Wow, that came out of nowhere! A couple of days ago, Respawn Entertainment surprised us by releasing a next-gen patch for its impressive Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, bringing with it specific upgrades that tap into more of the horsepower provided by the trio of new consoles. It's not a full next-gen patch as such - similar to Cyberpunk 2077, it's simply tweaking last-gen code in order to get higher frame-rates from the new machines, leveraging the CPU in particular to give us a much closer lock to 60 frames per second.
The patch is also interesting in that Respawn Entertainment released patch notes that tell us almost everything we need to know about the technical enhancements. Frame-rates are increased across the board, post-processing quality is improved and resolutions are increased. The actual range of upgrades actually varies from machine to machine for reasons that aren't quite clear, but we would expect that this has something to do with the capabilities of Sony and Microsoft's cross-generational SDKs as opposed to the capabilities of the machines themselves.
Xbox Series X appears to get the more fully featured range of upgrades. Of the three consoles, it is the only one to retain both the quality and performance modes of the last-gen versions - and both are improved. Quality mode targets 30fps with a dynamic resolution window of 1512p to 2160p, delivering the cleanest image quality and highest consistency of any console version - albeit with a lower frame-rate cap. Its performance mode aims for 60fps, achieving it for the most part with a 1080p to 1440p dynamic resolution range.
By contrast, PlayStation 5 gets a single mode, targeting 60fps and doing so at a locked 1200p with 1440p post-process buffers. It's a more limited upgrade bearing in mind that standard back-compat on the existing last-gen code delivered 1080p, but the extra pixel count and post-processing precision is certainly welcome. Finally, there's Xbox Series S - it's a huge upgrade over the One S version, again targeting 60fps. No resolution metrics are provided in the patch notes, but we're seeing a dynamic resolution window in the range of 720p to 900p, leaning into Unreal Engine 4's temporal upscaling to give the perception of a higher pixel count, most effective in more static scenes.
Those are the baseline specifications of the patch, but how do they play? Well, Fallen Order always had some issues in terms of asset streaming, causing hitching and stuttering. This is something that happened on all versions of the game, even on the PC version, and it's interesting to see that in the 60fps modes, there are still some problems here on all systems. To be clear, overall performance in-game is relatively consistent at 60fps, but hitching is most noticeable in traversal and occasionally in cutscenes. PlayStation 5 does seem to be perhaps a touch smoother overall, but all versions show the issue. For its part, Series X is capable of delivering the highest resolution visuals and if the stutter is a problem for you, the 30fps quality mode does clean up most of it. As for Xbox Series S, it's the least stable rendition of the game - in addition to the streaming challenges, it has areas where it seems to be GPU-limited too. It's still a marked improvement over the unlocked frame-rate of the performance modes found in PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, but it is the least impressive upgrade of the bunch.
Overall though, this is an interesting upgrade that's well worth checking out, especially as the game is bundled with EA Play and so by extension, should be available to play on Xbox Game Pass. While divisive, we rather like the game, which combines some great production values with quality gameplay and shades of Metroid in how access to the various levels gradually opens up. The new patch doesn't quite solve all of the technical issues in the way we would have liked to see, but it's definitely the best way to experience Fallen Order on consoles and we recommend checking it out.
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