Propelled towards mass popularity by virtue of its superb Battle Royale refresh, Epic Games' Fortnite has recently been enhanced still further with the inclusion of an optional 60 frames per second mode - a potential game-changer for a fast-paced shooter like this. Now, we've seen a range of 'performance' modes in the past that target 60fps on Sony and Microsoft's enhanced consoles, but generally, they fail to deliver. The good news here is that Epic's work is the real deal - and it's by no means exclusive to the more powerful consoles, with owners of the standard models getting an equally impressive boost.
Based on information gleaned from social media and patch notes, the developer's approach in delivering this impressive buttery-smooth experience involves a combination of new Unreal Engine 4 graphics technologies paired with some intensive CPU optimisation. The results pay off as looking at frame-rates across both base and premium consoles, the new mode locks at its 60fps target for the vast majority of the duration. Consistency is generally excellent, holding up well throughout both traversal and intense gunplay, with all platforms running smoothly with the minimum of hitching.
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It's not quite perfect though - moving into the more graphically complex towns can see some minor drops and a little tearing at the very top of the screen, but beyond that, the impact on gameplay is limited to brief moments of stutter that quickly pass. Fortnite at full frame-rate also passes muster as a premium experience on all consoles too - 60fps is 60fps, after all - although small dips in performance occur a little more often on the base Xbox One across a general run of play. It's only a subtle difference though, and we'd still take the new mode over the older 30fps standard.
Of course, the move from 30fps to 60fps just looks a lot smoother, but the new mode offers a crucial advantage over Fortnite's main Battle Royale console rival - the Xbox One version of PUBG. Bluehole's early access title struggles to maintain its 30fps target and certain conditions in particular can contribute to some particularly poor moments. And in this sense, there are one or two similarities in how Fortnite's frame-rate is affected and more specifically, what scenarios can cause performance problems.
For example, PUBG's most noticeable frame-rate weakness kicks in when parachuting into the level - and the same process also causes issues in Fortnite. The increased draw distances and environment complexity are possible culprits here, with prolonged, harder stutter perhaps indicating online-based bottlenecks too. This is perhaps to be expected owing to the sheer volume of players in a fairly localised area in these early stages but thankfully, these issues clear up once we hit terra firma, with performance quickly stabilising nicely.
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Compromises? Sure, they're there if you look for them. In reducing per-frame render time to 1/60th of a second - 16.7ms - dynamic resolution scaling along with temporal reconstruction plays a key role in accelerating the render pipeline, and this can introduce a combination of softness and some dithering artefacts, with the extent changing on a per-platform basis. However, the balance between image quality and performance is well judged for the most part, allowing players to get a smooth, stable experience during moments where a fixed resolution would cause frame-rates to drop.