After shaky beginnings, Unreal Engine 4 is gaining traction as one of the most popular multi-platform game engines on the market, so it's a touch surprising that Epic Games itself has taken so long to release a game supporting all current-gen consoles and PC. In some respects, Fortnite's turnout with UE4 is similar to the results from titles from other developers - so yes, PS4 has a more powerful GPU, resulting in a lift to visual quality. However, elsewhere there are surprises: as things stand, Fortnite plays better on Xbox One.
Bungie set out to achieve cross-platform parity with the first Destiny three years ago and to a great extent, it fully achieved that: 1080p on both systems, an identical visual feature set and very similar performance levels. The question is, can it repeat the same trick on a technologically more challenging sequel? The Destiny 2 beta content released this week suggests that it can, and it may provide some hints on what to expect from an Xbox One X port.
We didn't quite know what to expect from Final Fantasy 12: The Zodiac Age on PlayStation 4 and PS4 Pro. On the one hand, developer Virtuos Games did a good job with its existing Final Fantasy 10 and 10-2 remasters, with decent artwork upgrades that sat well on a full HD display. On the other hand, the same developer handled Batman: Return to Arkham - a reasonable port, but with scant upgrades for PS4 Pro users. The good news is that The Zodiac Age is the best way to experience Final Fantasy 12, but the bad news is that PS4 Pro users are still poorly served with only minimal upgrades over base hardware.
Insomniac's Spider-Man was one of the highlights at this year's E3, with Sony showcasing the game running on PlayStation 4 Pro, hooked up to a top-end Sony ZD9 UHD TV - one of the best HDR sets on the market. The extended demo sequence shown off by the developer takes us through combat atop a partially constructed skyscraper to an epic helicopter chase through the New York skyline. It's a carefully chosen slice of gameplay taken from one of the main story missions, giving us a first look of what to expect from the game in terms of sprawling environments, large set-pieces, and how the core gameplay mechanics allow for some impressive physics-based action. It also looks quite stunning - if this is the standard of second-gen PS4 Pro titles in the pipeline, users of Sony's 'super-charged' console have much to look forward to.
Xbox One X has much to prove in the run-up to its November 7th launch. Forza Motorsport 7 demonstrates how beautifully 1080p first-party engines scale up to ultra HD resolutions, but what about taxing third party titles, typically rendering at 900p on base Microsoft hardware? Assassin's Creed Origins - showcased at Microsoft's E3 media briefing - presents compelling evidence that a beautiful 4K presentation isn't off the cards. We've got access to a pristine 4K source file of the gameplay segment, and even under close scrutiny, Origins holds up admirably.
Codemasters returns with the latest series entry for its Dirt rallying series, and its objective here is clear: to retain and indeed expand upon the hardcore simulation aspects of the excellent Dirt Rally, and to combine it with a more accessible, user-friendly arcade mode too. The developer's Ego engine is pushed still further this time around, which begs the question - can the technology meet the increased demands of this more ambitious title, and can it retain the solid 60fps that characterised the previous game? And on top of that, what additional features does the PC version bring to the table?
After a rocky start with Dishonored 2 on PC, Bethesda's Prey comes out of the gate as one of the best-performing high profile PC titles we've seen in some time. Whether you're running an enthusiast-grade PC or a budget wonder, you're in for a really good time. Even a £55 CPU coupled with a £100 graphics card can run this title at 1080p at 60 frames per second - a creditable state of affairs bearing in mind that the demanding CryEngine middleware is used as the technological foundation for Arkane Austin's excellent offering.
A collaboration between arcade genius Eugene Jarvis and developer Housemarque, Nex Machina takes the voxel-based technology pioneered in the brilliant Resogun and significantly enhances it to deliver an action-packed experience filled with destruction. Backing away from the 30fps approach taken in its prior twin-stick shooter, Alienation, Nex Machina doubles down on 60Hz, taking Resogun's technology to the next level. It's looking great, something we can comfortably say having spent the last few days playing a beta version of the PC version.
What is the best 4K screen for gaming? In terms of performance for the price, the Samsung KS7000 and KS8000 are difficult to beat, but as good as they are, there are compromises. Meanwhile, in the background, LG's phenomenal B6 OLED TV has gradually dropped in price, while boosting its gaming credentials with a low latency game mode update. It still costs a lot more than the Samsung, but it is - in our opinion - the new price vs performance king, to the point where all the Digital Foundry team members who've upgraded to a 4K screen at home have opted for this particular model. John and Rich have indeed put their money where their mouths on with this one.
It's been fascinating to see just how well Nintendo's Switch has adapted to existing engine technologies. So far we've seen the machine cope admirably with Unreal Engine 4 and Unity, and we were curious to see how the Traveller's Tales Lego engine holds up. Lego City Undercover is actually a four-year-old Wii U release, recently revamped with the latest version of the Lego engine and now available on PS4, Xbox One - and of course, Switch.
