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Nov 01

Nov 01

How PS4 Pro Enhances Horizon Zero Dawn

Michiel van der Leeuw's Avatar Posted by Technical Director, Guerrilla

Horizon Zero Dawn is an action RPG set in a lush, post-post-apocalyptic open world in which humanity is no longer the dominant species. Machines, not mankind, rule the Earth.

We’re very excited about HDR, 4K TVs, and PS4 Pro in general, but to be clear, the game we demonstrated at the past two E3s was running on standard PS4 hardware. We’re dedicated to making a game that looks great regardless of the model it’s played on; it will look beautiful on PS4, and will look even better on PS4 Pro — particularly if you own an HDR-compatible 4K TV.

Click above for full-size image.

As we showed at the PS4 Pro reveal event last September in New York City, the extra power of the new hardware allows us to get even closer to our vision for a lush and vibrant living world. The extra detail in the natural environment and the enhanced colors really add to the experience.

We’ve used the enhanced hardware of PS4 Pro to do some exciting things for Horizon Zero Dawn’s art style. In the end, it’s up to each developer to make its own decisions that align with the priorities of the title.

For us, Horizon Zero Dawn is all about scope, scale, and visual splendor. Though the game is technically post apocalyptic (or perhaps more accurately, post-post apocalyptic) we wanted to create a vision of nature reclaiming the Earth. PS4 Pro’s power afforded us a number of interesting possibilities to expand this vision even further.

Click above for full-size image.

For starters, for players who still possess standard 1080p HDTVs, we’re able to offer far better image quality. We’ve got a number of techniques at our disposal. The most logical one is supersampling. This is a very high-quality anti-aliasing technique, which basically means we internally render at a higher resolution (close to 4K) before shrinking it down to the final 1080p resolution. As our internal calculations are done at a resolution much higher than 1080p, more detail survives before we shrink it down to 1080p, resulting in smoother edges — virtually no jaggies — and a more stable image.

We’re also looking at enhancing the quality of our shadow maps and increasing the quality of our anisotropic filtering. This is a technique which increases the quality of texture sampling, resulting in more detailed environment textures. We still have to tweak these elements of the 1080p output quality for the final game, but we have quite a bit of power yet to play with.

In addition, Horizon Zero Dawn on PS4 Pro will fully support users with 4K TVs, outputting at a much higher resolution. We’re rendering 2160p checkerboard, which is a special technique that looks incredible on a 4K TV. You’re going to notice a ton of subtle details, from stitching on Aloy’s outfit, individual leaves and branches swaying in the wind, kilometers away in the distance, and more detail in all the machines and NPCs in the world.

Click above for full-size image.

Then there’s HDR, or high dynamic range, which is a brand-new feature that enhances the range of colors we can display. It’s very exciting and hard to explain as it’s something which most people haven’t seen before, so they don’t know what to expect. You can’t print it, it’s not in cinemas, your phone’s screen can’t do it. The only thing that you can compare HDR with is reality. We normally have to do a lot of work in the engine to take an internal high dynamic range image and then make it suitable to be displayed on a normal TV. A lot of color fidelity gets lost in the process. If you own an HDR-enabled TV, we don’t have to lose that data and you’re looking at the image in its full glory, with brighter and deeper colors, more contrast and vibrancy, in its pristine state. The benefits are truly awesome.

For me as a developer, the most exciting thing about PS4 Pro is that it provides a lot of extra processing power. It will be interesting to come up with different ways to put that additional horsepower to use — from finding more efficient ways to output at high resolution, to giving non-4K players more display options, and much more.

Add Your Own

kyleh614 said:

November 1st, 7:06 am

Can you please be crystal clear by what you mean by “We’re rendering 2160p checkerboard…” is this to say that Horizon Zero Dawn is rendering at native 4K resolution? It’s not upscaled? What is the frame rate at this resolution?

    CrusaderForever said:

    November 1st, 7:21 am

    2160p and here is a great article that explains checkerboard rendering https://www.engadget.com/2016/10/20/ps4-pro-mark-cerny-interview-hardware/.

    Bjarno86 said:

    November 1st, 7:22 am

    Checkerboard literally means that it’s non-native 4K. So it’s a cheaper way to render the game in 4K, but Digital Foundry has been impressed by the results of the technique.

