Hardware: Are The Next-Gen Consoles Already Disappointing?

There’s been ample talk about the forthcoming next-gen console hardware, specifically about how each console will handle launch window titles.

The Xbox One and Playstation 4 are both exponentially more powerful than their respective predecessors, thanks to the AMD APUs inside of each. These consoles use similar components, yes, but the PS4 is the more powerful machine, thanks to faster memory and a GPU with more oomph. “Oomph,” of course, is scientific shorthand for more compute units and more ROPs, but you already knew that.

The PS4 is a more powerful machine than the Xbox One, so it stands to reason that games on the PS4 will look better than on the Xbox One. This appears to be the case, depending on your point of view. If your definition of “better” is a higher resolution, you’re right on the money. As the fine folks over at Digital Foundry have shown, multiplatform titles like Battlefield 4 will play at a higher resolution on the PS4 — 900p (1440×900) versus 720p on the Xbox One. The same can be said of Call of Duty: Ghosts (native 1080p on the PS4 versus 720p scaled to 1080p on the Xbox One).

Resolution aside, does either game look better on the PS4? That’s up for debate, I think. The above Digital Foundry video shows the PS4 and Xbox One versions of Battlefield 4 side-by-side, and it looks like a toss-up to me. In fact, the PS4 version looks just a tad washed out at some points…it’s tough to differentiate, resolution numbers aside.

Ultimately, I’m inclined to agree with Kyle Orland on this (a hat tip to him and Ars for a solid op-ed about the next-gen consoles). All that matters with the next-gen is that you’re playing the games you want to play, and you’re playing said games how you want to play them.

It’s the above “how” that’s sticking in my head right now, though. Both next-gen consoles are going to offer better-looking experiences than the last generation of consoles, without a doubt…but is it a big enough leap? PC Gaming Master Race jokes aside, I’ve been playing games on my PC at 1920×1080 for over four years now. Granted, that takes more cash to achieve than with a boxed console, especially if you go back to 2008-2009 (I still have my 4870X2 around here somewhere…). Does it strike anyone else as strange that brand new consoles coming out in 2013 aren’t running games at 1080p60? I’d even take 1080p30 for certain single-player experiences (like Crysis), but anything below 1080p seems dated in this day and age. Heck, TV companies are already getting aggressive with 4K TVs, and some are already looking beyond that to 8K.

I know it’s not all about resolution; these games could be running at 1080p, but the quality of what’s displayed would be diminished. I was expecting the new consoles to run games at 1080p, with the graphics fidelity equivalent to running a PC version on “High” graphics settings (which is really Medium, since Ultra is the new High). I guess those expectations (at launch, anyway) were unrealistic?

The asterisk here is that, as time goes by, developers will hit a groove with the next-gen platforms, and games will look better as time goes on. I hope that includes 1080p resolutions across the board, too.

Even if the consoles aren’t quite up to snuff for me on a pure power level, it still all circles back to games. The games coming out for these consoles will be fantastic, even if they aren’t on par with their PC cousins. Watch Dogs, Halo 5, Wolfenstein, Titanfall, whatever Rockstar’s next epic is…the list goes on.

Read more of Devin Connors work here, and follow him and Game Front on Twitter: @devinconnors and @GameFront

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17 Comments on Hardware: Are The Next-Gen Consoles Already Disappointing?

Huntsman06

On October 31, 2013 at 7:48 pm

If graphics are so much a deal breaker for you, you should stick with PC. Also, gameplay is supposed to come first ALWAYS but devs seem to forget that at times. Sure 1080p is better than 720p but…(hypothetically) if you’re game is total garbage who cares how good it looks? On the flip side, your n64 ocarina of time looks pretty dated nowadays yet that game is still a terrific game and better than some brand new HD titles.

In a nutshell, if you’re game is good enough nobody will care that it’s only 720p at 30fps. BF4 is a great game and fans will buy it for both Xbox and PS4 because, in the end, it’s all about the gameplay.

Michael

On October 31, 2013 at 10:40 pm

As a gamer having every console beginning with the NES in 1985 this will be the first time I will not purchase neither. The main reason being my current console games not playing on the new ones. This move just by itself made me invest the money that was going into theses machines into my current P.C. video card. Guess the P.C. is the wave of the future.

Cho

On November 1, 2013 at 1:52 am

I’ll buy a PS4, but not for a year at least. I doubt there’s any chance of buying the Xbox One after Microsoft’s series of brain farts, but if I do it won’t be for a long time yet as the hardware and games on offer simply don’t warrant the day one pricepoint. There just aren’t any consoles released these days that I feel are “must buys,” they’re all just decent models that I’ll probably get eventually simply because there’s three or four good games I want to play that aren’t on PC.

Jim

On November 1, 2013 at 2:43 am

Every criticism of the consoles hardware is comparing them to PCs. Console hardware should never be compared to PC’s, it just doesn’t work like that. Show me a PC with a combined total of 500mb of video and system RAM like the pS3 that could play Bioshock Infinite or GTA V.

The specs should be compared to the previous generation of consoles. And they blow them out of the water. If the PS3 could do The Last of Us than what I’m excited about is what the PS4 will do with all that extra horsepower. That’s more important to me than comparing it to pc specs.

I’ve just been playing BF4 on PC. Incredible. Mind blown. True next gen gaming. That that level of gameplay, those physics, those visuals, all those players, can be done on a console, and at 60fps, blows me away, even if the resolution isn’t quite as high. And that’s a launch game. Can’t wait to see what games will look like on the consoles in a couple of years.

