DICE has been a bit of a mix bag this generation. Battlefield 4 was a disappointment overall, although they have managed to finally get the game up and running. However,it’s safe to assume that Battlefield 4 tarnished DICE’s image amongst its hardcore first person shooter community. Gameplay complaints aside, Battlefield 4 ran at 720p on Xbox One and 900p on the PS4. Given that the game launched at the advent of current gen consoles, the sub HD rendering resolution could be forgiven but then Hardline happened. Although DICE did not have much role to play in the game’s development, they were still responsible for the game’s engine: Frostbite. Hardline had the same rendering resolution as Battlefield 4 on both consoles and the trend is continuing with Star Wars Battlefront.
It was recently confirmed that Battlefront will run at 900p on PS4 and a disappointing 720p resolution on the Xbox One. Johan Andersson, the technical director of Frostbite engine explained that they did not want to sacrifice frame rate and fidelity over the resolution. This claim is kind of out of place since several first person shooters in the past such as Call of Duty Advanced Warfare and open world games like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt use a dynamic resolution on the Xbox One, allowing the render to display pixels based on freed GPU at any moment. A 720p resolution at this point in the Xbox One’s life cycle is disappointing, especially given the advances Microsoft made in the console’s SDK and quite clearly, it has affected Battlefront’s image quality on the console quite hard.
Head to head comparisons between PS4 and Xbox One. Select 1080p and 60fps option for best possible video quality.
Given that this is an analysis of a beta, we are just going to focus on the core differences between the two versions. You can expect a detailed analysis when the game launches next month. Talking about the differences, texture quality and filtering takes a direct hit on the Xbox One due to its lower rendering resolution. This is especially evident when you take a look at the objects that are located at a distance away from the player, which give off a blurrier or muddier look. Since the Xbox One is essentially upscaling a 720p image to 1080p display, aliased edges can be witnessed across the level despite the use of a custom post processing AA solution on both versions. Texture geometry, Parallax Occlusion and Tessellation and draw distance details are reduced due to the lower operating resolution.Sadly, texture streaming issues are also apparent on both console versions.
Fortunately for the Xbox One users, that is where the differences end. Other parameters such as texture quality, shadow quality [although generally mediocre], impressive motion blur and depth of field with fantastic physical based lighting look great on both consoles. Performance wise, both versions sport a rock solid 60 frames per second in both the Survival and Drop Zone modes whereas Walker Assault mode had frame drops in the lower 50s. Ironically, both versions run at a locked 30fps at native 1080p resolution in split screen mode.
In the end we can only wonder whether DICE is aiming to do more than these consoles are capable of or is this is merely a case of poor optimization done on the Frostbite engine as far as resolution goes. We will try and find out in our final analysis when the game launches next month.