Battlefield 4 Visual Analysis – PS4 vs. Xbox One vs. PC, Xbox 360 vs. PS3

DICE pushes against the boundaries of FPS visuals – and stumbles more than we’d like.

It’s easy to forget just how impressive DICE’s Battlefield 4 when it was revealed earlier this year. The scale of destruction that allowed players to obliterate an entire skyscraper in real-time, with the physics of falling debris affecting other players; the detailed ocean currents that bobbed and weaved realistically against boats; the amazing particle effects and explosions; heck, the sheer breadth of draw distance in the opening level “Fishing in Baku” with dozens of birds swarming in the skies had us captivated.

23. Battlefield 4

the debate arose as to how much better Battlefield 4 would look on PC, and if DICE could possibly bring the experience to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

Since then, we’ve had many other feelers of what the next generation of gaming consoles would be capable of. For that matter, the debate arose as to how much better Battlefield 4 would look on PC, and if DICE could possibly bring the experience to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

We’re now more than a month into Battlefield 4’s release for both current and next-gen platforms. The game’s multiplayer has been plagued with bugs and issues that have somewhat downplayed the overall visual might of the game. Unlike Ubisoft on Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag or Ghost Games’ Need for Speed: Rivals, there are fairly stark differences for all versions of DICE’s shooter. Do they affect the overall game? Find out below.

PS3 vs. Xbox 360

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The good news is that the frame rate for both versions is relatively solid in the single player experience, which has been noticeably deprived of several visual flourishes seen on next generation consoles.

The obvious difference is in the resolution. Current gen versions of cross-gen games don’t tend to exceed a 720p resolution and Battlefield 4 isn’t willing to buck the trend. The Xbox 360 version features a 1280×688 resolution while the PS3 version has a slightly sharper 1280×704 resolution. Both games are locked (or so it seems) to 30 frames per second and both games require a mandatory 1.9 GB install, with the Xbox 360 version having an optional 12.4 GB installation. These kind of installs are necessary to help assist in texture streaming and asset loading so as to reduce the strain on the hardware for aspects like frame rate.

The good news is that the frame rate for both versions is relatively solid in the single player experience, which has been noticeably deprived of several visual flourishes seen on next generation consoles. Waves are less detailed, environmental interactions in terms of destruction and lightning are curtailed, and heavy action does bring the frame rate down every now and then but it’s nothing overtly drastic.

The PS3 fares better than the Xbox 360 in the frame rate department though, remaining relatively more stable throughout. Both versions suffer in multiplayer though, for different reasons, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find any satisfaction from the 24 player capped multiplayer sessions.

Both games have their share of jaggies with the Xbox 360 making use of fast approximate anti-aliasing to smoothen out the edges and blur surroundings at a more basic, performance-oriented level. Compared to the PS3’s morphological anti-aliasing, which makes for smoother edges right down to hair level, it’s a noticeable step down. Though depth of field is significantly average on both versions with some predictable pop-up, both employ a fair bit of motion blur in order to assist performance.

PS4 vs. Xbox One vs. PC

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Aspects such as depth of field are significantly improved and unlike the fixed lightning of current-gen versions, both the PS4 and Xbox One can make use of HBAO to deliver a more dynamic experience.

We’ll get this out of the way right now: The PS4 version looks better than the Xbox One version. It’s not a far and away victory, but the differences are very noticeable. Of course, neither compare to the PC version in performance but we’ll get to that.

The PS4 version outputs at 1600×900 resolution while the Xbox One version features a 1280×720 resolution. You’ll notice the utter lack of “1080” in both resolutions due to the goal of maintaining a 60 FPS frame rate. Overall, the level of destructibility, the sheer detail in the textures – whether it’s assorted debris or individual rain drops hanging off one’s gear – and the busy surroundings raging with tidal waves, capsizing ships and explosions is just as impressive now as the first time we laid eyes on Battlefield 4.

