Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare – PS4 vs Xbox One Multiplayer graphics analysis

Digital Foundry has recently released a couple of test footages in which the graphics performance of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare’s Multiplayer mode is analyzed on both current-gen consoles, PS4 and Xbox One. Previous assessments revealed that the PS4 is struggling to keep a 60FPS level in certain points of solo play, while the Xbox One’s dynamic resolution was not an inspired choice in the end, as this resolution technique affects image quality on Microsoft’s console. So the question is if these single player performance shortcomings will turn up in the online competitive play, and if so, to what extent? Right from the kick-off, the Xbox One is confirmed to reach full 1920×1080 resolution in the less demanding scenes of single player campaign, but this does not seem to be the case with Advanced Warfare’s Multiplayer mode. Upon gathering pixel-counting screenshots from all 13 available stages, it has been established that a 1360×1080 resolution is predominant here. Even in action free, small maps with no players on screen, the Xbox One refuses to budge further from its native frame-buffer dynamically based on load.

In contrast, the PS4 is locked at full 1080p just like in the single player campaign. As a result, the PS4 has a clear advantage over the Xbox One which is pretty obvious and cannot be overlooked in many stages of online play. The Xbox One employs a cut-back frame buffer on its hardware which causes foliage elements (grass, trees, buildings, and so on) to appear overly filtered and upscaled, while the PS4’s visuals remain smooth and well-defined throughout this testing. In terms of texture quality, the Xbox One and PS4 are tied so far – “a state of affairs that is also true of alpha resolution on Semtex grenade explosions and even object LODs,” according to other reviewers.

Although the border of each map is clearly visible on both consoles, the Xbox One shows a diminished clarity past a certain distance. Both PS4 and Xbox One utilize motion blur and depth of field reduction for Advanced Warfare, with a clear intention of maximizing image clarity. Again, the Xbox One falls short here, as its lower 1360×1080 resolution is not of great help. This will probably not have any effect on the actual gameplay, but the discrepancy is obvious when switching over to the PS4. As the 60FPS rate is one of the guiding graphics principles of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, the Xbox One is forced to lock at a lower resolution in order to reach that intended frame rate. In the following part of this Digital Foundry test, both consoles will undergo a performance testing in high-stress gameplay stages to determine which one outputs the best performance. The most suitable for this assessment is the Ground War mode, allowing for a maximum of 18 players in big team games. The results are quite interesting.

Starting with the Xbox One, the opening Instinct stage test shows good frame rate results; the lowest rate is 56FPS. On the downside, a shader effect disrupts the screen, accompanied by a few torn frames, causing the upper 33 per cent of the screen to be cut in every instance. As in the single player campaign, the Xbox One rarely drops under 60FPS with V-sync on in all gameplay stages, with a few exceptions. Also, Detroit and Defender levels run very smoothly on the One.

While the PlayStation 4 operates at full 1080p, the Advanced Warfare Multiplayer mode was expected to be more rewarding than its campaign counterpart in terms of graphics performance. This turned out to be true, as the lowest frame rate recorded for the PS4 is 50FPS during the Detroit level. This is only one of the two frame rate drops identified throughout hours of test footage, both of which coincide with kill-cam replays rather than actual gameplay.

When talking about action packed scenes where players are colliding in massive gun battles, both PS4 and Xbox One maintain a similar frame rate with very few drops. Sony’s gaming platform holds a nearly flawless 60FPS in these multiplayer instances with the V-sync always on. Surprisingly how the PS4 performs better in multiplayer mode than in single player campaign.

Taking all the above mentioned factors into account, Advanced Warfare’s competitive multiplayer mode is covered quite well by both current-gen consoles, as each one delivers very stable frame rates which rarely drop under 60FPS. The Xbox One makes this possible thanks to its shader effect, while in the case of the PS4 this is achieved due to alpha buffers which overlap every time a kill-cam replay kicks in. Thankfully, when the frame rates do drop, gameplay is not affected in any way. This goes for both consoles. Perhaps the only downside to dwell upon is the Xbox One’s lower 1360×1080 resolution which is omnipresent in Advanced Warfare’s online play, considering that the PS4 brings a more accurate and enhanced experience thanks to its superior hardware.