A story with a happy ending? You bet! When we first took a look at Resident Evil 3 Remake's playable, we were impressed by another storming technological showcase for Capcom's excellent RE Engine - but there was a show-stopping problem: the Xbox One X rendition of the game significantly under-performed against PlayStation 4 Pro. Indeed, in certain scenes, frame-rate could even drop beneath Xbox One S's output. The good news is that the game has been patched, delivering a huge increase to performance.
To understand the situation more clearly, we need to look back at the brilliant Resident Evil 2 Remake and its presentation on the enhanced machines. Both PS4 Pro and Xbox One X delivered a final rendered output of 2880x1620, upscaled to 4K. This presentation was in itself reconstructed using a checkerboard-like effect - a process where the Microsoft machine enjoyed a quality advantage over its Sony equivalent. In moving to Resident Evil 3 Remake, PS4 Pro seemingly remains where it is, with Xbox One X pushed to reconstructed 2160p output instead. In doing so, a massive chunk of performance was lost - something that was immediately apparent to the Resident Evil fanbase running on Microsoft's machine.
"Capcom is definitely aware of the fan feeling with regards to Xbox performance, so they [the developers] may look into providing a solution some time after launch," we were told at the time via a statement which essentially offered no time frame or even a firm commitment to fixing the game, but the good news is that the solution is now here - and it's a relatively straightforward fix. Based on pixel counts, it seems that the developer has matched RE2 Remake by running the game at 2880x1620 rather than 3840x2160. That's just 55 per cent of the pixel count overall (75 per cent of native resolution on each axis) but the impact to image quality isn't especially noticeable during gameplay - but the boost to frame-rate definitely is.
A game that mostly ran in a kind of 40-45fps No Man's Land spends much more of its time at the target 60 frames per second, delivering performance results that are very similar indeed overall to the excellent PlayStation 4 Pro version of the game. Gameplay mostly plays out at the target frame-rate, with only major explosions and other bandwidth-heavy effects causing drops to consistency, usually with just fleeting drops into the 50s. During cutscenes, Capcom is less beholden to its rendering budgets, allowing performance to fluctuate more noticeably - the price you'll pay for those extremely detailed character models and often stunning set-pieces. However, as these aspects of the game are not interactive, they have no real bearing on how it actually plays.
Comparing the new patch up against the original version, the gap on the performance charts is often vast - especially in the cinematics, and comparing the same content to the PS4 Pro version (which seems unchanged from launch), cutscenes either run a touch faster or a touch slower, while actual gameplay seems more a little more stable overall. However, the bottom line is that both enhanced machines now enjoy a brilliant rendition of the game. Is the end result everything we'd hoped for? There is the lingering sense that Capcom could have done more and offered more options which would have had beneficial results on all console versions across the board.
Dropping back resolution to match RE2 Remake's solution is the obvious and cleanest choice in restoring performance, but we would have preferred to have seen the option to choose between resolution or performance, while an optional 30fps cap could have allowed users to run the higher resolution mode at 2160p30. A 4K option would have also opened the door to restoring full performance once the next-gen consoles hit the market. In turn, the same 30fps option would have helped to iron out the inconsistencies found in the base console versions, which often linger in 40fps territory and can actually drop beneath into the 30s anyway.
Ultimately though, it's good news - Xbox One X trades some clarity that you likely won't miss for a big slice of extra performance, with the game improving considerably as a result. And interestingly, you don't even need to own the game to experience the upgrade: it's good to report that the developer has also updated the playable demo that kicked off the whole controversy - so if you've not bought the game and want to check out the improvement before you do, Capcom has you covered.