    Aldex1997 said:

    November 1st, 7:27 am

    It will render at full 3840×2160 but using checkerboard rendering. It is an amazing technique that allows you to push the hardware way beyond what it could do. It is really close to native 4K and beyond 1.2 metters it should be identical. I made a video explaining how it works in a simple way. Here is the link https://youtu.be/gInSdSqfgSg
    If you have any additional questions, send me a message on PSN. I would be glad to help with anything since there is a lot of misinformation about the PS4 Pro on the internet.

    LeeorV said:

    November 1st, 7:51 am

    Checkerboard means that the game displays at a Native 4K resolution, but only part of the image is rendered in each frame (basically, it’s an advanced form of alternating rendering, which allows you to only render half the image (for each small 4×4 section) for each frame, and the other half in the next frame, in a sort of checkerboard pattern – hence the name.

    It allows you to render half the pixels needed for the same resolution, and looks almost as good as natively rendering the full image.

porhawj2014 said:

November 1st, 7:07 am

Does Graphic look better on PS4 Pro if i don’t have 4K TV with HDR ? i hope 1080p HDTV look better on this game

    kyleh614 said:

    November 1st, 7:08 am

    Right there in the blog post, my guy: “For starters, for players who still possess standard 1080p HDTVs, we’re able to offer far better image quality.”

    KidCommando said:

    November 1st, 7:53 am

    Of course they could have put images side by side to show the difference between PS4 and Pro on a standard 1080p TV….but that would show you that there is not a big difference between the two.

    If you are on a standard 1080p TV, the differences are not going to be all that great. certainly not worth the time, money, and effort to upgrade.

    If the differences were “far better” than instead of telling you they are better, why don’t they just show you side by side?

    How come there are zero gameplay scenes of the same game running on a PS4 vs PS4Pro on a standard 1080pHDTV?

    Amnalehu said:

    November 1st, 10:54 am

    @porhawj2014 YES! “For starters, for players who still possess standard 1080p HDTVs, we’re able to offer far better image quality. We’ve got a number of techniques at our disposal. The most logical one is supersampling. This is a very high-quality anti-aliasing technique, which basically means we internally render at a higher resolution (close to 4K) before shrinking it down to the final 1080p resolution. As our internal calculations are done at a resolution much higher than 1080p, more detail survives before we shrink it down to 1080p, resulting in smoother edges — virtually no jaggies — and a more stable image.”

reson8er said:

November 1st, 7:08 am

So psyched for my Pro and HZD! I took 2 days off work to redo my setup when the Pro arrives next week so I can game into the weekend. I have a 4K OLED/HDR TV set and am dying to see the Horizon running on Pro hardware with it.

Thanks GG for being amazing game creators and artists and technical wizards.

    DHILIFE said:

    November 1st, 12:56 pm

    Could you please let me know what TV you own? And would you recommend it?

    IrishSJ23 said:

    November 1st, 6:01 pm

    I currently have a Samsung 55″ JS8500 which is 4k/HDR but only LED. Planning to get the 65″ LG OLED C Series this month when I can get it on sale for roughly $2500 from Amazon or Best Buy. I also have the Pro pre ordered and will be off the 10th and the 11th. Can’t wait! Enjoy that OLED goodness!

CrusaderForever said:

November 1st, 7:12 am

Thank you for this great article! Knowing I will be playing Horizon Zero Dawn on the PS4 Pro D1 is very exciting!

SpyDudeFX said:

November 1st, 7:14 am

I hope the Platinum isn’t a super chore like many other games. I hope the trophy list is released early.

    Trendy_Kid said:

    November 1st, 7:35 am

    Oh come on now, you know every big AAA game has at least one or two absolutely insane trophies.

tr_SubLIME said:

November 1st, 7:39 am

More detail is nice and all, but a stable/high framerate should also be crucial as it directly affects enjoyment of the game. Will the game dip below 30fps on PS4 Pro? Would it require too many resources to offer “visual modes” like Rise of the Tomb Raider?

    IceColdKilla44 said:

    November 1st, 7:46 am

    While better IQ is nice, I’d really prefer an enhanced frame rate, even something around 45fps just so the gameplay can be that much smoother.

maxvtec said:

November 1st, 7:41 am

Im getting my PS Pro next week, is there a list of games that are going to be compatible or doninhave to wait for Horizon?

