Nioh is finally making its way to stores and many players who have been waiting for almost a decade of development. Action slash RPG, is set in the 17th century historical Japan, certainly taking inspiration from Dark Souls. However, it sets itself apart thanks largely to Team Ninja’s knack for clever combat systems. Even better, the developers let players decide whether to prioritize the responsiveness of 60fps or the additional visual fidelity granted by halving the frame rate.
On our sister site IGN, Nioh earned an “Amazing” score of 9.6/10. Chloi Rad, the reviewer, praised the breadth of content, the fleshed-out world, and the superb combat system. And the kudos don’t stop there – many other outlets have spoken highly of this take on the Souls formula. Based on 37 aggregated reviews on Metacritic, Nioh currently has a metascore of 87/100.
With methodical combat, demanding boss encounters, and the ability to summon co-op partners, it’s tempting to write off Nioh as yet another Souls-like. But if you look closely, it’s abundantly clear loads of care and thought went into crafting Nioh as its own entity. From Software popularized this particular style, but this isn’t just a cash grab clone from Koei Tecmo.
Back in spring of 2016, the public got to play a nice chunk of Nioh with a limited alpha build. Back then, it allowed players to pick between a 720p60 mode or a 1080p30 mode. This was well before the launch of the PS4 Pro, so this kind of toggle on a console game was still pretty novel. But with the release of the final game, the rendering options are much, much more complicated.
On both PS4 and PS4 Pro, players can choose between three different options: Movie mode, variable movie mode, and action mode. The first mode caps the frame rate to 30fps to boost the resolution, the second attempts to balance the frame rate and resolution, and the third mode makes compromises in order to stay at 60fps.
Unsurprisingly, the results vary wildly between the base hardware and the PS4 Pro. The Digital Foundry team got to work pixel-counting, and found a huge variety of resolutions on display. On the base PS4 with action mode enabled, the resolution jumps anywhere from 1280×720 all the way up to 1600×900 at times. On the Pro, action mode usually allows for a nice 1080p resolution, but can drop as low as 720p on occasion.
Meanwhile, the movie mode on the vanilla model does crank up the resolution to 1080p, but the frame rate is halved, and some serious judder is introduced. The Pro‘s movie mode ranges from 1440p to 2160p, and benefits from improved shadows, but the frame rate and judder issues remain.
With variable movie mode, the compromise option, things can get a bit unwieldy. You’ll benefit from the increased resolution of movie mode, but the 30fps cap is removed. Digital Foundry seems to think that the unstable frame rate exacerbates the judder, so steer clear of this mode if you value fluidity in the least.
While a native 4K resolution at 60fps would be lovely, that’s just not a realistic expectation on Sony’s hardware. And since a PC release is nowhere in sight, it seems that action mode on the PS4 Pro is our best bet for the time being.