When rumors of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One started intensifying, many were hoping that the next generation consoles would enable 4K gaming. No, Sony and Microsoft were quick to shoot down speculation. But 1080p surely, right? Well, continue reading.
Is next-gen not supposed to be 1080?
The next-generation gaming consoles have launched in some countries, and will debut in more countries later this year. They are coming out in a time where TV makers are promoting Ultra HD TVs so many gamers had hoped that the consoles would support 4K gaming. It was optimistic, sure, but based on the average 7-10 years lifetime of a game console it would make sense.
Shortly after the official introductions, Sony and Microsoft both confirmed that no 4K gaming support was in the cards (but 4K video is coming). Well, it turns out that the Xbox One is struggling even with 1080p resolution. Game developers are aiming for 60 fps rendering, which unfortunately means that Xbox One drops to 720p in several games. In those same games, PlayStation 4 renders at full 1080p resolution and 60 fps in most but not all - instances.
Call of Duty: Ghosts was the first example - but it was not an isolated case. Later it became apparent that Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition was running 30 frames per second slower than the PS4 version, and that Xbox-exclusive Titanfall will run at only 792p.
There are now several examples:
Call of Duty: Ghosts 1080p60 on PS4 vs. 720p60 on Xbox One
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition 1080p60 on PS4 vs. 1080p30 on Xbox One
Titanfall (Xbox exclusive) 792p on Xbox One
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes 1080p60 on PS4 vs. 720p60 on Xbox One
Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag 1080p30 on PS4 vs. 900p30 on Xbox One
Battlefield 4 900p60 on PS4 vs. 720p60 on Xbox One
Thief 1080p30 on PS4 vs. 900p30 on Xbox One
Rumor: Watch_Dogs 1080p30 on PS4 vs. 900p30 Xbox One
It is of course an improvement over PS3 and Xbox 360. Those consoles almost never hit 1080p, and oftentimes drops below even 720p (see a list here). Most games are also rendered at 30 fps on PS3 and Xbox 360.
Microsoft has tried to downplay the issue, pointing out that resolution alone is not the full story. Games could be rendered with far more details, lighting, and reflections at 1080p if the consoles were powerful enough. It is certainly true - but it is still a little disappointing. Hopefully Xbox One developers will find a way to make it happen in future games.