The Resident Evil 4 remake arrived with a host of issues on launch, with image quality problems, inconsistent performance, ugly screen-space reflections and controller response issues. The underlying game was definitely a successful, attractive effort, but lacking a final pass of polish. The recently released title update 1.004 adds Mercenaries Mode and fixes for many of these issues – here’s the current state of play.
The most prominent launch version issue was image quality, with all console versions suffering from a noisy look and PS5 seemingly afflicted by additional reconstruction woes. The new patch makes changes in this area, but the final results are perhaps mixed at best.
On the plus side, the PS5-specific issues have been resolved to some degree, with a sharper look despite some artefacting, but weirdly the Series X/S releases are now worse than their launch versions. The Xbox Series releases now sport a sharper appearance with substantially more aliasing. All resolutions are the same as launch, with a 1080p/1440p split on Series S (performance vs quality modes), an 1800p/2160p split on Series X, and a 1944p/2160p split on PS5, so this all comes down to differences in image treatment between patch 1.002 and 1.004.
Capcom perhaps ought to reconsider its approach here. RE Village had a cleaner image on consoles than the RE4 remake while also featuring a fairly foliage-rich world. Perhaps a move towards a less aggressive checkerboard solution or a native resolution approach with a lower pixel count would suit this title more. I would much prefer a softer but more temporally stable final image, particularly given how dark and low-contrast RE4 tends to be.
As a final note, the PS5’s “lens distortion” and “lens distortion with chromatic aberration” options now render correctly, without the smeary low-res look they had before. I’d still recommend turning these options off, but at least there’s not a ruinous impact to image quality if you stick with the defaults.
Another major launch issue impacted reflections, with low-res RT reflections and a very poor screen-space reflections implementation – problems that carried over from prior RE Engine efforts. As of the latest patch, both PS5 and Series X don’t feature screen-space reflections at all, with Capcom replacing them with cubemaps or RT reflections depending on the circumstance and toggled visual settings. In some sense, this is a settings downgrade, but it’s definitely a net improvement to my eyes – and something we recommended in our launch review.
On Series S screen-space reflections mostly seem to be eliminated, but on one reload they did reappear for some reason in frame-rate mode. Partly because of this, it’s hard to tell if this is an intentional change or an unwanted side-effect of changes elsewhere, but I’m hoping the screen-space reflections are gone for good. A less artefact-prone, better-behaved SSR implementation would be ideal of course, but we’re not likely to see improvements there, I fear.
Beyond graphical issues, RE4’s launch code also wasn’t particularly performant. Most mode combinations ran unlocked, with PS5 and Series X holding 60fps more regularly in their lowest-end configurations, while Series S ran uniformly poorer than either premium machine.
There have been some substantial improvements on this front, with Series X now operating at a 5-10fps advantage over the launch code, meaning it consistently operates at 60fps in the default frame-rate mode. The resolution mode plays pretty similarly to the frame-rate mode at launch, bottoming out around 50fps with most gameplay at or near 60fps. However, turning on all graphical options can result in more variable frame-rates, at worst 40fps depending on scene complexity.
Series S also runs considerably better than its initial form, with a locked 60fps in frame-rate mode outside of a few specific scenes such as the rainy sequence at the outset of chapter 5. Resolution mode bottoms out in the mid-30s, with a pretty awkward response, though this is perhaps understandable given the RT reflections.
Outcomes on PS5 are a bit less clear. The frame-rate mode is just about a locked 60fps here, with no real issues but this is similar to what I observed on the launch patch. The resolution mode still hangs in the low-to-mid 50s when heavily taxed, and the all-dressed option often runs in the mid-40s. It’s certainly possible that the PS5 exhibits some performance improvements here, but if so it’s a more minor boost than the Series consoles have received.
Finally, thankfully, the deadzone issues on Xbox Series consoles have also been alleviated. At launch, players had to deflect the sticks about 40 percent through their range of motion to get an onscreen response. As of the latest patch, the game feels much more responsive, matching similar games like RE2 and Dead Space.
Beyond its fixes, the patch also adds a free Mercenaries Mode DLC, which essentially takes areas from the campaign, fills them with challenging enemies and puts a time limit on the proceedings. Killing enemies and picking up power-ups extends the time limit, so the mode is really oriented around defeating as many enemies as quickly as you can and moving around the map to pick up time extensions. RE4’s sped-up mechanics suit this mode quite well, and I did enjoy my time with it despite the content being limited to three small maps. The A and S ranks are fairly breezy to achieve though, so there’s not much challenge here.
Performance in The Mercenaries basically matches the more intense combat areas in the main game, so I’d advise sticking to the higher-performance options here. The default frame-rate modes run with a pretty solid lock on 60fps on all three consoles. Curiously, the option for hair strands seems to be completely disabled here, so it can’t be turned on at all in The Mercenaries.
All things considered, RE4 is substantially improved from the launch release but there are a lot of areas that still need attention. Strand-based hair still looks weirdly worse than the default card-based hair; RT is fairly limited and low-res, while there are an overwhelming array of visual options to navigate on premium consoles.
Performance improvements for quality-based modes would be desitable and the ability to lock to 30fps would also be welcome. And while Capcom has shaken up image quality a bit on all consoles – delivering genuine improvement on PS5- the final image still has issues and I think a softer, more stable look would suit the artwork better. Perhaps moving away from checkerboard towards a more robust temporal super-sampling anti-aliasing option may deliver better results.
With that said, the game has been enhanced over the launch code and the game’s key issues have been at least partially addressed. Let’s hope we see future patches that continue to polish what is in other respects one of the best recent retro remakes.