This latest generation of consoles has been arguably one of the most hard-fought for quite some time, yet while the Xbox One and Playstation 4 are quite similar when it comes to gameplay, there’s one area for the Xbox that’s time and again been highlighted as under-par: graphics.
Over the past 18 months since the Xbox One and Playstation 4 launched, few big game releases have gone by without one, if not a flurry of articles comparing the graphical fidelity of the two consoles, or just plain stating that the Playstation 4 is better for resolution. Of course, unless you have the same game running side by side on the two machines you’re probably not going to notice any difference.
There are times when graphics aren’t everything. Take Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, for example: the Xbox One used dynamic resolution scaling for the game, switching between a 1360×1080 and 1920×1080 resolution output depending on GPU load, but maintains 60 frames-per-second in singleplayer, while the Playstation 4 – which was fixed at 1920×1080 – occasionally dips below the 60fps rate. Frames-per-second are important for fast paced games such as Call of Duty, but even though the Xbox One has this advantage in singleplayer it’s the same old story for Advanced Warfare’s multiplayer – the Playstation 4 keeps the resolution of 1920×1080 with 60fps, while the Xbox One has a resolution of 1360×1080 with 60fps.
So, what’s to be done? As mentioned, dynamic resolution scaling is being used by developers for Xbox One, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt being a notable recent example. This means that at certain times during a game there’s practically no difference between the two consoles graphically. However, as the competition between the Xbox One and Playstation 4 seems to persistently revolve around resolution output, Microsoft is investing more into improving the Xbox One’s visual fidelity.
A job listing for a Software Engineer II on Microsoft’s website states they’re looking for someone to join the Advanced Technology Group, having ‘technical expertise in graphics performance optimization, GPU architectures, and HLSL shaders.’ They also write: ‘You can be a key part of making Microsoft gaming platforms – including Xbox One, Xbox 360 and others – a success.’ Whether or not you infer from this that Microsoft consider themselves to currently be failing is your own opinion, but it shows the company is well aware improvements are needed if it wishes to compete at a mass-market level, where headlines on graphical performance can sway many buyers one way or the other.
The job listing also asks that candidates ‘Work directly with game developers to understand and address their technical problems and performance requirements.’ It’s apparently rumoured that the Xbox One’s GPU is lesser to the Playstation 4’s, so, again, it’s clear Microsoft are determined to rise to the challenge of matching Sony’s console.
Finally, Microsoft are also looking for a Senior User Experience Designer to work on episodic games. A couple of responsibilities include to ‘develop Information Architecture for future episodic storytelling experiences’, and ‘create beautiful, usable, and delightful experiences for fans the world over.’ New episodic games and better visuals? Certainly sounds good to us.