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Control Ultimate Edition - the next-gen experience compared on PS5 and Xbox Series consoles

And it's very close...

Remedy's Control Ultimate Edition is out now for next (current?) generation console systems, delivering a substantial revamp of its 2019 classic. Bundling up the original release with its DLC, plus 60 frames per second performance and 30fps ray tracing modes, Control is a game made for the new machines. The technological limitations of the last-gen machines are effortlessly overcome and the new console editions offer more than a taste of the fully enabled PC rendition of the game - but are we looking at platform parity between the new Sony and Microsoft systems?

Remedy itself has already revealed the full specifications of the new versions, which essentially boils down to this: PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X run at a native 1440p resolution (with no dynamic resolution scaling) with a temporal upscale to 2160p output. Graphics and performance modes are essentially a toggle for ray tracing support, which adds RT reflections on opaque and glass surfaces. RT locks users to 30fps gaming, while disabling it removes the frame-rate cap, with performance only limited by 60Hz v-sync. There is an interesting aside to this though: engaging photo mode in-game removes the 30fps cap in RT mode, opening the door to a potential benchmark of sorts, something we'll take a closer look at in due course.

A look at how PS5, Series X and Series S consoles compare.Watch on YouTube

Without giving too much away, it's clear that Control in RT graphics mode has a significant amount of headroom beyond 30fps (but nowhere near 60 for the most part, it's worth stressing), the upshot being that in standard gameplay, both Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 lock to their target frame-rate of 30. The only outlier here is the introduction of improper frame-pacing in very rare scenarios, but otherwise it's nearly faultless. In terms of quality settings and visual features, Series X and PlayStation 5 look like a complete match - with just a small difference in gamma levels. Control on PS5 (and it seems other titles) appears to have crushed blacks and a generally darker presentation. System level screenshots show the same thing, ruling out a capture issue.

Beyond this, Series X exhibits some stutter not seen on PS5 - regardless of it being set to graphics or performance modes. It crops up with the arrival of UI elements on screen and in standard traversal, and can be distracting. Our understanding is that Remedy is looking to address this in a future patch, but it's the only blemish in what is otherwise a very polished 30fps experience with some beautiful RT work.

The Digital Foundry tech review for Control Ultimate Edition.Watch on YouTube

The performance mode meanwhile aims to run Control flat-out at 60 frames per second. By and large, it's an excellent experience regardless of which system you play on, and in terms of sheer playability, it's the best way to enjoy the game. It's also at this point that we can factor in Xbox Series S. It lacks the 30fps RT mode and targets performance only, delivering a 60fps experience at native 900p, with a temporal upscale to 1080p. You lose precision from the reduced resolution, but the gameplay is still golden and it compares favourably to Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5.

All three systems follow a very similar performance profile: the action is fast and smooth, marred only by screen-filling effects work that can cause drops to the mid-50fps region as the chaos plays out on-screen. Owing to the dynamic nature of play, 'ranking' the consoles here is not easy - it seems that in some scenarios, Series X can outperform PlayStation 5, while in others the opposite is true. Xbox Series S does seem to be the least consistent overall, but only by a very small margin. The most noticeable issue here is the Xbox stutter, causing hitching on top of the existing frame-rate drops, just as it does in Series X's 30fps mode. It's perhaps more of an issue here in that deviations from a 16ms frame-time are more noticeable compared to a 33ms frame-time. This seems to be a legacy holdover from last-gen systems, but nonetheless, it's strange that PlayStation 5 does not seem to have the issue, and we'd hope to see this sorted on Xbox consoles via a future title update.

Ultimately, Control on PS5 and Xbox Series consoles is a great release - if not quite the definitive experience. For that, it's still PC with a powerful RTX card, where DLSS AI upscaling can exceed native resolution rendering and deliver the full suite of ray traced effects. However, with that said, the game itself is as compelling as it ever has been, and the upgrade over the last-gen console versions is profound to say the least. Whichever console you have, it comes highly recommended.

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