    Soul-SurVivor94 said:

    November 1st, 8:06 am

    Well the last of us recieved an update today to support the PS4 pro. And you got rise of tomb raider, skyrim, fallout, Deus ex, watch dogs 2 coming next week, dishonoured 2 as well, uncharted 4 ofc. And plenty more to come i

RGS396 said:

November 1st, 8:32 am

There are lists online (easily found with a Google search) of what games will be PS4 Pro Enhanced.

↑↑ Soul Survivor listed a few but I know that Battlefield 1, CoD Infinite Warfare, and CoD 4 Remastered are also going to be PS4 Pro Enhanced, if they aren’t already.

PhoenixML21 said:

November 1st, 8:39 am

I want this game, and a PS4 Pro, and a 4K HDR TV. And more moeny probably, and more time to play.

    ajsasflaym said:

    November 1st, 1:50 pm

    i only need the game and the time out of that list…it’s going to be the best game no matter how many pixels there could be out there

GunstarHeroX said:

November 1st, 8:45 am

“We’re very excited about HDR”
So excited that you forgot to include HDR passthrough in the PSVR processing box? After I buy the PS4 Pro, I will have spent €850+ on Sony hardware in the space of 2 months, and it doesn’t even work in tandem. You can’t be that excited about HDR when you require PSVR to be unplugged for it to even work.

    GunstarHeroX said:

    November 1st, 8:54 am

    That’s addressed to Sony, not Guerrilla obviously. They didn’t do the hardware design. They probably should have, though.

    puamdefoke said:

    November 2nd, 1:40 am

    @GunstarHeroX

    There is a cheap solution for this ,.. search @neogaf,..
    Still stupid,.. also don’t know if maybe 4K requires entire bandwidth of the cable

Dark_Yoda_313 said:

November 1st, 9:16 am

PS4 Pro – preordered
Horizon Zero Dawn – preordered
Sony x800D 4KTV – already set up

I am stupidly excited for this game.

    MakoSOLIDER said:

    November 1st, 1:04 pm

    I’m looking to fall back on the 800D as well if the KS8000 60 inch isn’t cheap enough.

Tinye310 said:

November 1st, 10:13 am

I’m actually getting pretty stoked on PS4 pro, looking forward to getting it!

MixedBEAUTY562 said:

November 1st, 10:27 am

I wonder if KZSF will receive a PS4Pro patch .. I know it’s old but that would be nice.

Dark_Poetry said:

November 1st, 10:32 am

Will the frame rate be improved with the PS4 PRO ?

SEVIREDgamer said:

November 1st, 10:37 am

I have a question… Since regular PS4s support HDR, does this mean! Horizon Zero Dawn on Regular PS4s will have access to HDR if said PS4 is connected to an HDR enabled TV? or is the HDR option simply availible to the PS4 Pro Enhanced Version when its being played on PS4 Pro and a 4k HDR ready TV?

    MakoSOLIDER said:

    November 1st, 11:03 am

    As long as the OG PS4 is connected to an HDR TV with a Premium HDMI cable you should be fine. The HDR will prob not be as nice as on Pro though BC PS4 has hdmi 1.4 whereas Pro has 2.0 (Premium HDMI – the standard for HDR signals these days)

    MakoSOLIDER said:

    November 1st, 11:04 am

    Actually I don’t know if you’d even need to use a premium hdmi on the original ps4 since it might not supported? But point is you will get hdr on the standard ps4 of some sort if you have an hdr tv

MisterJumpMan said:

November 1st, 10:39 am

Awesome to see both 1080p and 4K displays getting love. Excited for this!

Fuhr31 said:

November 1st, 10:45 am

Looking forward to playing the lesser version on my basic PS4. I expect we will likely still be paying the same price even though it’s lower quality…

MakoSOLIDER said:

November 1st, 11:07 am

Wlli we be able to enjoy the benefits of “Primary” PS4 accounts on both standard and PS4Pro simultaneously?

Ryusennin said:

November 1st, 12:28 pm

You know something is badly wrong with Sony when they keep hyping the Pro and basically stopped talking about the “powerful” PS4 — you know, the system that was bought by 50 millions idiots like you and me.

Thankfully I’ll rebuild my PC next year, after my pathetic PS+ membership runs out.

EverythingOnFire said:

November 1st, 1:16 pm

I’m happy to hear that the game will look great regardless of which version of the PS4 it’s running on, but can you give us a rough idea of what sort of frame rate we can expect? I’m not getting a PS4 Pro, and I’m hopeful that the 30fps present with the standard version will at the very least be super stable.

