Welcome back to Cyberpunk 2077, a game made for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles. Previous versions of the game “back-Compatible plus” lead to a completely new version based on current generation SDKs, allowing CD Projekt RED to take full advantage of the capabilities of the new wave of consoles. This is a game with a turbulent history and this new 1.5 upgrade offers both 30fps ray tracing and an improved 60fps performance mode, along with other current generation improvements like improved load times – but how much of the upgrade are users actually getting?
First, it’s worth addressing the elephant in the room: Xbox Series S. There’s no dress-up for this piece, the little Xbox doesn’t have graphics switching at all, and it’s set up to run simply at 1,440 dynamic pixels, at 30 frames per second. In pixel count this is actually a range from 2304 x 1296, up to 2560 x 1440 based on my testing. Quite at a surface level here, it’s a shame to see him miss the 60fps mode (CDPR says it’s looking into adding it) but also, ray tracing features aren’t enabled either. However, the overall quality of life improvements in Patch 1.50 make Cyberpunk more playable – just don’t expect any revolutionary enhancements to its visuals in this case. So, we have to go back to the PS5 and Series X, where for the first time on the console, ray tracing shadows are enabled, working along with enhanced screen space reflections.
Despite talking about 4K, our tests strongly suggest that the RT modes on both units show at a resolution of 1440p. The dynamic precision scale may be in effect, but all results on all consoles provide the same value in every scenario – which raises the question: what does RT actually do? Outdoors, the effect of RT shades is so faint that even in direct comparisons, you might have trouble noticing the difference between quality and performance modes. Inside, it’s a different ball game, where the sharp directional lighting can really show off the upgrade. RT produces more realistic shadows, following real-world logic where the farther an object is from a light source, the more diffuse the outline becomes. The same goes for vehicle barriers, the little things around the V’s apartment, and even the pillows on their bed. The effect is often subtle. However, in specific areas, shadows completely envelop the scene to create a richer and deeper image.
But ray tracing shades are where the upgrades in ray tracing settings on the console end. Ray tracing reflections look amazing in the PC version of the game, although unfortunately they are not present on PS5 or Series X, while the ambient closure method remains the same. Finally, putting the PS5 and Series X into RT mode along with the standard non-RT S Series presentation, they all offer a 1440p30 look and all look very similar, with the RT only appearing in an impressive way in select interiors. Elsewhere, the upgrade is less noticeable on the streets of Night City. The textures, effects, and drawing distance on the geometry are all matched between the three in the driving sequence. Meanwhile, the reflections on the two more powerful devices have been improved – using high-quality screen space technology – but beyond that, the presentation is very similar on each platform. Even the crowd density in Series S convincingly holds up alongside the other two.
Performance across series consoles and PS5 in their 30fps modes is fairly straightforward to rate. Except for occasional pauses and one-off tearing at the top of the screen, the frame rate is mostly 30fps. The only real problem with this mode is that the overall input latency is very high, which makes aiming or driving more difficult than in the 60fps mode. Ultimately, the RT mode does the job if you’re really interested in RT shades, but versus the 60fps performance mode, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that this is a fun experience, and ultimately not the way this game should be played.
Performance mode is where it hits it, promising to run at 60fps in dynamic 4K resolution on both devices. CDPR explicitly states in its spec sheet that small, infrequent drops in frame rate may be displayed – which is certainly true. After patching to 1.50, the PlayStation 5 now appears to run in a dynamic resolution window of 1260p to 1728p – a respectable ratio for launching a challenging game at 60fps. It might not be 4K, but image quality gets a huge upgrade compared to the PS5’s pre-correction results – which came in between 972p and 1,200p. The Xbox Series X has also been greatly improved, with the DRS window from 1382p to 1782p looking sharper and cleaner compared to the old version from 1080p to 1296p. The X Series has a general progression in accuracy, but in the end, with the CDPR time-smoothing solution turned on, it’s hard to see much of a difference between these two devices. The big takeaway is the comparison with the older versions of the game – it’s cleaner, crispier and more impressive overall.
Actual performance is not always Just as solid as you might hope, though. For example, perhaps because it was based on the last generation of code, the older PlayStation 5 version of Cyberpunk 2077 had problems with crowd density. NPCs were few on PS5, resulting in an empty looking city. This has been addressed in the new 1.5 (in addition to the big resolution boost) but it also means performance could be lower than the last generation PS4 app that ran on PS5. Across the market, this is a significant drop in the high 40fps region – with occasional screen tearing – compared to the roughly 60fps in the older version. There is good news, however. Outside crowded areas such as the market, performance is generally higher – even in the trusted point exchange benchmark, which has historically impacted performance heavily. In the end, the improvements in resolution and density combined with an overall increase in stability make this mode a winner over the PS5.
Moving on to Series X, there is an even greater level of improvement. In fact, the Series X fared worse than the PS5 overall in the 1.23 patch – probably due to higher resolutions and improved mass density. As the video on this page shows, patch 1.5 boosts the game’s performance across the board, with key stress points playing out better than ever. Penalties in the alley still cause challenges, but overall, the game works very well.
The Series X and PS5 impress, then, but what provides the most sustainable 60fps experience? It’s worth emphasizing that both devices are pretty captivating, capped at 60fps in nearly every test and in every scene. But if we want to push the motor hard to find the gap, the PS5 is the console that wins. For example, running the tax market at 5-10 frames per second works best on a Sony device. The PS5 also operates more fluidly at the pressure point running through Tom’s Diner, and in the alley crossfire test that follows. However, that doesn’t exactly account for most of the gameplay. For the most part, you’ll see a refresh rate of 60 frames per second on both devices — and most importantly, the Xbox Series X’s VRR support does an amazing job of masking the performance drop that the console suffers from.
CD Projekt RED also discussed load time improvements and the good news is that version 1.5 is much better for taking advantage of SSD bandwidth now. It greatly improves load times during the last patch, on reloading the last checkpoint or save. I chose to load a rescue vehicle that takes us to the alley area, before the market. The new patch on PS5 gets us there in just 13 seconds, whereas previously we had to wait a full 44 seconds to get to the same point. This puts the PS5 on par with the Xbox Series consoles, as it previously loaded more slowly.
Overall, the 1.50 update is a huge improvement for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles — there’s an overall performance boost, resolution, and general stability, but we’re still a bit far from the greatness of a fully-enabled PC experience and somewhat frustrating RT features, and doesn’t justify the drop in rate. Tires. The S series which lacks 60fps mode and ray tracing is also disappointing.
But in my opinion, the latest Cyberpunk release does a great job: it creates a more stable base on which to build for future updates and patches. Bug fixes are plentiful and CDPR is slowly taking its toll on its work to identify and eliminate its flaws. I had no crashes and no soft locks in testing, and that’s a start. Performance has never been better, and the PS5 and Series X are at least unified in their choices, ray-traced shades, and crowd density. Beyond that, we have to wait for more corrections. Right now, Cyberpunk 2077 is arguably in the position it should have been when it launched over a year ago. For those tempted to restart the game to see next-gen features, there’s no downtime for the show – but for newcomers? There has never been a better time to experience the game on console.
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