It’s been six months since the release of Cyberpunk 2077 update 1.5 – the landmark patch that finally added native support for current-gen consoles. CD Projekt RED hasn’t been idle though, the new 1.6 ‘Edgerunners’ update arrived last week, tying in with the new anime. A lot of new content features are being added, but the focus of this piece is on a brand new Xbox Series S rendering mode, along with optimizations to the 30fps ray tracing mode on PS5 and Series X, where long-standing complaints about high input lag are finally being addressed. Going into it, we had two distinct goals – to put the new 60fps mode of the Series S through its paces, and also to quantify the latency improvements on the more powerful consoles.
Until the arrival of the new patch, the S series only ran at a limited 30 frames per second at 1440p dynamic resolution, dropping down to the lower 2304×1296 resolution via dynamic scaling. There was no mode switching like on the PS5 or Series X – there was no choice between quality and performance. Adding to the disappointment, the S Series didn’t have an option for raytracing shadows either. Patch 1.6 doesn’t add the RT capabilities, but at least there’s the option to toggle between fidelity and framerate.
The quality mode on the S Series today works pretty much as it did before the patch, in its default mode: it runs the gamut from 1440p to about 1296p, with a pretty tight 30fps lock at a constant framerate. The new performance mode – inevitably – degrades some settings. In terms of pixel counts, we’re looking at a 1080p range at maximum, dropping to 800p lower, most apparent 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 looks softer than the 1440p quality mode, but it still holds up, with the increase in fluidity an obvious win. The biggest flaw in the presentation comes from thin sub-pixel elements, like wire fences, for example. The TAA upgrade doesn’t have enough data to work on, resulting in a glittery mesh – most noticeable in the outer region. Within the city though, this is less of a problem.
Generally, first impressions are strong. Image quality takes a hit, but we’re locked into 60fps in most cases, and in our stress testing scenarios, the game still acquits itself quite well – with any performance falling well within the VRR window. I think the S series is in good shape with this update. We’re on par in terms of performance with the PS5 and Series X, even if the resolution drops to 1080p and below.
Resolution aside, there are some other compromises made to make Cyberpunk 2077 run at 60 fps. There are strategically targeted quality drops in shadows and textures. Indoor lighting generally highlights more pixels, rough edges, depending on the angle and distance of the light from an object. The second big change for the Series S performance mode is the reduced NPC numbers, with crowd density significantly reduced. The same things happen on the PS5 and Series X, with this change reducing the burden on both the CPU and GPU. This end result is so effective in the S Series that it makes you wonder what extra challenges the CDPR team had to reach 60 frames per second and why it took so long for this feature to arrive.
The other key area of testing for this patch is input lag improvements to the X/PS5 series ray tracing mode. I used a 240 fps camera to record myself firing 50 rounds with a pistol, timing the time it took from the button press to the muzzle flash when the gun was fired. As of patch 1.6, the X Series has an average latency of 136ms. That’s still on the high side, honestly, but definitely an improvement over patch 1.5’s insanely high 163ms. That’s an input lag reduction of 27ms averaged over 50 measurements. On PS5, the average reached 135ms in patch 1.6 – another 27-28ms improvement. This is easily noticeable and a big improvement over the older version of the game. But if you’re looking for the most responsive experience, performance mode is still a big improvement, with my X-Series result coming in at just 51ms – an excellent result.
In summary, I’m happy to say that the Edgerunners update brings only good news all around. The input lag improvement in PS5 and Series X RT mode is welcome, of course, but the addition of 60 fps on the Series S is a great addition. It’s really solid and the sacrifices to achieve it are also fair I think. Dropping res, reduced shadows, and lower 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 experience at 60fps 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’ve always felt that the game was held back by the need to support older consoles. Hopes are high that the game will continue to push its technology forward, not limited by the need to accommodate older hardware.