It's a credit to the talents and abilities of game developers that so many last-gen games still hold up today - so why not tap into the extra horsepower of PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles to push visual quality and frame-rates to the next level? And it's all the sweeter if the upgrade is free of course, as is the case with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. This one's all the more fascinating as we've already had a 'back compat plus' patch - though it was not without its issues, so porting it across as a native app should allow the new consoles to unleash more of their potential. The promise? Higher resolution textures, improved loading times, smoother frame-rates and all round better image quality.
In reality, there is the sense that the improvements aren't exactly game-changing though - but they're certainly useful, especially on PlayStation 5, where the older patch lacked the ability to tap into a 30fps quality mode. Previously there was only a 60fps, 1200p performance mode on PS5. Meanwhile on the Xbox side the situation proved better. Even before this latest patch, Series X offered a performance mode toggle for 60fps gameplay at a dynamic range of 1080p to 1440p, alongside a 1512p-4K quality mode.
The two modes, and resolution boundaries for each, all stays essentially in place on Series X after the patch. In fact pixel counts of Series X today show each mode hitting the max DRS target a majority of the time; a native 1440p in performance mode, and a native 4K for the default at 30fps. So good news there. On the flipside, the Series S version notably only has a 60fps mode on the new update - so curiously, there's no high-res 30fps option. Still, at 60fps Series S consistently holds at around 1080p in resolution. But it's PS5 that benefits most - the dynamic 4K30 quality mode returns and the performance toggle is back, this time delivering a dynamic 1440p60 experience.
Loading times are definitely improved in the transition from a back-compat to native app: it takes 16 seconds on the PS5 native app to load into Kashyykk, versus a 32 second wait on the PS4 app - a whopping 50 per cent saving. Given that respawning to set points on a planet plays a huge part in the challenge, having the wait chopped in half on PS5 is a big win. And yes, running the same test between PS5 and Series X sees a similar gain for the Xbox side with Series X coming in just a second later. In terms of visual upgrades, the improvement is quite subtle, broadly speaking. Stacking up Series X against Xbox One X in quality mode, there are some texture and shadow upgrades. However, in most areas it's practically identical across both generations, but select assets are improved - and it's the same with PS5 too.
Looking to performance testing, there's the slight sense of disappointment here. The big issue with the 'back compat plus' patch was the hitching and stutter across the experience - perhaps to be expected bearing in mind that even a high-end PC has the same problem. Beyond this issue, the 30fps quality mode has no problems whatsoever in maintaining its performance level. Both PlayStation 5 and Series X top out at native 4K, but drops to a circa 80 per cent render scale are possible on both. Both do well in frame-rates, but the hitching will stick out at points.
Looking at the 60fps performance mode, properly GPU-limited scenarios we saw in the old patch are much improved in the new native app: cutscenes are a good stress-test here, with drops into the low 50fps region we saw previously not running flat-out at 60fps. However, this mode also has the same stuttering issue. Stacking up PS4 Pro back-compat code on PS5 up against its new native app, it's a touch disappointing to see that the stutter looks pretty much the same in some scenarios, though it is a little better in others. Xbox Series X? It runs in a very similar manner. Both machines target 1440p here, but again, dynamic resolution is used extensively and while neither version seems to hit 1080p at their worst points, both get close to it.
All of which leaves us with Xbox Series S, targeting 1080p60 - with no 30fps quality mode in sight. Performance is mostly locked at 60fps across the duration, but it's not quite as solid as what we're seeing on the more capable consoles, even with what looks like a 720p-1080p dynamic resolution window. Notably the cockpit of our ship drops into the 50s. And yes, the data streaming issues found on the other machines are also present here.
So, overall, it's a bit of a mixed bag. There are improvements in asset and shadow quality, loading times are better and PS5 gets a 30fps quality mode it didn't have previously. However, the game still doesn't quite have the level of polish it deserves - for example, I encountered an infinite death loop from auto-respawning in mid-air. Visual glitches are also still an issue too, even over year on from release. Still, the patch is a good improvement and there's a lot to enjoy in Fallen Order and glitches aside, it's an excellent time to give it a try.
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