Battlefield 5 builds on the Frostbite technology in some exciting ways, and this week's beta gives us our first look at how the new DICE game presents and performs on console hardware. In the wake of the recent Battlefield 1 Xbox One X update, can the developer follow up that excellent rendering showcase with another solid work-out for the Scorpio Engine - and just how closely can PS4 Pro match it?
But why isn't it X-enhanced?
Smoother, cleaner, faster.
DF visits Playground Games and tests the final game.
Blackout tested on all consoles.
It may have taken some time, but virtually every major franchise has eventually transitioned successfully to at least one of the enhanced consoles - but the lack of a decent Batman: Arkham experience for the 4K consoles is disappointing. The superb Arkham Knight never received any kind of upgrade for PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X, while the Return to Arkham patch for Sony's super-charged PS4 ranks as one of the most disappointing upgrades we've witnessed - until now. Somehow, despite having access to a significantly more powerful hardware spec, the recently released X upgrade for the controversial remaster manages to be even more of a let-down. In fact, it's easily the worst 'enhanced patch' we've seen on Xbox One X.
Nvidia's Shield is a solid, high-end streaming micro-console with the distinction of using the same Tegra X1 silicon found in Nintendo Switch - which makes the existence of a high performance Wii emulator for the system absolutely fascinating. An official project, developed by Nvidia and Nintendo in partnership, is this an early preview at how Wii and GameCube titles could be added to the Switch library? Our first look at the emulator running Super Mario Galaxy proved compelling, but follow-up analysis on The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess tosses us a curve ball, in that it's unlike any other version of the game available on the market today. It's still emulation - but with very specific customisations that set this release apart from the pack.
Last week's Red Dead Redemption 2 reveal turned out to offer more than a look at gameplay alone - it was our first chance to check out Rockstar's first work on the enhanced consoles, the entire trailer captured in-game from the PlayStation 4 Pro build. So how is the developer using the console's hardware and based on our findings here, what should we expect from Xbox One X?
Three months shy of its second birthday, Electronic Arts surprised gamers with news of an Xbox One X enhanced upgrade for Battlefield 1 earlier this week, the full 5.8GB patch arriving the following day. Patch notes from the developer only mention support for "full 4K resolution" - an upgrade that is by and large delivered, though there is a sting in the tail: at the time of writing, the game's signature multiplayer mode isn't working quite the way it should be.
No Man's Sky's latest 'Next' update is the deepest reinvention of the game to date. In terms of the improved rendering tech, the addition of a third person camera, a long-awaited multiplayer mode, upgraded base building, and much more - we've come a very long way since the its original PS4 launch. Indeed, this isn't just No Man's Sky's biggest update so far but also a landmark release for Xbox One and Xbox One X, with users of Microsoft console hardware finally able to enjoy this fascinating game.
The Japanese RPG has travelled a long road since the early days of sprite-based 2D adventuring, but in Octopath Traveler we have a fascinating blend of old and new. Exclusive to Switch, it takes the traditional top-down style of Super NES greats like Final Fantasy 6 and blends it with the cutting-edge 3D rendering techniques of Unreal Engine 4. It's a hybrid JRPG for a hybrid console, but developers Square Enix and Acquire know exactly where to push the boat out technically and where to stick to the tried and tested 2D template. The result is a beautiful and compelling Switch exclusive that's well worth checking out.
It may have been a Sony E3 media briefing short on new announcements, but there was no shortage of spectacle. Alongside The Last of Us Part 2, the gameplay debut for Ghost of Tsushima took us to the war-torn grasslands of 13th century Japan, depicted via a masterclass in real-time rendering, animation and physics simulation. Looking at its stunning opening vista shot, you'd be forgiven for thinking this is running on future Sony hardware - a prototype PlayStation 5, perhaps. At first glance, the environment animation, particle effects and lighting look a generation ahead - and certainly it's a big stylistic jump from the studio's previous work on InFamous First Light. But as the end credit tile reveals, the demo runs on hardware you may already own. It's a PS4 Pro, and so, the real surprise is the technical ingenuity going on in order to achieve such great results on existing console technology.
