Throughout the development of Titanfall, Respawn has continually talked about the importance of 60 frames per second gameplay as a key, defining element of its brand new shooter. Running at the highest v-sync frame-rate possible on standard display technology not only produces a smooth, arcade-style experience, but it also opens the door to ultra-low latency controls, and thus the most intuitive interface possible between game and gamer.
What the studio's unerring focus on 60fps also means is that conventional internet streaming media can't accurately convey the speed and fluidity of the game, as the vast majority of media players cut frame-rate in half, showing you only half of the console's 60Hz output. That's no problem for most 30fps titles, but a big deal indeed in showcasing a game like Titanfall.
Thankfully, at times like this, Digital Foundry can call upon Eurogamer's existing 60fps-capable player, allowing us to run captures with no frame-rate compromises. We have two videos for you, featuring the Angel City and Fracture maps, both running in the game's Attrition mode (check out Tom Morgan's Titanfall preview for more gameplay details and initial impressions).
In addition to the streaming video, we also have high-bandwidth downloads of our 1080p60 captures, pulled straight from the HDMI port of the Xbox One and exported into MP4s that should run well on most modern computers - as well as the PlayStation 3, where you can get some idea of how the game will look in your gameplay environment.
"As expected, Respawn has opted for frame-rate over resolution but 720p rumours aren't quite on the money based on the preview build we saw."
We're currently hard at work on a detailed tech analysis based on our gameplay experience and these captures, but what we can provide now is some insight on Xbox One's native rendering resolution. It's been something of a hot topic in recent months, due to a number of factors. First up, Respawn told us that it would prioritise frame-rate over resolution when we interviewed producer Drew McCoy at Gamescom last year, with little in the way of official comment since then. Secondly, the whole Resolutiongate issue has put the GPU capabilities and memory bandwidth of the Xbox One under the microscope after a number of high-profile titles - including first-party exclusives - ran at sub-native pixel counts. Finally, rumours online have continued to suggest that Titanfall runs at 720p.
Well, even with access to direct captures, the issue isn't quite as cut and dried as you may think. The usual pixel-counting techniques involve capturing long horizontal and vertical edges, then comparing the number of actual rendered pixels with the output of the console. So, for example a 4:5 ratio on the vertical on a 720p output gives 576p. The ratios aren't quite so clear on the preview build of Titanfall we saw last week, but because of that, 720p can be ruled out.
Based on some extended edge-counts from the game's stark tutorial section, our best guess right now is that 1408x792 is pretty close to Respawn's chosen rendering resolution. The overall effect is pretty similar to 720p overall though, and the implementation of an overly sharp filter across the entire image suggests that the Xbox One hardware scaler is used to blow up the image to 1080p. We're not exactly impressed by that and, we suspect, neither was DICE - hence the move on Battlefield 4 from Microsoft's scaler to a bespoke software solution between the preview and final code we played.
Update 13/2/14 10:06 GMT: Respawn has confirmed our '792p' pixel count, and has indicated that a resolution increase is on the cards for the final game. Meanwhile, The Verge reports that Respawn is working with Microsoft to improve the Xbox One's hardware scaler.
In the era of post-process anti-aliasing - which doesn't work particularly well on sub-native resolutions - the good news is that Respawn has opted for the tried-and-tested 2x multi-sampling anti-aliasing (MSAA) in order to make the image cleaner, eliminating sub-pixel pop and resolving long-distance detail more effectively.
Probably the biggest surprise is that, based on our testing, frame-rate doesn't quite remain locked to 60fps - not especially noticeable in most situations, but definitely more of an issue inside the titans. Bearing in mind Respawn's dedication to the locked 60fps experience, we hope that further optimisations are in development, but the videos on this page should give you some idea of the game's current performance level.
We're still working on our Titanfall coverage - expect a more in-depth look at the Xbox One game, along with some PC impressions, later on this week.
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