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.
Sony owns the IP - which opens up some mouthwatering possibilities.
And how well does the standard console hold up?
A huge resolution boost over PS4 Pro with other improvements too.
UPDATE: The Undead Nightmare expansion tested on Microsoft's enhanced console
We've had a lot of requests to look at Outlast 2 on Switch, principally because - on the surface, at least - it's a remarkable facsimile of the PlayStation 4 version of the game. It's also a technical curiosity in that it's based on Unreal Engine 3; a technology that isn't supported on Switch by its creator, Epic Games. However, there's nothing to stop the developer itself porting its own game. It worked out nicely for the UE3-powered Rocket League - and the same is true for Outlast 2.
A successor of sorts to the brilliant Assassin's Creed Black Flag, Rogue was somewhat overlooked when it was released back in 2014. In that difficult 'cross-gen' period, Rogue was designed to take care of Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 owners, but the key focus for the series was the technologically ambitious, but ultimately flawed, Assassin's Creed Unity - Ubisoft's series debut for PS4 and Xbox One. Rogue didn't really deserve its second tier status - it was a great game with a lot of visual highlights and with the release of this week's remaster, the game gets a second chance to shine.
It sounds almost too good to be true. Marseille's mCable Gaming Edition is an HDMI cable that promises to improve image quality in your games, adding anti-aliasing and enhanced colour detail to anything that's thrown at it - at a price. In a world where you can pick up an HDMI cable from a poundshop, the mCable will set you back between $120 to $150, depending on the length you choose. It's also a North America-only release for now, but Amazon and others can import it for you. Now, we've all seen video cables go for ludicrous prices, claiming to give a better picture than the bargain basement equivalents, but the mCable is different, it does indeed do the job. The question is to what extent it is effective and how well it processes different types of content.
The Switch market's awash with ports and remasters, but one of the most eagerly awaited must surely be the conversion of Dark Souls - the first time the series lands on a handheld. Early signs point to it being handled by Virtuos - the studio behind the daring Switch conversion of LA Noire. Little else is known about the scale of the project, or what form the remaster will take across other platforms, but last week's Nintendo Direct did deliver a short burst of gameplay that offers up a wealth of clues.
It's presented in pristine, native 4K on Xbox One X, yet despite the vast resolution increase over its debut outing on last-gen consoles, Burnout Paradise looks and plays just as you remember it. In this respect it's a remaster done right. There are enhancements - many of them in fact, as you shall see - but it's all in service of adapting the original experience to sit nicely on a new, higher precision medium. And in a world of freebie X-enhanced 360 titles and the existing PC version available on Origin for just £5, that's a good thing. The key takeaway here is that Burnout Paradise Remastered is more than just a port.
We've had a lot of requests for this over the last few months, and having finally sampled WWE 2K18, we can see why. The Switch port has built up quite a reputation since its release in early December last year - in fact, many believe it's the worst game available for the system. There've been reports of terrible performance and game-breaking slowdown, but the game was patched recently, so we thought we'd dip in to see whether there's been any improvement. First impressions suggest not, and out of all the multi-platform Switch titles we've experienced, this is easily the worst port we've tested.
The heist is on! Payday 2 has arrived on Nintendo Switch, making it by default the first truly portable version of the game. Based on the editions released for PS4 and Xbox One three years ago, the port goes further, incorporating a wireless four-player option for nearby Switch users, along with other tweaks and DLC added since its last-gen launch. In most other respects, the game's core remains the same as before, which begs the question - to what extent can Nintendo's hybrid match the 1080p30 experience of the existing current-gen versions?
Having taken a close look at all four console builds of Kingdom Come Deliverance, one thing is clear - this is a highly demanding game built on an engine that traditionally favours PC hardware. Xbox One X comes out on top with improved performance and a 1440p resolution, but frame-rate dips to the low 20fps region on all versions, with long initial loading times and abundant pop-in across the board. The good news is that the PC version solves a number of those problems, provided you have sufficiently capable hardware. Yes, perhaps not surprisingly, bearing in mind the CryEngine roots, this game can push even the most powerful kit to its limits.
Conceptually, Kingdom Come Deliverance is an intriguing proposition. What if the Elder Scrolls formula were transplanted across to a real-world location, steeped in history? And what if Skyrim's less than state-of-the-art technological underpinnings were replaced with one of the most powerful game engines on the market?
With the arrival of the upcoming firmware 5.5, Sony has introduced a new option - system-level super-sampling. It addresses a key frustration for PS4 Pro users hooked up to 1080p screens: the lack of access to high resolution support on a range of games.
The Xbox One X upgrades keep on coming, with Blizzard's Overwatch the latest title to receive 4K support. We went into this one with a certain sense of tredipation: after all, Overwatch's PlayStation 4 Pro support ended up delivering only 4K HUDs overlaid on a regular 1080p presentation. It was a big disappointment at the time, and while users did get improved texture filtering over the base PS4 version along with other minor tweaks, there was the sense that Pro was capable of delivering much, much more.
There's a lot riding on Metal Gear Survive in Konami's post-Kojima era, and it's fair to say that reaction has been mixed so far. In a nutshell, this is a wave-based survival off-shoot to the series, set just after the finale of Ground Zeroes. Right off the bat, you're hunting animals and stockpiling water, just to keep your hunger and thirst levels at bay. And similar to the classic Metal Gear Solid 3, you even heal wounds using supplies found on the field. That's the survival bit - once you have your feet on the ground, the focus shifts to scavenging for resource to build weapons, tools and even structures to fend off oncoming hordes of enemies.