Given absolute freedom to race anywhere you choose, The Crew 2 is one of the most exciting racing concepts on PS4 and Xbox One consoles. For those who missed the original, it hands you a miniaturised version of the USA, from New York to San Francisco, remixed and remodeled for you to freely explore. Four years on, the canvas is now even bigger for this sequel - and to help with that heightened scale, developer Ivory Tower adds boats and planes to an existing warehouse of supercars, giving you more ways to get from state to state. The sense of scale is often staggering - a supersized version of Forza Horizon, if you will - and the idea is realised surprisingly well on all consoles.
Paladins on Switch is a current-gen port that offers a genuine surprise: it's a true 60fps rendition of a title that - perhaps unfairly - has been overshadowed by Overwatch. But with Blizzard's own shooter missing from Switch's library, Paladins has a great chance to shine here, and shine it does: developer Hi-Rez Studios squeezes almost all of the full console experience onto Nintendo's hybrid. It comes fully featured with all characters and maps and as a result, cross-play with Xbox One works brilliantly. 60fps support for a current-gen port is far from the norm on Switch, so what are the trades and do they have any impact on the quality of the gameplay?
Fortnite finally arrived on Nintendo Switch this week, with developer Epic Games releasing it for download in the wake of Nintendo's E3 Direct. It's a title built with scalability in mind, capable of running on everything from an iPhone 6S through Xbox One X, right up to the world's most powerful gaming PCs. And going into this one, we were fascinated to see just how much performance and fidelity Epic could extract from the Switch - after all, we're looking at hybrid technology here, a machine built on a mobile chipset but with all the low-level access typically associated with a dedicated console.
While the wait continues for back catalogue titles to arrive Nintendo Switch, owners of the Chinese version of Nvidia's Shield have been playing a quartet of Wii games for the last few months. These are entirely official emulated titles co-developed by both Nintendo and Nvidia, and as the same Tegra X1 processor powers Shield and Switch alike, we have to wonder: is this our first look at how games like Super Mario Galaxy may look and play on the hybrid console? If so, we're in for a real treat.
The deluge of Wii U ports for Switch continues and the recent arrival of Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition offers up a great opportunity to improve a game that was somewhat disappointing - in performance, at least - on the older system. The good news then: developer Omega Force's efforts on Switch satisfy on several key fronts, and it's easily the most feature-complete version of the game. However we're still one patch away from perfection, since this new release is marred by some highly questionable tech decisions - most curious of all being that Switch's mobile mode downsamples from 1080p, with a disastrous impact to performance.
With release code in hand, we finally have a complete picture of how Dark Souls Remastered runs on consoles and PC - and while the notorious Blighttown was our first port of call for performance testing, it turns out that there are much better ways to push developer QLOC's refined version of the Dark Souls engine. The title's CPU issues are by and large resolved in the final product, but it turns out that it's the GPU that is now our primary bottleneck. All versions of the game target 60fps, though only one console gives us an absolute lock, while the PC release rights many wrongs - but is a remarkably unambitious effort overall.
Exclusive to Xbox One and PC, State of Decay 2 blends four-player online co-op with a well-worn zombie apocalypse setting - and the concept is sound. Survival is the name of the game: you explore a seamless, open area for weapons and items, claim safehouses, and scout new spots for your community of survivors to migrate to. It expands on the original's ideas, but the technology behind it gets a full reset this time. Built on Unreal Engine 4, State of Decay 2 abandons the CryEngine 3.1 of the original game - perhaps partially explaining the five-year development time. It's a fundamental overhaul in rendering technology, but with that transition comes a fair share of teething troubles, requiring some pretty fundamental work in improving what is clearly a lacklustre showing.
It's almost time for a long overdue return to Lordran. We've seen plenty of early areas in the Dark Souls Remaster already, from the Undead Asylum to the Taurus Demon, and most recently in the Network Test right up to the Bell Gargoyles. Performance has been impressive across the board on both Xbox One and PS4, but for many, there is only one performance test that actually matters: Blighttown.
Dark Souls Remastered's network test was conducted last weekend, giving our firs look at how the game operates across all consoles. We've already had a sizeable chunk of PS4 Pro preview footage to look at, of course. Running at a native 1800p and with something very close to a locked 60fps, first impressions are of a conservative, but satisfying remaster. What the network test finally gives us is a sense of perspective: how does the more powerful Xbox One X compare to the PS4 Pro? And equally, where does that leave the two base consoles?
