Here’s Why Game Developers Are Going Nuts For HDR

by : Ewan Moore on : 13 Sep 2016 13:24

The recently announced PlayStation 4 Pro comes with all kinds of bells and whistles, but beyond the 4K support and enhanced GPU, it seems that HDR is the feature that has a number of developers most excited. 


For those that might not know, HDR (High Dynamic Range) allows a TV to display a more nuanced range of colours that really helps an image pop – truer blues, whiter whites, and darkest blacks work together to create something special.


Polygon spoke to Christian Gyrling, lead programmer at Naughty Dog, who revealed that the team behind Uncharted and The Last of Us are more excited about the possibilities of HDR than 4K.

He explained:


Once you’ve been looking at it for a while, in your mind, other images that you’ve been looking at all along look muted. When we look at the clouds, the thing we see here [referring to Uncharted 4 running on a pro], when the sun hits the clouds, it really shines bright, but because TVs can’t show that brightness unless they are in HDR, it’s lost.

Polygon also spoke to Jason Connell, art tech lead at Sucker Punch Productions (the Infamous devs), who claims that absolutely no one who has seen HDR running in a game doesn’t like it.

Referring to Infamous: Second Son, Connel said:

HDR is pretty big. I worked on the lighting and I’m very, very sensitive to it. This is a game about superheroes with neon lights, wet streets and reflections. I’m shooting laser bullets out of my hands. Why wouldn’t I want HDR?

One of the games that was shown off to demonstrate the power of HDR during the PlayStation 4 Pro reveal event was post-apocalyptic survival adventure game, Days Gone.

Graham Aldridge, lead graphics programmer at developer Sony’s Bend Studio explained:

Because the game has day and night cycles, and because it has players going into darkened buildings and then out into sunny days, HDR helps represent the game’s extreme range of lighting. It means we can properly represent those brightnesses. It’s quite amazing.


But perhaps the biggest reason everyone seems to be so chuffed with HDR is that adding it into their games has an extremely small impact on development.

Almost everyone who spoke to Polygon revealed that for the most part, these vibrant colours and details were already in the game – it’s just now that we have a chance to see them.


Great news then, as every PlayStation 4 will soon be getting an update to allow for HDR compatibility – a compatible TV will cost extra of course, but life is swings and roundabouts.

Ewan Moore

Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn't gotten out of his mid 00's emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.

Topics: Gaming


  1. Polygon

    Why developers love HDR more than anything else in the PS4 Pro