Rise of the Tomb Raider might have benefitted from a sub-1080p resolution

4 min read

ROTTR_Review_Screenshot (2)

Rise of the Tomb Raider isn’t just a great game, it’s quite a looker too. Crystal Dynamics worked hard to push their existing engine to new limits, creating a title that not only looks next-gen in every sense of the word, but also runs spectacularly on the old Xbox 360. It’s not the best looking game around, and it turns out that maybe aiming a little lower might have helped that quite a bit.

So say the technical wizards at Digital foundry, who have made a convincing argument for sometimes skipping out on 1080p to reach better visual fidelity. Despite what you hear on the internet, raw pixel density isn’t the be all and end all of good visuals – it’s just one component in a greater machine of cogs, with each setting making a notable difference on image quality. With Rise of the Tomb Raider, Crystal Dynamics pushed for 1080p, but sacrificed features such as anti-aliasing to do so.

There is a lot going on here though, and it isn’t as simple as one feature being sacrificed for resolution. Crystal Dynamics tinkered with their Foundation Engine heavily to create some truly gorgeous materials, lighting and animations, all of which are detailed here in this technological feature deep dive.

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But aiming for 1080p might have been a little overzealous. The framerate at times struggles to keep locked at 30FPS, and the lack of anti-aliasing means you’ll often see some extremely jagged edges as the resolution isn’t enough to smooth everything out. This also has an adverse affect on input latency, which can make gunplay feel a little floaty at times. It’s minor, but noticeable.

As Digital Foundry plainly points out, dropping the resolution to pump the image with more effects might have been a better approach – stabilising the framerate while boosting image quality akin to what is seen in Ryse: Son of Rome. Again, it sounds simple, but there’s a lot more than just these small factors to take into account.

Hitting 1080p is important but without a high quality anti-aliasing solution in place, results can still feel underwhelming in places – despite the game’s many visual triumphs elsewhere. Surprising as it may seem, sub-native games such as Ryse offer superior image quality despite operating at a lower resolution – raw pixel count is only one component of the visual presentation, after all. The fact that performance often feels rather unstable throughout only serves to suggest that perhaps pushing for a full 1080p on Xbox One in this case has taken its toll.


The best news is the performance of Rise of the Tomb Raider on Xbox 360, which sticks incredibly close to the presentation on Xbox One. It does make you wonder just how much better the game could’ve been if not shackled by older consoles, but looking at Metal gear Solid V that doesn’t seem to be as constrictive as the past.

With Nixxes at the helm, Rise of the Tomb Raider on 360 looks surprisingly close to the Xbox One version of the game in a number of ways. We’re planning to delve deeper into this version in the near future, but first impressions certainly seem to suggest that this is a game that will be worth playing on both platforms.

Rise of the Tomb Raider is out this Friday.

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Last Updated: November 11, 2015

Alessandro Barbosa

You can all call me Sandy until I figure out how to edit this thing, which is probably never. Sandy not good enough? Call me xXx_J0k3R_360degreeN0Sc0pe_xXx. Also, Geoff's a bastard.

  • HairyEwok

    What’s that fancy AA they use on Assassins Creed: Syndicate. It has little performance impact and apparently fixes the jagged imagery quite well…. Oh wait nevermind it’s for PC only.

    • oVg

      Its odd, syndicate seems to be an exception to the rule at 900p/28fps as it actually looks like a watercolor painting fitting for its time based just before the impressionist painters.

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    Remember all the hype before the current consoles launched? Every game 1080p & 60fps. Everyone was so excited.

    • oVg

      Even Tomb Raider was 60fps/1080p with Tress FX on the PS4. So what happened? More polygons?

      • Hammersteyn

        Her hair grew longer?

        • miaau

          Hair physics. Yes, that makes sense!

        • oVg

          It actually looks sweet. It puts the Tress FX chip to bed.

          But its all the same cycle different gen. Remember how they promised 1080p/60fps before the PS3 was released? The first few years were fine with games like Wipeout HD, then gamers just excepted 30/fps/720p again.

          Same with this gen, and with the huge sales with games like Assassins creed who cares. Its all because Kojima wanted to release perfection that we are even having this debate. We have seen it is possible.

          But still not a single article has gone up this gen explaining how hard, expensive and time consuming it is to make a game at 60fps. Why cant they do it? I dont care about res. 900p is fine, you can just about make out the jaggies if you look.

          • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

            “you can just about make out the blobs if you look” fixed it for you…

            It’s true that resolution is not the begin all and end all of games, and yes, we all want everything to be shiny and beautiful and fast, all et the same time, unfortunately that takes a lot of optimisation, something that doesn’t bode well with deadlines…

      • Alien Emperor Trevor


        • oVg

          not at Square HQ lol, The PS4 sold more copies of Tomb Raider than the other 4 platforms.

      • Nikola

        It will be 1080p/60fps but on PS4;)

        • xfatalxzero

          Maybe, wouldnt say 60fps cos this game has twice as much if not three times as much to it than the last TR. Also if it wasnt for MS Rise of the TR would be on hole for a long time. No one was gnna finance it and sony didnt want to cos they have Uncharted. Moan all you want and say how much better it is but like I said MS bailed out this iteration

    • miaau

      Yes, but that will be true near the end of the console lifetimes!