Dark Souls Remastered is fast approaching its May 25th launch and based on our recent look at work-in-progress PS4 Pro code, there's the sense that we're looking at a refined, optimised port rather than a fuller, top-to-bottom refresh of the whole game. So where does that leave the original 'Prepare to Die' PC version, already improved significantly via some heaving community modding? Namco Bandai is actually withdrawing that version of the game to new buyers and offering a 50 per cent discount to coax existing users into purchasing the remaster, but with mods like DSFix and SweetFX already enhancing the game significantly, the official game has a lot to match.
CD Projekt RED's The Witcher 3 has recently received yet another upgrade, with patch 1.61 bringing high dynamic range support to PlayStation 4 and PS4 Pro - a welcome bonus for a game swiftly approaching its third anniversary. With the release of the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X enhancements, this vintage 2015 title has never looked better on consoles. This HDR upgrade for PlayStation 4 users should have been the icing on the cake, but something's not quite right here - and it looks like the PS4 version needs one more patch before it's everything as it should be.
Developed exclusively for PlayStation 3, Demon's Souls is arguably the most overlooked game in the Souls series. It was a revelation in 2009 and also something of a mystery as players took their first uncertain steps into Boletaria. From the gothic palace front to its dragon-besieged bridges, every area was built to create a unique sense of dread. The game's status as being playable on just one console has only added to the game's allure over the years. With Dark Souls getting imminent remaster treatment, Demon's Souls will soon be the only Souls game that isn't playable on PS4. And with online servers having shut down earlier this year - almost a decade on from release - the appeal of a modern-day remaster is undeniable.
Built on a relatively low budget compared to the triple-A heavyweights, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice still impresses as one of the generation's most striking games. Miraculously, a core team of 14 people at Ninja Theory created something greater than the sum of its parts - marrying beautiful art direction with Unreal Engine 4's cutting-edge feature-set. It certainly impressed on PS4 and PC when it debuted in late 2017, and with the recently released Xbox One X version, we have the best console version of the game bar none.
The Division was a controversial release back in 2016. On the one hand, there were claims of a downgrade from its initial reveal trailer, but on the other, Ubisoft Massive still showcased some beautiful technology in the final game. In fact, booting it up today on Xbox One X - now updated with an enhanced 4K patch - it's striking how vast the Snowdrop's engine feature set actually is. Volumetric fog effects, real-time reflections, object physics and parallax occlusion maps help anchor this post-apocalypse Manhattan as something real and believable. The terrain isn't just a wasteland of derelict cars either. Factoring in the beautiful snow particle effects and lighting, there's a vibrancy to the map that dodges the grittiness of most apocalyptic shooters. Two years on, The Division still holds up - and it's a real treat on Xbox One X.
UPDATE 15/4/18 8:55am: Just how robust is the Xbox One X-enhanced version of Red Dead Redemption? Does the improved performance seen in the standard game also translate across to the more challenging Undead Nightmare DLC? This standalone episode retains the signature detail level of the original game but goes further, with a pervasive fog effect and a significantly increased zombie-fuelled NPC count. And on top of that, disposing of the undead with fire uses a visual effect that could cause some severe frame-rate drops in the original Xbox 360 game.
Built with some of the most impressive VR support we've seen so far, Resident Evil 7 is now available for Xbox One X, bringing with it the lure of 4K display support. Capcom targets 1080p on the regular consoles, but for the standard Xbox One, this causes a problem, with the game struggling to deliver anything like a consistent 60 frames per second. The X addresses two issues then, with the new patch delivering massively improved pixel counts and restoring performance to what it should be. And in turn, that begs the question: just how does it compare to the current PlayStation 4 Pro version?
Of all the remasters coming out this generation, Dark Souls might be the most hotly anticipated. It's a chance to revisit one of the most beloved of games from the last console generation, using today's technology to improve visuals tremendously and to iron out the game's notorious performance issues. We've already had an early taster of the Switch port - based on trailer footage, at least - and initial impressions were of a conservative conversion for Nintendo's console hybrid. Now we've had the chance to play a preview build on PS4 Pro, and clearly there's a lot more to it visually.