We were supposed to expect Quantum Break to target and run at 1920 x 1080p with a consistent display of 30 frames per second. That’s what Remedy promised right? Well, the Xbox One may not have been able to handle the visual quality of Quantum Break at those settings, because Digital Foundry is reporting that the game only runs at 1280 x 720p.
Digital Foundry reports that Remedy’s upcoming third-person shooter was not running in 1080p for as far as their tests were concerned. In a white paper published at SIGGRAPH 2015 Remedy noted that Quantum Break ran at 1080p and 30fps, but Digital Foundry’s David Bierton writes…
“Curiously, the paper also states Xbox One’s final output is 1920×1080, and that’s where there is some confusion – as we’ve yet to see evidence of full HD 1080p gameplay in close analysis – barring the title’s HUD elements and menus. In every scene tested so far, a native resolution of 720p is the consistent result found in each pixel count test – so while there’s every possibility of individual render targets operating at higher resolutions, basic geometry that we’re able to measure hands in a 720p result as things stand.”
Despite the resolution failings the game did manage to maintain running consistently at 30fps, as evidenced in the video test below.
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There is a caveat to the consistency of 30fps, however.
While the game manages to avoid dipping into the 20s other in a few odd action moments, this is made possible due to the lower resolution and lower quality rendering of things such as shadow maps, light sources and light casting.
It’s mentioned by Bierton that the screen-space lighting suffers from the lower resolution rendering, which sort of hurts the game’s visual fidelity upon closer inspection.
One individual in the comment section asked what the difference was between global illumination and screen-space lighting, presumably in relation to how it affects performance. Global illumination means that the entire play environment is lit and has shadows cast based entirely on a global light source, like the sun or a strobe light or the moon. Individual light sources can be added to a scene to help further illuminate the area in conjunction with global illumination. Screen-space lighting means that regardless of a sun or moon light source being present it doesn’t affect the lighting, brightness or shadows of the area and those kind of “global” light sources are there for just decoration. Screen-space lighting relies on specific light entities casting specific amounts of light in a specific direction.
Now physically-based rendering will enable some screen-space lighting to emulate the effects of global illumination by allowing the light entities to cast on other objects. So a bright red florescent lamp would emit red refraction across objects and the environment that pick up light that bounces off reflective areas.
In the seventh gen, a lot of the lighting was what they would call pre-baked into the environment. Lighting artists would have to manually setup light sources and entities and then render the scene so that the lights “bake” themselves into the environment. They also sometimes consider this to be static light sources.
In the case of Quantum Break, they’re using a lot of new-gen tech but at lower resolutions to compensate for processing power and resource consumption. Obviously the Xbox One is showing its age in a big way with this game.
Now some of the technical minded folks in the Digital Foundry article are saying that maybe they’ll use dynamic scalable resolutions for Quantum Break but given that Digital Foundry is saying that the code they had in hand was the final code, I tend to doubt that the Xbox One version of Quantum Break will be anything more than 720p unless they add a post-launch patch to remedy the issue.