Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition for the Xbox One was originally going to run at 900p and 60 frames per second on the Xbox One. In the face of withering criticism and the Playstation 4 version running at 1080p, Blizzard was reportedly told by Microsoft that the game had to reach full HD and even sent in help to make it happen. However, a performance analysis revealed that some sacrifices were made.
“We did have 1080p, but we were finding it challenging to keep our frame-rate,” Blizzard Production Director John Hight told Digital Foundry. “Because Diablo’s so much of an action game, we wanted to have a responsive feel – especially with four players.
“When you get four witch doctors in a room full of demons, that’s probably the worst case scenario for us because we have effects going off everywhere. We want to make sure that it still feels very glassy, very responsive, and that’s why we dropped resolution down on it.”
Diablo III wouldn’t be the first game that ran at 900p on the Xbox One and it certainly wouldn’t be the last. The exclusive Sunset Overdrive from Insomniac Games is aiming for the same resolution and 30 frames per second so that it can max out the number of creatures on screen in the open-world shooter.
In this case though, Microsoft must not have wanted the appearance of a two-year old PC title unable to run at 1080p.
“We did find it challenging early on to get it to 1080p,” Hight explained. “That’s why we made the decision to drop to 900. That’s what we demoed and were showing around E3 time. And Microsoft was just like, ‘This is unacceptable. You need to figure out a way to get a better resolution.’
“So we worked with them directly, they gave us a code update to let us get to full 1080p.”
Diablo III came with a day one update to the game that allows it to run at 1080p. However, Digital Foundry’s performance analysis says that it does come at the cost of an inconsistent frame rate.
The cause and effect is fairly straightforward. In areas with more enemies and effects – like the Tristram gates battle, or chaotic Act Two overground encounters – we now see frame-rates drop from the locked 60fps seen at 900p to the low 50s. In short, while Blizzard closes the gap between Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in terms of image quality, there are now performance issues that creep in at the game’s extremes while at 1080p. They’re not game-breaking, and many players may not even notice – but it’s clear that a 44 per cent boost to resolution doesn’t come for free: in the same scenarios, the 900p version proved smoother.
Would you notice a dip in frame rate from 60 fps to the low 50s? Which matters more, frame rate or resolution? Sound off in the comments below.
[Images via Blizzard]