      • oVg

        doubt it, sub par next gen gaming on consoles is accepted by the peasants


        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          Imagine a publisher is a restaurant and the game you bought is your meal. Do you not only accept shitty service, shitty meals, shitty environment & expensive pricing, but also justify it from their pov against your own? No. So why the FUCK do gamers?

          • oVg

            The best analogy that I read on a Bethesda page this morning was Imagine buying an expensive pair of Raybans and the zipper on the case snaps off. Do you take it back to the shop, and if it happens again do you buy the next iteration a few years later to have the same zipper snap off again… lol

    • Mark Treloar

      To be fair though if the Chipsets in the consoles are as much a lie as the 8 core Bulldozer CPU’s that could be all the explanation you need for their lack of power.

  • Hammersteyn

    So how are you gonna convince people to store the 360 and get a XO if they look almost the same? Is the XO not supposed to blow the 360 away?

    • miaau

      The XO has far more processing power and I hear that Mass Effect loads and plays faster on XO emulator than on 360, as an example of the greater horsepower.

      This means games can have more “AI” and processing on things other than graphics as well.

      Also, if Skyrim looks almost as good as Dragon Age:I to my untrained eye, then, well, yes.

      I think they should just play @700 or 900p and have smooth textures, as smooth textures keeps me immersed, not crappy 1080p.

      On old TV shows on Netflix, they rescale the TV a bit, cause was muuch lower res and you can sometimes see that in the CGI or special effects and stuff. It is sometimes a bit pixellated on big modern flat screen TV

      Not once have I seen that in a game, the different in resolution. So.

      • Hammersteyn

        Makes sense I guess. But people want their games to be shiny for the most part. Guess they’ll have to rely on it being and entertainment system and backwards compatibility for now and I wont lie. That BC has me sitting up straight atm.

        • miaau

          Me too. If it worked on my console (other than Rare Replay games).

          Not updated yet, phased roll out. Yay.

          I think it will be AWESOME.

          We all want the new shiny thing in our lives, do we not?

          • Hammersteyn

            That’s why we dropped 6K give or take

          • miaau

            I dropped nearly 8k, to get kinect as well.

            Ouch. But it was a year ago, in a few days, so no more ouch.

          • Hammersteyn


          • miaau

            Yeah, just went and bought it for DA:I, in fact. Boom. Yay. Wife agreed, but that was before we knew about the MAJOR expense that were going to hit us in December.

            not sorry I bought it, at all. Good all round system for the home.

          • Hammersteyn

            Agreed, saw it in action at a friends house. I was a little jealous…. maybe more than a little.

        • xfatalxzero

          Shiny with jagged edges lol

          • Hammersteyn

            XD This is true

          • xfatalxzero

            Of course it is but todays console gamers are too blind. Xbox and PS4 are great systems. Their truly the same as in performance. Argue nunbers all day.3rd party Devz dont want to spend the extra man power to develop for XB1. Just like last gen they didnt want to with the PS3. If console gamers want high and graphics buy a pc or build one. Doesnt matter how you get the best gaming pc its your money.

          • Hammersteyn

            Thing is that the PS3 had the cell processor which is still more powerful than the CPU in the PS4. But it was hard developing game for it. the XO and the PS4 has almost the same architecture.

    • Pieter Kruger

      Just you wait till Digital Foundry does their Xbox One vs Xbox 360 in depth comparison article…….then everybody will notice the difference! ROFL!????????????

      • Hammersteyn


    • JuneMas

      Also the X1 will benefit from having the cloud render physics calculations later on in its lifetime. Only for the online multiplayer part but still a benefit that won’t come to the 360. Good example is Crackdown 3. It’s also not just about the games on the X1 but its capabilities.

      • Hammersteyn

        More games need teh cloudz

  • Loftus

    It’s all good and well but how does it preform on pc / ps4…

  • Pieter Kruger

    Never been a pixel counter, if you want to rant about pixels get a pc that can play all games on ultra. All the added power of the current gen consoles do not directly transfer to visuals but a large portion rather allows for bigger worlds, better AI etc. Again, if all current gen games could look like Ryse I’d be more than happy and for certain genres I definitely prefer upscaled 1080 at 60fps! That being said, there are some lazy ass developers out there that simply refuse to or do not have the “time” to upgrade their engines to maximise the potential of current gen consoles, and their games I will simply not buy! As for ROTTR, it looks amazing and gameplay looks smooth so I’ll definitely support them…..day one nogals! ????????????

  • Martin Human

    As a pc gamer that just got both the old gen consoles, this is actually very good new for me. The 360 version looks decent

  • psymon5

    All in all still a far cry from the original games of tomb raider which were awesome still a pants rails based shooter. Don’t get me wrong love shooters but for tomb raider it’s lost the plot so whatever they do for this series is total balls IMHO until they get it back to being a challenging puzzle based format as it was

    • xfatalxzero

      No one wants that from the series. That was 20years ago.

  • wezlypipz

    I own a 4k TV and eventually everyone will. 1080p is more important for 4k TV so it bypasses the TV upscaling. Therefore I’m getting a nice lag free experience and few jaggies since it is four pixels to one. I think the right future proof decision was made. I just fired the game up and came here to verify what i thought already.

  • chippyGuy

    Game is perfect as is. Absolutely gorgeous and the frame rate is smooth. Best tomb raider game that I have played to date.

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