Star Wars Battlefront Beta on Xbox One – Technical Analysis
The Star Wars Battlefront beta gave us the first opportunity to directly experience the Xbox One version of this highly anticipated title. We approached this analysis with a concern: the game on PS4 runs at 900p resolution, exactly like Battlefield 4 did two years ago, and we feared that even on Xbox One, history would repeat itself, with a less than ideal presentation to 720p. Nonetheless, we hoped that Microsoft’s experience with hardware would allow for a higher resolution or perhaps a dynamic approach like the one used in Halo 5: Guardians.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Battlefront on Xbox One simply runs at a fixed 720p, which is 64% of the resolution of the PlayStation 4. From the point of view of image quality, the trade-offs are what you can imagine: do you notice more aliasing and details at a distance? fry ?? conspicuously. Plus, the overall image feels smoother, a result of drastic upscaling in combination with the same post-processing anti-aliasing used on PS4.
The situation is similar to that of Battlefield 4, therefore, but there are still some positives. If you can turn a blind eye to the lower resolution, the game’s content is identical to that of PS4 and roughly matches the ?? high ?? settings. of the PC version. This means that the textures and quality of the shadows are the same on both consoles, as is the use of tessellation on the geometries, which gives the textures a great three-dimensional effect. The three maps included in the beta represent some of the most beautiful Star Wars locations ever recreated in a video game, and both consoles do a good job in that respect.
The horizon distance is also the same and suffers from the same levels of pop-in when moving around the maps. Obviously the resolution at work on Xbox One affects this aspect, especially with the visibility of objects in the long distance. As was the case in early DICE titles for this specific console, 720p makes it harder to distinguish and hit enemies in the distance – the map on planet Hoth is the clearest example of this problem. The base of the rebels, with its closed rooms, is instead less afflicted and in any case it can be said that the anti-aliasing solution implemented by the developer obtains remarkable results considering the initial resolution. Unfortunately, however, there are simply not enough pixels to present sharp detail, and attempting to clean the image in post-processing has the side effect of blurring it. In practice, this resizes the graphic impact of the last part of the mission, seen from the elevated point of view of an AT-AT that does not allow you to properly appreciate the excellent art design created by DICE.
The image is certainly worse than the 900p offered by PS4, which is sharper: although even the Sony console is not able to reach the 1080p and beyond available on PC, the result is still convincing. The 1600×900 resolution is increasingly used as an acceptable middle ground on next-gen consoles, and with the right image treatment it can certainly be nice. The shortcomings of a 720p presentation, on the other hand, are much more evident and there is little that DICE could do to hide them: overall, the image quality on Xbox One is below what we would have expected from this generation.
As far as performance is concerned, the beta on Xbox One targets 60fps just like on PS4 and generally manages to hit that threshold. The bad news is that, compared to Sony’s console, there are more dips to 50fps, especially during the climax of the Walker Assault mission. In the more complex phases of the latter, the drops in fluidity become more marked as the effects of transparency multiply. The rebel base is also very heavy from this point of view, with frequent drops to 50fps as the AT-ATs attack the entrance.
In general, Xbox One more or less meets the 60fps target but the fluidity is less stable than that obtained on PS4, especially when the engine is under stress. Thankfully, smaller maps run with far fewer issues, hitting near-perfect 60fps with 16 players on screen. Aside from the occasional dropped frame, Xbox One performs very well here and performance isn’t a distraction to gameplay.
With the game out next November, based on the beta we can say that the PS4 version is in a better shape: it offers a sharper picture and a more stable frame-rate. As for the PC, we will analyze the performance on different configurations in a separate article: initially we were prevented by the absence of servers to play on. Luckily, EA has recently solved the problem and our first impressions suggest that we are dealing with a very scalable game: we managed to reach the 1080p60 standard even with a Core i3 processor (alongside a Titan X), hence the title it is very accommodating in terms of CPU requirements. That said, to get the best in terms of frame-rate with the mid- and low-mid-range GPUs, some tweaking is needed on the settings, as we will soon tell you in detail.
On Xbox One, texture mapping and tessellation are in line with what is seen on PS4 and PC at ‘high’ settings. The 1280×720 resolution, however, tarnishes the image and causes the game to be noticeably sharper on Sony’s console.Terrain features such as debris are drawn at the same distance on Xbox One and PS4. Curiously, the smoke in the upper right is significantly scaled down from the PC’s ‘high’ preset.The quality of ambient occlusion is identical between the two consoles. Oddly, the lighting on this stage is slightly different during this cut-scene – an anomaly not seen in other maps.At a distance, the Xbox One’s lower resolution produces a less detailed image than the 900p drawn by PS4.Another wide-ranging image, showing how the PC’s ‘ultra’ preset draws shadows at a greater distance than seen on consoles.PS4 and Xbox One use a post-processing approach similar to that seen on PC at ‘high’ settings.The quality of the geometries is the same on console, as well as that of the shadows, which is less refined than that used by the PC. On console there is motion blur, both during the initial panning shots and during the cut-scenes. The effect is absent on PC, regardless of the preset.
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