Cyberpunk 2077: How the FSR2 update improves visual quality

Cyberpunk 2077: How the FSR2 update improves visual quality

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

In case this is new to you, FSR2 is a clever upscaling technique devised by AMD, ideally rendering a nice 4K output image using only an internal 1080p image, dramatically improving performance in the process. With the move to FSR2, it is possible to adjust the native rendering resolutions on each console. However, in my tests, native resolution targets on consoles generally appear unchanged, and dynamic resolution scaling is still in effect. For example, on the Xbox Series S quality mode we have 1440p as our target, although the lowest possible resolution seems to be changing, from the 1296p seen in 1.6 to 1080p on this new patch.

It’s worth pointing out that the typical render resolution between these points on the Series S is similar. And similarly, the Series S performance mode again targets 1080p as the maximum possible figure, while for the lowest point in the GPU taxing areas, the Series S performance mode is closer to 1344×756 – lower at 800p that we recorded before the patch. As for the PS5 and Series X? They each continue to run at a constant native resolution of 1440p in their ray tracing modes, as before. FSR2 then reconstructs that to appear as a 4K image in static moments, quite convincingly I would say. And in performance mode, the resolution is more flexible, adjusting between 1728p and 1260p.

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

The key to Patch 1.61’s improved image quality is not that raw pixel count, but the use of FSR 2.1’s image processing, and there are several pros and cons to this. First, it’s worth pointing out that there is no toggle or option on console to enable FSR, as there is on PC. Instead, it is fixed in place, replacing the old default temporal antialiasing method used by CDPR. Luckily, in most cases, this really doesn’t have a downside. FSR2 truly improves image quality, whether in static shots, in motion, dealing with aliasing or even in cases of deocclusion – where foreground objects move, revealing previously hidden detail .

Taking the 30fps ray tracing mode as an example, the entire image is much sharper and clearer, resolving sub-pixel detail better – and just detail in general. A long view of the outskirts of the nocturnal city highlights this particularly well; more details are noticeable from a distance, including wording on store signs and definition of swaying flora. However, it’s not just about improving the details. The other strength of FSR2 is to logically recognize the elements of the screen which must be composed. Any elements with visual noise, aliasing or flickering should be dealt with – and FSR2 does this more efficiently overall – even if they are not entirely eliminated. Indeed, in the case of barbed wire fences (see the video above for more on this one), sometimes the flickering artifact looks worse than the old TAAU solution, but in the end, it’s a clear victory for image quality.

As for on-the-move gameplay? Well, here there is a substantial improvement in handling fine items like hair. There’s simply less breakup and more temporal stability with the FSR2 processing brings to those finer details and sub-pixels helping to reduce distraction. Fortunately, FSR2 also improves – or at least greatly minimizes – the ghosting artifacts of CDPR’s previous solution. In other words, the obvious streaks of tape left behind by moving objects are reduced, but not totally eliminated.

In our last Cyberpunk 2077 article, we took a look at the 60fps performance mode added for the Xbox Series S – which is now improved with the latest patch.

Fast motion is the ultimate test for upscalers, and again FSR2 manages to improve overall clarity when we’re walking, or even moving fast. Inevitably, there’s some breakage in lateral movement, though that’s really to be expected given how FSR2 works. When panning, FSR receives new visual data from the edges of the screen – and when panning quickly, most of the data in frame will be entirely different from the last. Even with such limits, Cyberpunk 2077 is still better with FSR2 than without, but by switching to performance mode, the internal resolution is reduced and therefore the impact of the algorithm is more limited. FSR2 on PS5, Series X, and S performance modes still provides an overall clarity boost. It’s also worth noting that doubling the frame rate to 60 fps here gives a time-based solution more data to work with, which means FSR2 has more success in motion in this mode.

The performance carries a mention. We’re used to seeing a trade-off between visuals and frame rate, and so the question is: with all the benefits of FSR2, is there a difference in how the PS5 or Series consoles play? ? The truth is that consoles have always lost the most performance in crowded areas – the market for example – which is likely a CPU bottleneck that will not be affected by FSR2. And taking the PS5 as an example in its 60fps performance mode, that still holds true on patch 1.61. Along with our last tested patch – the 1.5 update – there is a difference, but not a consistent one. Patch 1.61 sometimes advances and sometimes falls behind. Later shootouts show the new patch dropping more often in the 50fps region. But then that might be incidental – given that the gameplay is impossible to fully sync.

In general, the PS5 and Series X tend to have a similar performance profile on patch 1.61. Drops to 50 fps and below are possible, as they were before. Adding FSR2 doesn’t help close the gap with a rock-solid 60fps, but evidence suggests it doesn’t prevent it either. Meanwhile, there is some evidence (around mirrors in particular) that the Xbox Series S runs a bit faster with FSR2, although this may well be due to dynamic resolution adjustments and/or the introduction of AMD’s upscaler. It’s not a drastic difference and certainly further testing in the night city doesn’t make the benefit so obvious. For PS5, Series X and S, the highlight is definitely the improved image quality.

Overall, FSR2 is a clear win for all new consoles, smartly picking out the details we want to improve, while addressing image issues, like motion ghosting and hair flicker. There’s more stability, fewer distractions, and a greater search for detail from a distance. The only downside is that the algorithm is still under development, with AMD even now striving to improve the technology. Picture breakage is always an issue, and in fact on the Series S in particular there are times when the picture momentarily breaks up during basic forward movement. Cyberpunk has come a long way since its launch, however. Every new patch – even incrementals like 1.61 – seems to have an impact, showing that CD Projekt RED is far from done with the game.

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