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Sacrifices. Everyone has to make sacrifices, even in the face of excellence. So what am I talking about and why must everyone make sacrifices? Well, in the world of video game technology, performance is dictated by hardware and if the hardware isn't up to snuff, well.. sacrifices must be made.
Digital Foundry has a comprehensive play-test of the upcoming Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, where they put Sledgehammer Games' upcoming first-person shooter through the performance ringer; stretching out the game to the absolute limits in the frame-rate and resolution department.
Now a lot of gamers will readily say that resolution doesn't matter to them, but I'm pretty sure that frame-rate matters a lot. I mean, if a game has frame-skipping, screen-tearing, vsync issues or frame-drops, the game can become nigh unplayable. It's important to know whether or not a game plays consistently and Digital Foundry aimed to find out whether or not Advanced Warfare fits the bill.
According to Thomas Morgan...
“Running at a native 1600x900 at both events (a boost from the E3-era 882p), little has changed to Xbox One's rendering setup for multiplayer, suggesting this number is a lock for all modes in the final release.”
The single-player was supposed to be clocked at 1920 x 1080p and 60 frames per second. However, back on September 19th Attack of the Fanboy reported that the game was edged out around 900p, still. The less-than-1080p resolution was something most gamers were probably expecting anyway. Although, I'm sure there were at least a good deal of people expecting stable frames.
Well, the 60fps isn't consistent in the single-player on the Xbox One... according to Digital Foundry. They found that the game fluctuating between 30fps and 60fps at variable rates. It's not unexpected given that one should brace for big Hollywood explosions and scripted sequences that really grind on the hardware. It's a marquee feature for the Call of Duty series and it just wouldn't be the same game if they gave that stuff up.
On the opposite side of the field, the game won't be dipping below 60fps in the multiplayer. The team has ensured that the performance is evened out to accommodate 16-players without slowing down
According to Digital Foundry...
“After analysing over 23,000 frames of footage we record only three actual torn frames - essentially invisible during the run of play. The use of alpha appears to be a weakness here, with v-sync breaking when stood at the centre of a grenade's splash range with shader effects on the go. It's a tricky one to catch by eye, but as a worst-case scenario it allows the engine to uphold controller response on the rare occasions rendering spills over budget.”
The one big question most people would have is: How could single-player dip below 60fps but multiplayer doesn't?
Digital Foundry notes that motion-blur and “moving parts” that help give live and breathe to the single-player campaign are scaled down to maintain performance in multiplayer. According to the article, the sacrifices aren't huge, but they are somewhat noticeable.
As mentioned, this kind of thing was to be expected. And any kind of target for 60fps is usually going to require one thing being pared down or another.