World of Tanks is now in open beta on PS4, so it’s a good time to see how the new version for Sony’s console stacks against the ones Xbox One and the PC, and the results might be quite surprising for many.
When Wargaming announced that it would port its most popular PC game to consoles, many expected just that, a port. Turns out that it isn’t, and below you’re going to see why.
We took quite a few screenshot of each version of the game (excluding the Xbox 360 version, for obvious reasons) in uncompressed PNG for maximum fidelity. With each group of pictures, we tried to reproduce the situation and angle with the best possible degree precision.
Unfortunately, a full reproduction of the same angle is not possible on PC, as the camera is positioned higher compared to the tank, but the screenshots still showcase approximately the same situation.
Now, without further ado, I leave you with the screenshots. In each group within the gallery, the order is PS4 -> Xbox One -> PC. All PC screenshots have been taken at the best possible level of detail on the HD client and in 1080p resolution.
You probably noticed that the last pair of screenshots doesn’t have a PC version. The reason is that night and rain are not implemented on PC. That’s the first big visual difference.
The second thing you’ll probably notice is that the PS4 and the Xbox One versions are basically identical twins. Putting aside a slightly different gamma value on default settings, the only relevant difference is in the picture with smaller house in flames in the Mines map.
You’ll notice that the debris in front of the house appears to lack an overlay texture representing ash or dust in the PS4 version (the apparently missing three in the same picture is just because another tank toppled it). Considering the identical nature of the console clients, that seems to be just an oversight, and does not appear to apply anywhere else.
Now that we have determined that the PS4 and the Xbox One version are basically identical, let’s move to the differences. Wargaming didn’t simply port the game from PC to the new generation of consoles, but they overhauled the graphics very heavily.
The PC version has the edge in the hangar: models and tanks are more detailed, and apparently more advanced shaders react in a more realistic and natural way to the light. Interestingly, this difference does not fully carry over to gameplay.
When we examine actual gameplay, the shaders on the tank still seem a bit more natural on the PC version, but the models are more detailed in the console version. There are entire 3D objects added on PS4 and Xbox One, like equipment, helmets and storage containers strapped to the armor of the tanks. The same applies to environments, with console versions showing a higher density of debris and decorations, and those are generally more detailed.
An easy way to notice that, is looking at the sandbags in the third group of screenshots, featuring the Abbey map. On PC, they’re blocky and they lack detail, while on consoles they look more organic, including a better texture.
One of the biggest differences is lighting, which is a lot more complex on consoles, giving the environments more atmosphere and a slightly more stylized look. The overall result is considerably more dramatic, in combination with more fire and smoke particle effects.
S4 and Xbox one also feature a film grain overlay that doesn’t appear on PC, and have a considerably higher draw distance, compensated by a rather intense depth of field effect. The PC version, on the other hand, hides far away details with a fairly heavy distance fog effect.
Ultimately, the PC version has some advantages in some areas (and on my fairly powerful rig with an i7 and a GTX 970 it runs fairly consistently above 100 frames per second, compared to the 30 of the console version), but personally I find the console versions a lot more appealing visually due to the combination of the factors mentioned above.
If Wargaming simply ported the game from PC to console, no one would have minded, but it’s nice to see that they went above and beyond the call of duty to deliver a game that looks great on Sony’s and Microsoft’s platforms.
That said, it would be nice to see them port those innovations and changes back to the PC version, considering that most gaming PCs can definitely support that level of fidelity and density with no issue at all.