Normally I wouldn’t post an article like this as this website is just supposed to be dedicated to Kinect but I think this particular part of “Resolutiongate” (really?!) regarding Battlefield 4, which you can see the latest trailer for above, needs highlighting.
So it was revealed that the Xbox One version of Battlefield 4 runs at 720p resolution whereas the PS4 version runs a bit higher at 900p. When I first read this I just thought that it wasn’t really the big deal that websites were making it out to be and that since it’s not only a launch game but also a multi-generational multi-platform game it’s hardly an indication of what all Xbox One games (or PS4 games either obviously) will be like. But I did also think that this still could possibly indicate that the PS4 could of course be a bit more powerful than the Xbox One since it’s a fact that it’s more powerful (not counting the Xbox One’s inclusion of Kinect 2 which I think makes the Xbox One a more powerful gaming machine overall) when comparing currently revealed raw specs alone. (Please note though that raw specs don’t tell the whole story as their top benchmarks are all theorectical and depend on how those raw components work together and also how good the system’s software is, such as drivers and the OS.) So I wasn’t really too bothered as I really don’t mind if a competing console is a bit more powerful (I had a Megadrive (Genesis to American readers) and didn’t rush out to buy a SNES just because some of its specs were better for example, I stuck with Sega :p ), plus I had a hard time believing the articles that claimed that the PS4 version looked “clearly superior”, however I really didn’t care enough to talk about it.
But then I actually saw both the Xbox One and PS4 versions. The Xbox One version is rendered at 720p native and the PS4 version is rendered at 900p native (although both are hardware upscaled to 1080p by each console when plugged into a 1080p HDTV, as opposed to Forza 5 for example which is native 1080p so requires no upscaling, the Xbox 360 also upscales all games to 1080p that aren’t already native 1080p which is most of them) so the PS4 version is the winner, case closed, game over, right? Well, not so fast. Resolution isn’t the be all and end all of graphical quality.
An extreme example would be to take the first PC capable of running the original 1997 Tomb Raider in 1080p then compare it to the Xbox 360 running this year’s Tomb Raider prequel in “only” 720p. Is that old PC more powerful than the Xbox 360? Does the 1997 Tomb Raider running on that PC have better graphics than the new Tomb Raider on the Xbox 360 just because it’s running in a higher resolution? Of course not because it has much lower quality graphical assets. This is what seems to be the case with the PS4 version of Battlefield 4, although not as extreme as that example obviously.
From my own analysis of screenshots and footage from Eurogamer/Digital Foundry’s comparison of next-gen versions of Battlefield 4 I’ve come to the conclusion that the PS4 version actually has lower quality graphical assets than the Xbox One version but the developer has rendered them at 900p, presumably in order to compensate. (Which has worked PR-wise at least!) It’s like a PC gamer having a PC that’s not quite powerful enough to run a game at 1080p at maximum settings and they want to keep it at 60fps so they either have to lower the resolution (which both the Xbox One and PS4 have done with Battlefield 4, but the Xbox One slightly lower to 720p compared to the PS4′s 900p) or lower the quality of the graphical assets such as texture quality and possibly other aspects of the graphics (which is what the PS4 seems to have also done.)
I’ll provide evidence below with comparison pics from screenshots. I’ve found that when I reduce the quality of the Xbox One version to 75% (and adjust the contrast) the image is virtually identical to the PS4 version!
I’ve seen all kinds of excuses for the difference in quality between the Xbox One & PS4 versions like claiming it’s just the contrast (which is slightly too dark in the Xbox One version, although they’ve admitted that the settings for the Xbox One capture needed changing as the Xbox One hardware they were using had issues with full range RGB (0-255) colourspace which should be fixed in final retail consoles, plus even if it did get released like that you can just switch the console to limited range RGB (16-235) or adjust your TV’s contrast or there could even be contrast settings in the options of the game itself) somehow creating some kind of optical illusion that makes people think the Xbox One version look better when the PS4 version actually does but I’ve debunked that by including extra pics of the Xbox One version with the contrast adjusted to match (more or less) the PS4 version. Another claim is that it’s just motion blur and the Xbox One version doesn’t have it, but that’s debunked too because the Xbox One version does have motion blur but the PS4′s graphical issues clearly aren’t motion blur anyway, especially in parts where everything is stationary! The next claim is that it’s the effect of ambient occlusion in the PS4 version which the Xbox One version didn’t have in the preview build (but DICE have confirmed will be in the finished game) but again that’s just not true as ambient occlusion is an effect to make the lighting radiate more realistically and makes the graphics better not worse! The final claim is that the developers have just used a blur filter on the PS4 to make the graphics smoother. But why would they add a blur filter that makes the graphics look worse when they went to the trouble of making it a higher resolution than the Xbox One version? Why not just have the PS4 version run at the same 720p resolution then use the supposed extra horsepower to make the overall graphics look better than the Xbox One version?
Sorry, but I don’t buy any of the excuses and I think that my theory of the PS4 version of Battlefield 4 simply having lower quality graphical assets than the Xbox One version but rendering them at 900p to compensate is what has actually happened and websites’ claims of the PS4 version looking superior are clearly either lies or very bad judgement. But you don’t have to believe me of course, just look at the sections of screenshots below that haven’t been altered in any way except where stated (you can also click on the source link for the original screenshots and videos) and decide for yourself which version you want to see on your TV:
Image 1 Comparison: Xbox One original vs PS4 original vs Xbox One contrast adjusted (but no other alterations)
Image 1 Comparison: Xbox One at 75% quality & contrast adjusted vs PS4 original
Image 2 Comparison: Xbox One original vs PS4 original vs Xbox One contrast adjusted (but no other alterations)
Image 2 Comparison: Xbox One at 75% quality & contrast adjusted vs PS4 original
Image 3 Comparison: Xbox One original vs PS4 original vs Xbox One contrast adjusted (but no other alterations)
Image 3 Comparison: Xbox One at 75% quality & contrast adjusted vs PS4 original
Image 4 Comparison: Xbox One original vs PS4 original vs Xbox One contrast adjusted (but no other alterations)
Image 4 Comparison: Xbox One at 75% quality & contrast adjusted vs PS4 original
In conclusion, the best version of Battlefield 4 (on consoles at the very least) seems to be the Xbox One version in my opinion since not only does it appear to have slightly better graphics than the PS4 version but it’s also got head tracking, leaning and voice commands which go some way in justifying Microsoft’s decision to include Kinect 2 with every Xbox One. So do you agree? If you’re getting Battlefield 4 which version will you be getting and why? Let us know in the comments below.
Source: Eurogamer's Digital Foundry, The Official Xbox YouTube Channel