This week, Ubisoft released a massive update to Assassin's Creed Unity, fixing an enormous range of bugs and promising higher frame-rates. Performance optimisations specifically noted were as follows:
- Improved general frame-rate on PS4 by lowering the priority of the online services thread
- Fixed FPS drops while Arno climbs on the RHP building of Palais de Justice
- Fixed FPS drops when in climbing and pressing the Left Stick towards somewhere that is not climbable in certain areas
- Fixed FPS drops in Sainte Chapelle
Three of the four optimisations are clearly going to have highly localised effects and they are not platform-specific, but the first intrigued us - could the PS4 version of Assassins Creed Unity see genuine improvements to the performance level, and thus the game's playability, simply by tweaking the netcode? We decided to find out.
We dug out a selection of our existing clips, based on version number 1.01 - the day one patch. We tested the new update with the PlayStation 4 online in all cases, capturing a bunch of single-player missions, along with known trouble spots in the multiplayer co-op mode. We can't replicate gameplay 100 per cent, but we should be able to note any general increase in performance across the run of play.
The results? While we fully believe that Assassin's Creed Unity sees certain boosts to performance in specific scenarios, what's clear is that overall frame-rates only see a small improvement overall across the run of play. In our clips this amounts to a 1.95 per cent boost in single-player (25.07fps average vs the pre-patch 24.59fps) and only 1.6 per cent in co-op (24.29fps vs 23.90fps). As gameplay isn't absolutely matched, we consider this to be within the margin of error.
Usually we prefer not to post average frame-rate metrics as the 30fps caps in console titles tend to make rolling averages meaningless (the longer the sample, the more the cap skews the results). However, in the case of Assassin's Creed Unity, it is valid because our test clips rarely hit the 30fps limit at all. More important than the average though, we note that lowest recorded frame-rates remain unchanged - that means that we're still looking at sub-20fps gameplay in some scenarios.
Overall, while Ubisoft appears to be making progress in squashing the bugs, it's clear that there's still a long way to go in getting Assassin's Creed Unity anywhere near to the consistent 30fps frame-rate seen in last year's Black Flag. Performance remains disappointing overall and requires a substantial improvement.