30FPS catches Sony in idle boast
Resolutions! Aaargh! Seeing as both next-gen consoles are somewhat light on the exclusive games front, comparing numbers is currently the favourite method of playground point-scoring, with resolutions and frame rate a serious(ly tedious) avenue of debate.
However, there's no reason why we shouldn't get gorgeous and smooth games for our money, so when console manufacturers promise that games will run at the target 1080p 60FPS we tend to take notice. Sony recently did so for Watch Dogs, boasting that Ubisoft's anticipated exclusive runs "in a way that only PS4 can provide, at 60 Frames Per Second at 1080p" in a recent store listing.
The truth is rather more interesting. The PS4 clearly has the edge in terms of console graphical output, but neither machine hits anywhere near that vaunted 1080/60 goal.
A new Ubisoft blog post from creative director Jonathan Morin explained that the team were chasing "an amazing next-gen experience" rather than pushing "a few more pixels onto a screen." "Resolution is a number, just like framerate is a number, he explained. "All those numbers are valid aspects of making games,"
We're inclined to agree.
"But you make choices about the experience you want to deliver," Morin continued. "In our case, dynamism is everything. Exploration and expression are everything. You want to have a steady framerate, but you want to have dynamism at the core of the experience. The same goes with resolution."
Sounds good to us - after all, the simulated city of Chicago and its numerous moving parts (from driving and hacking to combat, stealth and traversal) is the star of the show. Then again... okay, let's talk numbers. I can't put it off any longer.
"On new-gen systems the game will run at 900p on PS4 and 792p on Xbox One, at 30 frames-per-second on both consoles", he revealed.
Once again the Xbox One seems to have trouble with full HD resolutions, opting for the bizarre native resolution of 792p at 30FPS. Interestingly, Titanfall clocked in at the same strangely specific figure, though could naturally offer a higher frame rate being an arena shooter.
The PS4 version, conversely, runs at a higher native resolution of 900p, a graphical disparity that we've seen in several new-gen titles. It's increasigly evident that the simple architecture, beefy DDR5 RAM and significant raw grunt of Sony's machine makes developing at higher resolutions easier (compared to the Xbox One's finnicky eSRAM cache), though it's still far from the indiscreet and since-retired boast on the PlayStation store.
So which should you buy? Well... since the PC version will eventually get the PlayStation timed-exclusive content, and will offer more graphics options, it's likely to be the definitive edition so long as your rig's up to snuff.
Though we're getting bored of debating resolutions, I'd like to reiterate that we all deserve great looking, smoothly-running games for our money - which companies want in increasingly large amounts. Perhaps there's something in these 'resolution wars' after all.
Regardless, Watch Dogs releases on May 27 for PC, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4 and PS3 - and we can't wait to play it. The Wii U version will follow later this year.