar CPU, the same 8GB memory, power consumption up to 250W and a 500GB hard drive.
The Pro console will feature 4K and HDR media streaming, including new Netflix and YouTube applications for the increased video modes. While the Pro supports higher quality digital media, Sony confirmed it won’t be able to play 4K, Ultra HD Blu-ray discs unlike the recently launched Xbox One “S” console. The PS4 Pro will still be able to play standard Blu-rays and DVDs.
The base PlayStation 4 model will continue to be sold alongside the newly announced Pro console. Since its launch the PS4 has sold over 40 million consoles worldwide, outselling both the Xbox One and Nintendo’s Wii U. The console currently retails for $349.99 but also cost $399.99 when it first launched. Microsoft’s redesigned Xbox One S console that launched in August currently supports both 4K streaming and physical media along with HDR for gaming, while the basic Xbox One model doesn’t feature either. The Xbox One S retails a 500GB model at $299.99, with higher storage iterations up to 2TB for $399.99.
Sony also announced there will be a newly designed base PS4 console, nicknamed the “slim” version, launching on September 15 at a decreased price of $299.99. This new, lighter model also features a matte black finish but with round edges around the system, while including new power and disc eject buttons in the front. The Slim will now be the standard PS4, replacing the current version that will be phased out. The PS4 Slim also comes with a slightly redesigned DualShock 4 controller that now has a light bar sensor through the touchpad.
All current PS4 owners of the basic model sold since 2013 and the new slim version will have the systems become HDR-capable consoles through a free firmware update releasing next week, Sony announced during the conference. With high-dynamic range, games on PS4 will be able to feature a wider and more expanded range of light and dark colors that show a higher set of details.
Compared to 1080p gaming, Sony said the PS4 Pro with 4K and HDR support will represent the same leap that happened between standard televisions to high-definition sets several years ago during the last console generation.
“The vision is to take the experience to extraordinarily new levels,” Mark Cerny, lead system architect of the PS4, said about the PS4 Pro’s design during the presentation. Cerny explained how the the PS4 Pro will allow developers to take advantage of emerging technology and new television sets to improve the quality of their titles, most noticeably through more detailed in-game visuals.
PS4 Pro will be able to detect the type of television set that the console is connected to and then adjust its features for 4K, high-dynamic range or 1080p.
The PS4 Pro will upscale games to 4K resolution. It wasn’t confirmed if the console would be able to natively support 4K outputs, which requires significant hardware power for that type of performance along with a high price tag than what the Pro will retail for.
The Pro system is targeting 4K and HDR adopters who want better graphics and higher in-game resolutions with increased and stable frame-rates, while Sony still maintains the current PS4 ecosystem for its large install base.
“Our vision is to present a clear choice to the gamer,” House said.
Rumored since March, the PS4 Pro will play improved versions of Sony’s console games. With the introduction of the PS4 Pro in November, PlayStation will still have “a single, unified community,” according to House. Sony’s goals for the two different PS4 models are to have one community for one game, with multiple ways to play each title.
All current PS4 games will play on the PS4 Pro. There won’t be PS4 Pro-exclusive games that can’t play on the base PS4 models. Going forward all PS4 releases will be required to have different versions of the game on the same disc, to accommodate both the basic and Pro consoles. Games will be required to display at a minimum of 1080p on Pro consoles. For online multiplayer gaming, there won’t be any performance differences between the base model and the PS4 Pro console in order to not give certain users unfair advantages.
Sony said its asking its own developers and third-party partners to support these new Pro features by adding them during development and also returning to older titles to update them. There will be patches and updates for the current PS4 catalog that will be compatible on both PS4 models, which Sony is calling “forward compatibility.” Current PS4 owners will also be able to transfer their games and library to the Pro console, according to Sony. The PlayStation Network will be the unifying ecosystem across all models of the PS4.
Some of the new games with Pro features through 4K details will include games already available, those releasing this year and in 2017, like Spider-Man from Insomniac Games, For Honor by Ubisoft launching next February, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided that released on Aug. 23, Rise of the Tomb Raider out next month, Watch Dogs 2 this November and Killing Floor 2.
Two of the new major games that will support PS4 Pro this holiday season are Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered, with both models of Sony consoles getting improvements this November when the games launch. Activision also announced that Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 (2015) will be patched for PS4 Pro support.
Electronic Arts will have FIFA 17 and Battlefield 1 supported with Pro this year. Mass Effect: Andromeda will support 4K on the Pro console when the game launches in 2017, which the company showed with a new demo.
Sony also showed off Horizon: Zero Dawn from Guerrilla Games playing on PS4 Pro with 4K visuals, with improved graphical details displayed in the world and with the main character’s physical appearance, like much more realistic hair effects. Zero Dawn will launch on Feb. 28, 2017.
Not all developers will support HDR features but can patch in the feature for older and new titles. Some of the games shown that would feature HDR support include Days Gone by Sony Bend that was revealed at E3 in June, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End from this May and inFamous: First Light (2014).
For those still playing on 1080p TVs with the Pro, more details and improved graphics can also be added to games by developers. Current releases like Paragon from Epic Games and Shadow of Mordor (2014), along with future titles like For Honor, will feature better visuals and more in-game details even on basic HDTVs.
The Pro console will also improve the performance of the PlayStation VR hardware and its games, which launches on Oct. 13 for $399.99. The PS4 Pro will allow developers to implement higher frame-rates and include more details during gameplay. An updated PlayStation 4 Camera with a new design will release on Sept. 15 for $59.99 that’s compatible with PlayStation VR.
The PS4 Pro will compete against Microsoft’s Project Scorpio, which will be the next iteration of the Xbox hardware. Microsoft announced Scorpio at the end of its E3 conference in June, which will launch in 2017’s holiday season. The Scorpio is being designed to include 6 teraflops of GPU power for 4K gaming. The basic Xbox One model launched in November 2013 has 1.3 teraflops with its GPU, while the S console has 1.4 teraflops.
Sony last held a “PlayStation Meeting” in February 2013 at the same PlayStation Theater when it revealed the PlayStation 4, which launched later that year.
Watch Horizon: Zero Dawn in 4K on PS4 Pro: