Cyberpunk 2077 is easier to play in SDR due to poor HDR implementation

The display and image quality in HDR in Cyberpunk 2077 leave a lot to be desired, say some experts. They report a rendering that is too dark and a certain dullness, with black appearing mainly as gray. Playing the game in sdr would be better according to them.

Complaints about the high dynamic range implementation seem widespread, coming from PC players, as well as console gamers. Frequently heard complaints are that black is not displayed as black, but as gray or dark gray. From that experience, there are the necessary calls to play the game in sdr for the best graphics.

Among others Adam Fairclough, an HDR expert who more often assesses games on their HDR implementation, states that HDR in Cyberpunk 2077 is ‘useful’, but ‘not great’. On his Patreon page, he gives out aloud the advice that players “may want to turn off HDR for the best visual experience.” In addition, he gives tips on the basis of the three HDR setting options in Cyberpunk 2077 to still achieve the best display when HDR is enabled.

Fairclough talks about bugs in color handling, among other things, and states that brightness values ​​are probably simply scaled up from the basic display of 80cd / m². According to him, such an approach quickly leads to problems as soon as you exceed 600cd / m². In Cyberpunk 2077, this means that light sources that should not be too bright are also displayed very brightly, so that there is little variation or nuance in that area.

The bright parts of these screenshots from Fairclough show how colors are rendered incorrectly.

On TVs that achieve high peak brightness, Fairclough says that matching game values ​​to the TV’s maximum brightness results in an “ eye-scorching image, ” which can confuse local backlight dimming algorithms and potentially amplify blooming, he says. . Playing with the settings and reducing the values ​​for the midtones can partially remove that, but then, according to Fairclough, the blur around light sources often disappears. And in his eyes that blur is precisely the intended reproduction from the developer, CD Projekt Red.

These findings are confirmed by TV reviewer Vincent Teoh, who shows on his YouTube channel HDTVTest what he thinks is wrong with the HDR implementation in Cyberpunk 2077. In a video he states that with HDR no real black colors can be seen. can be seen through increased black levels. If you as a user increase the peak brightness, then the game engine scales an SDR image to that maximum peak brightness, according to Teoh, without increasing the dynamic range.

On a display of a waveform monitor you can see that the brightness is nowhere at 0cd / m², which is the value for black. Due to these increased black values ​​and the greyish rendering of black, other colors do not come into their own, says Teoh. He also comes up with recommendations to make the display acceptable, but recommends using sdr, because that leads to ‘a much better gaming experience’.

These analyzes of HDR in Cyberpunk 2077 are to some extent similar to the initial responses to the HDR implementation in Red Dead Redemption 2. When this game came out, it was quickly concluded that it was fake HDR, because the output was derived. became from sdr image, not rendering the world with any kind of increased dynamic range. This resulted in a dull appearance, a reduced color saturation, little contrast and a not too high peak brightness. In the end, Rockstar released a patch that largely resolved these issues.

The aforementioned issues with the hdr implementation will probably play a little less quickly with PC gamers, because in most cases PC monitors will be used. Not all monitors support HDR or are capable of a good HDR display at all.