The release of the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X has seen an awful lot of developers and publishers going back and adding support for these consoles to their games, often adding in higher resolution and/or higher frame rate options. Of course, with two more powerful platforms to cater to and them coming a year apart, there’s varying levels of improvement and varying quality of support, depending on the game.
Overwatch is quite exceptional in this regard, and I mean this in a couple of ways. On the one hand, the Xbox One X 4K patch that released a couple weeks ago is exceptional in how fantastic the game looks on Microsoft’s more powerful console, but on the other, the size of the gap back to the PlayStation 4 Pro shows that Blizzard’s support really doesn’t live up to the power available Sony’s own 4K capable console. Where One X update reaches for 4K, the PS4 Pro is stuck at 1080p, meaning Sony’s premium console still features next to no tangible improvement over the base PlayStation 4.
This video above illustrates that divide. We’re having a few teething issues with our 4K capture gear, so where the game runs at 60fps, our video is at 30fps. However, we’re capturing at 2160p30, so you should get the full hit of the visual jump when viewing on a 4K screen.
The Xbox One X gets a dynamic resolution that pushes well beyond 1080p and locks the vertical axis to 2160 pixels. We’ll defer to Digital Foundry’s report that the horizontal goes as low as 2112 pixels wide at the busiest moments, and sits at around 2752 pixels wide most of the time. That’s a long way shy of the full 3840×2160 resolution, and there’s a few moments of calm where it is noticeable, such as at the winning team’s line up, but this drop never interferes with the game in the heat of the action and always looks great on a 4K screen.
This does push the console hard, and while the game is very close to having a rock solid 60fps, there are some very minor stutters at times and some screen tearing that can be noticeable. There’s perhaps some small optimisations that Blizzard can still make, but on the whole, it looks and plays fantastically well with next to no performance penalty.
Click to view at full scale.
In contrast, the PlayStation 4 Pro gets a basic 1080p with a 4K user interface overlaid on top. It’s one of the biggest visual gaps that you’ll find between the two consoles and it’s surprising that Blizzard haven’t gone to greater lengths here and returned to improve the game on PS4 Pro.
There is perhaps a reason to be found in the comparative power of the consoles, because the PS4 Pro would not be able to hold 2160 pixels on the vertical axis, likely having to aim for 1440p with checkerboarding, temporal anti-aliasing, a dynamic resolution or a combination of all three. We’ve seen this plenty of times, and key equivalents include Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 that show that this can be done while still targeting 60fps – Battlefield 1 is less successful in this regard, but also more ambitious. Those games made Overwatch’s lack of real higher resolution support surprising back in 2016, but it’s now really very disappointing in light of the Xbox One X update.
Hopefully Blizzard see fit to revisit the PS4 Pro version of the game and bring the two closer together in the near future, but one thing is clear from all of this: Overwatch’s gameplay is just as good on either platform, and the all important game performance is almost impeccable across the board, but if visuals can tip the balance and you’re not tied to a system’s online community? You want to be playing on Xbox One X.