Assassin’s Creed Valhalla update fixes Xbox Series X performance, but makes sacrifices to match the PS5

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was one of a few cross-platform and cross-generational games that performed worse on Xbox Series X than on PlayStation 5. Now a fresh analysis by Digital Foundry of the game’s 1.04 patch shows that Ubisoft have steadied the game’s imperfect frame rate, but at a slight cost in high intensity scenarios.

At launch, AC Valhalla was plagued with screen-tearing on Xbox Series X, despite using a dynamic resolution on all platforms in order to try and meet the target frame rate. On PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, the target was 60fps for both systems, but the PS5 was able to hold onto that frame rate much more consistently, even if it too had some moments of tearing.

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Update 1.04 for AC Valhalla has brought a number of changes, improvements and options for players. Digital Foundry have found that performance mode on PS5 is nigh on identical to before, with only minor performance deviations and a dynamic resolution that bottoms out at 1440p and tops out at around 1728p. After the update, Xbox Series X still has the same upper threshold, but can now drop down to 1188p in the most extreme situations. This grater variability leads to a slightly better performance level on Series X that PS5 now.

Hopefully Ubisoft work to optimise the game further over coming updates to iron out any remaining kinks and also improve performance in general.

However, across all the new consoles, there’s now the option of prioritising performance with 60fps, or quality with a 30fps frame rate. The latter option on PS5 and XSX locks the game to a perfect 30fps and runs at a full, native 4K. The choice is now yours.

It’s a pretty easy choice on Xbox Series S, in my opinion. The game on this lower-powered console launched with a 30fps frame limit and a dynamic resolution between 1080p and 1440p. This was criticised by players, but the reason is pretty clear now that you can enable a performance mode. While you get a 60fps target, it’s not as steady as on the more powerful consoles and the dynamic resolution drops down to 720p. It’s there if you want it, though.

All in all, it seems to be a good step forward for Microsoft’s consoles, and addresses a seeming lack of optimisation that third party developers have put into the Xbox Series systems for launch. Microsoft have addresses this over the last week, saying they are working with developers to improve performance (and match what the PS5 is managing), but it’s clear that something is a little bit off at the moment. A few potential factors have been mooted, from the final dev kits reaching developers later on that PS5, to the XSX being a bit more powerful so developers not optimising as much for it, or the simple business factor that the PS5 is expected to sell more than Xbox, and so that would be the priority. That’s obviously all speculation, but when Microsoft have touted the Series X as the more powerful console, that needs to be backed up.

Source: Digital Foundry

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2 Comments

  1. Oops..! It’s quite funny ‘the most powerful console’ actually performs worse in games… There it is again, Sony’s ‘special sauce’… 🤣

    • Most powerful if you carefully pick the right numbers.

      It’s starting to look like the different approach to the GPU might be working in Sony’s favour. It’s got less CUs, but they’re faster. Are some of these multiplatform games being designed for the number the PS5 has? Which gives the PS5 a 22% advantage. Compared to an 18% advantage for the Series X if it was running at full power.

      I don’t think you can just chuck all the work at the GPU and expect it to neatly hand it out to all the available CUs. It’ll involve some work to make sure it can all be neatly split up into different bits, and that’s then got to work with a smaller number on the PS5. Lots of extra work to take full advantage of the X over the PS5.

      And if the developers are reasonably assuming the PS5 will sell more, and it’s apparently easier to develop for, I can’t really see anything much changing. Unless MS start throwing money around to tempt them into optimising things more. So multiplatform games might end up only using 69% of the Series X GPU power. While the other advantages of the PS5, like the SSD speed, help Sony even more.

      Possibly why MS seem to have changed their marketing from “most powerful console ever” to “most powerful XBox console ever”.

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