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Resolutiongate 3: Rise Of The Refresh Rate has managed to take gamers by complete surprise. What was originally thought to be a terrible cash-in on drama and fanboyism has turned out to be a lot more telling than what was originally let on, thanks to new benchmarks by Digital Foundry.
For everyone who has no idea why this is even news, it all started with pixel counting benchmarks of Activision and Infinity Ward's Call of Duty: Ghosts between the Xbox One and PS4. In a quick recap of how we even got to this point:
1.) Resolutiongate starts when respected members of media say there's not much difference between 720p and 1080p
2.) Gamers attack Adam Sessler
3.) Infinity Ward admits they “dun effed it up” and PS4 was running 720p
4.) Infinity Ward patches CoD: Ghosts back up to native 1080p
5.) You're now all caught up. That was quick.
Digital Foundry decided to do right by the pixel counting parish by redoing the benchmarks with a brand new video comparison of 720p and 1080p, and you can easily, clearly and undeniably see the difference. You can watch the video below.
The real kicker is that the PlayStation 4 is not suffering from frame stutter in Call of Duty: Ghosts based on the benchmarks, but rather frame drops because it's trying to output more frames than what the game was designed to run on the console.
Digital Foundry writes...
“One of the main issues surrounding the PS4 version of Call of Duty: Ghosts is the somewhat erratic frame-rate reported by reviewers. On playing the unpatched version of the PS4 code for the first time, the difference in smoothness between the mostly solid 60fps of the 360 game and the more inconsistent PS4 release is quite obvious - in many scenes we see the appearance of judder and what appears to be slowdown on the PS4[...]
So if you haven't become consumed by the tech jargon... they're only acknowledging that the “frame stutter” reported by reviewers is there, but not because the PS4 is dropping below the performance threshold, like Dead Rising 3 on the Xbox One. Something a little different is taking place.
What's interesting is that the PS4 is literally out-muscling the ancient engine powering Call of Duty: Ghosts, trying to refresh more frames than what the game can actually output, thus resulting in skipped frames or dropped frames from the engine itself, hence the “frame stutter”. An identical scenario that happened when TotalBiscuit tried doing his video of Ghosts.
“...a close look at our captures reveals that Call of Duty: Ghosts actually runs at higher frame-rates than 60fps on a fairly frequent basis, despite the video output being limited to 60Hz. In scenes where we experienced judder and perceived frame-rate loss, what we are actually seeing is the appearance of skipped and incomplete frames - an effect that is arguably far more noticeable than a few prolonged drops down to 50fps or so seen the 360 version of the game.
In simple terms: The PS4 has outgrown Infinity Ward's ugly old Quake III mod, and that's why the Xbox 360, PS3 and Xbox One don't have any problems running it. Old engine for old hardware.
The PS4 is trying to put out more frames than what the engine can actually handle.
The revelation of this test is, to me, eye-opening. What this means is that Sony's machine is exceptionally well optimized, where it's capable of running games better than what the games can actually handle. PC gamers have run into a similar problem where poorly optimized ports can't run on dual Titans running in SLI, like Call of Duty: Ghosts and Need for Speed: Rivals. In fact, the PS4's "frame stutter" is nearly equivalent to the PC's "frame stutter" where it had little to do with the hardware and everything to do with the poor optimization and inefficient engine code.
Anyway, if you're thinking that the PS4 is on par to the Glorious PC Master Race, think again. Digital Foundry makes it known that the muddied textures, resolution and shadow effects still shine through for the PS4, revealing that the system is still several grades behind its PC counterpart.
Still, this is just more evidenced piled on top of additional evidence indicating that there really is a massive power gap between the Xbox One and PS4, and a system dropping frames because the engine can't keep up, is definitely good news for gamers awaiting real games from real developers who know how to utilize the hardware.
In simple terms: the PS4 still has untapped power.