Yesterday night Bungie opened the beta for the Xbox versions of Destiny, finally allowing Microsoft fans to join their PlayStation brothers in the defense of the last city on Earth. This also allows us to compare the PS4 and Xbox One versions and see how they stack against each other.
After the announcement that the Xbox One version of the beta would not reach the 1080p goal, many thought that it would compare very poorly against its counterpart for Sony’s new console, but those may yet be surprised.
Before we proceed, it’s relevant to mention that the Xbox One version of the game will run at 1080p at launch as clarified by Bungie itself, so this comparison is pertinent exclusively to the beta.
Below you can see 22 screenshots of the PS4 version (on top of each pairing) pitched against an equal number of screenshots from the Xbox One version. In order to be able to spot the differences more easily, click on each screenshot to open its full resolution version (the Xbox One screenshots are in 1080p because the Xbox One upscales them prior to the capture). Then flip between tabs in your browser for a comfortable comparison.
The Xbox One screenshots were taken first, then their position, camera angle and lighting conditions have been meticulously reproduced on PS4. While perfection is impossible without the use of development tools, we got as close as we could.
In the character creator and in the NPC screens the differences are really minimal, and mostly located around a slight discrepancy in overall fidelity in favor of PS4. This is due to the extremely high definition assets used for these parts of the game, making up for the difference in pixel count. Unfortunately characters don’t look even close to this in game, on both platforms.
The delightfully long draw distance of the PS4 version is preserved on the Xbox One version, even if the thinnest objects displayed very far suffer a bit and at times appear more “broken” due to the lower resolution. Unfortunately the FXAA anti-aliasing used on both version doesn’t perform too well regardless of platforms on that kind of elements.
Shadow definition is basically identical, while the rendering of gratings suffers a tiny bit on Xbox One due to the lower pixel count.
looking at items from a very close distance helps noticing the difference in definition, but it’s very subtle.
The quality of the motion blur effect at the edges of the screen when running is basically identical.
Normal mapping isn’t perfect on both platforms, showing quite a bit of aliasing on rounded details.
The map shows a bit more detail on PS4, especially in the holographic effects.
Lighting effects are definitely spectacular on both platforms, and very similar if not identical (it’s just hard to capture them in the same moment, as they glow, with the glare turning on and off intermittently).
Prop details are a little better on PS4, again due to the higher pixel count. Foliage is where the difference is most visible, while shadows are again absolutely identical, down to how they become banded and imperfect on some rounded area (like the left part of the nose of the helicopter).
This one shows more differences. Behind the array on the foreground the Xbox One version has a second one. In the PS4 version it’s completely missing. There’s also a rather visible difference on the normal mapping of the arrays themselves. The fences behind the array show the advantage in aliasing of the PS4 version rather clearly, even if the effect is very far from perfect there as well.
In this lovely picture of the cosmodrome the PS4 performs slightly better overall, especially in the smaller elements of the ruined and contorted metal, thanks to the higher pixel count. That said, both pictures are rather spectacular.
This last pairing is the most peculiar. Overall quality aside, the lights on the front of the tower’s structure are completely missing from the Xbox One version, something it has in common with the PS3 version. Some of the bars in the railing on the top right (just above the birds) also seem to be completely missing.
Ultimately the Xbox One version stands up surprisingly well to the PS4 version, despite the lower pixel counts that puts it at an obvious disadvantage. The lower definition is visible, but looking at the screen, unless you have a very big one, it’d be difficult to notice it without squinting very very hard.
This also results in a slight advantage with aliasing for Sony’s new console, as a higher pixel count also helps smoothing the jaggies down a little bit. Interestingly, and quite rarely, some very small details seem to be entirely missing from one version or the other. It’s hard to say if this is intended, or simply a design oversight.
Unsurprisingly the largest difference can be seen in foliage, especially at a distance, since it’s one of a game’s visual elements that most suffers from a lower resolution.
Ultimately, the game looks great on both consoles, and while it looks a bit better on PS4 for the moment, we’ll have to wait for launch to pass the final judgement.