Tiagonal

On November 1, 2013 at 5:20 am

Off course they are… duh. Staying with OnLive since launch, such an underpromoted tech, upgrades are so unnoticeable tho’… it’s puzzling to say either if there’s really one or not.

Tim

On November 1, 2013 at 7:42 am

The PS4 is much more powerful than you think. For Battlefield 4, the PS4 is very competitive with the PC version, in fact a major German PC magazine PCGH recommends the PS4 version over PC! Essentially, they praise the PS4 version as it is pretty much locked at 60FPS and you would have to spend 1000€ on a new PC to get the same quality and performance available on the 399€ PlayStation 4.

So you have to spend more than double the money on PC to match optimised games on PS4, that is from the biggest PC gamer magazine in Germany. That fact alone suggests the PS4 is best value gaming machine out there right now.

Tom R

On November 1, 2013 at 7:45 am

Killzone on PS4 runs @1080p equivalent of High settings, everyone who has been hands on says it looks really impressive, even PC gamers, and this is a PS4 launch next gen game. Developers always take a year or tow to fully optimised games for consoles.

JC

On November 1, 2013 at 10:13 am

“you would have to spend 1000€ on a new PC to get the same quality and performance available on the 399€ PlayStation 4.”

That statement is utter nonsense and only serves to show this “German PC magazine PCGH” is incompetent, ignorant and/or has an agenda.

In February of this year I purchased and assembled a PC for a relative that still outperforms a PS4 (not just in specs but in the end results) for approximately half that price, all components except for 1 were brand new.

Also no, the PS4 or Xbox One are not more powerful than people think, their specs and performance are public knowledge, anyone who is informed knows exactly how powerful they are.

Their performance is a nice step up, but anyone thinking they can even hold a candle to a gaming PC performance wise is either misinformed or naive.

The best thing about the new consoles hardware is that it is continually more and more off the shelf PC hardware, albeit older hardrware. Which results in better value in price/performance, making cross platform ports easier, quicker and cheaper, while also making backwards compatibility ever more viable on the console side. Infact in future console makers will have to lie about reasons as to why their consoles aren’t backwards compatible unless they go out of their way to specifically make sure they aren’t backwards compatible on the hardware side, from this point on it’s not only 100% feasible but easy.

thedog

On November 1, 2013 at 10:47 am

Hey Tim, dude, I’ve got some amazing property for sale. Beach front. Sell it to your for a great price. I mean come on, if you believe that load, you’ve got to believe mine. Honest, I wouldn’t lie to you……..
My computer that I built over a year and a half ago for under $700, still blows both consoles away. It’s a fact, console may come closer to a good pc, but will never make it. Unlike consoles, pc’s are always improving, making themselves faster and better, where a console does it every 4-5 years.
Fact of the matter is you’ve probably never put a pc together in your life. You’ve never price individual components. Sounds like you’ll believe just about any lie put out that favors your choice. Look, it good to be optimistic, but bring a little common sense to the table as well. For one, these games aren’t actually playing at 1080p. They’re upscaled. Secondly, they don’t have anything close to the bells and whistles a pc has. You put any one of those consoles in an honest test against a decent, not even great, pc, with all the bells and whistles on, and the console will still look good, but the pc will look much better. It’s a fact.

Col

On November 1, 2013 at 11:14 am

I have a WiiU.
I’m surprised ppl are worrying so much about details like resolution. The primary controller inputs for PS4 and XB1 will be dual analogues. Which is several generations old now. And it’s nigh on the most abysmal control setup for some of the highest (and what will be the highest) promoted games out there. Killzones, Halos, CODs, Battlefields, all these 1st person shooters, to some degree 3rd person shooters , and is restricted from doing RTS’s still etc..
Even I can play COD with point aim controls on my WiiU, something PS4 and XB1 still aren’t touted to compete with in all their hyped glory.

thedog

On November 2, 2013 at 1:09 am

Alright gamefront,,,,What the heck happened to my comment? it wasn’t offensive and only had facts in it (well, mainly had just facts), yet it is missing from the roster. I would appreciate an answer please.

Devin Connors

On November 2, 2013 at 1:10 am

@thedog

I didn’t delete it…are you sure you actually posted a comment?
-Devin Connors

thedog

On November 2, 2013 at 11:09 am

Yep, It was right after JC’s comment, before Col.

thedog

On November 2, 2013 at 11:12 am

Not the first time it’s happened.

ted

On November 3, 2013 at 7:37 pm

What’s disappointing are the launch games. But then again it has, for the most part, always been that way. I personally don’t think that the new consoles are already disappointing. Then again, I never had that gear fetish of always needing to have to newest thing immediately.

R.J.

On November 3, 2013 at 10:01 pm

I wouldn’t say that the hardware is already disappointing. Comparing to PC is typically going to favor PC sooner or later. Even if a console generation takes a major leap, eventually it will be overtaken by PC, so I can’t really see what is inevitable as disappointing. And as this very article points out, the amount of time it takes to pull ahead of consoles is much shorter if you’re willing to shell out for it since console makers are willing to take a loss on each unit sold in order to make money on games. That isn’t typically the case for PC, so you have to expect that you’ll be paying a profitable price on each bit of hardware you buy.

As others have pointed out, it would be a disappointment if the hardware in the new consoles wasn’t a substantial improvement over what we have now, but that isn’t the case.

Ron Whitaker

On November 4, 2013 at 6:18 am

@thedog: For whatever reason, the spam filter thought that comment looked delicious. I’ve gone into the Sarlacc pit of sneaker advertisements and foreign language comments to rescue it, and you should see it above.