Bloodborne is one of the most famous exclusive platforms for PlayStation 4, but similar to the original Demon’s Souls on PS3, there is a feeling that the momentum of the series has waned, despite enormous critical acclaim. There was never a sequel to the game, and not even a PlayStation 4 Pro update was delivered. In the here and now, if you play Bloodborne on PlayStation 5, you have a 1080p experience at a staggering 30 frames per second that hardly gets any better than that. to the original PS4. However, today we can show what the game looks like running full blast at 60fps through backward compatibility, along with an additional AI enhancement pass that brings the action to 4K. In short, you have It has to see this.
The story behind the video is actually a saga. In May 2020, Digital Foundry showed off an unofficial unlocked fps patch for Bloodborne, encoded by Lance McDonald. McDonald took advantage of Dark Souls 3 PS4 Pro patch code changes that enabled an unlocked frame rate, bringing them to Bloodborne and essentially allowing the game to run at up to 60fps. But the problem was that the game was never designed to run on PS4 Pro, it couldn’t harness the full power of the machine – the boost mode was as far as it could go. A locked 1080p60 was off the table, while even 720p60 had issues, presumably because by removing the GPU bottleneck, CPU limitations became the problem. McDonald’s patch was released publicly a while ago and could run on PS4 development hardware and exploited retail machines.
A few weeks ago, we received footage from someone who we understand took the patched version of Bloodborne from McDonald’s and somehow managed to get it to run on what we can safely assume is the PlayStation 5 development hardware. Actually, We haven’t seen the console run the game, but there are two definitive tests in the capture that we have that confirm that this is running on Sony’s new console. First of all, the trophy notifications are PS5-style, while the performance is essentially 60 frames per second from start to finish at 1080p with just the occasional frame drop, something we’ve never seen before. This was legit, in fact Bloodborne ran faster and smoother than we’ve seen before and it looked great, but we wanted more.
Digital Foundry regular readers and viewers may have noticed that we are excited about the arrival of AI techniques in games and have used AI to improve our scale for everything from YouTube thumbnails to restoring old development images to our colossal Flashback to Final Fantasy 7, so why not see if we can deliver the full Bloodborne update package? With 1080p60 video in the bag, why not record in 4K too? Thus began a week of experiments using a tool called Topaz Video Enhance AI, which uses a number of different AI enhancement models, and it turned out that most of them could deliver a considerably higher level of detail.
However, these AI enhancement techniques also served to emphasize some of Bloodborne’s graphical issues: poor anti-aliasing with obvious brilliance, along with some specular Unreal Engine 3-style aliasing. We settled on a model. which could address most specular issues and reduce AA artifacts, but in some scenarios you would miss a little detail – the screenshot gallery above shows all the pros and cons of this scaling process. The overall result with this model has some similarities to TAA, oddly enough: raw and untreated pixels are handled well, but they might look over-processed at times (very stylized, even?) But there’s a lot more stability in motion . What I found fascinating was that almost every AI enhancement model I tried was capable of recognizing UI text and scaling it in such a way that it looked pretty much as good as the native resolution rendering.
Processing each image took about 0.5 to 0.6 seconds per frame using an RTX 3090, so I hope Topaz Labs gets familiar with Nvidia’s tension cores at some point for a less prolonged experience. That said, playing the output video at the end of the long process was quite enjoyable – it was great to see the game at a higher perceived resolution than ever seen before. A proper Bloodborne patch would probably look quite different than this, but it’s an interesting take on what the game might look like running on next-gen (current-gen?) Hardware.
All of which leads us to some obvious questions. Here’s money on the table for Sony to bring Bloodborne to PlayStation 5, so why haven’t we seen an update? After all, if Lance McDonald can patch the game for higher frame rates, why can’t Sony? The truth is, there are a number of logistical, technical, and perhaps even corporate challenges here. First of all, if Lance’s patch were rolled out as an official update, the frame rate would be unlocked on all systems, not just PlayStation 5. Based on our experiences with the patch as seen on PS4 and PS4 Pro, this really It would make the game a worse overall experience. Making the game recognize that it is running on PS5 and just removing the fps cap would likely require the entire project to be remounted and updated to operate on the latest cross-generation SDK. It is possible, but certainly not easy for a game that celebrated its sixth birthday yesterday. The codebase has probably not been touched at all for some time.
Perhaps the way forward is for Sony to revamp the franchise exactly as it has done with Demon’s Souls: hand over the original code and assets to a talented development studio like Bluepoint Games and rebuild, remaster, or remake the game specifically for PlayStation 5. No It is a simple undertaking, it would take years to complete it, but the end result would certainly be worth it. Here and now, the McDonald patch running on PS5 with enhanced video captures with our AI scaling is the best we’ll get, but we can’t help but think that this isn’t the end of the Bloodborne story.