DOOM is a technical showcase for id Tech 6 and id Software.
Analyzing DOOM over the last few days across all three platforms has been an interesting experience due to a couple of reasons. First, DOOM is an amazing game and second, DOOM is perhaps the best looking game that targets 60 frames per second. DOOM runs on the latest iteration of the id Tech engine which has been dubbed as id Tech 6. It’s quite remarkable what the development team has achieved without John Carmack, the man behind the framework of id Tech. An almost locked 60 fps experience with an adaptive resolution buffer is in place for consoles with an insane amount of post processing effects which is nothing but a remarkable achievement on these under powered consoles.
To begin with, the PS4 version runs at a dynamic resolution of 1600 X 1080 to 1920 X 1080 whereas the Xbox One version it varies between 1350 X 1080 to 1920 X 1080p resolutions. However it’s the PS4 version that remains close to a full native 1080p presentation. This does not mean that the Xbox One version is inferior to the PS4 build. Despite running at a lower resolution buffer, the Xbox One version is devoid of any jaggies. This is down to TSSAA (Temporal Super Sampling Anti-Aliasing) solution which does a great job of reducing any temporal aliasing and is ideally used in fast paced games where there a lot of fast moving objects and scenes. However this softens the image, especially on the Xbox One. We don’t mind this at all since we will definitely go for a slightly softer image rather than settle for shimmering and jaggies on the screen.
Other than the resolution differences, there are also a few variations in the terms of performance and frame rate parameters. Both the versions target a frame rate cap of 60 frames per second and none of the consoles actually run consistently at that rate. However it’s the PS4 version that runs at 60 fps most of the times. This is not to say that the Xbox One build is a poor performer. It’s just that the frame rate drops were more consistent on Xbox One compared to the PS4. However things are a bit different in the multiplayer component as both versions are consistently rendering at 60fps, with a few more drops on the Xbox One build. For more on multiplayer performance you can check out our beta analysis by clicking here.
This is where the differences end as both versions employ the same core assets, similar texture quality (which by the way is low in some places), similar LOD, shadows, volumetric and alpha effects. The two versions are literally twins if you don’t consider the resolution and frame rate differences. In many ways DOOM can be considered as a GPU benchmark for the PS4 and Xbox One specifications. It’s a well known fact that the PS4 has a better GPU than the Xbox One and DOOM is a kind of a test model that actually proves this. DOOM is a GPU bound game meaning all the particle effects and other graphical finesse are GPU accelerated so it also serves as a nice reference point to calculate the differences between the two console’s GPU.
Shifting our focus to the PC version, the developers recommend an Intel Core i7-3770 / AMD FX-8350 and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 (4GB) / AMD Radeon R9 290 (4GB) along with 8GB of memory. There is a ton of graphical settings in the game including but not limited to Anti-aliasing (which can be toggled to Off; FXAA; SMAA; TAA (1TX); FXAA (1TX); SMAA (1TX); TSAA (8TX)), Particles quality, Rendering mode, Sharpening amount, Depth of field anti-aliasing, Lens flare and a Colorblind mode which will definitely be appreciated by players suffering from color blindness. All in all we are impressed by the number of options and it goes to show that id Tech 6 is a highly scaleable engine.
We were quite eager to try out the Nightmare image quality setting however be warned, you would need a GPU that has at least 5GB of VRAM. It’s not to be confused with a graphical preset, as it’s merely an option for changing Shadow Quality and Virtual Texturing Page Size. We tested the game on a GTX 980 Ti and i7 5960x to see what kind of differences the Nightmare mode brings in and to be honest shadow quality and level of detail is noticeably improved. But is it a “big” improvement? Not really. So you will be better off playing at the usual Ultra settings and not care about Nightmare settings if you don’t have the hardware.We also tested the game at 1080p with every setting maxed out on an i7 5960x and ran the game on the GTX 970 and we had no issues running at 60 fps.
So how does the PC version compare against the console versions? Well, first off, shadow quality is definitely better on the PC build. The edges are sharper compared to the dithered ones found on the consoles. Reflection quality also seems to be better on the PC followed by detailed texture quality and level of detail. However the biggest difference seems to be the way the lighting has been handled on the PC. Lighting is more prominent on the PC version and due to this the rendered on screen image looks a bit better on the PC version.
We also wanted to talk about the upgrades that id Tech Software has implemented into id Tech 6. The biggest difference between id Tech 5 and id Tech 6 is the amount of post processing effects that can be rendered on the screen at any given time. DOOM is the first game that is running on id Tech 6 and in many ways it’s a technical showcase for the engine. The game utilizes a ton of motion blur and fantastic particle effects along with bokeh depth of field (which by the way only kicks in during the glory kills). The game uses an extremely high quality motion blur and thanks to TSSAA, the image quality is not deteriorated or blurred whenever motion blur kicks in. Furthermore, lighting is completely dynamic in id Tech 6 compared to the semi-dynamic nature found in id Tech 5. DOOM also allowed us to completely disable motion blur, chromatic aberration and also modify the game’s field of view; these are fantastic additions and most players will definitely appreciate these options.
Further improvements to the engine include detailed volumetric and alpha effects along with an upgraded physics framework. The engine also uses a fantastic animation system and has been updated to a full physical based rendering pipeline which is one of the key technologies that have defined most AAA games and engines this generation.
However, some of the old baddies return. id Tech 6 still utilizes the famous (or infamous) Megatexture technique to stream the assets. And just like in RAGE one can clearly see texture pop in issues. Now they are not as bad as they were in RAGE but they definitely can be noticed from time to time. We are not sure whether this will be ever resolved or patched out given this seems to be a core problem within the engine itself. It’s a slight disappointment that the team at id Software did not found an alternative solution to stream the game’s textures. The loading times are quite long (something that RAGE also suffered from) due to the large levels and mega textures but one can’t help but feel that id Software should have already resolved it by now given the long development cycle of the game.
DOOM is in many ways a return to form for id Sofware. The gameplay and shooting feels tight, the graphics are superb, the action is hot and fast and it’s by large a good performer on consoles. But it’s the PC version that trumps the console versions (provided you have the hardware). If you have both consoles, we will recommend the PS4 version over the Xbox One build due to better image quality and performance.