Can Bloodborne run at 60fps on PS5 with 4K upscaling via AI? - technical analysis

Can Bloodborne run at 60fps on PS5 with 4K upscaling via AI? - technical analysis

Bloodborne is one of the most popular and celebrated PS4 exclusives ever, but similar to the original Demon's Souls for PS3, the feeling remains that its popularity has not been fully exploited, despite its enormous critical acclaim. There has never been a sequel and there has never been an update for the PlayStation 4 Pro either. As things stand, playing Bloodborne on PS5 gives you a 1080p experience and 30 frames per second that is anything but stable: a paltry improvement over the original PS4. However, today we can show you how the game can run at 60fps in backward compatibility with the additional contribution of AI upscaling that takes the action up to 4K. Put simply, you can't miss it.

The story behind this test is pretty funny. In May 2020, Digital Foundry released a video related to the unofficial patch that unlocked the frame-rate of Bloodborne, created by Lance McDonald. McDonald drew heavily on Dark Souls 3's PS4 Pro update code and brought it to Bloodborne to allow the game to run at 60fps. The problem, however, was that the game was never meant to run on the PS4 Pro and as a result it couldn't use the full power of the machine: the maximum that could be achieved was a kind of 'boost mode'. A 1080p and 60fps rendering was absolutely out of the question as even the 720p and 60fps mode was difficult for the system to sustain (perhaps because removing the GPU bottleneck was showing the side of the CPU limitations). McDonald's patch was publicly released some time ago and can only be applied to the game on PS4 hardware intended for developers or on modified retail machines.

Bloodborne fps unlock patch can run backwards compatibility on PS5 ... with the help of AI upscaling that guarantees a presentation in 4K!

Watch on YouTube. A few weeks ago we received some images from someone claiming to have taken McDonald's patch for Bloodborne and managed to run it on a PlayStation 5 devkit. We couldn't see the console running the game in real time but there are a couple of clues that would confirm the fact that this is software that runs on Sony's new console. Firstly, the trophy notifications are PS5-style but more significantly, the game operates at 60 frames per second at 1080p resolution with only occasional small uncertainties - something we've never seen before. We deduced that this was a concrete eventuality, it was indeed Bloodborne in its faster and more fluid version than ever. We wanted to know more.

Regular Digital Foundry readers may have guessed that we are really excited about the arrival of AI-powered technologies in the world of video games. We used AI upscaling ourselves to develop our colossal Final Fantasy 7 retrospective, so why not delve into the Bloodborne case as well? If we can get 1080p at 60fps, why not aim for 4K too? For this reason we have kicked off a week of experiments with a tool called Topaz Video Enhance AI that uses a variety of AI upscaling models. The result? Many of them manage to offer a significantly higher level of detail.

The strongest proof: we compared the AI ​​upscaled images with the original 1080p images. The results, at times, are truly transformative ... and it's even better on the go! In some situations, the AI ​​scaling model fails to determine how to use the new details and how to improve the overall presentation. Some details may even be lost despite the final result appearing cleaner overall. Another interesting upscaling: curiously, the elements of the HUD appear almost in their native resolution after this improvement process. The details of the terrain textures, however, seem to cause some problems for the upscaler. The AI ​​doesn't know exactly how to deal with this abomination's face but it's impossible not to notice the giant strides made in rendering its fur. Upscaling of textures on the ground produces mixed results but the final presentation is decidedly cleaner. Here's another brilliant result: Interestingly, left chromatic aberration is corrected in the upscaling process. Again, the image on the left is noticeably sharper. The details of the terrain, however, appear quite different in the medium distance. The AI ​​model can confuse or reduce details from time to time but, in general, the visual impact remains superior. AI upscaling can have trouble handling sub-pixel detail at 1080p, transparency elements, and mists. The result, however, remains impressive. The image on the left has a clearly higher resolution. It is fascinating to note, however, that the cobblestones in the street have lost some of their 'depth' in the upscaling process. However, these AI upscaling techniques also served to emphasize some of Bloodborne's well-known graphical problems: poor anti-aliasing with obvious shimmering effects and some aliasing phenomena similar to those seen in titles developed on Unreal Engine 3 . We opted for a model that could address most issues and reduce AA artifacts but, in some situations, we ended up missing a few small details: the image gallery above shows all the advantages and disadvantages of this upscaling process. The overall result with this model shares some similarities with temporal anti-aliasing: raw, untreated pixels are well handled but, at times, seem too elaborate or even stylized. What we found fascinating was that nearly all of the AI ​​upscaling models we tested were able to recognize HUD text and scale it in such a way that it appears to be rendered at native resolution.

Processing of each image took about 0.5 / 0.6 seconds per frame using an RTX 3090: we hope that in the future Topaz Labs will be able to make the most of the tensor cores of Nvidia cards to shorten the times. That said, running the upscaled video at the end of this long process was really galvanizing - it's great to see Bloodborne running at such high resolution. An official patch for the game might offer different results than these but it's an interesting insight into how the title could run on next (or current?) Generation hardware.

Here's how the fps unlock patch works by Bloodborne created by Lance McDonald on PS4 Pro.

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All this leads us to an inevitable question: if the community continues to clamor for the arrival of Bloodborne on PS5, why Sony hasn't released a patch yet? After all, if Lance McDonald was able to update the game for higher frame-rates, why shouldn't Sony itself be able to? The truth is that there are a number of logistical, technical and perhaps even corporate obstacles to be addressed. First of all, if Lance's patch were released as an official update, the frame-rate would be unlocked on all systems, not on PlayStation 5. Based on our experiences with the patch on PS4 and PS4 Pro, we can say that this would make it a lot worse. final experience. Allowing the game to recognize when it is running on PS5 to remove frame-rate throttling, however, would require substantial code changes - it is possible to do so but it wouldn't be easy for a title that recently turned six.

In all likelihood, the best way for Sony to revamp the franchise would be to do exactly what they did with Demon's Souls: hand the original code and assets to a talented development studio like Bluepoint Games to rebuild, remaster or recreate the game. specifically for PlayStation 5. It's not an easy job, it would take years to complete, but the end result would certainly be appreciated by many. At the moment we have to be content with admiring McDonald's unofficial patch on PS5 ... but we can't help but think that this is not the end of the Bloodborne story.

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