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Nioh on PS4 lets you choose between faster frame rate or higher resolution

Over a decade ago, Koei announced a game based on an unproduced Kurosawa script called “Oni.” The game was shown off in the mid-aughts as “Ni-Oh,” Koei merged with Tecmo, and then an entire console generation slipped by. We went long stretches without hearing much of anything about this game, but it was evidently put under the tutelage of Team Ninja at some point. 2015 rolled around, and it finally showed up as “Nioh” at the Tokyo Game Show. As it turns out, this game really does exist, and a demo was released exclusively on the PS4 earlier this week. Finally, we get to see if it was worth all this turmoil.

This demo is listed as an alpha in the PlayStation Store, and the developers hit you over the head with the disclaimer that this is still a work in progress. Strangely, the demo is only available until May 5th, and it requires Internet access, so it seems that Koei Tecmo is legitimately attempting to collect real-world data to improve the game. This isn’t just a crude attempt to get headlines or build hype.

The Digital Foundry team gave the demo a thorough workout, and found that there’s a toggle in the main menu that allows you to prioritize either frame rate or graphical fidelity. In practice, that means you’re picking a 720p resolution that targets 60fps, or a 1080p resolution with a frame rate that hovers around 30fps. Neither option is particularly visually impressive or stable, but there’s a marked improvement in responsiveness when you drop down to 720p.

It’s not common to see customizable resolution settings in console games, but we’ve definitely seen graphical toggles before. For example, The Witcher 3 introduced the ability to turn off blur effects in one of its many patches, and that helped to stabilize the frame rate in some problematic areas.

As we’ve been warned, this is unfinished software. It’s completely possible that once the developers have time to optimize the game, everything will run significantly smoother. It’s even a possibility that the 720p/1080p switch will be removed in the final version, but we hope that it sticks around. Giving consumers more options is almost always a good thing, and some of us are more than willing to trade fidelity for better performance.

That leads us to the question of how this plays into the rumored PS4K. If the leaks are to be believed, support for this new platform will be required by Sony by sometime this fall, and that means a minimum of 1080p for all new titles. If this game launches into a post-PS4K world, the question of resolution and performance will become even more complicated. We might end up in a situation where the base version has the 720p/1080p split, and the PS4K version simply delivers a 1080p version with a target of 60fps. It’s all speculation for now, but it does make us wonder if we’ll end up seeing similar compromises from other developers going forward.

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