We've lost count of the amount of PC comparisons we've done where the only tangible enhancements amount to arbitrary resolution support and higher frame-rates. Sure, higher quality effects - such as higher resolution shadows - also usually form part of the mix, but significant graphical improvements are few and far between. Mass Effect Andromeda is different: in common with several titles based on DICE's excellent Frostbite engine, the PC really is the natural home for this game.
The latest episode of gaming's favourite space opera is mere days away from general release - and it's safe to say that the buzz surrounding Mass Effect Andromeda is mixed. As a game, acknowledging the issues its scope may bring, the response from Eurogamer has been positive. However, PC and Xbox One owners sampling the beginning missions via Origin/EA Access have encountered a number of glitches, bugs and issues that are receiving plenty of attention. For this article, our attention is on performance and scalability between PS4 and Xbox One, where BioWare has had to work a little harder to scale visuals between the two consoles' different levels of GPU power.
The gulf in raw rendering power between Switch and PlayStation 4 means that Nintendo's hardware is unlikely to be receiving the latest current-gen triple-A blockbusters. However, less technologically ambitious titles still have much to offer - and these games are a closer for match for Switch's capabilities. On top of that, the new Nintendo machine's ability to double up as both home console and handheld can help to offset compromises in technology elsewhere: what you lose in terms of sheer processing power is mitigated by the ability to play whenever you want, wherever you want. Square-Enix's I am Setsuna is a fascinating example of what Switch can offer on multi-platform titles.
As console comparisons go, a Face-Off between PS4 and Xbox One versions of For Honor would be pointless to an almost spectacular degree. In every way that matters, these two versions of the game are essentially identical - to a degree we've not seen for some time. We'll cover off the details of that, but there is a game-changing experience amongst the For Honor line-up. It's not PS4 Pro - although Ubisoft has done a great job here - but rather the PC release. For Honor is a superb fighting game, but it's pegged to 30fps. On PC, the sky's the limit.
PlayStation 4 Pro's native 1260p rendering resolution for Resident Evil 7 turned out to be something of a surprise, representing a relatively slight 36 per cent uplift in pixel-count over the base PS4 version of the game. It's a curious choice for a console designed to service the new wave of ultra HD displays, and that led us to wonder - just how does the Pro mode compare to a full-fat 4K presentation? For a game with RE7's heavily stylised aesthetic, to what extent does a high native resolution actually matter?
Resident Evil 7 is the biggest shake-up the series has seen since the switch to an action-based focus in RE4. With a new first-person perspective and gameplay elements reminiscent of Konami's cancelled PT, this new horror title delivers a fresh take on Resident Evil that also manages to bring the series back to its core survival horror roots. From a technical perspective, a 60fps update offers up a level of smoothness usually reserved for remasters, rather than the latest current-gen instalments. The change in direction isn't just used to facilitate a return to survival horror gameplay either: it's also a direct result of the game supporting PlayStation VR, where the first-person action and 60Hz refresh makes an immersive low latency VR experience possible.
When we first tested Samsung's KS7000, the all-important game mode wasn't available when viewing HDR material, instead limiting the display to movie mode and a mammoth 117ms of input latency - and that was a massive shame. Samsung's display technology is excellent, its HDR implementation has much to commend it, and in many other respects, both the KS7000 and its nearest US equivalent, the KS8000, are best in class in the mid-range market sector. Well, the good news is that game mode is now available with HDR via a recent firmware update, which means that you get all the benefits of Samsung's technology with a class-leading 23ms of lag, regardless of whether you're in HDR mode or viewing standard material.
Updated! Looking to future-proof yourself with your next TV purchase? We've got you covered.
Skyrim Special Edition is one of the first games to support PlayStation 4 Pro, with the code already included on the game disc., and unlike the majority of Pro enhanced titles, Bethesda's popular RPG runs natively at 4K resolution - that's a 3840x2160 framebuffer without utilising checkerboard rendering or upscaling from a lower resolution. We can also confirm that resolution appears to be locked at that number with no dynamic scaling or any other similar technique. It's fair to say that the boost in pixel count provides an immediate leap over the native 1080p base PS4 game, resolving more detail and definition across the game's rugged environments.
Skyrim arrives on current-gen consoles and gets a PC upgrade in the form of the Special Edition, a remaster of sorts featuring several visual upgrades over the original game. New lighting and effects work is woven into the existing rendering pipeline, while some of the core assets are reworked. Draw distances and streaming are also improved too, adding another layer of refinement to the presentation. It all adds up to a tangible boost in visual quality over the original game, especially when looking at the last-gen console versions. But with that said, what's the best way to play the game? And which console provide us with the better overall experience?
