It was recently confirmed that the Xbox One’s version of Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is going to be running mostly at 30FPS compared to the PS4’s 60FPS. However, as if that’s not enough, the industry insider Thuway, also known as Ashan Rasheed has also hinted that the PS4 version of Watch Dogs will be significantly better than the X1. Not only this, but his comments have indicated that the gap between the two consoles will widen.
Let’s start things out with Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition first. We know that this version of Tomb Raider offers the title in 1080P and is also running Tress FX 2.0, along with various other improvements. Frame rate on both platforms hadn’t been mentioned, other than we’d be seeing a 30FPS minimum and that the game would run unlocked. To clarify, this means that the frame rate can go higher than 30FPS, rather than being capped. How high this number raises really comes down to how intensively the GPU (and rest of the system) is being used. If there’s a lot of ‘stuff’ happening on screen, then it takes longer to create that stuff, and hence frame rate suffers as a direct result.
RocketChainsaw managed to get hold of sources which said that on average, the Playstation 4 version of Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition ran at 60FPS, meanwhile the Xbox One version managed roughly half of this, averaging just 30FPS. It was said that the graphics between the two version should be pretty much identical (aside from a few minor difference). The difference is largely in the frame rate, with Tomb Raider on the Xbox One managing to hit 45FPS during times were there wasn’t so much going on.
We’ll come back to Tomb Raider in just a moment, but now let’s turn our attentions to Watch Dogs. Watch dogs is going to see a release for all of the next gen consoles (Playstation 4, Wii U and Xbox One) along with the PC.
Ashan Rasheed decided to comment on the PS4 vs Xbox One issues and said on twitter “Wait till Watch_Dogs :). PC>>PS4>>>>Xbox One >>>>>WiiU”. He then replied to users, commenting that he wasn’t surprised “Oh I’m not surprised. Further PS4 optimizations in year 3/4 will widen the delta of performance gap.” Adding to this, “I didn’t think we’d see performance differences this large so early, but the jury is still out.” Finally, he said “I really feel bad for the PR team at MS. The Machinima stealth advertising debacle and Tomb Raider’s performance delta are bitter pills.”
This certainly isn’t the first time we’ve been hearing issues regarding the Xbox One’s graphical performance. Ubisoft’s fantastic Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag became pretty infamous for a lower internal rendered resolution on the Xbox One compared to the Playstation 4 (although the PS4 version did require a patch to make it run at 1080P!). Meanwhile, both Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty: Ghosts have both ran worse on Microsoft’s hardware.
As I’ve said numerous times, how much you are affected by the lower resolution of say Battlefield 4 really depends on several factors, Your eyesight, distance from your television, along with the TV’s size and quality of picture. Clearly, if you’re playing on a 20″ screen from half a room away, the difference between 900P and 1080P isn’t going to be noticeable. On the other hand, on a 50″ TV with you say 8 feet away, and it’s likely a different story.
The root of the trouble is likely from two sources, as I’ve discussed a lot here on RGT (click here for more on resolution difference between games) The lower graphical performance of the Xbox One’s GPU, both in terms of fewer ROPs (16 vs 32 of the PS4) and far fewer shaders, 768 vs 1152 is another. It means that the PS4’s GPU is anything from 40 – 50 percent faster in certain tasks (with the difference higher still in certain tasks, particularly compute). Lack of bandwidth from the DDR3 and reliance on eSRAM is likely having a negative impact on the systems performance too.
In the end, titles such as Tomb Raider don’t require the 60FPS, and the 30FPS of the Xbox One version is for the game to be enjoyed. Likely, the developers knew this and therefore decided that aiming at least 30FPS and 1080P was the better way to go for their game. But other titles which are more twitch / reaction heavy are going to suit a higher FPS much better. Remember that the higher the frame rate, the less delay there is in controls, and the title feels more responsive. 60FPS produces just half the ms of lag per frame (assuming that each of the 60 takes the same length to be drawn) as 30 (only 8ms vs 16ms).
But, if the gap really does widen further still due to the PS4’s more powerful GPU and Memory architecture, this surely doesn’t bode well for titles of the future. There are numerous reasons the gap between the two consoles could widen. The first is that the PS4’s drivers haven’t undergone the same level of optimizations as the Xbox One’s yet. It’s also possible that with better API’s and easier access to the PS4’s greater compute potential (thanks to the extra Asyncrhonous Compute Engines and higher queue count) it will help offset the systems consoles relatively weak CPU compared to a desktop.
Indeed, I’d already said in concern with the resolution woes: “It’s possible we’ll also see slightly worse lighting, or AA (Anti-Aliasing) or perhaps lower resolution textures in titles. 1600×900 = 1440000 pixels, 1920×1080 = 2073600 pixels, which does roughly account for the extra computing power of the PS4′s GPU. The fewer TMU (Texture mapping Units) (48 vs 72) or fewer ROPS (16 vs 32 of the PS4′s) isn’t doing it any favors either.”
Of course, those are just a few theories on my part, and I’m hoping that this isn’t the case and the Xbox One can manage to close some of the gap between the two systems.