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Can you guess which Forza screen belongs to which build? Is the left or right the Xbox One? Can you tell? Is the left or right the E3 build? Can you tell? I'll give you a hint: The E3 build is the one with additional light passes, higher refraction, deeper shadow grades and per-object self-shadowing. Have you figured out which one is which?
Barely out of the explosive storm that was Resolutiongate”, we're back into the trenches for another firefight of different proportions.
Examiner spotted a thread on NeoGaf that made the assertion that the retail version of Forza Motorsport 5 has, in fact, been downgraded from its E3 build. Comparing screenshots from these two videos below (Fallon's play test starts at the 3:00 mark).
Strangely, the mods closed down the thread on NeoGaf because the screenshots were taken from 1080p captures from the YouTube videos above. While skepticism about YouTube compression quality is admirable, the proof is purely in the pudding and it's not easy to overlook. Here's another video from a different user playing the retail version of the game. Fast forward to the 5:00 mark and you can still see the obvious, lacking details in the shadows and geometry, even at 1080p
I would venture far enough to say that any uncompressed footage or screenshots from both builds would make the comparison even more damning, especially given that even to the naked eye the differences are indisputable. Just check out the obvious differences in the image below.
The image on the left is from the Xbox One and the image from the right is from the E3 build. Notice how the McLaren on the right has an airfoil arm extending to the spoiler with a small mechanical latch and protuberant wires that all casts shadows back onto the car. Notice that the Mclaren on the left has a spoiler that connects directly to the spoiler arm without the additional mechanical latch or wiring, and it lacks the same level of shadow density and detail from the image on the right. Again, you don't need uncompressed PNGs to see these differences between the E3 and retail builds. It's blatantly obvious.
But the thread with the screenshots don't need to be your only form of evidence. Digital Foundry did an FPS test on Forza Motorsport 5, and even race through Prague, the same track that was featured in the Jimmy Fallon clip from E3, and you can see, it's still far from the quality present in the build that Jimmy Fallon played from E3 (fast forward to the 2:00 minute mark for Prague).
Flat textures, pre-baked shadows and low-poly environmental geometry galore.
You can turn the resolution up to the max, and it still doesn't discount the fact that there are obvious differences between both builds.
Now, I know we reported on the Xbox One games at E3 running on Nvidia powered GTX cards back in June, but it's still possible that Forza was running on an Xbox One dev kit with higher specs than the actual Xbox One. It's not so vastly different that a PC would be required to run it; but it does show that there has been a lot of downscaling within the environment and light passes to hit that magic 1080p resolution with a fixed 60 frames per second refresh.
One of the most obvious differences – and this is something that shines through on YouTube, no matter what the resolution – is that all of the environmental self-shadowing has been removed. The pre-baked shadows across the buildings and muted geometry for easy LOD caching and buffering also indicates that the game was proportionally scaled to operate within a very strict runtime environment. It's almost as if you can see where Turn 10 was counting every cycle tick per pixel removal while optimizing the game to look and run its best on the Xbox One.
The one thing I really have to point out, though, is that we're already entering into next-gen and the launch games are being scaled back from what they were originally supposed to look like during the earlier builds.
In simple terms: all the financial problems of paying artists to cut and hack down their work in budget-bloated AAA titles that plagued the PS3 and Xbox 360, are carrying over in all their obese glory straight into the eighth gen of gaming. Pathetic.
Anyway, this isn't surprising in the least given that this bit of news follows in the footsteps of other games that saw major downgrades in the face of running in realtime on the Xbox One, including Ryse: Son of Rome, Titanfall and Dead Rising 3. Heck, even in the article linked above, gamers were warned that what they saw for the Xbox One at E3 was not going to be wholly representative of what would be available on retail shelves. #TruthHurts