The Star Wars: Battlefront beta launched for all PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC gamers on Thursday, and comparisons between the three platforms started almost immediately. The multiplayer shooter is indeed a graphics showcase, but DICE’s Frostbite engine 3 still tests the capabilities of the two consoles.
A Digital Foundry analysis found the PlayStation 4 version of Star Wars: Battlefront runs at a 900p resolution. Meanwhile, a separate analysis confirms the Xbox One version of Battlefront runs at only 720p. Both resolutions are a far cry from the expected 1080p standard and are unchanged from the resolutions used in the 2013 release of Battlefield 4. This raises the questions of how much time DICE has spent optimizing and improving its engine for consoles contrasted by the overall graphical improvement seen in Battlefront versus Battlefield 4.
The good news is that both console versions of the game hit a pretty consistent 60 frames per second (fps). There are drops down to 50 fps during the Walker Assault battle on Hoth, with the PS4 holding the max frame rate a little more consistently. Smaller maps such as the Sullust map used for the “Drop Zone” multiplayer mode and the Tatooine maps used for single-player and co-op missions demonstrated more consistent frame rates as well.
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These frame rate drops were much worse during earlier builds of Star Wars: Battlefront. The E3 build in particular dropped down to as low as 40 fps at times. That shows marked improvement with the game ahead of its November 17 release. This beta build is likely a couple of months old, so it will be interesting to see what improvements can be made prior the full release.
The other bit of good news is that the image quality used for both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One match the highest quality settings used on the PC version of Battlefront. This includes the highest settings possible for graphical features such as settings for textures, ambient occlusion, post-processing, meshes, terrain groundcover, and parallax occlusion.
These are all fancy words for saying the graphics do indeed look good. Both the PS4 and Xbox One use post-processing to upscale the resolution to 1080p and use anti-aliasing to try and smooth the resulting rough edges out. This is where the Xbox One suffers the most, perhaps. While playing the single-player mission on the Tatooine map, ropes and line scattered about the map had noticeable jagged edges to them. This contrasted greatly with the otherwise quality textures on the map.
The PC is the clear winner in the graphics department as long as you have a machine capable of running at the highest resolutions with the highest fidelity settings. This includes a CPU better than an Intel I5 6600, with 16GB of RAM and an nVidia GeForce GTX 970 4GB or AMD Radeon R9 290 4GB. That’s a far higher requirement than the hardware in either the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, minus the console optimizations.
Overall, it’s interesting to see the development and overall progression of Star Wars: Battlefront versus other upcoming titles. For example, 343 Industries is using dynamic resolution scaling in Halo 5 to ensure the game runs at a steady 60 fps on the Xbox One. Essentially, the game starts at 1080p and will reduce the resolution during graphically intense settings to ensure a steady frame rate. DICE, and most other developers, chose to go with a locked resolution and graphical quality even though it may not result in consistent frame rates.
The Star Wars: Battlefront beta is available to download now on the PS4, Xbox One, and PC via Origin. It will be available through Monday, October 12, to try for free. No codes, pre-order, or anything else is required to play.
[Images via Star Wars: Battlefront]