But there’s a big resolution divide between Xbox Series X and PS5.
The new console generation has so far been amazing for players who love smooth, 60 frames per second gaming. Ubisoft, especially, leads the charge with the likes of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, The Division 2, and Immortals Fenyx Rising – all come fully equipped with at least a performance option, or run at 60fps by default on Xbox Series X, Series S and PS5 . We can add another to the list here too: Ghost Recon Breakpoint. It was patched around next-gen’s launch, and while running in backwards compatibility mode, the doubling of frame-rate is a game-changing experience. The Division 2 tried the same trick but came unstuck somewhat on PS5, missing some visual flourishes found in every other version – even PS4 Pro. Speaking of which, there’s good news with The Division 2 here worth touching on before we get into Breakpoint properly.
The Division 2’s Patch 1.31 (as it appears on the PS5 front-end) came out hot on the heels of our coverage and essentially sorts out all of the issues we had with it – namely, screen-space reflections and volumetric fog are back. Looking back, this was likely an oversight from developer Massive Entertainment at the time; a simple flag for these settings that went unchecked. However, it’s clear that legacy limitations from PS4 Pro are still in place – there’s a vanishingly small performance advantage here opposite Xbox Series X, but it comes at the cost of a lower resolution on PS5. All is well, where the big success remains that next-gen can now achieve 60fps – a similar story to Ghost Recon Breakpoint.
As a successor to Ghost Recon Wildlands, Breakpoint had serious ambition at release. There are flashes of the big sandbox jungles in Crysis or Far Cry here. Physics for mud are stand-out too, and there’s just an incredible sense of freedom to exploring the island – densely packed as it is with woodlands, vehicles and secret coves, time of day changes and weather states. But as was so often the case on last-gen, a big complex world like this only ran at 30 frames per second. We had two modes – for graphics and resolution – but both shared a 30fps cap. The situation changes up for next-gen: PS5 runs the resolution mode at a 1440p, while Series X delivers it at 4K even though both are touted as offering up ultra HD support. Both are equipped with dynamic resolution scaling support but spend most of the time at these top-end limits. The actual visual make-up of the two seems identical by and large – though Series X’s hardware-enforced 16x anisotropic filtering isn’t matched on the Sony machine. Curiously, Series S only has a single mode, and it runs at 1440p30 just like PS5’s resolution mode, putting the pixel count limit on the Sony console into perspective.
Of course the new performance mode is what sets the new version of the game apart. Only PS5 and Series X get this option, and it’s delivered at a cost to rendering resolution. In the case of PS5 you’re looking at 1080p as the max resolution – the same as PS4 Pro’s graphics mode. Performance mode alters some settings, changing the ambient occlusion method – but in general it’s a very similar visual setup. Series X on the other hand hits 60fps while rendering at a much higher dynamic 1440p. So that’s 2560×1440 in performance mode max, though here we do see adjustments in resolution to hold the frame-rate steady – lowest being 2304×1296. There is some flexibility on Series X, but in general it’s still pushing a much sharper picture than its PS5 counterpart. The upgrade is welcome on both machines, but it’s unfortunate that the Sony machine is still seemingly encumbered by limitations more becoming of the PS4 Pro. Thankfully, the frame-rate upgrade is mostly solid on both machines, though we did encounter strange dips on both PS5 and Series X that quickly cleaned themselves up, and sometimes didn’t manifest again in re-tests – very odd. But the upgrade is palpable overall, massively improving the quality of the experience.
While the improvement to frame-rate is stand-out, there are boosts to the resolution mode too – both consoles can now properly lock to 30fps, improving the experience over their last-gen equivalents, but there is the sense of a lack of ambition here. Dynamic 1440p on PS5 while Series X delivers 2160p is at odds with the system specifications and of course, our experiences with many other games. The notion that Series S ‘default mode matches PS5’s resolution mode in image quality is also baffling: there’s just the sense that Microsoft’s cross-generation SDK tools offer up more options to developers and that it isn’t a reflection on system capabilities. In my view, it makes sense to run Series X on this mode for visual purists – to see 4K30 if that’s your tonic of choice. However, running at 1440p on PS5 doesn’t seem like that much of an improvement up against 1080p60.
Breakpoint, much like Ubisoft’s other works, makes a case for settling on 60fps as standard this generation – something rarely possible in more open-sandbox games last-gen. Whether this is sustainable for more technically pioneering efforts down the line remains to be seen, but for now at least, jumping from 30fps to 60fps is a big upgrade – and one we hope to see rolled out for definitely more games in the future.