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.
Resolution takes a hit but this is close to the complete package.
Intense combat is a little too choppy.
Powered by Tegra X1: a preview of how well Switch back-compat could work?
1080p resolution in mobile mode cripples frame-rate.
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.
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 Ł5, 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?