Forza Horizon 3 gets an enhanced Xbox One X patch this week, adding a 4K presentation plus other extras to an already visually arresting title. Developer Playground Games has justifiable confidence in this update - to the point that we were invited to its Leamington Spa office for a rundown of the benefits, and handed footage ahead of time. This X patch won't satisfy those looking for a 60fps version of the game - the lock remains at 30fps - but what it does bring to the table in terms of 4K support does impress.
The Witcher 3's enhanced Xbox One X patch gives us more than we expected. Two new options are added with this update: a 4K mode that puts the emphasis on hitting a native 3840x2160 at 30 frames per second, falling back on dynamic resolution scaling to ensure a consistent gameplay experience. But the real surprise is the inclusion of a performance mode that prioritises 60fps gameplay, albeit at a much lower pixel-count. On paper, CD Projekt Red's latest release should be the definitive console release, but just how does the package on Xbox One X stand up to the recently released PS4 Pro patch?
On the face of it, a Rocket League port shouldn't prove too difficult for the Switch hardware, but it's fair to say that developer Panic Button faced a number of challenges in bringing this title to Nintendo's console hybrid. While not exactly the technological state of the art, it is a game built primarily for current-gen Sony and Microsoft hardware, automatically setting a high bar. Secondly, it's built on Unreal Engine 3 - a technology that Epic Games itself does not support on Switch. And finally, and most importantly, this game is built for 60 frames per second gameplay. Compromising here just isn't an option - it just wouldn't be Rocket League without that silky-smooth response.
Destiny 2's Xbox One X upgrade hands in everything you'd expect from a talented studio working with a very powerful piece of hardware, so in many respects, there are no real surprises here. Bungie's long-awaited upgrade essentially takes the existing Xbox One and PlayStation 4 visual feature set and upgrades it beautifully to ultra HD resolution - nothing more, nothing less. In terms of gameplay, the leap to 4K is delivered without any compromises to the established Destiny 2 experience, meaning that the game feels just as solid to play as all of the other console releases available.
It may be the most powerful gaming handheld ever made, but Switch's peak battery life of three hours while running Zelda Breath of the Wild - or two hours 37 minutes at maximum brightness - is the price we pay for this level of fidelity. Thankfully, there are plenty of inexpensive options for extending a play session on the go. Nintendo's use of the USB-C standard opens the door to a range of external batteries, where even a £19 power costing can triple your overall game time.
The Seagate Firecuda is a 2.5-inch 'laptop-size' drive - a 2TB hybrid costing around £115/$130. What makes it stick out? Well for PlayStation users, it ticks a few crucial boxes if you're itching to upgrade the standard hard drive. Until this model came along, we've had 1TB as the maximum size for 2.5-inch hybrid drives. Even with on-board NAND memory to increase speeds, 1TB might still not be quite enough to make an upgrade worthwhile - after all, PS4 Pro ships with the same level of storage out of the box. But the big question is, can this upgrade deliver both a capacity upgrade and a notable performance bump over the stock drive?
With the recent arrival of system software 4.5, PlayStation 4 finally possesses a 'must have' feature that has proved invaluable on Xbox One - full support for plug-in external storage, hooked up via USB. Boosting available hard drive space is now easy and virtually any kind of storage can be attached - but the question is, what's the best way to use this feature?
Long loading times are one of our biggest issues with current-gen consoles. Games are getting bigger, more complex, with ever-increasing levels of details in art assets - but the fundamental basis of storage technology is unchanged since the Xbox 360/PS3 era. Solid-state storage drives are the future, and the question is, can PlayStation 4 Pro - with its brand-new, high bandwidth SATA 3 interface - finally take a good-sized chunk out of the extended pauses between gameplay that are often part and parcel of modern console gaming?
With just 32GB of onboard flash, it's fair to say that storage - or rather the capacity of it - wasn't the number one priority for Nintendo when designing the Switch. It's a moot point however, as the system does come with a MicroSD card slot, allowing for storage upgrades up to 2TB. But in the era of ever-increasing loading times, we had to wonder: does your choice of MicroSD card impact loading times at all? And how does user-side expansion performance compare to the internal storage, and indeed physical cartridges? The results are in, and there are one or two surprises in there.
There are still a number of high-profile Xbox One X titles still in the pipeline (Forza Horizon 3, anyone?) but two significant upgrades arrived in tandem yesterday. Bethesda's Skyrim upgrade looks to deliver a native 4K experience in line with the PS4 Pro version - and we'll be reporting on that in the next day or so - but it's Fallout 4 that seems to be bringing much more to the table. On paper at least, the 4K resolution offers a big upgrade over the existing PS4 Pro release, while retaining and even improving on the draw distance and god ray upgrades seen on Sony's latest console.
The LA Noire remaster is available on PS4, Xbox One and their 4K mid-gen refresh equivalents, but the real story here is the Switch port and the fact that it's the first time we've seen an open word game of this type running on Nintendo's hybrid system. It's also Rockstar's debut title for the console, and we can only wonder what else the publisher has cooking for the system. Could the Grand Theft Auto games be in development for Switch? Is it even possible to successfully port those titles? The LA Noire conversion doesn't have all the answers, but it convincingly reveals some of the challenges any prospective GTA conversion might face.
Recently, we dissected Bethesda's intriguing conversion of Doom for Switch, dubbing it the 'impossible port' - a full-on triple-A engine somehow cut-back, massaged and finagled onto Nintendo's hybrid console. The Skyrim conversion may not be quite so impressive in terms of its sheer ambition, but it's clearly far more successful from an execution standpoint. Yes, there are compromises when the title is stacked up against its PlayStation 4 counterpart, but it delivers where it matters - and where Switch offers a unique experience - in handheld play - it is simply excellent.