The next generation of consoles is right around the corner and with it are a whole host of new tech buzzwords. 8K, variable refresh rate, auto low latency, HDMI 2.1 – the list goes on and generally makes for a certifiably confusing time as a player.
One gameplay element that has heavily entrenched itself with the PS5 marketing machine as of the late is the attitude towards FPS and how it will play out over the coming years.
Both the technical advancements of HDMI 2.1 and the increase in computational power brought by the PlayStation 5 offer exciting possibilities in terms of framerate.
How is the game of FPS likely to pan out?
Read on for a comprehensive guide on recent developments and how they may affect gameplay fluidity.
How many FPS does PS5 support?
The inclusion of the HDMI 2.1 standard and beefy specs means that the PS5 can technically output 4K resolution at 120 FPS (and 8K at 60 FPS).
Does this mean that most games will actually support 120 FPS?
If the PS4 console generation is anything to go by, very few games will hit 120 FPS. It’s also very unlikely that many 8K games will hit the market. The reason for this is simple: the raw computational power required for this sort of output goes way beyond what even the PS5 will offer.
The most powerful gaming PCs on the market struggle to hit 4K 60 FPS in most games. Expecting the output of both resolution and framerate to double at the onset of the next generation is setting yourself up for disappointment.
Why most PS5 games will remain at 60 FPS or less
It’s been revealed that most games unveiled at the PS5 event were running at 30 FPS, and past prioritization of developers shows us that fidelity is usually chosen over framerate in terms of resource utilization.
Just as with the move from 30 FPS to 60 FPS, the jump from 60 FPS to 120 FPS requires 2x the computational power. In the land of gaming PCs, this sort of jump is within the realm of reason due to the ability to manually (and easily) adjust graphical settings.
On PS5 (and any console), players are very restricted in terms of what they can adjust. The release of the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X allowed users to choose framerate over resolution, but the majority of titles are still developed with graphical and gameplay qualities in mind.
In addition to letting players choose performance over graphics, the PS4 Pro also introduced a brute force performance mode (Boost Mode) as a means of increasing framerate outside of official patches
The merit of 60 FPS has graced more of the mainstream audience this generation due to the maturation of competitive gaming, explosion of Twitch, technical outlets like Digital Foundry, and proliferation of gaming media, but it’s still much easier to demonstrate the allure of a game through its graphics.
Games like Red Dead Redemption 2, God of War, Shadow of the Colossus, and Spider-Man lure people in much more effectively than support for 60 FPS in the next big shooter.
More 60 FPS games on PS5?
Slowly but surely the priority given to framerate has increased over the last generation, and early signs point to this trend continuing with the PS5. While 120 FPS is unlikely, console’s have been giving more and more attention to the fluidity of games. The release of the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X brought the ability to choose framerate over resolution for the first time in console history, and 60 FPS has become much more commonplace overall.
During the years of the PS3 and Xbox 360, 60 FPS shooters like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare were a rarity, much less games non-competetive genres. Even monolithic shooters like Halo 3 remained locked at 30 FPS. Now? High framerates are pretty much a given in the realm of shooters and have spread out towards all types of genres.
The PS5 also looks to be a much more capable machine this time around relative to the standards of the market. Both the CPU and GPU will enjoy monumental upgrades over the base PS4, and the storage implementation is something incomparable to even the PS4 Pro.
The PS5 looks to be a much more powerful machine than the PS4. Some of its specs include:
- Zen 2 architecture CPU
- 16 GB GDDR6 RAM
- Custom RDNA 2 GPU
- Proprietary SSD drive (fastest SSD on the market)
The self perpetuating cycle of performance awareness this generation has also pushed FPS closer to the forefront of gamers’ minds (especially those who play shooters). AAA showcase games are likely to remain closer to a 30 FPS target but there is no reason to suggest that developers will revert back to a lower FPS in games that demand smooth gameplay.
FPS might not matter (as much) on PS5
There is one new exciting technology brought by HDMI 2.1 that will shake up next-gen framerate and that is Variable Refresh Rate (VRR). Provided developers support the new feature, it means that console players won’t have to deal with as much of an interruption to smoothness while playing games.
The Xbox One X already supports VRR in a very limited capacity. The feature, propagated by HDMI 2.1, is likely to cement itself with the release of the PS5 and Xbox Series X.
What does VRR do?
In short, it prevents screen tearing, judder, and general jerkiness resulting from fluctuations in FPS. Even with a powerful machine, the reality of modern gaming is that quite a few titles will experience FPS drops at different times.
A game might target 30 or 60 FPS, but it’s not uncommon for this benchmark to falter during taxing sections (especially when playing on consoles). Repeated drops in framerate not only break immersion, but can also interrupt the flow of gameplay.
The PS4 has historically struggled with holding a firm framerate in intensive titles and the introduction of VRR means that playing at 30 or 60 FPS will be a much more pleasing experience overall.
30 FPS still has its place on the PS5
Developer support for VRR is sure to make 30 FPS games more enjoyable, but it’s not the only reason why the lower framerate still has merit come next-gen.
Titles like Gran Turismo 7, Horizon Forbidden West, and Spider-Man: Miles Morales are sure to kick up graphics in a traditional sense, but the launch of the PS5 will also bring entirely novel advancements to console gaming.
For all of the power that the PS5 will bring, new technologies like ray tracing means that games will be more intensive than ever. It is an incredibly taxing graphical feature and, in conjunction with improvements to particle effects, texture quality, and rendering, keeping certain titles at 30 FPS doesn’t seem so crazy.
Games running at 30 FPS is likely where we’ll see the most ambition from a technical standpoint.
Certain games like Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart also show the blinding progress made to asset streaming and the way the PS5’s proprietary SSD will bring some of the biggest leaps to next-gen gameplay.
A generational leap in fluidity
On all fronts, the PS5 (and Xbox Series X) will offer smooth gameplay in ways this generation has so often failed to. We may not reach the dizzying heights of 8K 120 FPS gaming, but the trifecta of advancements to storage, CPUs, and GPUs offer unmatched seamlessness.
Will the PS5’s potential roll out without a hitch?
Probably not. But despite the mirage of the current marketing machine, there are quite a few gems that offer an injection of excitement to the waning years of this generation.
Lover of games, tech, nature, and strange electronic music. Shaped by Sega, PlayStation, Nintendo, and Xbox – platform agnostic ever since. Currently overwhelmed by choice on my Xbox Series X thanks to Game Pass.