The textures of the Xbox One alpha testing of Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall caused a big hubbub within the community, as their resolution was really low. Respawn immediately clarified that the textures included in the alpha had been sized down in order to reduce the download size, which is actually a quite common practice in the industry for pre-release testing.
The case exploded when popular insider codenamed Crazy Buttocks on a Train (shortened CBOAT) mentioned on NeoGAF that the textures in the alpha were final for the Xbox One version, prompting Respawn to respond, reiterating their previous position and stating that they have nothing to gain by lying on the issue.
But what is the real difference between the alpha textures and the high resolution textures included in the PC version and that according to Respawn are supposed to appear in the final Xbox One version too?
The screenshot comparison below will give you a glimpse on just how different they are. Screenshots were taken from the best direct feed alpha footage we could find (featuring the least compression) and from a high quality version of the “Angel City Demo” trailer released directly by Respawn. The alpha version features more compression that we’d like, but it’s the best we could find, and still gives a good idea of the quality of the textures.
In each pair of screenshots the Xbox One alpha version will be on top, while the PC version will be at the bottom of the two. Of course you can click on each picture for a full size version. We tried to portray elements as similar as possible, even when not identical, as of course we did not have direct control of the footage.
Very similar rooms. The difference is very visible on the extinguisher and on the frames of the windows.
The helmets here are different, but feature a very similar design, letting us see the discrepancy in texture quality quite clearly.
The computer on the wall is exactly the same prop, giving us another glimpse on the differences between the two versions.
The discrepancy in texture quality for this rocket launcher (which is the same in both pictures) is extremely visible.
Same as above, this titan chain gun shows the discrepancy in texture quality quite effectively.
The hand and interior of this titan are very similar in their textures, giving us another perfect example for our comparison.
This is the same “wanted” billboard, even is shown from different angles. Even here the discrepancy in resolution is radical.
This is the same titan model, just in different colors, giving us a very close view on the texture of the titans themselves.
Even if the “Sea Food” signs is seen from different angles, the difference is very evident.
This is basically the same scene, giving us a perfect overall shot. Can you spot the differences?
Just by giving a fast glance to the screenshots above the difference is absolutely visible. The textures on the alpha seem to be roughly a quarter of the resolution of those showcased in the trailer.
Personally, after examining the pictures and all the available footage, I’m very inclined to believe Respawn’s version of the story. The reason is simple: no developer in its right (collective) mind would ever ship a massively anticipated AAA game on a next generation console with textures like those seen in the Xbox One alpha. It’s simply not believable.
In addition to that, texture resolution mostly weighs on the hardware’s video RAM (or in this case on its shared RAM). The Xbox One has plenty, and with 8 GB of memory there would simply be no reason for the game to ship with textures that can probably be compared with the early Xbox 360 era and that would run with no issue on 512 Mb.
We’ll know for sure quite soon, but for now, at the very least, you can see the difference clearly.