From a certain point of view, the basic conclusions have not changed since we did the Elden Ring network test last year. First of all, the quality of the game is beyond doubt: From Software has revived its winning Souls formula in an open world with great success. Every corner of the world map is filled with places to explore, rewarding players who go beyond the essential path. But from a technical standpoint, while there are some changes to the game as it appeared at launch on PS5 and Xbox Series consoles, the guidelines remain the same. However you play it, it’s a challenge to get a stable 60fps experience on next-gen consoles, despite the two rendering modes offered to users.
Essentially, both quality and performance modes run at unlocked frame-rates. That quality runs steadily at full 4K on PS5 and Series X and at 1440p on Series S. There is no dynamic resolution scaling in this mode, which implies that performance can change dramatically based on the complexity of the scene. The DRS is not used but it is theoretically possible, as it is used on all new generation consoles in performance mode.
On PS5 and Series X this changes the image quality via resolution, the window of which varies between 2688×1512 and full 4K. The S Series performs similarly, albeit downwardly: from 1792×1008 to 2560×1440. The cut-scenes are fixed at full resolution in both cases. So, for example, PS5 and Series X run at fixed 4K in the first meeting with Margit the Fallen, even in performance mode. So the performance is not very different compared to the quality mode.
So what’s the difference? Curiously, if we take resolution out of the equation, the two modes become extremely similar in terms of graphics options. Grass render distance is identical on all consoles and in all respective modes. The rendering of the shadows is instead a different factor between the modes, since it is enhanced in that quality. In the case of the S Series, the shadows are of a lower preset than the upper consoles (which run at the same quality regardless of the mode), and therefore appear more degraded and lower resolution in frame-rate mode.
Ultimately it is difficult to recommend the quality mode considering its shaky performance: it would indeed be avoided. It seems clear that none of the new generation consoles are able to maintain performance at such a high fixed resolution: the result is a variable experience between 30-60fps on all three consoles, and sometimes even drops below 30. Generally, PS5 has higher frame-rates than Series X in quality mode, while Series S has the worst frame-rate of the three. A 30fps cap would certainly have helped, but the problem would persist because it would be implemented without incorrect frame-pacing, at least according to what happens on last-gen consoles.
And what about the 60fps dream? From the network test we were surprised to find that the PS4 Pro version played on the PS5 ran better than the native PS5 app, and it still does. Fixed 60fps remains unattainable on PS5 gaming, with frame-rates fluctuating between 45-60fps in performance mode, with occasional dips even more drastic. PS5 owners are therefore placed in a difficult situation: using the PS4 Pro code implies a downgrade to 1800p compared to the dynamic 4K of the PS5 app, but the draw distance is also scaled. Basically, you get more performance by sacrificing graphics quality.
Series X is on the same boat, with the difference that while launch the Xbox One X version on the new console it is technically possible, it is not recommended since you do not access a whole series of patches and features online. System-wide integrated VRR solves this problem at least in part, as long as you have a compatible display. In this case, we recommend setting the screen to 60Hz (even if it supports 120Hz) and using VRR to smooth out any dips in performance. We can say that this is the best way to enjoy the game, but if we take VRR out of the equation, the PS5 version runs better. In fact, when walking on foot, the PS5 has a 10fps advantage over the Series X, but the latter performs better in other situations. There are therefore constant reversals in front of the frame-rate primacy, but overall the PS5 version runs smoother. Without VRR, v-sync judder is present anyway.
What about the Xbox Series S? Even in frame-rate mode it struggles to maintain stable gameplay and we therefore recommend using VRR if you have a compatible TV. It is less effective than flagship consoles, because the frame-rate is lower on average and the VRR ‘cures’ better the high-frame-rate games that have significant and frequent drops in fluidity.
The loading times are different on each console and in general the favorite is PlayStation 5. The difference becomes colossal in fast travel: PS5 takes 6 seconds when on Xbox Series X / S it even takes 17. If we consider that it is of an open world game that therefore relies heavily on fast travel or respawn, these are differences that greatly affect the user experience. From Software isn’t new to post-launch upload work though (we saw it in Bloodborne), so maybe the situation on Xbox Series will improve.
There are also some bugs to be fixed and some situations that we would like to have fixed. For example, motion blur is activated in quality mode, but something strange happens in frame-rate mode: especially on Series X and PS5, motion blur turns on and off in several places and for no apparent reason. For example, it activates in the opening boss fight against Grafted Scion and Margit the Fallen. It then activates during boss fights and deactivates again in the open world. The singular thing is that the effect is activated more on PS5 than on Series X, while on Series S it is almost always absent.
If the conclusion is therefore that although little has changed since the network test, it is interesting that some changes have been made with patch 1.02 on PS5 compared to the beta. In quality and performance modes, for example, the frame-rate is 2-5fps lower than in the beta. This difference widens in some cut-scenes, failing to sustain 60fps.
There is also a regression in the distance to render shadows in the final game, which is particularly noticeable in Lingrave fields where distant trees lack shading. It’s certainly not something you notice during gameplay, but it testifies to the fact that From Software has tried to optimize the graphics options on consoles. Even if the shadows are small, the overall frame-rate has decreased compared to the network test, which however only manifests itself in certain sections of the world.
In conclusion, it is a pity that very few steps have been made compared to the beta and in some cases there have also been steps backwards in the technical aspect. Elden Ring is still a fantastic game and possibly the best production in From Software history, with punitive but satisfying gameplay that engages and keeps you glued to the gamepad. For many, therefore, the notes raised in this article will not matter. For PC users, the situation is more annoying, as stuttering is heavier than on consoles. On the other hand, it’s really a shame that the PS5 and Series X can’t deliver a ‘true 60fps mode’ while technically capable. On the other hand, the almost nil progress in development and optimization since the beta testifies to the fact that the current frame-rate of the game is not an issue for From Software. However, we hope that the situation will improve with the next software updates.
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