That being said, both the PS4 and Xbox One stall significantly in their frame rates when encountering these sequences. The PS4 is a lot better, losing only a few frames every now and then, but still suffers significantly when playing online. Considering that Battlefield 4 isn’t a straightforward open world sandbox shooter, and even in the outdoor sections it still follows a straight path from objective to objective,  you’ll see variations of performance throughout. Indoor settings tend to be more responsive for the player and flow better compared the chaotic outdoors.

Aspects such as depth of field are significantly improved and unlike the fixed lightning of current-gen versions, both the PS4 and Xbox One can make use of HBAO  to deliver a more dynamic experience.

The PC version, on the other hand, improves significantly on both console versions when taken to its highest settings, particularly in concerns to anti-aliasing and handling pop-up. Frame rate issues are relatively non-existent and while it depends greatly on the hardware you’re packing, it’s the ideal platform of choice for those who want nothing but the best performance.

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That DICE could have the PS4 and Xbox One versions compete with the PC version’s higher settings is admirable.

Battlefield 4, in its final release, is an oddity. It looks great and it’s a miracle that DICE managed to translate the experience to current gen consoles at all. That the developer could have the PS4 and Xbox One versions compete with the PC version’s higher settings is admirable. Once again, when taken at its peak, Battlefield 4 is one of the best looking games – if not the best looking shooter – available today. Functionally, the ground reality of performance may not be as amazing as we had hoped but it’s not a tragedy either.


  • Anukul

    this guy writes annoying articles to attract nut heads who are up for a console vs. pc war

  • Shaniqua

    where are the photos?! Worst article ever

  • Not fooled

    Don’t be fooled by this article, both the ps4 and xbox one looks exactly alike.

    • cromthelaughinggod7

      I have a ps4 an xbox one and pc and they are 100 percent right. The ps4 looks a lot better than the x box one stop lying. Unless you have all three then shut up. They won’t put out an bias article. This has been said on countless other websites the same thing so what does that say everyone is bias no it is fact. It is fact that x box one pushes at 720 and the environment looks more jagged than that of ps4 or pc. x box one chose not to put it out at a higher resolution. Nothing to cry about!

  • RandomDontCare

    The skyscraper is scripted. Not real time. It doesn’t damage players, there is simply a zone that says “if player is within this defined space and this amount of time has passed since the script was activated, the player is hurt by 150% health”. There’s nothing at all impressive about it. The debris is not affected by the physics engine. The only real cool thing they added in bf4 was waves appearing to be at the same spots to all players on the map at the same time. The destruction engine is less than impressive. You can blow up (most) walls and also some scripted things. You can shoot a pot and it’ll break into pieces (which are NOT generate in real time. They are “baked” into the object when created). The game is fun but the technology behind it is nothing new. As far as I’m concerned, frostbite 3 is the same as frostbite 2 except now EA can use it for other games. Which sucks because now they can’t focus it on making awesome fps games like bf2 and bf bad company and bf3. They were the top 3.

    • Durian

      Frostbite 3 is near identical to frostbite 2 only that it’s optimised for nextgen hardware.

      Same goes for Cryengine 3 and a lot of the other cross platform engines.

      Unreal engine 4, luminous engine etc are where its at right now.

    • http://somoodee.com GargantulaKon

      When I first saw the collapse of the skyscraper, it was cool as heck, but it still felt scripted. It loads the polygons for the aftermath, but I wish it was all generated real-time even after the collapse.

  • MCB

    Pathetic… STILL CANNOT GET ONLINE. £50… Ive been mugged… never again EA

  • Howard W Fisher

    Can’t comment on the PS4 it looks good enough on the Xbox One…too bad the campaign is the only thing that works maybe next Xmas we’ll be able to play a multiplayer match

  • KvinlonWeldon

    Battlefield 4 Xbox 360 buy *852
    GOTO:
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EFFW0HC/?tag=2014-2-20
    This On Electronic Arts 36705 Battlefield 4 – Xbox 360 with free shipping.

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