Lords of the Fallen is without question a core RPG title which has a lot to offer in terms of gameplay and graphics features. Employing the Fledge engine, the Deck13 team focused their efforts on combining complex gameplay with advanced visuals such as high-quality volumetric lighting, GPU-accelerated physics and a series of custom Nvidia GameWorks features. Starting off as a PS3 and Xbox 360 title, Lords of the Fallen transitioned to current-gen PS4 and Xbox One, and the end result is not at all pleasing to the fans. The reason is quite simple – utilizing the latest and most advanced graphics features does not always secure a home run, and this seems to be the case with Lords of the Fallen. While all these features are truly impressive, they simply do not work on current-gen gaming consoles.
Severe judder, image tearing and frame rate dips does not sound appealing at all, especially when talking about a resounding title which was expected to perform flawlessly on a high-end console. Developers announced back in September that Lords of the Fallen will be running at 1080p on PS4 and 900p on the Xbox One, although first impressions suggest something below those numbers, according to Eurogamer. The reason for this is the excessive chromatic aberration utilized by Deck13 developers which creates the impression of a much lower resolution. The Lords of the Fallen PC version is the only one that allows for the feature to be disabled, but this unfortunately requires players to disable other post-processing features which will have an impact on graphics experience, eliminating essential visual effects such as anti-aliasing. Developers should bare that in mind when developing the next patch, and implement a standalone option of disabling chromatic aberration. Focusing on console visual quality, Lords of the Fallen runs in similar fashion both on PS4 and Xbox One, apart from a reduction in shadow quality and light glow on the Xbox One. The PS4 console shows a far more superior shadow resolution than the Xbox One – which renders noticeable chunky shadows in many instances of the game. Again, the PC version answers with the best quality in this aspect, featuring an increased number of shadows with superior definition.
Ambient occlusion is implemented on all three versions and the quality seems to be similar across console and PC, with pretty good coverage most of the time. This technique is not flawless, as noticeable flicker and foliage has been spotted on all platforms. Nvidia has developed an official flag for the PC version to enable HBAO+ which eliminates this issues and provides better contact shadows, although some visible flicker may be encountered in certain scenes. As mentioned above, Lords of the Fallen utilizes volumetric lighting which is one of the most advanced graphics features of the game. To reduce the impact on performance, developers have employed a lower rendering resolution with interleaved sampling in order to minimize the count per fragment. PC and console versions show outstanding quality in this department, with a higher resolution used on PC, resulting in more accurate volumetric shafts. In terms of graphics detail, Lords of the Fallen looks identical on all platforms, except for the fact that the PC version enables tweaks in texture and scenery detail. Texture resolution is poor on both consoles, in spite of the high memory the game has at its disposal. But that’s not the main concern; the biggest issue on both PS4 and Xbox One is performance.
The game seems incapable of maintaining a constant 30FPS at any given moment, showing frequent dips followed by severe screen-tear, especially on PS4. The Xbox One version seems even more unstable at times, manifesting increased judder compared to the PS4. With the frame buffer flipped at any point, the XB1 version runs at a slightly higher frame rate than the PS4 version, but still the performance is very poor, and the discrepancy is unnoticeable. In contrast, Eurogamer allegedly managed to get the game running on a powerful GTX 780/i5 3570K rig at a relatively steady 60FPS and 1080p resolution, with some minor glitches. The general consensus is that both console versions of Lords of the Fallen are unplayable, and the PC version is the one that truly works. While image quality may be superior on PS4, screen tear is more noticeable, and performance is identical compared to the Xbox One. On the other side, the Xbox One version suffers from more severe judder and frequent frame rate dips which is also a big turn-off. So, PC is the way to go, and in spite of the high system requirements of the game, you should be able to play it at stable frame rates and without image tearing. Finally, let’s hope that Lords of the Fallen will get a console patch that will eliminate these major graphics issues, considering the fact that the game is pretty solid in terms of gameplay.