There's always been the sense that we've not been able to experience the definitive version of Final Fantasy 15, that today's console hardware simply doesn't have the horsepower to fully deliver the developers' original vision for the game. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One X have upped resolution and increased fidelity over the original releases, but fundamentally, there's still the sense that the game just has much more to offer. Only now with the release of the PC version do we get to see the Luminous Studios engine fully unleashed. Yes, the hardware demands can be onerous - staggering even - if you want to see everything but the visual return is outstanding.
First of all, the final code is improved over its initial outing in the benchmark released last month - GameWorks and other level of detail issues are greatly improved and overall frame-rates are higher, but AMD performance is still not quite where it should be - something we'll be looking at in more depth later on. For now, we'll be looking at the tangible benefits of playing Final Fantasy 15 on PC - and they are legion.
First of all, there are the basics: performance and resolution. Square-Enix's port has the exclusive full-screen and v-sync options bizarrely omitted from the benchmark, along with a vast range of tweakables to experiment with, but the fundamentals are in place too: arbitrary resolutions are supported as is ultra-wide support (we ran a lot of the game at the decidedly non-standard 3840x1600 and everything just worked fine) while in-game frame-rates up to 120fps are confirmed.
Since its launch last year, Final Fantasy 15 has changed a lot and Square-Enix has continued to support the game with patches and changes designed to improve the experience for players while introducing features - but this hasn't always gone smoothly. The PS4 Pro has been supported since the game's release and its implementation has always been inconsistent at best. Features have come and gone but in the end, it never seemed to run as well as we would have hoped. Could the new Xbox One X upgrade finally deliver the Final Fantasy 15 experience we've been waiting for?
We were eager to check this one out because the base Xbox One version - as blurry as it is - has a crucial advantage over all PlayStation releases: correct frame-pacing at 30fps, each frame persisting for 33ms, giving a smooth, consistent, gameplay experience. The experience varies across each of the PS4 Pro's rendering modes, but to some extent, all of them deliver frames inconsistently, the impact at its worst in the high quality mode. In effect, bad frame-pacing introduces significant stutter into what is actually a locked 30fps experience.
Well, the results are in and while the upgrade lives up to expectations in many, many ways, there are a number of small issues that do need addressing. As expected, Xbox One X delivers the same three modes as the Pro. High centres on delivering the best quality visuals with a 30fps target, while steady drops back resolution to 1080p and targets the base consoles' visual feature set. Completing the line-up is 'lite', which unlocks the frame-rate. In terms of visual features, both steady and lite modes are much the same between Pro and X - it's the all-important high quality setting that truly sets them apart.