The Resident Evil 4 Remake arrived with a host of issues at launch, with image quality issues, inconsistent performance, ugly screen space reflections, and controller response issues. The underlying play was definitely a successful and attractive effort, but lacked a polishing final pass. The recently released Title Update 1.004 adds Mercenaries mode and fixes many of these issues – here’s the current state of things.
The biggest issue with the launch version was image quality, with all console versions suffering from a noisy look and the PS5 seeming to be affected by additional rebuilding issues. The new patch brings changes in this area, but the end results are perhaps mixed at best.
On the plus side, the PS5-specific issues have been addressed to some extent, with a cleaner look despite some artifacts, but strangely the Series X/S releases are now worse than their launch releases. Xbox Series releases now sport a cleaner look with a lot more aliasing. All resolutions are the same as at launch, with a 1080p/1440p split on Series S (performance vs quality modes), a 1800p/2160p split on Series X, and a 1944p/2160p split on PS5, so it all boils down to differences in image processing between patch 1.002 and 1.004.
Perhaps Capcom should reconsider its approach here. RE Village had a cleaner image on consoles than the RE4 remake while still featuring a fairly rich foliage world. Perhaps a move to a less aggressive checkerboard solution or a native resolution approach with a lower pixel count would suit this title better. I would much prefer a smoother but more stable final image over time, especially given the darkness and low contrast of RE4.
Finally, PS5’s “Lens Distortion” and “Lens Distortion with Chromatic Aberration” options now display correctly, without the smeared low-res look they used to have. I would still recommend turning these options off, but at least there’s no disastrous impact on image quality if you stick to the defaults.
Another major launch issue impacted reflections, with low resolution RT reflections and a very poor implementation of screen space reflections – issues that resulted from previous RE engine efforts. As of the last patch, the PS5 and Series X do not feature screen space reflections at all, with Capcom replacing them with cubemaps or RT reflections depending on circumstances and toggled visual settings. In a way, it’s a downgrade in settings, but it’s certainly a definite improvement in my eyes – and something we recommended in our launch review.
On the Series S, screen space reflections mostly seem to be eliminated, but on a reload they reappeared 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 hopefully the screen space reflections will be gone for a while. Good. A less artifact-prone and better-behaved SSR implementation would of course be ideal, but we’re unlikely to see any improvements there, I’m afraid.
Graphics issues aside, RE4’s launch code wasn’t particularly good either. Most mode combinations worked unlocked, with the PS5 and Series X maintaining 60fps more consistently in their lower settings, while the Series S performed uniformly worse than both high-end machines.
There have been some substantial improvements on this front, with the Series X now running with a 5-10fps advantage over the launch code, meaning it consistently runs at 60fps in the default frame rate mode. . Resolution mode plays quite similar to frame rate mode at launch, hitting around 50fps with most games at or near 60fps. However, enabling all graphics options can result in more variable frame rates, at worst 40fps depending on the complexity of the scene.
The Series S also performs considerably better than its initial form, with a locked 60fps in frame rate mode aside from a few specific scenes such as the rainy sequence at the start of Chapter 5. The resolution mode peaks in the mid-s 30, with a rather clunky response, though that’s perhaps understandable given RT’s thoughts.
The results on PS5 are a little less clear. The frame rate mode is around 60fps locked here, with no real issues, but this is similar to what I observed on the launch patch. The resolution mode still freezes in the lower to mid 50s when heavily taxed, and the full dress option often works in the mid 40s. It’s certainly possible that the PS5 will feature some performance improvements here, but if so, that’s a more minor boost than the consoles in the series received.
Finally, thankfully, the dead zone issues on Xbox Series consoles have also been alleviated. At launch, players needed to deflect the sticks about 40% in their range of motion to get on-screen response. Since the last patch, the game feels much more responsive, matching similar games like RE2 and Dead Space.
Beyond its fixes, the patch also adds free Mercenaries mode DLC, which essentially takes areas of the campaign, fills them with tough enemies, and puts a time limit on the walkthrough. Killing enemies and picking up power-ups extends the time limit, so the mode is really geared towards defeating as many enemies as quickly as possible and moving around the map to pick up time extensions. RE4’s accelerated mechanics suit this mode quite well, and I enjoyed my time despite the content being limited to three small maps. Ranks A and S are fairly easy to achieve, so there isn’t much of a challenge here.
Performance in The Mercenaries basically matches the most intense combat zones in the main game, so I’d advise sticking to the higher performance options here. The default framerate modes work with a fairly solid lock at 60fps on all three consoles. Funnily enough, the option for hair highlights seems to be completely disabled here, so it can’t be enabled at all in The Mercenaries.
All things considered, RE4 is vastly improved from the launch build, but there are still many areas that need attention. Match-based hair always looks oddly worse than default map-based hair; RT is quite limited and low resolution, whereas there is an overwhelming range of visual options to navigate on premium consoles.
Performance improvements for quality-based modes would be welcome, and the ability to lock at 30fps would also be welcome. And while Capcom has tweaked the image quality a bit on all consoles – delivering a real improvement on PS5 – the final image still has issues and I think a smoother, more stable look would suit the game better. ‘drawing. Perhaps moving away from the checkerboard to a more robust temporal supersampling anti-aliasing option may yield better results.
That said, the game has been improved from the launch code and major game issues have been at least partially resolved. Hopefully, we’ll see future patches that continue to polish what is in other ways one of the best recent retro remakes.
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