Which console should you get The Division on?

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This weekend saw Ubisoft Massive’s The Division go in to closed beta, giving the public at large a chance to try out the company’s shared, open-world shooter. I spent a fair bit of time in both consoles’ beta, mainly as an exercise to see which platform to buy the game on. If you’re a single console owner, there’s no decision necessary, but those lucky enough to have both current gen consoles have a tougher choice to make.

I’d expected, given the historical performance difference between the two consoles that the choice would be easy, and that I’d be playing the game on PlayStation 4.

Now, I’m not so sure. Using my untrained, possibly degenerating eyeballs, I found the PlayStation 4 version to run, perhaps, just a little smoother with the tiniest hint less screen tearing, but beyond that, I couldn’t really tell them apart.

I’m not the only one. Using their suite of analysis tools, the chaps at Digital Foundry hardly found any differences to get excited about.

“We’ve dug deep into both PS4 and Xbox One betas, and ultimately the answer to this lies in the game’s performance, rather than visuals. Both are capped at 30fps, and each holds strong at this number around Manhattan’s most hotly-contested zones. Main story missions run without a hitch on PS4, while “go to X and defeat Y” style side-missions run equally well – on Sony’s machine we encounter no spikes in the target 33.3ms render time needed to hit this frame-rate.

Xbox One is almost as solid too, with just minor issues. You get a near-locked 30fps, but in blowing the front doors during the Madison Field Hospital main mission, it shows a 28fps lurch downward not seen on the rival console. An adaptive v-sync is revealed at this point, and with screen-tear kicking in for a block of frames on our graph. But this is a one-off, and in scouring The Division for any other hits to performance on this machine, all side-missions come out at a flawless 30fps, and it’s only a later shootout in a diner that flags a second instance of a performance drop.”

They perform just about as well as each other, with each running at 1080p, capped at 30fps. The Xbox One may have a few more frae drops, but they hardly get in the way.

“Otherwise the two are identical in the other key technical facets; PS4 and Xbox One push a full native 1920×1080 resolution, backed by a perceptible match for the SMAA x1 technique used on PC. This is accompanied by a temporal pass to clear up flicker on camera pans, as evidenced by a light ghosting artefact trailing behind objects (which should be undetectable by eye, unless you grab a frame mid-motion and zoom in close).”

The choice then, comes in which controller you prefer, and where you think your friends will be playing. This is still a tough choice; most of my friends will be playing on the PlayStation 4, though many will be on the Xbox One. I prefer the Xbox Ones controller in general, but the PlayStation’s 4 integrated speaker adds a dash of immersion that the Xbox One version is missing.

With 6 weeks to go until the game is out, there’s likely to be further optimisation too. And of course, if you’re packing a suitably specced PC, then the choice is obvious.

Last Updated: February 1, 2016

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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