Those of us eagerly awaiting the PS5 might be surprised to learn that the next console to come from Sony will in fact be the 4K PlayStation 4 Pro, which is due to be released in November. We delve into the latest PS4 Pro news, which looks to be a mid-generation upgrade offering enhanced graphics performance and 4K output.
Sony confirmed that the PlayStation 4 Pro was real only days before it was due to take the stage at E3 2016, while also confirming that we wouldn't catch a glimpse of it at E3 2016. Sony Interactive president Andrew House told The Financial Times "It is intended to sit alongside and compliment the standard PS4" and that "we will be selling both [versions] through the life cycle."
The PS4.5 Neo will offer a full 4K output and offer increased graphical power, and will be compatible with current PS4 games, with most upcoming PS4 games supporting the upgraded console going forward. It'll cost more than the current machine costs, but not as much as previously speculated.
Update 26 September: We now have confirmation from Sony about games being upscaled to 4K, and you might not like the news. Also, Microsoft is "surprised" by the lack of a Blu-ray drive. Read more.
PS4 Pro UK release date, pricing and pre-orders: When is the PlayStation 4 Pro coming out in the UK? How much will it cost?
PlayStation 4 Pro release date: 10 November 2016
While release date rumours about Sony's PlayStation Pro were claiming that it'd be ready to buy before PlayStation VR launches in October, it isn't actually the case. Confirmed by Sony at its PlayStation event on 7 September, the PlayStation 4 Pro won't hit the shelves before PSVR. In fact, the upgraded PlayStation 4 isn't due to be released until almost a month later, on 10 November 2016. However with that being said, the PlayStation 4 Slim (or PlayStation 4 as it's now called) will be available to buy a lot sooner - on 15 September 2016 to be specific.
But how much will it cost? While many had assumed prior to announcement that the PlayStation 4 Pro, or 'NEO' as it was referred to, would set back high-end gamers more than £500, the reality is that it's more affordable than many expected. How much exactly? The PlayStation 4 Pro will set users back £349 in the UK, and is available to pre-order right now ahead of its launch in a few months time.
Where can you pre-order it? Well for those of us in the UK, we have only two options (at the time of writing, anyway!). Excited gamers can head over to GAME right now and pre-order the PS4 Pro for £349.99, or alternatively you can head to Amazon and pre-order the console for the exact same price.
PS4 Pro features and spec: What to expect from the PlayStation 4 Pro
The next console coming from Sony will be the 4K PlayStation 4 Pro, not the PS5 as originally thought. The PS4 Pro is said to be more suited to graphics-heavy games and the likes of VR, with better performance and 4K support. We assume that the upgraded internals of the mid-generation upgrade will negate the need for the secondary box to power the PlayStation VR headset, a requirement for current PS4 owners, although this is yet to be confirmed.
The PS4 Pro can output not only 4K, but also HDR video, both possible thanks to the upgraded GPU featured in the high-end console. The 4K capabilities stretch beyond gameplay, as the likes of Netflix and YouTube are developing 4K-enabled apps for the Pro console, although Blu-Ray UHD discs won't be supported. The graphics provided by the PS4 Pro are fairly impressive when compared to the standard PS4, as the company showcased footage from games inlcuding Spider-Man and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided during its announcement.
However, Sony has confirmed that not all the games will support native 4K resolution. In fact, Sony boss Andrew House told Digital Spy that "I would say the majority will be upscaled – at least based on the game portfolio I have seen to date."
Microsoft has also weighed in on the lack of a Blu-ray drive with senior Xbox director, Albert Pinello, saying "I would say it's one of the more surprising decisions that they made, given their history with being on the forefront of media transitions like they have." in an interview with TechRadar.
Sony has also boosted the clock rate for the new PS4 Pro, providing gamers with a much more powerful console than is currently available. It also features a larger 1TB hard drive, double the amount of stoage when compared to the standard 500GB PlayStation 4.
Those interested in buying a PlayStation 4 Pro will also benefit from an enhanced PlayStation VR experience, offering cripser scenes, higher frame rates and a generally better virual reality experience than the one provided by the standard PlayStation 4 console.
Fortunately for those who don't want to upgrade to the PS4 Pro, the console will not be getting its own games or exclusive features. From October 2016, every PS4 game will come with a "base" mode and a "Pro" mode, making it compatible with either console. Players will be able to keep the games bought on PS4, and although the Pro supports 4K, the games won't have to.
The good news is that all games that feature a Pro mode will have the above logo, reminiscent of the "Only on PlayStation" badges on PlayStation-only games. The icon, either on the box art or on the PlayStation Store, indicates that the game features enhanced graphics, higher resolution or an improved frame rate. But what about existing games? Sony has confirmed that a number of existing games including Naughty Dog's Uncharted 4 will receive updates in the future enabling support for the PS4 Pro, and while some worried that these updates will be kept behind a paywall, Sony has released a statement claiming that all Pro patches will be free.
Interestingly, the rival Xbox One S console also boasts a 4K output, but it doesn't relate to 4K games - instead, the console is set to offer 4K video playback and nothing more.
Podcast discussion: PlayStation vs Xbox & PS 4.5 Neo
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