I remember when we started talking about PS5 and Xbox Series X, and we had the opportunity to see a huge amount of rumors and information that, in some cases, were truly crazy. This generated a snowball effect that inflated the expectations around the new generation in an inordinate way, and in the end, when we started to see the first games for both consoles, the bubble was completely punctured.
Personally, I am quite clear that PS5 and Xbox Series X and are the generation of disappointment, not only because they have not fulfilled the expectations they have generated at all, but also because they have maintained a good part of the problems that the previous generation of consoles dragged, both in their standard versions (PS4 and Xbox One) and in their intergenerational renovations (PS4 Pro and Xbox One X).
The enthusiasm of the fans of PS5 and Xbox Series X collides with the opinions of experts and impartial users who have contemplated, dumbfounded, how two consoles were going to match a next-generation gaming PC have ended up stuck at a point very similar to the previous generation. In this sense, the article that Tom’s Hardware published a few days ago seems totally revealing to me, and very interesting, since in it, a PS5 buyer says “playing on your PS5 makes you want a PS5 Pro.” Take a look, it has no waste.
PS5 and Xbox Series X force you to choose, and with important limitations
Graphics quality or performance? That’s the “menu” offered by PS5 and Xbox Series X. The generation that was going to tame ray tracing, and that was going to be able to move games up to 8K, has proved, in the end, that not able to digest resolutions higher than 1440p when using ray tracing. This new generation does not get along quite well with high graphic qualities, and resolution rescaling remains an equally useful resource as in the previous generation.
Do you want to play at 60 frames per second? With PS5 and Xbox Series X you can do it, but you will have to settle for 1440p resolution and graphic qualities that, in some cases, are below the average level. And yes, forget about ray tracing. Control, a previous generation title, moves on PS5 and Xbox Series X at 60 FPS in 1440p with a mix of low and ultra-low settings, on certain parameters, and a minority of settings in medium quality. With ray tracing it maintains that configuration, but reducing the quality of said technology drastically and going down to 30 FPS.
PS5 and Xbox Series X is the generation of disappointment, and also the choice, since it prevents you from enjoying an experience adjusted, really, to that new generation that we have been enjoying on PC since 2018. You have to choose, and you also have to accept the sacrifices associated with that choice. Some may tell me that Spider-Man: Miles Morales offers 60 FPS and ray tracing on PS5, and yes, it is true but you have to keep in mind that:
- We are talking about an intergenerational game, developed on the basis of PS4.
- The screen resolution changes dynamically based on the workload to maintain 60 FPS, which affects the quality significantly in certain situations.
- It reduces the quality of ray tracing and the density of NPCs.
Can I expect a miracle through optimization?
It is an argument that we are seeing a lot in recent months. Before the arrival of PS5 and Xbox Series X, fans of both consoles were convinced that they were going to mark a new ceiling, and that the differences compared to the current generation were going to be enormous. After its launch we live an important dose of reality which pointed in the opposite direction, and with it the argument changed completely.
The trend is now clear: “they are still green, we have to wait for it to be optimized for both consoles.” All that is very good, But what do we really mean by optimizing? PS5 and Xbox Series X have a defined power and resources, as happened at the time with PS4 and Xbox One, and this will not change unless Sony and Microsoft release reserved resources to the system.
The optimized games we saw on PS4 and Xbox One actually created an ecosystem of endlessly repeating sandbox titles with some mechanics that did not introduce, with few exceptions, nothing new, and that resorted to the usual cliches: rescaled resolution, 30 frames per second (which in the end ended up being in many cases between 12 and 25 FPS) and increasingly lower qualities, made up by reconstruction techniques and temporary smoothing that applied a terrible blurring effect.
Optimizing is one thing, and reducing graphic quality and resolution, or resorting to rescaling or dynamic resolution, are very different things. PS4 and Xbox One arrived in late 2013, but since 2015 we haven’t seen no truly revolutionary game on a technical level that allows us to confirm that there were significant improvements due to the miracle of optimization. Has anyone said Red Dead Redemption 2? I say The Witcher III, and it came in 2015.
It is clear that, when PS5 and Xbox Series X settle, we will see standardized developments around a specific format that allows us to obtain the best relationship between performance, ease of development and technical finish of both consoles, as happened with the semi-empty sandbox style that has reigned on PS4 and Xbox One, but that is not optimizing, it is adapting and limiting the creation of videogames to the capabilities of two platforms.
PS5 and Xbox Series X: Will they be a drag on the PC world?
Without a doubt, any generation of consoles ends up being a drag sooner or later. Note that hardware accelerated ray tracing available on PC since 2018, the date on which the arrival of Turing, the NVIDIA architecture that powers the RTX 20 series, and the same goes for Zen 2 and SSDs.
PS5 and Xbox Series X they have not introduced anything revolutionary, and the graphics architecture used by both consoles is not only much more limited in ray-traced performance, but also lacks an alternative to NVIDIA’s DLSS 2.0, which allows you to intelligently rebuild the image for an enhancement that, in some cases, it triples performance.
Video game developments are always carried out starting from the least powerful platform, and more profitable. It is already happening with PS4, and will soon be repeated with PS5 and Xbox Series X. This means that we will continue to be immersed in a stage of “new generation” games, in quotes for obvious reasons, which will be limited to the base of the console less powerful (PS5, in this case).
With everything, there are also positives I do not want to leave myself in the inkwell. The arrival of PS5 and Xbox Series X establishes new limitations, but will allow to overcome, when the transition to that generation is completed, the limits imposed by PS4 and Xbox One, which should translate into new games with more complex and wider worlds, better animations and greater use of components such as the SSD.