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.
It's pricey, but does it work?
Digital Foundry assesses the first trailer footage.
Digital Foundry finds a wealth of upgrades.
Digital Foundry assesses the latest, patched version.
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.
Wolfenstein 2 is one of the most exceptional graphical showcases of the generation so far - a 60 frames per second shooter with beautiful dynamic lighting and shading, GPU-accelerated particles and a state-of-the-art post-process pipeline. However, it does have one weakness: performance. PS4, Pro and Xbox One can't quite lock to the target 60fps and all console versions lack the slick fluidity of the Doom 2016 reboot, running on the same engine. Which begs the question - can Xbox One X power past the frame-rate issues of the other console versions, and to what extent can it improve on PS4 Pro's impressive visuals?
Cited as an example of ultra HD gaming on Microsoft's list of Xbox One X enhanced titles, Diablo 3 is an evolution of Blizzard's good work on the PlayStation 4 Pro version of the game. The same principles are in place: the game targets a native 2160p presentation, but utilises a dynamic scaler to lock to the target 60 frames per second, adjusting the pixel count on the fly to ensure consistent performance. And just like the PS4 Pro version, Xbox One X benefits from a smattering of visual enhancements too. But the question is, just how close are the two versions? And to what extent does Xbox One X's higher spec translate into a closer lock to a native 4K?
Developed by Machine Games, Wolfenstein 2 The New Colossus is a true, generational leap in visual design over the franchise reboot in 2014. From the first frame of action, the standards are clearly kept high - in large part owed to the technologies included in its id Tech 6 engine. The physically-based materials, the dynamic lights, shadowing and GPU-accelerated particles all deliver a clear upgrade over what we've seen in the engine's previous incarnation. Visually, the developers have handed in a masterclass on par with the recent Doom reboot, though it's fascinating to see what another Bethesda studio is capable of producing with the same toolset.
While we can draw conclusions about PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X from their respective specs sheets, real-life comparisons are somewhat thin on the ground right now. Microsoft's new console should offer a comprehensive improvements owing to more memory, higher levels of bandwidth and a big compute advantage, but to what extent will it actually matter in the homogenised world of multi-platform development? From an extended look at the Gamescom build of Shadow of War running on Xbox One X, the signs are looking good for the green team's new hardware, with an immediately obvious, comprehensively improved presentation - possibly the most dramatic boost we've seen to date.
Monolith Productions returns with the follow-up to 2014's superb sleeper hit, Shadow of Mordor, with the ambitious Shadow of War. In three years, it takes us from the Lithtech engine to the new Firebird Engine - upgraded code that now supports larger-scale battles, and an expanded Nemesis system. Having checked out PS4, Xbox One, and PS4 Pro renditions this week, it's clear there's a pecking order to which looks and runs best. Ahead of the Shadow of War's Xbox One X support, PS4 Pro inevitably comes out on top on the console front - but with only a month to go, is the bar set high enough on Sony's 'supercharged' console?
First it wasn't happening at all, but now it's a reality. The Witcher 3's PS4 Pro patch 1.51 landed this week, finally giving us that coveted 4K support, and what CD Project Red describes as a slight performance boost. It's a tiny update in size - just over 100MB - but the impact is huge for PS4 Pro owners. To what extent is 4K delivered with the update, how does it stack up against the base PS4 version, and what do 1080p display users get from the deal? And finally, how does the new code compare with the full fat PC experience?
We've been waiting for this for a long time. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was one of the key titles we were looking to see upgraded for Sony's super-charged PS4 and finally, ten months from the system's release, patch 1.51 with full Pro support finally dropped today. The question is, has full 4K been delivered? On top of that, has anything else changed or seen improvement?
Star Wars: Battlefront 2 is set to have a far more engaging multiplayer than the original 2015 reboot. At DICE's headquarters in Stockholm I had the chance to check out four competitive modes: a chaotic 40 player Galactic Assault game on Naboo, and the recently introduced space dog-fighting of Starfighter Assault. Now, I'd already seen these two demos from E3 and Gamescom, but the Arcade mode's survival mission, and 8v8 Strike mode on Takodana were new. And it's in the Strike mode in particular that DICE's efforts to bolster the multiplayer portion of the game became apparent.