With reviews for both the PS5 and Xbox Series X flooding out in recent days, one of the most discussed topics amongst gamers has now been tested in the wild by the folks at Digital Foundry – backwards compatibility.
It seems backwards compatibility has proven a bit more complicated than expected on the new consoles with varying outcomes on a case-by-case basis across quite a few third-party titles – despite Microsoft’s more vocal commitment to the endeavour.
Why? Basically unless a game has been updated with a patch to make it run directly using the power of the new consoles, and that number is a small fraction of the whole with quite a few likely to never receive a patch, it relies instead on the new console’s raw power to boost the existing settings in place.
This means plenty of titles will see big jumps in frame rates with many titles that have struggled to hit 30 or 60 frames per second (fps) now doing so consistently depending on their frame rate caps. What this raw power can’t do without an update is change resolution – meaning most are stuck with the resolution they had on the old consoles.
For the first half of the last generation that means older games will now play at 1080p/60fps on PS5, and 900p/60fps on Xbox Series X and both machines should hit that frame rate consistently with no dips.
For the second half of the generation when the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X were in play, it gets a bit more confusing. The Xbox One X is more powerful than the PS4 Pro and therefore quite a few games were set at various resolutions up to full 4K/30fps resolution whereas the Pro was often 1080p/60fps performance or 1440p/30fps though sometimes varied above that.
Take 2016’s “Hitman” as an example – Xbox Series X shows it at full 4K but fluctuates between 50-60 fps depending upon the scene (though was mostly 60fps). The PS5 is at 1440p but consistently hits 60fps for every moment. Another example is “The Evil Within 2” which runs at 1800p on Xbox Series X and again fluctuates between 50-60 fps depending upon the scene (though was mostly 60fps), while on PS5 its a consistent 1296p/60fps.
What hasn’t been shown yet is a true like-for-like comparison of the same third party game running at the same resolution on both consoles. It’s something we probably won’t get until next gen versions of titles like “Watch Dogs Legion,” “Assassin’s Creed Valhalla” and/or “Cyberpunk 2077” are out there.
The closest comparison is “Sekiro Shadows Die Twice” which was 1800p native on Xbox Series X and 1800p checkerboard on PS5. It runs between 50-60 fps on Xbox SX, and a consistent 60fps on PS5.
Games tested did vary on a case by case basis, even as PS5 almost never dropped below 60fps (unless there was a 30fps cap) on multiple games tested from “Crysis Remastered” to “Days Gone” and “Ghost of Tsushima”. Some games though had obvious errors including “Asssassin’s Creed Unity” and “Resident Evil VII” with flickering or slow down issues.
Then there’s “Bloodborne” which is capped at 30fps and won’t run any faster on the PS5, though many in the community are desperatley hoping some sort of patch will be released to allow it to hit 60fps which the new hardware should be quite capable of. Others stuck at 30fps due to caps include “Just Cause 3” and “Rise of the Tomb Raider,” while it has been confirmed Kojima’s legendarily short game “P.T.” will NOT be transferrable from PS4 to PS5.
Check out the full Digital Foundry video below: