Digital Foundry reported framerate and stuttering issues with the Xbox One version of Fallout 4 yesterday, as covered by Inquisitr, and confirmed one possible solution. There is a larger question of how many owners of the post-apocalyptic RPG are actually experiencing these issues and whether a patch and / or the New Xbox One Experience will provide some relief, as well.
As previously covered, both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are unable to maintain a stable 30 frames per second (fps) frame rate. This is most pronounced in areas of Fallout 4 where new assets are being loaded as players travel. Additionally, Digital Foundry reported issues of “macro-stuttering” on Microsoft’s console when entering new areas, and sometimes when switching weapons. This caused the framerate to drop as low as 0 fps in Digital Foundry‘s testing.
The CPU and GPU were eliminated as possible causes of Fallout 4 stuttering on the Xbox One. That leaves a bug or poor optimization as the likely culprit, since both consoles utilize a 5400 rpm internal hard drive for storage. It’s also worth noting that Xbox One players in forums such as Reddit and NeoGAF are not experiencing the same stuttering and frame rate issues. However, users on the Bethesda support forums are reporting the issues that Digital Foundry discovered.
Fallout 4 is a huge game, and players are going to report bugs and glitches not experienced by others as a result. There is also the fact that some users are Preview Program Members playing on the New Xbox One Experience version of the console’s operating system that is due out for everyone this Thursday.
In short, there are so many variables in play that it is difficult to explain why some Xbox One owners are not reporting issues with Fallout 4, like Digital Foundry has, and some others are. Digital Foundry‘s Richard Leadbetter has at least gone through the due diligence to continue to test the issue on his end and confirmed a possible solution that was suggested in yesterday’s coverage — the use of an external hard drive on the Xbox One.
Digital Foundry tested Fallout 4 installed on a 7200rpm external hard drive, as well as a 5400rpm hybrid SSHD that uses a physical drive paired with a SSD cache. The result of using the external hard drives was improved performance of the game, a reduction of stutter, and no more drops to 0 fps.
A partial explanation for this is not only are these hard drives faster than the stock internal Xbox One hard drive, but the USB 3.0 interface used for the external drive is significantly faster than the SATA II interface used for the internal drive. Again, this suggests Bethesda Softworks has some potential bugs to fix and optimizing to do when it comes to transferring data on the Xbox One and possibly the PlayStation 4, as well.
Another benefit to using an external hard drive will be loading times. Digital Foundry tested loading times using the stock drives on the PS4 and Xbox One, a SSD internal drive on the PS4, plus a 7200rpm external drive and a SSD external drive on the Xbox One. Moving to the faster drives significantly improved load times.
As the chart below shows, the 7200rpm external hard drive reduced load times by up to 8 seconds on the Xbox One. Meanwhile, the use of a SSD drive on both the PS4 and Xbox One cut load times in half more often than not.
There’s been no response from Bethesda Softworks in response to the performance issues reported by Digital Foundry so far. The size of the publisher’s game, such as Fallout and The Elder Scrolls, inevitably lead to a laundry list of bugs from quests to performance issues at launch, so patch details will inevitably come.
If you own an Xbox One and Fallout 4, what has your experience been with the game’s performance so far? Sound off in the comments below.
[Image via Fallout 4]