Ubisoft is comfortably settling into developing for the four current-gen home consoles: hardware that’s similar in so many ways, but each paired with a very different level of GPU power. Far Cry 5 has much in common with stablemate Assassin’s Creed Origins – we’re essentially looking at parity in terms of the visual feature set across the stack of consoles, with resolution the only real point of variation, the differences blurred somewhat thanks to temporal anti-aliasing. Those extra pixels still count – with Xbox One X top of the tree – but the key takeaway is that everyone gets a great game here.
AC Origins combined TAA with dynamic resolution scaling to bridge the gap between one console to the next, but Far Cry 5 is a little different – it’s a fixed resolution all around on all consoles. At the bottom of the pile sits the standard Xbox One, which delivers a still creditable 1440×1080. Scaling only occurs on the horizontal axis, but the end result is a game that is noticeably softer than any of the others, as the comparison tool below demonstrates. PlayStation 4 seems to be the foundation platform here, delivering Far Cry 5’s full visual feature set at the 1080p standard.
Moving onto the enhanced consoles, a good presentation for 4K displays is the target, and it’s Xbox One X that is the star of the show here. The Scorpio Engine delivers a full, native 4K presentation – 3840×2160 – while retaining the TAA for an almost flawless, virtually jaggy-free experience. It’s an impressive achievement, with a 5.3x boost to resolution over the standard Xbox One. By comparison, PlayStation 4 Pro delivers 2880×1620, a 2.25x improvement over the base model and almost entirely in line with the GPU compute power increase available to developers. This is pretty impressive bearing in mind that there’s only a small memory bandwidth boost over the older PS4, and just a small amount of additional memory.
Both Xbox and PlayStation versions also deliver an excellent HDR presentation, though it is a bit of a shame that AC Origins’ brilliant HDR set-up system – featuring the ability to tweak both paper-white and maximum luminance is pared back to the former only. The good news is that Ubisoft has also deployed HDR on PC, a system often overlooked for high dynamic range support – most recently on the beautiful Sea of Thieves.
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But if resolution is the main differentiating factor between systems, to what extent does it matter? In AC Origins, each step up the console power ladder effectively delivered a little more clarity, but it wasn’t a game that relied too heavily on intricate detail, and dynamic resolution definitely helped to blur the lines between Pro and X. Far Cry 5’s fixed per-platform pixel count and its style of artwork sees more in the way of dividends as we move from one console to the next.
Comparing Xbox One X to PS4 Pro, the higher resolution certainly allows the viewer to more easily appreciate fine details present in the texture work. In creating Far Cry 5, Ubisoft has done an exceptional job on texture and material quality: buildings feature richly textured wooden facades complete with visible splintering and cracking, stone walls feature added geometric detail to enhance the realism of the high-resolution textures applied across their surface. Dirt and gravel textures are so realistic at times you might just mistake them for a real photograph. Far Cry 5 also features a large selection of terrain displacement decals designed to bring extra depth to such surfaces and it’s very effective. It’s cheaper than tessellation but achieves similar results.
Terrain blending is also used to more realistically situation trees into the environment. Roots naturally connected with the rolling terrain increasing realism across the board. Speaking of trees, the textures applied to tree trucks are also a startlingly realistic display of how great materials can increase immersion. Man-made structures are equally well textured, shaded and lit – they blend very well into the scenery.
When all these elements, including lighting, texturing, shading and modelling, come together the results can be extraordinary. Each resolution bump from one console to the next allows you to appreciate all of these aspects more fully, with the additional clarity also allowing players to see distant objects more clearly, which has benefits both in terms of presentation and gameplay. In fact, when you take into consideration the quality of the temporal anti-aliasing solution in use here, Far Cry 5 might just stand as one of the finest examples of 4K image quality when you’re gaming with Xbox One X. That’s not to say that Pro doesn’t look good – TAA produces great results there, too – but it’s noticeably blurrier overall compared to Microsoft’s hardware.
But is resolution really the only difference? We lined up a series of test shots designed to compare each version and found total parity: texture quality is standard across all four machines, object pop-in occurs at the same distance from the player, texture filtering is similarly mediocre wherever you’re playing, while terrain displacement decals pop-in at the same point as well.
Ubisoft has done a great job with some of its X-enhanced upgrades, often delivering upgraded visuals alongside resolution boosts, but that’s not the case here with Far Cry 5. However, the good news is that the Xbox One X version is bolstered in other ways, with significantly reduced loading times compared to the same content loaded on PlayStation 4 Pro, proving particularly effective for fast travel between locations.
Cross-platform parity holds up pretty well in terms of performance as well, with Ubisoft delivering a decent grip on the game’s 30 frames per second target frame-rate. Occasional torn frames and very minor drops can kick in on PS4 and PS4 Pro, but the vast majority of gameplay is delivered smoothly and consistently. The base Xbox One also holds up well overall, though some scenes can drop below 30fps, accompanied by obvious tearing. Thankfully, most of its issues are tied to combat and not even every battle is impacted – exploration and lighter battles tend to operate without a hitch.
It’s still a good experience on Xbox One in terms of playability, but ultimately, the resolution drop and less stable performance send it to the bottom of the pile. Thankfully, despite its 5.3x resolution boost, the Xbox One X version offers performance essentially on par with the PlayStation versions – though for some reason, the map screen has some bizarre tearing issues. It’s a very strange thing indeed but not really an issue since it never impedes on actual gameplay, though we’d hope to see it patched up in a future release (curiously, the standard Xbox One is not affected by the issue).
So what’s the takeaway then? It should be clear at this point that Ubisoft has done a good job of maximising each platform’s respective capabilities. This just leaves the PC version, where first impressions suggest visual improvements over the consoles may be limited, and where attaining a solid 60 frames per second isn’t trivial. We’ll be reporting in more depth on that soon, but in the console space, all four versions deliver a highly worthwhile experience, but Xbox One X owners clearly have access to the best console version of the game. The high resolution, stable frame-rate and excellent detail result in a truly beautiful game overall. That’s not to say that PS4 Pro owners are left in the dust – it’s still a great looking game on Sony’s machine – it’s just not quite as pristine overall, and in the case of Far Cry 5 at least, resolution matters.