Battlefield 1 combines the technical spectacle of the Frostbite engine with a return to the large-scale environmental destruction that made the Bad Company titles so popular. It's one of the most significant upgrades for the series since it arrived on current-gen consoles, and DICE backs this up with a range of technical improvements across all platforms. The core technology is immediately familiar, but visual effects are considerably ramped up with lighting, post-processing and particle effects taking centrestage.
When we went looking for a 4K TV for HDR gaming, our options were limited, with most displays either locking out game mode when high dynamic range content is fed to the screen or simply not displaying HDR correctly. At the time this ruled out most of Samsung's excellent 2016 models (which feature the lowest input lag out of all manufacturers for this year's line-up), and despite subsequent firmware updates, issues with HDR and game mode still persist across some models. LG's OLED screens are clearly the best, but the price-points are staggeringly high. However, Panasonic's 4K TVs are keenly prices and do allow game mode to run while displaying HDR properly, and with a massive 58-inch screen available for just £1199, the DX750 is the model we purchased for the Digital Foundry office. At this price-point the DX750 is something of a bargain for so much screen real estate, and performance is generally excellent too.
The vast majority of remasters tend to deliver native 1080p visuals and a boost to frame-rates, but frequently offer up little else in terms of a graphical upgrade. However, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered is different, with developers Raven Software completely reworking the game's visuals for the current generation of console hardware. That means not only an increase in resolution, but also new assets, upgraded effects work, along with more dynamic camera work for the cutscenes. In that sense simply calling this latest version of Modern Warfare a remaster would be doing the game a disservice, when what we have here is a fully-fledged remake of a title that defined the last generation of first-person shooters.
Samsung's KU6400 series comes in many different sizes, but here, we're reviewing the 40-inch version - a display we chose as a potential 4K screen for PS4 Pro, Xbox One S or PC users in a smaller office or bedroom gaming environment. It packs 4K pixel density into a 40-inch form factor that also features support for HDR. Combined with a VA panel for deep blacks, low input lag and Samsung's generally excellent calibration controls, we're looking at potentially outstanding performance with a budget price tag. Right now, the 40-inch KU6400 is available for just £479 - only £80 more than Samsung's 1080p K550. It's sounds like a bargain, but what's the catch?
F1 2016 is Codemasters' second Formula 1 title to hit current generation consoles, and the extra year of development has led to improvements in a number of areas. The handling and physics model feels more authentic than last year's game, while on the graphical front the blurry presentation caused by the emphatic use of post-processing is resolved. F1 2016 still features a somewhat stylised appearance, but image quality is a definite step up from the previous game. Chromatic aberration is gone and depth of field is used more sparingly, leading to greater clarity and sharpness across environment and car detail. The lighting model also sees notable changes, with the circuits illuminated in a way that delivers more depth to various racing conditions while increasing contrast between light and dark areas.
A remaster that came out of nowhere, Marvel Ultimate Alliance and its sequel arrive on current-gen consoles (with a PC port of the sequel) but it's fair to say that the experience falls well short. The extent of the disappointment is as variable as the quality of the ports themselves and indeed the platform you choose to play them on. Uneven frame-rates and some horrific bugs show up the lack of polish embellished on these conversions and to be frank, we deserved so much more.
Developed by original creators Stainless Games, Carmageddon: Max Damage serves as both homage and sequel to the first PC titles from 1997 and 1998, combining car combat, racing, and general road rage in a package boasting a reworked physics system, an upgraded engine, and updated visuals. Produced for just £250,000 via a Kickstater funding campaign, the game originally appeared on PC in the form of Carmageddon: Reincarnation, which saw final release in February 2015 after early access and public beta phases. However, on consoles Max Damage takes the form of a further update to this game, boasting extra features and more content. It's exclusive to PS4 and Xbox One for now, but a PC release is planned for the near future.
Surround sound gaming headsets are nothing new, and the feature sets often look very similar. Support for multiple platforms is the norm, along with Dolby Digital and DTS support to get an authentic multi-channel experience - without the need for several speakers to be placed around the room.
Capcom's Resident Evil Remastered series kicked off nicely with RE6 handing in solid 1080p60 gameplay, albeit with little in the way of visual enhancements. It was a promising start though, and with that firm foundation in place, basic logic suggests that the earlier, less technologically challenging games should run even better on the current-gen console. Curiously though, Resident Evil 5 Remastered doesn't quite deliver.
Developed by Capcom Osaka, Umbrella Corps takes elements from the Resident Evil series and places them into an online multiplayer shooter with first and third-person perspectives. Available on PS4 and PC, and built using the Unity engine, it's not exactly a game fans were crying out for - and it's also one where jarring performance issues on console can significantly impact upon the experience. Unity has a troubled past with performance on console and it's a little frustrating to see the issue still in effect on later titles.