A surprise update recently arrived for Shadow of the Tomb Raider, bringing the best of both worlds to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles: a high resolution that looks great on 4K screens, as well as a 60fps target. And if the frame rate consistency isn’t good enough for you, the performance mode will still be 1080p. In our opinion, the modified Quality mode is the gameplay, and the differences in how PS5 and Xbox Series X present it is interesting.
Essentially, Shadow of the Tomb Raider on Xbox Series consoles now has an official X/S series patch flag, indicating a native app, while the update continues to be flagged as a PlayStation 4 title when played on PS5. However, it is clear that despite the new Xbox branding, the game continues to run on the older XDK – it was not adapted to the new GDK and therefore does not take advantage of the more advanced features of the RDNA 2 GPU. During Microsoft’s FPS Boost update: the performance is the same, the resolution is the same – 2016p on the X series, 900p on the S series. The difference for Microsoft devices is that the progress bug introduced by FPS Boost is now fixed. In fact, FPS Boost is made official by Square-Enix and the error disappears.
The changes made to the PlayStation 5, which manages the game according to backwards compatibility, are more interesting. Resolution mode runs at 1872p at a maximum of 30fps on the PS4 Pro and until the patch arrived, it was the same on PlayStation 5. Now, however, Square-Enix has changed things: the Pro still works at 1872p but the PS5 does at 2160p , with improved performance through an acceleration system in which a chessboard is displayed. It’s an interesting choice on the developer’s part – the suggestion is that 60fps cannot be achieved by keeping the original version. Checkerboarding reduces the number of pixels but allows the PS5 to offer a higher level of performance.
Although setting his decision targeting 60fps—and doing a good job overall—neither the PS5 nor Series X can live up to that number, so 1080p performance mode still has a role to play, albeit a slight one. It basically removes all the other bottlenecks at the GPU level and gets a smooth 60fps set, with performance drops remaining only from small slips associated with camera cut-offs during motion. Many games do this: It’s a way to start showing effects like motion blur, and even texture effects, with an extra frame to protect and ensure that TAA handles each frame.
As for how the Series X and PS5 stack up in their respective resolution modes, Microsoft’s hardware loads far more pixels than its Sony counterpart, giving an overall marginal improvement in image quality. Meanwhile, the PlayStation 5 gets pretty close to 60 frames per second, squishing only in areas with a lot of transparency effects — the flood sequence at the start of the game is the ultimate effort.
The X series is basically the same, but with less stability and a further drop in performance. Again, alpha effects are the main culprit: crashing waves and even highly transparent forest areas leave the console running continuously in the 1950s. It’s great to see the resolution line up with the Xbox One X version, but you can’t help but feel like you’re paying for it – although if you’re playing in the variable refresh rate view, the effect is dwarfed.
When comparing the two precision mode controllers, we are given an interesting contrast. There’s no doubt that the PS5 delivers smoother performance: 4K’s checkerboard technology works well and generally allows for stronger locking at 60 frames per second. The X Series has a sharper picture – closer to true 4K in raw detail, but in motion the detail separation seen with the PS5’s checkerboard rendering is masked by the game’s TAA and motion blur. It’s a powerful use of style that makes it close enough to pass as a local presentation. The PS5 savings can also be highlighted in terms of frame rate. At some points we see an advantage of around 10 fps in favor of the PS5, and it seems to us that it is a better experience at 60 fps.
Of course, we must also mention the Xbox Series S. The reality of this version is that it reaches 60 frames per second without any problem, at least from the first hours. Even the hardest hit areas of the X Series don’t cause problems for the S Series. It’s a great lock at 60 fps, but the 900p resolution is a bit low: it doesn’t mean you get artifacts, you just get a drop in sharpness. It’s little very not concentrated. The end result isn’t too flashy to be seen on a large 4K screen, though at least blocking a smoother frame rate. In fact, the 1080p60 option was a nice bonus.
Finally, this is an interesting update. On Xbox Series consoles, Shadow of the Tomb Raider 2.01 patch essentially makes the FPS Boost update official, and delivers identical performance but addresses the progress bug. However, the PS5 changes are more substantial – it’s one of the few backwards compatibility updates we’ve seen that actually changes the resolution beyond removing the maximum frame rate. Checkerboarding does well at lowering the resolution with minimal access to image quality, while allowing the console to run at a mostly-obscured 60fps. However, regardless of platform, a great game has been given a better way to play it – it’s a new excuse to play it if you haven’t already, or revisit it if you’ve already played it. The game still looks amazing and benefits greatly from the performance upgrade.
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