The Witcher 3: frame-rate not ideal on either console, despite technical disparity – report

By Sherif Saed, Wednesday, 20 May 2015 12:02 GMT

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a very complex the game, and while both the PS4 and Xbox One handle its intricacies differently, the end result is less than one would hope.

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Digital Foundry did an analysis of both console versions of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The report samples the various issues that some reviewers reported during their play-throughs. These include, stutter, frame-rate drops during fights and in densely populated areas.

The report says that both versions share the same asset quality, lighting, and alpha effects. The PS4 versions runs at capped 30fps, with v-sync engaged. However, the Xbox One version doesn’t cap its frame-rate, and could go as high as 40fps. While this may seem like an advantage to the PS4 version, both version don’t end up delivering “smooth” frame-rate overall.

“To start with cut-scenes, a firm 30fps line is held on PS4 during an early griffin encounter, and in practice this gives us smoother motion compared to the 35fps read-out on Xbox One,” says Digital Foundry. “However, the problem here is that if the PS4’s frame-rate drops below this number, it instantly locks to 20fps.

“It’s an instant switch, much like the double-buffer method of v-sync seen in Metal Gear Solid 4 on PS3. In one later scene involving heavy ice effects, it’s notable that Xbox One does glance this 20fps figure at a similar moment, but unlike PS4 it’s able to waver up and down the scale more freely. Meanwhile, Sony’s platform is stuck at this value for long stretches of a scene.”

Despite its frame-rate lock, the PS4 can be perceived to have a stutter effect. Xbox One offers the higher frame-rate of either console when both drop below 30fps. Both taken into account, Digital Foundry believes that PS4’s frame-rate cap makes for a “superior game in motion,” but only when it’s not below 30fps.

“Actual gameplay paints a slightly different picture. A trip through the busy Novigrad city really puts both consoles through their paces, and Xbox One is essentially reduced to a 29-31fps range of fluctuations that produces stutter. By comparison, PS4 doesn’t go over this line, but nor is it especially well optimised for large areas like this, with 25fps lurches seen at its worst.

“In open spaces, rapid gallops through forests produces similar results; regular single-frame drops on PS4 disrupt motion, while Xbox One runs above 30fps to cause its own frame-pacing issues. In battle, both platforms flatten at around 30fps, while a lengthy fight with a griffin shows bigger drops once we cast alpha-based spells such as Igni. The end effect is the same: neither console version feels as smooth as it should, and each is prone to big dips during gameplay.”

The report concluded that while neither of them can be recommended outright, the PS4’s 1080p resolution and frame-rate cap give it an advantage, however minor.

Read the rest of the report through the link, and watch the video below for a small demonstration of the consoles’ frame-rate issues.

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