There was one crucial aspect of the Xbox One X experience we could not cover in our hardware review: to what extent is this actually a 4K games machine and what is the difference in the experience up against Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro? Since then, the X upgrades have rolled in, giving us a better picture of how the machines compare, but what we’ve been lacking is an apples to apples stress test comparison based on EA’s Frostbite technology – one of the most advanced rendering engines on the market. FIFA 18 is impressive but hardly a challenge for the hardware but Star Wars Battlefront is perhaps the game we’ve been looking for. The results are certainly illuminating.
In many respects, we’re looking at a virtual re-run of what we saw recently with Bethesda’s Wolfenstein 2. The id Tech 6 engine shares a clutch of technologies also found in Frostbite, designed to maximise the visual return on all systems while targeting 60 frames per second action. First amongst them is dynamic resolution scaling, where both Wolfenstein 2 and Battlefront 2 adjust pixel-counts on the fly in order to sustain performance. PS4 Pro tops out at 2560×1440 on both titles, while Xbox One X pushes further – much further – delivering a maximum of 3840×2160, or full-fat 4K. That’s a 2.25x increase in pixel-count, a surprising uplift bearing in mind the respective specs of the two systems.
Of course, dynamic resolution scaling could conceivably close the gap, but the variance in resolution between Pro and X remains wide: based on several measurements we took, the range varies between 1296p and 1440p on the Sony console, rising to an 1800p-2160p window in the same scenes tested on Xbox One X. The numbers are stark then, but another technology shared with id Tech helps to mitigate matters to a certain extent – temporal anti-aliasing. The Frostbite implementation isn’t quite as intensive as id’s, but it does the job in smoothing off the jaggies and eliminating the most obvious, glaring signs of upscaling.
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