Expect better graphics, VR experiences and a new PS4 slim

Sony has released an updated version of its PlayStation 4 console, with extra power for richer gaming experiences.

Showcased at a launch event in New York, the PS4 Pro has been known to exist for some time. Sony first spoke about the console earlier this year under its codename ‘Neo’ but now we have a real name, a real price tag and a fast approaching launch date.

Aside from a few extra slats, it’s the same angular black box. The price tag of £349 is also the same as the original PS4’s launch price. So what’s new?

Upscaled 4K Gaming and HDR

The console’s flagship feature is improved gameplay graphics, though the PS4 Pro doesn’t support native 4K gameplay.

Instead, the new console manages upscaled 4K graphics. This could be a disappointment to some, especially as Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox One Scorpio is likely to be capable of native 4K resolutions. However, Eurogamer says the experience is still very impressive and the hardware punches above its weight. It’s a significant improvement over the standard PS4’s 1080p output.

Upscaled games won’t be the only 4K content heading to the console. Streaming sites like Netflix and YouTube will output videos in 4K, as well as some of the movies you can buy in the PlayStation Store. Unfortunately the PS4 Pro doesn’t support 4K Blu-Rays.

Alphr says that a much bigger deal is new support for High Dynamic Range gaming. It’s an addition that should really make colours “pop” out of the screen and many older PS4 games will be updated to HDR standards.

Even better, you won’t have to buy a PS4 Pro to enjoy HDR – support is coming as a free update to existing PlayStations soon. You’ll still need a 4K HDR ready TV. As Alphr says: “It’s really more of a gateway drug to the adoption of the PS4 Pro”.

Improved performance with PlayStation VR

This should prove to be a bumper year for PlayStation fans, given that the new PS4 Pro will be joined by Sony’s upcoming virtual reality headset.

The PlayStation VR will be launching on 13 October. Owners of the original console will be able to use the device just fine, but the experience will be better if the headset is plugged into a PS4 Pro.

The console’s extra power means the textures making up the virtual environments will be of a higher quality. More importantly, it makes it easier to attain the 120Hz refresh rate goal, for smooth, responsive visuals.

It’s one of two new PlayStations

The PS4 Pro isn’t intended to replace the original console, but sit alongside it. It’s not part of an all-new generation of consoles and will play the exact same disks you’d buy for a normal PS4, just in upscaled 4K resolution.

To that extent, the normal PS4 has had a mid-life refresh. The PS4 Slim was announced alongside the PS4 Pro and it’s a smaller, thinner revision of the original hardware. If you don’t have a 4K TV but want to buy a PlayStation, it’s the one to get says Gizmodo. It’s much more compact and has a starting price of £259 when it releases on 15 September.

Release date

Those after the PS4 Pro will have to wait a little longer. The console will not be released for another two months. Sony has revealed that the date is 10 November and the console’s starting price will be £349.