Six months have passed since the release of Cyberpunk 2077 update 1.5, the fundamental patch that finally added native support for current generation consoles. However, CD Projekt RED has not been idle, the new update 1.6 “Edgerunners” arrived last week, in connection with the new anime. A number of new content features have been added, but the focus of this piece is on an all-new Xbox Series S performance mode, along with optimizing the 30fps ray tracing mode on PS5 and Series X, where they’ve been complaining for a long time to the high input the delay are finally addressed. Going into that, we had two separate goals: to test the S Series’ new 60 frames per second mode, 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 30fps with a dynamic resolution of 1440p, dropping to a lower 2304×1296 via dynamic scaling. There was no switching mode like on PS5 or Series X, no option to choose between quality and performance. In addition to the disappointment, the S series also lacked any option for ray-traced shadows. Patch 1.6 doesn’t add RT features, but at least there’s the option to switch between fidelity and frame-rate.
The Quality mode on the Series S today works about the same as it did before the patch, in its default mode: it runs the gamut from 1440p down to about 1296p, with a reasonably tight 30fps block with consistent frame-pacing. The new performance mode – inevitably – degrades some settings. In terms of pixel metrics, we’re looking at a range of 1080p at most, dropping to a lower 800p, most noticeable in areas where the game can’t keep up with its 60fps target. As always, the CDPR 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 still holds up, with the increase in fluidity an obvious win. The biggest flaw in the presentation comes from subtle sub-pixel elements, like wire fences, for example. The TAA upscaling doesn’t have enough data to work with, resulting in a shiny mesh, especially in the outback area. Within the city, however, this is less of a problem.
Overall, first impressions are strong. Image quality takes a hit, but in most cases we’re stuck at 60fps and in our stress test scenarios, the game still performs quite well, with any performance drops well within the VRR window. I think the S series is in good shape with this update. We get performance parity with the PS5 and Series X, even though the resolution comes in at 1080p and lower.
In addition to resolution, there are other trade-offs for getting Cyberpunk 2077 to run at 60fps. There are strategically targeted dips in the quality of shadows and textures. Indoor lighting generally signals rough and more pixelated edges, depending on the angle and distance of the light from an object. The second big change for the performance mode of the S series is the reduced number of NPCs, with the crowd density greatly 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 Series S that it makes you wonder what extra challenges the CDPR team had in reaching 60fps and why it took so long for this feature to arrive.
The other key testing area for this patch relates to input lag improvements in Series X / PS5 ray tracing mode. I used a 240fps camera to record myself taking 50 shots with a pistol, measuring the time it takes from pressing the button to the muzzle flash when firing the weapon. On patch 1.6, Series X has an average latency of 136 ms. This is still on the bright side, honestly, but definitely an improvement over Patch 1.5’s impressively high 163ms. This is a reduction in input lag of 27 ms on average over 50 measurements. On PS5, the average was 135ms with patch 1.6, another 27-28ms improvement. This is easily noticeable and represents a great improvement over the previous version of the game. If you’re looking for the most responsive experience though, performance mode is still a big improvement, with my result on Series X coming in at just 51ms – an excellent result.
In summary, I’m pleased to say that the Edgerunners update only brings good news in the round. Improved input lag in PS5 and Series X RT mode is welcome, of course, but the addition of 60fps to the S Series is an excellent addition. It is really solid and I think the sacrifices to achieve it are also right. The drop in resolution, reduced shadows, and lower NPCs are all trades I’m happy to make. Cyberpunk 2077 is one of the most technically demanding games around, so the idea of a £ 250 / $ 299 console offering that 60 frames per second experience is brilliant.
In the meantime, work on the game continues with the Phantom Liberty expansion coming next year, and only for PC and next-generation 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 push its technology moving forward, not burdened with the need to house older hardware.