Which console runs Fallout 4 best?

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Yesterday, reports suggested that Fallout 4 had performance problems on the PlayStation 4. Judging from the videos cited as proof, I personally found the claims a little on the overblown side. The technically-minded chaps at Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry have put the game through its paces on all of its available platforms, and found performance wanting on both consoles. The PC version, they say, is mostly fine.

The game is made to run at 30fps, which it manages most of the time on both machines. Both machines render the game natively at 1080p, with little in the way to distinguish them visually. It’s in framerate where it becomes easier to tell the console versions apart.

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Though both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 seem to struggle in certain areas, and with certain effects, it’s the Xbox One that fares worst.

“All things put into perspective, Fallout 4 does hold 30fps as a general rule, but drops are noticeable. For example, moving between major city areas is a particular strain on the engine, causing PS4 and Xbox One to drop to 20fps in matching spots on the map.

Like clockwork, each platform lurches downward for a spell when passing a threshold in the environment – suggesting assets are being decompressed on the fly for the next location. 30fps is restored relatively quickly on arriving at the next spot, and it’s business as usual from there. However it’s not an ideal setup when these connecting areas are filled with enemies, and controller response suddenly takes a hit – though PS4 holds a frame-rate advantage in matching runs.”

Both consoles run the game well enough, with the PlayStation 4 running it a bit better it seems – but there are bigger issues that hit the Xbox One version. According to Digital Foundry, the Xbox One seems to have an asset streaming problem that sometimes brings the game screeching to a halt. Yes, a complete stop, with the game running at 0fps.

“On top of this, Xbox One is unique in its suffering of a stuttering issue, halting the game experience for up to a second during play. It’s a glaring hitch downward, and matching runs to the gates of Diamond City shows Xbox One dropping to a record 0fps (zero) while PS4 turns the same corner at 28fps. Each has their blips, but having tested two separate Xbox One and PS4 consoles, the results are always the same across the world at large; we get sizeable stutters on Microsoft’s console that aren’t present on PS4.”

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It’s not all sunshine and roses for that platform either though, as heavy firefights bring the PlayStation 4 version to its knees as well.

“While most battles produce a similar overall frame-rate, shootouts involving heavy transparency effects can affect PS4 more negatively than we’d expect. In extreme cases, such as on approaching an early Deathclaw enemy in Concord town, PS4 wavers close to the 20fps line when letting rip on a minigun. Fire, smoke, and blood splatter effects collide, and on re-testing this section several times on both consoles, Xbox One consistently produces a near-unshakable 30fps. It’s possible this is a side-effect of Bethesda’s choice to begin engine optimisations on Xbox One – but even so, PS4’s lengthy stretches at the low 20fps range are out of place, given its advantages in every other area.”

The PC version has its own issues, but for the most part runs well on a wide range of hardware.

“For now though, evidence so far suggests those buying Fallout 4 on console should get an overall smoother experience from PS4. It’s far from perfect, and we have a suspicion re-tests will be due once each machine receives new patches down the line. As ever, we’ll update as new information comes in. Meanwhile, for those with PC as their platform of choice, all the signs look good for a smooth experience even on budget kit. We’re currently putting together an in-depth guide to settings tweaks and recommended setups, so expect that in the next couple of days.”

Last Updated: November 10, 2015

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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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