November 30, 2022

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Cyberpunk 2077: How FSR2 Upgrade Improves Visual Quality

Cyberpunk 2077: How FSR2 Upgrade Improves Visual Quality

Cyberpunk keeps getting better with every patch. From bug fixes, added performance and ray tracing modes on PS5 and Series X, input lag improvements in patch 1.6, to the S Series getting a 60fps performance mode – the game continues to evolve. Developer CD Projekt RED goes even further with the new patch 1.61, which adds AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution, version 2.1, to the game. This is good news for PC owners of course, but FSR2 is also built into consoles as well – so what kind of improvement does it bring?

If this is new to you, FSR2 is a smart upgrade technology designed by AMD, the ideal is to deliver a good looking 4K output image using an internal 1080p image, dramatically improving performance in the process. With the move to FSR2, there is an opportunity to set native display resolutions on each console. However, in my tests, the original accuracy targets on consoles generally look unchanged and the dynamic accuracy scale still applies. For example, in Xbox Series S quality mode, we have 1440p as a target, although the lowest possible resolution seems to change, from the 1296p seen in version 1.6 to 1080p in this new patch.

It is worth emphasizing that the typical display resolution between these points in the S series is similar. Similarly, the S Series performance mode targets 1080p again as the maximum number possible, while for the lowest point in the GPU taxing areas, the S Series performance mode drops close to 1,344 x 756 – down from the 800p we scored before patching. . As for the PS5 and Series X? All of them continue to run at a constant 1440p in their ray tracing modes, as before. Then FSR2 rebuilds that to look like a 4K image at still moments, I’ll say quite convincingly. And in Performance mode, the resolution is more fluid, set between 1728p and 1260p.

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Digital Foundry’s analysis of patch 1.61 for Cyberpunk 2077, focusing on FSR2 upgrade improvements.

The 1.61 correction key for image quality is not in the raw pixel count but in the use of FSR 2.1 image processing, and there are many pros and cons to this. First of all, it should be noted that there is no toggle or option on the console to enable FSR, as on a PC. Instead, it is fixed in place, replacing the old default temporal smoothing method used by CDPR. Fortunately, in most cases, this really has no downside. FSR2 really improves image quality, whether that’s in still or moving shots, in dealing with aliasing, or even in offsets – where objects in the foreground move, revealing previously hidden details.

Taking 30fps ray tracing mode as an example, the whole image is sharper and clearer, and it resolves sub-pixel details better – and only details in general. A long view of the outskirts of the night city highlights this well; More details can be observed in the range, including the wording on store signs, and identification of swaying plant life. It’s not just about enhancing the details. Another strength of FSR2 is the logical recognition of which screen elements to connect to. Any visual noise, aliasing, or flickering should be addressed—and FSR2 generally does this more effectively—even if not completely eliminated. Actually in the case of barbed wire fences (see the video above for details on this) sometimes the dim widget looks worse than the older TAAU solution, but in the end, it’s a net gain in image quality.

As for playing in motion? Well, there is a substantial upgrade to treating micro-elements such as hair. There is simply less disintegration and greater temporal stability with FSR2 processing bringing in these fine sub-pixel details helping to reduce distraction. Fortunately, FSR2 also improves—or at least greatly reduces—the silhouette artefacts from the previous CDPR solution. In other words, the paths of clear bands that are left behind moving objects are reduced, although not completely eliminated.

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In our latest Cyberpunk 2077 piece, we took a look at the 60fps performance mode that’s been added to the Xbox Series S — which is now improved by a touch with the latest patch.

Fast Motion is the ultimate test of upgrading tools, and once again, the FSR2 manages to enhance overall clarity as you walk, or even drive fast forward. There is inevitably some splitting in the lateral movement, although that’s really to be expected given how FSR2 works. During a panning snapshot, the FSR is fed new visual data from the edges of the screen – and during a fast panning, most of the data within the frame will be very different from the last. Even with these limits, Cyberpunk 2077 is still better with FSR2 than without it, but going into performance mode, the internal resolution is reduced and so the effect the algorithm has is more limited. FSR2 on PS5, Series X, and S performance modes still offers a boost to overall clarity. It’s also worth noting that doubling the frame rate to 60 fps here gives the buffer more data to work with, which means that FSR2 has more motion success in this mode.

Little performance. We’re used to seeing a trade-off between visuals and frame rate, so the question is: With all the advantages of FSR2, is there any difference in how the PS5 or Series plays? The truth is that consoles have always lost the most performance in crowded areas – the market for example – with this potentially a bottleneck in the CPU that won’t be affected by FSR2. And taking PS5 as an example in 60fps performance mode, this is still true in patch 1.61. Together with the last tested patch – Update 1.5 – there is a difference, albeit not a consistent one. Sometimes the 1.61 correction moves forward and sometimes turns back. Subsequent shootings show that the new patch drops a lot in the 50fps region. But then, this could be accidental – since it’s impossible to synchronize the gameplay along the way.

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In general, PS5 and Series X tend to show a similar performance profile in patch 1.61. Drops of 50 fps or less are possible, just like before. Adding FSR2 doesn’t help remove the gap to 60fps, but the evidence suggests it doesn’t hold it back either. Meanwhile, there is some evidence (around mirrors specifically) that Xbox Series S touchpads are faster with FSR2, although this could be due to dynamic resolution adjustments and/or the introduction of an AMD upgrade. It’s not a drastic difference and certainly subsequent testing within Night City doesn’t make the feature very clear. For PS5, Series X, and S, the most important thing is undoubtedly improved image quality.

Overall, the FSR2 is a net win for all the new consoles, as it intelligently chooses the details we want to improve, while also addressing issues with the image, such as shadows on motion and shimmers on hair. There’s more stability, less distractions, and a greater push for detail in the range. The only downside is that the algorithm is still being implemented, as AMD has been improving the technology so far. Image disintegration is still an issue, and in fact, in the S series specifically, there are moments when the image temporarily disintegrates during the primary forward movement. Cyberpunk has come a long way since its launch. Every new patch – even additional patches like 1.61 – seem to have an effect, showing that CD Projekt RED is far from finished with the game.