TitusOates said:

November 1st, 2:16 pm

This is wonderful news about a game due next year. What about the games coming out this month? I guess we’ll know soon enough, but without details on Battlefield 1 or Watch Dogs 2 PS4 Pro improvements on a 1080p TV, I’m not yet remotely excited about the PS4 Pro. Plus, with all that extra power, why isn’t a PS3 emulator built in? I’m just stumped on why I should want this if i already have a PS4? I have the cash. I’m just looking for a good reason to spend it and Sony has yet to communicate a good reason or push third parties to share a good reason.

bossboy092 said:

November 1st, 4:07 pm

This game looks awesome but I probably don’t get it everyone add bossboy092 plz I will 1v1 anyone

THE-PLASTICA-MAN said:

November 1st, 4:11 pm

“We’re also looking at enhancing the quality of our shadow maps and increasing the quality of our anisotropic filtering. This is a technique which increases the quality of texture sampling, resulting in more detailed environment textures. We still have to tweak these elements of the 1080p output quality for the final game, but we have quite a bit of power yet to play with”

I want to know if those improvements are just for the 1080p mode only or are regular for the PS4 PRO version in any mode, because I noticed more and increased particle effects in Infamous Last Light too. I hope such enhanced graphical effects aren’t exclusive to the 1080p mode. Thanks.

g0g2151 said:

November 1st, 6:05 pm

All I want is 1080p & 60fps. I guess better textures are alright, but I don’t care about this 4K upscaling and HDR :(

Chazz-Rabble said:

November 1st, 7:53 pm

I’m so excited to get my PS4 Pro. Next week! This game looks so good too. Really excited about it.

Sarges24 said:

November 1st, 11:47 pm

makes me want to run back to Wally World and snag one of those Pro units sitting on the shelf

killtron21 said:

November 2nd, 9:04 am

Wow they are really up against a wall to show folks the difference between 1080p vs 4K HDR.
Because you can’t view it on your phone, or your computer or your 108op TV unless you have a 4K HDR monitor and Computer and someone offers a downloadable uncompressed 4K HDR movie or image to compare the two. Hopefully Bestbuy will have a 1080p and 4K HDR Tv running the same game on PS4 Pro then customers will see the difference. Hard sell. I’m buying one mostly because my Plasma died and I went out and got a 4K HDR TV. The org PS4 does not look nearly as good as it did on my Plasma 1080p, but the Pro should fix that.

    killtron21 said:

    November 2nd, 9:15 am

    Ha to funny!!

    American residents only, sadly.

    The PS4 Pro Console officially launches on 10th November, but if you live in the United States, you may be able to try it out this Saturday (5th November 2016).

    Best Buy has announced that it will let people demo the console with Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, on an 85-inch 4K Sony TV with a booming sound system, between 1 and 5 PM.

    That sounds like my idea of heaven.

    Thirty Best Buy stores nationwide will be taking part in the promotion. You can go to the Best Buy website to find the store nearest to you (anything more than a 14-hour drive is silly, though).

Red-5x said:

November 2nd, 11:19 pm

Hi:
I have a question, If I play PS4 Pro on a 1080p TV, will I have better image quality than playing PS4 Pro on a 4K TV?
I mean, this game playing on a PS4 Pro on a 4K TV will be THE BEST experience and when playing on 1080p will be the same but “downsampled” only?

Karumont said:

November 5th, 2:53 am

it would be grateful knowing if Horizon is going to have options on resolution and fps/framerate. It would be pleasant if 60fps (1080p/60fps) could be present, like Nioh, Tomb Raider, The las of us etc.

    nocaptionallow said:

    November 5th, 8:32 pm

    I totally agree. I prefer higher frame rates as well. I’m happy with image quality on PS4.

nocaptionallow said:

November 5th, 8:31 pm

I’m really exciting to play this game. I’m going to get PS4 pro and take advantage of a more powerful GPU and CPU. However, I would like to address that players should receive a choice whether they want a better IQ or a higher frame rates. I prefer a higher frame rates because I love to see smooth animation in action scenes. It makes games I played much more enjoyable. Hopefully, developers will allow players to choose between enhance IQ or higher frame rates. I’m looking forward to play Horizon zero dawn!

OriginalBurch said:

November 12th, 7:51 am

A 60fps option would be appreciated, unless the game is just always running at 60. I haven’t seen a mention of frame rate.

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