It’s been six months since the release of Cyberpunk 2077 update 1.5 – the breakthrough patch that finally added native support for current-gen consoles. However, CD Projekt RED has not remained inactive, the new 1.6 “Edgerunners” update arrived last week, in connection with the new anime. A slew of new content features are being added, but this article focuses on an all-new Xbox Series S performance mode, as well as 30fps ray tracing mode optimizations on PS5 and Series X, where long-standing complaints regarding high entry the delays are finally resolved. Going into this one, we had two distinct goals: to put the Series S’s new 60fps mode to the test, and also to quantify the latency improvements on the most powerful consoles.
Until the new patch arrived, the Series S only ran at 30fps at dynamic 1440p resolution, dropping down to 2304×1296 at the lowest via dynamic upscaling. There was no mode toggle like on PS5 or Series X – no option to choose between quality and performance. Adding to the disappointment, the Series S also lacked an option for ray-traced shadows. Patch 1.6 doesn’t add the RT features, but at least the ability to switch between fidelity and frame rate is there.
Quality mode on the Series S works today much as it did before the patch, in its default mode: it runs the gamut from 1440p to around 1296p, with a reasonably tight lock of 30fps with a constant frame rate. The new performance mode degrades – inevitably – certain settings. In terms of pixel metrics, we’re looking at a maximum 1080p range, dropping to the lowest 800p, most evident in areas where the game can’t stick to its 60fps target. As always, CDPR’s engine also uses a form of TAA and reconstruction to produce a final 1080p resolution.
Ultimately it feels smoother than the 1440p quality mode, but it still holds up, with the increased smoothness being an obvious win. The biggest flaw in the presentation comes from thin sub-pixel elements, like wire fences, for example. TAA scaling doesn’t have enough data to work, resulting in a shimmering mesh – most noticeable in the backcountry region. In the city however, this is less of a problem.
Overall, first impressions are strong. Image quality takes a hit, but we’re stuck at 60fps for the most part and in our stress test scenarios the game still performs reasonably well – with all performance dropping nicely in the VRR window. I think the Series S is in good shape with this update. We’re getting performance parity with the PS5 and Series X, though the resolution takes a hit at 1080p and below.
Beyond resolution, there are other trade-offs for Cyberpunk 2077 to run at 60 frames per second. There are strategically targeted drops in shadow and texture quality. Indoor lighting typically reports more pixelated and rough edges, depending on the angle and distance of the light to an object. The second big change for the S-series performance mode is its reduction in the number of NPCs, with crowd density significantly reduced. The same things happen on PS5 and Series X, with this change reducing the load on the CPU and GPU. This end result is so effective on the Series S that it makes you wonder what additional challenges the CDPR team faced in reaching 60fps, and why it took so long for this feature to arrive.
The other key area of testing for this patch is input lag improvements in the Series X/PS5 ray tracing mode. I used a 240 fps camera to record myself taking 50 shots with a handgun, measuring the time from button press to muzzle flash when firing the weapon. On patch 1.6, the Series X has an average latency of 136ms. It’s still on the high side, honestly, but definitely an improvement over the remarkably high 163ms of Patch 1.5. This represents an average input lag reduction of 27ms over the 50 measurements. On PS5, the average was 135ms on patch 1.6 – another improvement from 27ms to 28ms. This is easily noticeable and a big improvement over the older version of the game. If you’re looking for the most responsive experience, performance mode is still a big improvement, with my result on the Series X at just 51ms – an excellent result.
In summary, I’m delighted to say that the Edgerunners update brings nothing but good news in every way. The improved input lag in PS5 and Series X RT mode is of course welcome, but the addition of 60fps to the Series S is a great addition. It’s really solid and the sacrifices to get there feel right too, I think. Lowered resolution, reduced shadows, and inferior NPCs are all trades I’m happy to make. Cyberpunk 2077 is one of the most technically demanding games out there, so the idea of a £250/$299 console delivering that 60fps experience is brilliant.
Meanwhile, work continues on the game with the Phantom Liberty expansion coming next year – and only for PC and current-gen consoles. We always felt that the game was held back by the need to support older consoles. Hopes are high that the game will continue to advance its technology, unhindered by the need to accommodate older hardware.
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