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Why it matters: The PlayStation 5's next-gen hardware is arguably the beefiest we've seen in any home gaming console. However, even with all this extra juice, performance improvements while playing PS4 games in compatibility mode have been limited.
Load times do seem improved, but PS4 games seem to be unable to draw on the PS5's extra cycles to boost frame rates. Granted, nobody is expecting the PlayStation 5 to perform miracles on PS4 games running in compatibility mode, but it does seem that developers should have some access to the extra horsepower.
Rocket League and Overwatch developers tinkered with making a 120Hz mode for their respective titles but gave up, deeming it impossible. Improving performance would require a full-on PS5 port, as far as they could tell.
"Enabling 120hz on Xbox Series X|S is a minor patch, but enabling it on PS5 requires a full native port due to how backwards compatibility [sic] is implemented on the console, and unfortunately [that] wasn't possible due to our focus elsewhere," Psyonix Senior Communications Manager Stephanie Thoensen told PushSquare last November.
PS5 - Here's the settings we have enabled in the System Settings for 120Hz in #Warzone.— Call of Duty News (@charlieINTEL) June 17, 2021
Settings -> Screen & Video -> Enable 120Hz -> Automatic.
Settings -> Saved Data and Game/App Settings -> Game Presets -> Performance Mode selected pic.twitter.com/t1b4o4lCop
More recently, Raven Software and Infinity Ward developers took a look at the situation and said, "Wait a minute. Hold our beers."
According to a tweet from Charlie Intel, CoD: Warzone got 120Hz support in its most recent update. However, it's not as simple as toggling a performance mode in the game's settings.
To activate Warzone's 120Hz mode, users must change a couple of PS5 system settings. First, go to Settings->Screen & Video->Video Output and set Enable 120Hz Output to Automatic. Second, go to Settings->Saved Data and Game/App Settings->Game Presets, then change Performance or Resolution Mode to Performance.
Of course, you need a television with 120Hz and HDMI 2.1 support to take advantage of the settings in 4K. If your set is HDMI 2.0, you can only get 120Hz to work with resolution set to 1080p, and you may have to disable HDR.
While achieving 120fps in a PS4 game running in compatibility mode is not entirely straightforward, it is clearly possible without "a full native port" to the PlayStation 5 as Psyonix said. Now that Raven and Infinity devs have sorted it out, we should see other studios take note and follow their lead.