Into the wild.
Turtle Rock Studios’ Evolve is finally here. The initial announcement for the game was impressive since it would be releasing on the Xbox One, PS4 and PC, bypassing previous gen consoles altogether. Given that this was during the days of scant current-gen only releases, the hype was understandable and it was further aided by the enthusiastic response Evolve received at E3 2014. After a delay from October 2014 to a February 2015 release due to extra polish being required, one became genuinely curious as to how Evolve’s visuals would shape up on current gen consoles and PC.
Ignoring the bugs that emerged at launch (and really, which game these days even gives you the option not to?), we took a closer look at the visuals governing Evolve. As our early analysis stated before, Evolve runs on 1080p resolution for the PS4 and 900p resolution on the Xbox One. Both versions run at 30 frames per second and it’s a shame considering the developer targeted 60 frames per second from the outset.
An 11 minute comparing the PS4, Xbox One and PC versions of Evolve. Please note given the dynamic nature of the maps, its difficult to compare a similar scene but we have tried our best. Please select 1080p and 60fps for best video quality.
It also doesn’t help that both console versions suffer frame rate drops occasionally, with the Xbox One facing said drops more than the PS4. Similar to Techland’s Dying Light, there is no anisotropic filtering on the PS4 version of the game. It’s quite baffling when you consider that the PS4 is more than capable of pulling off the same without any issues. Could Turtle Rock have opted for this in order to ensure the Xbox One’s image quality could still compete with the PS4’s higher resolution? Once again, we can’t say for sure but we’ll be looking at the lack of anisotropic filtering on the PS4 in a future article.
As for the PC version of Evolve, it’s capable of a 1080p resolution but shipped with a 30 FPS frame rate cap. Thankfully, there have been fixes issued for the same along with the ability to enable motion blur but why Turtle Rock didn’t just place these options in the game itself has us flummoxed. At the very least the frame rate is more stable on PC then on consoles, with more scalability across varying GPUs, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
A selection of screenshots from the PC (left), Xbox One (middle) and PS4 (right) versions. Uncompressed screenshots are available on request. Please let us know in the comments below if you need them and we will reply back with the download link. Please note that the total size of the download will be over 400 MB.
The PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game make use sub-morphological anti-aliasing (SMAA) and for there are no issues with regards to jaggies or image crispness. Assets on both consoles from water physics to foliage are pretty much similar though the PS4 does have better image quality overall due its native 1080p resolution.
The Xbox One fires back by having more detailed objects thanks to its use of anisotropic filtering. Shadow quality on the PlayStation 4 is superior, likely due to HBAO-type of ambient occlusion being used as compared to the Xbox One, which seems to have employed an lowered solution resulting in dithered shadows.
You may not notice some of the finer details during the heat of battle but for those who take notice, you’ll find a world with detailed foliage, realistic water and strong atmospheric effects. Even the rough, war-torn skin of the Monster shines on occasion and the various details that emerge upon damaging almost never look the same twice.
Both console versions aren’t without their problems though. Pop-in issues are fairly common on the console versions and it’s a shame considering Evolve’s world isn’t half as large or open as Dying Light’s. Texture streaming issues also pop up every now and then, resulting in some textures loading late for both faces and armour. Turtle Rock should be able to patch the same but how it will go about handling the pop-in problem, which appears to be fairly standard on current gen games thus far, remains to be seen.
It should also be noted that load times after the day one patch are still fairly long on consoles. The PC version is much faster and it also benefits from less texture streaming issues.
More comparison screenshots from the PC (left), Xbox One (middle) and PS4 (right) versions.
Evolve on PC is obviously the superior experience since you can enable 1080p/60 FPS. However, it’s not nearly as expansive as we would have hoped. Graphical options than can be modified include Texture Detail, Shader Detail, Model Detail, Shadow Quality, Particle Quality, V-sync but the Tessellation option from the beta is gone. I understand that this could have been a performance issue but a simple toggle with on/off would have worked but simply removing it is a questionable.
Anti-aliasing solutions include SMAA 1x, SMAA 1Tx (default), and FXAA. That’s right – there’s no option for MSAA or other higher grades of anti-aliasing.
PC Graphics Settings and OptionsEVOLVE Xbox One.
Gameplay footage from the PC version with everything maxed out. Please select 1080p and 60fps for best video quality.
Turtle Rock did focus on optimizing the PC version as best as it could. We tested Evolve on an Intel Core i7-5960X with 16 GB of RAM. It relied more heavily on the GPU then CPU though so we tested it on a variety of different cards including the Radeon R0 290 4 GB (average 69 FPS), GeForce GTX 780 3 GB (81 FPS), GeForce GTX 680 2 GB (55 FPS), Radeon HD 7870 2 GB (44 FPS) and Radeon HD 7850 (40 FPS). These numbers are with all the graphical options set to max and though we noticed the odd stutter in performance, it was fairly rare though.
SLI and Crossfire are not supported yet but the developers plan to fix this in the future.
We were initially wowed by Evolve when the first screenshots of the game emerged. One would think that gameplay footage would have dulled our spirits but Evolve managed to stay impressive throughout its lengthy marketing campaign. The final game doesn’t quite impress as much as we expected it to but there’s still a lot to like.
In many ways, it’s hard to reconcile with the fact that Evolve is only 30 frames per second on the Xbox One and PS4. When you bring a fast paced shooter out, Titanfall being the best example, it’s always best to go for 60 frames per second for the best possible movement and response. Evolve doesn’t help its case by having frame rate drops every now and then, especially on the Xbox One version.
Nonetheless, PC users will still have a great experience with the game, netting the best visual flourishes overall (some tinkering will be required for that 60 FPS frame rate though). The PS4 version, even with the lack of anisotropic filtering, stands above the Xbox One version thanks to better shadows, a higher resolution and superior ambient occlusion.
As of now, Evolve feels like Turtle Rock Studios learning the ropes of newer architectures and multiple high-end platforms. Some benefit of the doubt is a given but Evolve can still be improved on several more visual levels.
GamingBolt’s Bill Smith also contributed to this article.