Cyberpunk 2077: How the FSR2 upgrade improves visual quality

Cyberpunk 2077: How the FSR2 upgrade improves visual quality
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Cyberpunk keeps getting better with each patch. From bug fixes, added performance and ray tracing mods on PS5 and Series X, input lag improvements in patch 1.6, and even Series S switching to 60fps performance mode – the game continues to evolve. Developer CD Projekt RED takes AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution even further with the new 1.61 patch, which adds version 2.1 to the game. This is of course good news for PC owners, but FSR2 is also integrated into console builds – so what kind of improvement does it bring?

In case this is new to you, FSR2 is a smart upscaling technique designed by AMD and ideal is to create a good looking 4K output image using only an internal 1080p image and dramatically boost performance in the process. With the transition to FSR2, there is an opportunity to set native rendering resolutions on each console. But in my testing, the native resolution targets on consoles generally seem unchanged, and dynamic resolution scaling still applies. For example, we have 1440p as the target in Xbox Series S’ quality mode, but the lowest possible resolution seems to be shifting from 1296p seen in version 1.6 to 1080p in this new patch.

It is worth emphasizing that the typical rendering resolution between these points on the S Series is similar. Similarly, the Series S’ performance mode targets 1080p once again as the maximum possible figure, while for the lowest point in GPU taxing areas, the Series S’ performance mode drops to 1344×756, which is lower than the 800p we recorded before the patch. . As for PS5 and Series X? Each continues to run, as before, at a steady native 1440p in ray tracing modes. FSR2 then reconstructs this to look like a 4K image during static moments, I’ll say quite convincingly. And in performance mode, the resolution is more flexible and is set between 1728p and 1260p.

Digital Foundry analysis of Cyberpunk 2077 patch 1.61 focuses on FSR2 upgrade improvements.

The key to upgrading 1.61 to picture quality is not in these raw pixel counts but in the use of FSR 2.1’s image processing, and it has many pros and cons. First of all, it’s worth noting that there is no toggle or option in the console to enable FSR as there is on PC. Instead, the old default temporary anti-aliasing method used is fixed in place, replacing CDPR. Fortunately, in most cases there is really no downside to this. The FSR2 truly improves image quality in static shots, when in motion, when dealing with aliasing, or even when foreground objects move, revealing previously hidden details.

If we take the 30fps ray tracing mode as an example, the entire image is much sharper and clearer, resolving sub-pixel details better – and just detail in general. A long view of the night city’s slums brings this out particularly well; More details are noticeable across the range, including wording on shop signage and a description of the swaying plant life. It’s not all about improving detail, though. The other strength of the FSR2 is that it logically recognizes the elements of the screen that need to be translated. Any element with visual noise, aliasing or jitter needs to be addressed – and FSR2 does this more effectively overall – even if it’s not completely eliminated. Indeed, when it comes to barbed wire fences (see video above for details on this) sometimes flickering artifact looks worse than the old TAAU solution, but in the end it’s a clear win for image quality.

For gaming on the go? Well, here is a significant improvement in the treatment of fine elements like hair. There is less refraction and greater temporal stability with the rendering that FSR2 brings to these finer, sub-pixel details, which helps reduce distraction. FSR2 also thankfully improves – or at least greatly minimizes – ghosting artifacts from CDPR’s previous solution. In other words, obvious lane marks behind moving objects are reduced, if not completely eliminated.

In our latest Cyberpunk 2077 piece, we took a look at the added 60fps performance mode for the Xbox Series S – now a touch improved with the latest patch.

Fast motion is the ultimate test for scale risers, and again, the FSR2 manages to improve overall clarity as we walk or even speed forward. Inevitably there is some break in lateral movement, but in reality, that’s to be expected given how FSR2 works. During a panning shot, the FSR feeds in new visual data from the edges of the screen – and during a quick swipe most of the data in the frame will be completely different from the previous one. Despite such limitations, Cyberpunk 2077 is better with FSR2 without FSR2, but when switching to performance mode, the internal resolution is reduced and therefore the effect of the algorithm is more limited. FSR2 in PS5, Series X and S’ performance modes continues to improve overall clarity. It’s also worth noting here that doubling the framerate to 60fps provides more data to work with with a temporal-based solution, meaning the FSR2 has more success in action in this mode.

Performance speaks volumes. We’re used to seeing a balance between visuals and framerate, so the question is: with all the benefits of FSR2, is there any difference in the way PS5 or Series consoles play? The truth is, consoles always lose most of their performance in crowded areas – for example the market – and that’s a CPU bottleneck that probably won’t be affected by FSR2. And taking the PS5 as an example in 60fps performance mode, it still holds up in patch 1.61. Side by side with our last tested patch – update 1.5 – there is a difference, though not consistent. Patch 1.61 sometimes stands out and sometimes lags behind. Subsequent clashes show that the new patch drops more frequently into the 50fps region. However, this may be accidental – the given game is impossible to sync all the way through.

Overall, the PS5 and Series X tend to display a similar performance profile in patch 1.61. As before, drops to 50 fps and below are possible. Adding FSR2 doesn’t help clear the gap to a rock-solid 60fps, but evidence suggests it doesn’t block it either. Meanwhile, there is some evidence (especially around mirrors) that the Xbox Series S runs faster with FSR2, but this may be due to tweaks in dynamic resolution and/or the introduction of AMD’s amplifier. That’s not a radical difference, and certainly later night city testing doesn’t make the advantage all that obvious. The highlight for the PS5, Series X and S is undoubtedly the improved image quality.

Overall, FSR2 is a clear winner for all new consoles, wisely choosing the details we want improved and also fixing display related issues like motion ghosting and hair judder. There’s more stability, less distractions, and more pressure for more detail in the range. The only downside is that the algorithm AMD is working on to improve the technology even now is still in progress. Image fragmentation is still an issue, and indeed, there are moments in the Series S where the image fragments momentarily, especially during basic forward motion. Cyberpunk has come a long way since its release. Each new patch – even incremental ones like 1.61 – makes an impact and shows that CD Projekt RED is far from done with the game.

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