Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves’ 120Hz VRR patch unleashes the PS5 GPU

Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves' 120Hz VRR patch unleashes the PS5 GPU
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The Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves collection, released earlier this year, brought the franchise entries of the PlayStation 4 era to the new PS5, with some minor tweaks to the overall presentation and a primary focus on resolutions and performance. 4K at 30 fps, 1440p at 60 fps and 1080p at 120 fps allowed you to balance the pixel count and frame rate at will. Those choices are now even bigger thanks to a recent 120Hz VRR patch that delivers some great results.

While Naughty Dog titles employ state-of-the-art rendering, the studio hasn’t introduced dynamic resolution rendering to compensate for performance – not even in its latest title, The Last of Us Part One. At least theoretically, the GPU of the PS5 is not fully utilized. To be clear, the new 1.002 patch doesn’t add this feature, but via VRR upgrades it accesses this latent GPU power by offering the ability to unlock the frame rate while also adding a 40fps playback mode. This works similarly to the option in Ratchet and Clank, the Spider-Man titles, and Horizon Forbidden West.

The new 40fps option replaces the 30fps playback mode when launching the game with 120Hz output enabled on your PS5. Additionally, there’s an unlocked version of the same mode that leverages VRR to provide a smooth, variable frame rate experience. Visually, this is the same as the old Fidelity mode – both render at a crisp native 4K resolution and the same capable treatment of fine detail. Even in the most intense scenes, a pure pixel count of 3840 x 2160 seems to be at play – there’s still no DRS, meaning we’re effectively “hoping” there’s at least a 10fps release once the frame-rate cap is raised.

The new Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves patch opens up a wealth of performance options – and Oliver Mackenzie covers them all here.

And that’s a little disconcerting at first glance. Running on a newer build of the same graphics engine, The Last of Us Part 1 has a 40fps fidelity option that also renders in native 4K, but this mode is often pulled down into the 30-40fps range , a victim of the extreme resolution render target. I was concerned that similar results would await us here, but luckily the results are solid, with a locked 40fps for most of the time. Massive gunfights, driving sequences, daring escapes – I’ve spent hours stress testing this mode in the most challenging sections of both games and it’s holding up very well. 40fps breaks down the difference between 30fps and 60fps in terms of frame time (33.3ms at 30fps, 16.7ms at 60fps, 25ms for this new mode) and feels pretty smooth here.

However, it’s not entirely perfect. In some selected sequences I was able to trigger readings below 40 fps. The Madagascar combat and pursuit division was the most reliable culprit, with the busy market area causing brief dips and subsequent multi-vehicle pursuit yielding less than ideal results in moments. At its worst, we’re looking at around 35 fps while fighting back against chasing enemies. Explosions and smoke right in front of the player viewport can also cause problems elsewhere – but for the most part, the dips in 40fps playback mode are brief, infrequent, and not overly intrusive when gaming. However, there is one exception. The Lost Legacy features a rainy battle with an APC a couple of hours into the game, which was a challenging encounter on PS4 Pro and again results in prolonged framerate issues. It’s slightly annoying, but it clears up once the enemies are defeated.

There are also a few very minor issues worth noting. The Uncharted games contain a frame on each camera that has been cropped for TAA purposes, which presents as a subtle stutter when the viewport shifts. Also the short in-between videos that sometimes bridge real-time cutscenes and gameplay replay at a straight 30fps. Overall, however, the 40fps playback mode is almost a strict upgrade over the existing 30fps playback option. Animation is smoother, input response is faster, and graphics are identical. A handful of small frame-rate glitches surface during very demanding moments, but other than that, this is essentially a locked 40fps.

This table shows the wide range of performance permutations now available. Our recommendation? If you have a 120Hz VRR screen, go for unlocked performance or fidelity. Do you have a standard 60Hz screen? Choose the standard performance mode instead.

The unlocked version of Fidelity mode delivers 45-50 fps with worst-case dips into the mid-30s. It feels noticeably smoother than regular V-Sync Fidelity mode and actually seems pretty close to the overall fluidity of V-Sync Performance mode. at more than twice the resolution. And of course, any dips below 40 FPS are perfectly smoothed out and not really noticeable when gaming. The same pattern applies to unlocked performance mode – but the performance increase is much more profound. Under V-Sync, the previous performance mode was already essentially a locked 60 fps, so we’re always above that threshold here.

The Uncharted games generally run at 90-110 fps here, which feels silky smooth in practice. Quiet scenes top out at a full 120 fps, and very demanding sections can briefly dip into the 70s and 60s, but the average frame rate hovers around 100 fps. That’s not far off the 120fps refresh offered in the existing 120Hz 1080p-based Performance Plus mode, and it seems generally pretty similar, but at a significantly higher resolution and image quality. Compared to v-synced performance mode, this is a huge upgrade. In most titles, unlocking the framerate doesn’t give you that much of a boost – not even in The Last of Us Part 1’s unlocked framerate modes. Given the conservative fixed resolutions that the Legacy of Thieves collection aims for, combined with the graphics of the PS4 era, however, there’s a transformative boost to frame rate and smooth animation when you let everything run.

That’s all of the new modes covered, but there’s another way to run the Legacy of Thieves Collection on VRR. If you enable VRR in the PS5’s system settings and leave the unlocked switch disabled, you’ll be able to play these titles at capped framerates, but with VRR enabled to smooth out any framerate issues. Performance mode is essentially the same as its fully v-synced counterpart if you just enable VRR. It didn’t have any problems before, and neither does it now – it’s more or less consistently 60fps. Fidelity mode is a bit more interesting among these parameters – the dips below 40 are smoothed out well, although otherwise it’s the same as without VRR. Either way, I’d strongly prefer playing these modes with the unlocked toggle enabled instead.

Here’s John Linneman’s original video coverage of the Legacy of Thieves collection from earlier this year.

However, Performance Plus does not support the unlocked VRR toggle as the PS5 does not support refresh rates above 120Hz. So here it makes a little more sense to enable VRR in Performance Plus mode. As you’d expect, any dips below 120fps – most evident in the convoy pursuit sequence and APC combat – are offset by VRR. This is a reasonable option and definitely preferable to the Performance Plus mode running under V-Sync. However, the no-performance mode also offers high frame rates, often in excess of 100 fps, and is paired with a resolution of 1440p instead of 1080p. All in all, it’s a pretty substantial upgrade over the existing Performance Plus mode.

All of this may sound like a daunting array of options, but they’re presented to the player in a sensible way, taking advantage of modern displays in a way we haven’t really seen in other major console software. I’d expect similar, if not identical, configuration options to appear in upcoming games like God of War: Ragnarok, although perhaps this scheme will be simplified as games get more demanding.

The Legacy of Thieves Collection performs particularly well with the modes unlocked, given the relatively low rendering resolutions these games aim for relative to their age and visual complexity. We can really push these games to the limit now and the results are impressive. I’m particularly pleased with the performance-independent mode, which combines a reasonable 1440p resolution with smooth frame rates averaging around 100 fps. Of course, the new 4K 40fps option also plays very well, with stable performance despite rendering a full 4K pixel grid.

Ultimately, patch 1.002 is a great update for a capable implementation of the last two Uncharted experiences. All the options you can think of are here, and they all perform better than expected. This is a perfect way to replay those games – or experience the adventures for the first time.

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