The PS5 will be backwards compatible with PS4 games, and despite Sony’s unclear messaging before clarifying the matter, the vast majority of the PS4’s library will be playable on PS5. However, not all games will play the same, and some will play even better on PS5 than they ever did on PS4. This is thanks to the PS5’s “boost” mode that can be used with PS4 games.
At the time of writing, Sony has stated that it has tested the PS5 boost mode with around 100 of the most-played PS4 games and that it’ll continue working on other games, too, as they need to be tested on a case-by-case basis. Some games will, unfortunately, not be able to use the PS5 boost mode due to the way they’ve been made, but it is expected that more and more games will benefit from PS5 boost mode as time goes by and Sony works through the PS4 library.
But what is PS5 boost mode?
The PS5 boost mode will allow PS4 games to make use of the PS5’s superior technology, meaning you could play a PS4 game on PS5 and have a better experience than if you played the game natively on PS4.
Using the extra power afforded by the PS5 and its boost mode, games could run at higher frame rates than on PS4. So, for example, games that allow different performance profiles on PS4, like God of War, could benefit. On PS4, you can play God of War with an unlocked frame rate, though it mainly hovers between 40-50 frames per second. Using this mode on PS5 would, in theory, push that up to a stable 60 frames per second.
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On the other hand, if a game makes use of dynamic resolution scaling – where the resolution drops to handle heavy loads and then rises when there’s less to process – the PS5 boost mode could, in theory, keep a game at its highest resolution no matter what is going on in any particular scene.
It’s also completely possible that certain games may make use of both, so an increase in frame rate and resolution, which could, depending on the game, make it feel and play completely differently – and all at no extra cost to the player.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that not all games will make use of the PS5 boost mode, and many could play just as they do on PS4. That’s not terrible by any means as many games play brilliantly on current hardware. Plus, at this point, I’m guessing most PS4 players would just be happy to have their PS4 games playable at all on PS5.