As you may know, achieving a smooth and consistent frame rate in racing games is an important factor to us here at Team VVV. In an ideal world, every racing game would run at a locked 60fps – not only does the fluidity enhance the sense of speed, it also improves controller response, allowing for more precise driving. Sadly, hardware limitations of the current-gen consoles means that racing games rarely run at 60fps. And the games that can achieve 60fps such as Project CARS and Assetto Corsa usually have variable frame rates. However, that may be about to change thanks to a recent firmware update for the PlayStation 4 Pro console.
Unless you have a 4K TV, we failed to see the benefit of investing in a PS4 Pro when it didn't seem to offer any noticeable improvements for existing PS4 games. However, the most recent firmware update added a new optional 'Boost' mode, which improves the frame rate of existing games, providing they haven't been patched with a PS4 Pro enhancement update. For players who care about performance, this could be a potential system seller – and yet Sony hasn't advertised the feature whatsoever, bewilderingly.
Since racing games arguably benefit from smoother frame rates more than other genres, Digital Foundry has put a selection of recent titles to the test to see if there were any noticeable performance improvements. The results were surprising.
One of the games tested was Project CARS, which suffers from noticeable frame rate drops on the standard PS4, particularly when it has to cope with intensive weather effects, complex physics, and large grids of 44 cars on-screen. Even with these settings, using the PS4 Pro's Boost mode saw a noticeable performance improvement of at least 35 percent. In less taxing conditions, the game could apparently run at a locked 60fps.
The most dramatic difference can be seen in Assetto Corsa however, which now runs at a consistent 60fps with Boost mode enabled. This represents a 27 percent performance improvement compared to the standard PS4 version which suffered from frame rate drops and rarely hit 60fps when racing against 15 AI cars. It's a similar story for F1 2016, which now runs at a solid 60fps, although performance in the base game was still smooth for the most part.
So there you have it. If you don’t own a 4K TV, we may finally have found a reason to justify buying a PS4 Pro. It will be interesting to see if the Boost mode can improve the performance of DriveClub and Milestone's games catalogue, too.