Payday 2

Today, we’re looking at Payday 2 on the PS4 and Potato Masher!

SHINY
Payday 2 is not an amazing looking game on either platform. Its indie roots definitely show through, but much like Left 4 Dead or Counterstrike, Payday 2 is about gameplay over graphics. The PS4 version has slightly shorter render distances and very slightly muddier textures, but I didn’t do a freeze-frame comparison like I normally do because the difference is so slight that it’s not really worth talking about. The main difference between the two versions is that the PS4 is locked to a very stable 30fps. Payday 2 runs at an easy locked 60fps at Very High settings on the Potato Masher, and the system isn’t pushed very hard. That does make me wonder why 30fps was the target for the PS4, since 60fps is a nice benefit for any fast fps game. I did notice one odd framerate issue on the Potato Masher. In some non-heist, outdoor missions, like Hoxton’s breakout and Transport Park, the Potato Masher would sometimes briefly dip into the 30s and 40s. Granted, this was always higher than the PS4 version, but it was oddly consistent so I feel like I can’t guarantee that the game will always stay locked at 60fps on every single mission in the game. I never saw a single issue with any heist mission, so I assume there is a slight optimization issue with some of the non-heist missions. The only real graphical issues that bothered me were the excessive amounts of aliasing and shadow flickering on both versions, and grass and decals pop-in on the PS4 version. It’s quite odd to have a PC game that doesn’t have options for anti-aliasing, but does let you adjust the streaming chunk size and switch on Alienware lighting FX, both of which are fairly rare. Overall, both versions look okay, and run decently well. I personally think 60fps should always be the minimum goal for a fast-paced shooter, but the PS4 version handled itself fine.

OTHER RESOLUTIONS
The Potato Masher handles Payday 2 very well at 1080p, so I exptected to be able to run it at higher resolutions. At 1440p and Very High settings, 60fps was still not a problem. 1440p makes the aliasing look quite a bit better, and the entire game gets a much-appreciated boost in clarity and detail on the models and textures. At 4K, I had to settle for 30fps to keep Very High settings, but if you knock the settings down to Medium, you can still play at more than 45 fps. I couldn’t hit 60fps at 4K, but that’s not unusual for most games so I wasn’t surprised.

OTHER FRAMERATES
If you have a 120 or 144hz monitor, you might want to try the game at higher framerates. Curiously, Payday 2 has built-in framerate locking that maxes out at 135fps, so I wasn’t able to test the game at 144hz. At 1080p, the game was able to manage 120fps on High settings, and it was very stable. Once I stepped up to 1440p, it ran somewhere between 100 and 120fps on the lowest settings, so I’m not sure you’d want to bother unless you had a G-sync monitor and didn’t mind very rough-looking graphics. 4K couldn’t hit 60fps on any settings, so I didn’t bother trying for higher framerates at that resolution.

CONCLUSIONS
I ended up running the game at 1180p using Nvidia Dynamic Super Resolution, to help with the aliasing issues and give the game a little bit of a detail bump. This was the best tradeoff between performance and visuals on a 1080p monitor. Overall, the Potato Masher easily bagged another win. I do think the PS4 is capable of better performance in Payday 2, and considering the game came out on the consoles quite a few months after the PC version, the PS4’s performance is a little disappointing. Perhaps future patches will help, but at least the framerate is solid. Regardless of what platform you play it on, Payday 2 is a very fun co-op shooter that has hours of value built in.