Advanced Warfare’s 1080p on PS4 comes at a price

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That ugly beast, resolutiongate, rears its head once again. As you may probably know, the PlayStation 4 version of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare runs at a full 1920x1080p, while the Xbox One’s running the game at a dynamic resolution, that starts at 1360x1080p. The increased resolution in the PlayStation 4 version, however, comes at a price.

While in stills, the PlayStation 4 version tends to look better, according to Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry, it’s the Xbox One that delivers a more consistent, smoother experience. That’s because that dynamic resolution on the Xbox One keeps the game running at a smooth 60fps throughout, while the more rigid PlayStation version sticks at 1080p, sacrificing frame-rate for resolution. Here’s what they had to say:

The resolution issue is an interesting discussion point. For the most part, it works as you’d expect. According to our measurements, the bigger battles in Advanced Warfare’s opening stage do indeed operate with a cut 1360×1080 resolution on Xbox One. Clarity on geometric edges is affected – producing blurrier outlines in our matched shots below – as well as creating a muddier appearance to sub-pixel sampling across trees and grass. The opening shot of Seoul’s skyscrapers is a good example of this, where window details on each building appear cleaner on PlayStation 4.

But while this is telling in static shots, the difference is harder to tally up in action. Sledgehammer’s ground-up rebuild of the Call of Duty engine pushes heavily on post-process effects, such as full-screen (and per-object) motion blur, a depth of field filter and a sparing use of chromatic aberration during play. As a result, the stand-off between the Xbox One’s minimum 1360×1080 and PS4’s full 1920×1080 is less perceptible during hectic firefights, with fast camera sweeps often blurring these high contrast edges.

The Xbox One produces a native 1920×1080 resolution too, but only in subdued moments. Clinical interior areas, such as Atlas’ labs, tend not to strain the hardware enough to enforce a downsized framebuffer. Areas with few NPCs also opens the doors to the full HD resolution, where every on-screen element is perfectly matched down to the last pixel. These moments tend to be uncommon, however, especially given the frenetic, action-focused direction of each mission.

It seems that both versions tend to look the much the same – with the notable difference coming from performance:

In the main, asset quality is identical between the two platforms. From the handling of shadow rendering to texture detail, there’s little to distinguish the Xbox One release from the PS4. But based on the first three campaign levels we’ve analysed in-depth, the larger disparity is in performance rather than in-game visuals.

With patch version 1.04 installed, the PS4 version’s constant 1080p output comes at a price. We catch dips between the 50-60fps lines during battles through Seoul’s streets – with drops to the high 40s caught when throwing the ‘threat’ grenades to scan the area for enemies. Even in perfectly matched scenes, the Xbox One’s performance tends to hold at a perfect 60fps by comparison.

I’m not sure resolution over frame rate was the right choice here, especially for a game like Call of Duty where that buttery smooth 60fps being key. I think it’s silly that Sledgehammer didn’t implement the same dynamic resolution wizardry to keep the PlayStation 4 running smoothly, though that itself may have raised the ire of those who demand PS4 games run at 1080p and nothing below.

What do you think? Did Sledgehammer make the right choice in sticking to 1080p on PS4, or is sacrificing fps for p’s a little silly? Of course, there are those tinfoil hats who’ll affirm that the lesser PS4 version is because of some cash-exchanging deal between Microsoft and Activision to gimp the Sony product – which is, I suppose possible, but unlikely; it would come at the detriment to Activision and Sledgehammer’s brand, and that’s not worth the cash injection. Instead, deals that ensure DLC hits one platform first – like the one already in place – would be preferable.  Come to think of it though, review copies of the PS4 version are quite scarce…

The game is out for most today, and for those who’re packing both new consoles, the Xbox One version is likely the clear winner.

Last Updated: November 4, 2014

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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