There has been a lot of talk about the “downgrade” of the Xbox One exclusive Ryse: Son of Rome, that now sports less polygons per character than previous builds, while shaders have been upgraded and the use of LOD has been removed.
The discourse has even reached Crytek Founder and Ceo Cevat Yerli that tweeted about it to explain that it was a deliberate choice. But how do the two builds stack against one another? We don’t have much material for a comparison, but we do have two relevant screenshots that portray basically the same scene, in the old build with 150,000 polygons per character model and in the new build with 85,000.
Below you can see a through comparison of the two screenshots, and draw your own conclusions (Note: the newer screenshot comes from a livestream, so it’s a bit more blurry. resolution isn’t important towards our comparison though, as what we’re looking at is polygon density and shaders).
The removal of some polygons is somewhat visible (but they mostly look like spurious ones, like the clipping gold part on the armor’s shoulder pad on the right), but we can also notice that the overall feel of the materials is now more realistic and textured, especially on metallic surfaces that now don’t look like polished plastic anymore, and on the skin, that shows more detail (check the neck of the character on the right for instance), while normal mapping also seems better defined with no visible jaggies, as shown by the etching in his armor. That’s most probably due to a higher resolution or less compressed normal map texture.
Which version looks better? That’s for you to decide, as it’s mostly a matter of taste here. Definitely let us know your opinion in the comments. In the meanwhile I leave you with a brief clip showing a dynamic passage from the old version to the new one.
Update: If you want to read further on this topic, and on why raw polygon count doesn’t always tell the whole story, you can find out all about it in my newest article.