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Ever since it was revealed that the Xbox One's specs were severely behind the specs of the PS4, there has been a constant stream of placating from gaming media toward the gaming community about the specs not being that important and resolution not really mattering. Well, the specs matter and the resolution matters... as far as Battlefield 4 goes when comparing the Xbox One and PS4 versions of the game.
Digital Foundry did a thorough examination of DICE's latest first-person shooter on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4; rolling out details between both versions concerning texture quality, post-processing use and, most importantly, the game's resolution.
As noted in the brief but poignant comparison, Digital Foundry's Thomas Morgan stated that...
“For the sake of absolute thoroughness, we can confirm any such change doesn't extend to the resolution issue. If you're buying the PS4 version, you're getting a 1600x900 image scaled to whichever output you'd prefer, while the Xbox One trots behind with a 1280x720 framebuffer that, to be blunt, has an impact on overall visibility on some of the game's bigger multiplayer maps.”
While Microsoft's VP Phil Spencer argued that gameplay is more important than graphics, the reality is that – as evidenced in the above video and the above statement from Morgan – graphics do affect gameplay.
As a matter of fact, Sony's worldwide studio head honcho, Shuhei “The Boss” Yoshida had mentioned that graphics and resolution does, in fact, affect gameplay.
If you're playing as a sniper and you need long range visibility – as mentioned in the Digital Foundry article – that visibility will be compromised because of the hardware limitations putting a fuzzy and muddied damper on how far and how much you can see, as well as the clarity of that visibility. Resolution will also affect missile strikes, aiming in and with aircraft, as well as identifying and reacting to on-screen enemies. Saying that those aforementioned features aren't important in a high-end first-person shooter is completely dismissing the competitive edge in the game altogether.
If we're already seeing the first iteration of new generation console games showing such massive disparity between the PS4 and Xbox One, I imagine the gap will only further widen as more games continue to nestle into the optimization process and the seventh gen console ports get left behind.
I do wonder, though, if we'll be seeing consistent outings of games where PlayStation 4 will double the resolution of it's Xbox One counterpart? If that's going to be the case, Microsoft better start looking into finding ways to make games more individualized for the Xbox One, the same way that Nintendo has leveraged an advantage with the Wii U, thanks to the GamePad.
The big question is: can something like Kinect 2.0 compensate for the Xbox One's limp-as-an-old-man's-dong processing capabilities? I guess we'll find out once the second iteration of eighth generation games launch.