PS5 could supercharge PS4 games — here's how

(Image credit: Sony)

Sony’s PS5 could come with a ‘boost mode’ to supercharge the performance of PS4 games running on the next-generation console. 

At least that’s according to a boost mode reference found in the PS Store’s source code, which was uncovered by a Reddit user. It’s thought that this will allow the PS5’s power to be brought to bear on the 99 percent of PS4 games that the console is promised to support. 

Back in March, PS5 architect Mark Cerny detailed how the PS5 will have PS4 Pro and PS4 legacy modes, which downscales the GPU to emulate the older console hardware and thus allows for compatibility with older games. Cerny noted that the power of the PS5 can be too much for some PS4 games to handle. 

However, it won't be a stretch to expect PS4 games to run with improved performance on the PS5's hardware even if it's been scaled back;  And with that in mind, a boost mode would likely be used on games that are able to put the PS5' power to use.  

Whether boost mode will be a default setting for some PS4 games n the PS5 or if it'll be a togglable option is unclear. As is what it will enable. 

We'd expect better framerates for PS4 games, say 60 or 120 fps. Take Bloodborne for example: it ran at around 30 frames per second with occasional dips below that making an already challenging game more difficult to play. But a boost to 60 fps would make it a lot smoother, and thereby easier to time last-second dodges and weapon swings. 

We’re expecting PS4 games to run at a native 4K resolution on the PS5. But depending on rigors of backwards compatibility, running older games at such resolutions could cause frame rate issues even with the PS5's 10.28 teraflops of graphics power. The source code contained a snippet that noted "You might experience unexpected game behavior while playing this PS4 game on PS5 console."

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So there's scope for boost mode to be a feature for people to use if they are willing to run into unusual behavior, say not being able to access a game's online content or multiplayer. Or the boost mode could enable PS4 games to be rendered at a 1440p or 1080p resolution, like they were on the PS4 and PS4 Pro, but run at a higher frame rate. 

Interestingly, at the time of writing the backward compatibility page for the PS5 appears to be gone, which would suggest Sony is prepping a new suite of content to better detail how the PS5 will run older-generation games. The PS5 is getting the PS Plus Collection, a series of exclusive PS4 games that will come to the PS5 as part of the PS Plus subscription. But we don’t yet know if these will be enhanced in any particular way, so perhaps Sony is poised to reveal more into that.

Comparatively, the Xbox Series X will be a backward-compatible gaming monster, set to run games dating as far back as the original Xbox. It’ll render a lot of these games at native 4K with at least 60fps on offer. But given the console will not have Halo Infinite ready in time for its November 10 launch, it’s not surprising Microsoft is going all-in on backwards compatibility. 

Speaking of launches, pre-orders for PS5 are now live, as are pre-orders for the Xbox Series X and Series S. Stock has been selling out very fast, so be prepared to wait for pre-orders to become available again. 

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.