When a game is announced as cross-generation between PS4, Xbox One, PS3 and Xbox 360, it’s easy to understand why many that moved to the current generation of consoles feel a measure of their excitement ebb away. Cross-generation games tend to penalize the current generation platforms rather heavily in order to accommodate the restriction of the old ones.
Below you can see an extensive gallery with 22 screenshots of the beta taken on PS4 and PS3 (PS4 on top and PS3 below it in each pairing) in order to easily see the difference between the two platforms. Of course you should click on each screenshots to see them at their full resolution.
With each screenshots we attempted to reproduce the angle and position as close as possible, and the lighting condition as well. Of course there’s a degree of variation, but it’s pretty minimal.
The difference is extremely noticeable. Maybe even more noticeable than many would expect, and not because the PS3 version looks terrible. It’s pretty much par per course for a PS3 game showing levels of this magnitude. Resolution is a fairly obvious distinguishing element, but it’s far from being the only difference, and it’s not even the most relevant change.
3D models have a quite evidently higher polygon count on PS4 (it’s very noticeable on curved objects, for instance the ropes on the wall in the picture showcasing Lord Shaxx. Textures are also at least twice (if not more) the resolution on Sony’s new console compared to the old-gen version.
Lighting (including the number and complexity of the light sources), reflections, translucent surfaces, shadows, foliage, normal maps, tassellation and basically everything that contributes to determine the game’s visual fidelity are simply on a different order on magnitude on the two consoles.
There’s only one element in which the PS4 version fails quite badly to deliver, and that’s anti-aliasing, with very visible jagged lines especially on fences and railings. The effect is a bit distracting, but that’s pretty much the only area where the game hasn’t been improved much compared to PS3.
Ultimately Destiny is the perfect example on how cross-generation games should be made without sacrificing new-gen consoles excessively. It’s pretty much a given that development exclusively on PS4 and Xbox One would have yielded better results, but in this case we can’t say that the old-gen penalized its newer counterparts too much.