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Digital Foundry’s Kena: Bridge of Spirits Tech Review

MrFancypants

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Uploaded just under an hour ago. It compares the game on PS5, PS4 Pro, and PC.



  • Runs on UE4.
  • PS5 Performance Mode in Temporal Anti-Aliasing Upsample 4K: 1296p-1440p/60fps with some drops.
  • PS5 Quality Mode in TAAU 4K: 1944p-2160p/30fps locked.
  • Different filtering on PS5 compared to the PC version.
  • Foliage density, texture quality (close to ultra), shadows are higher.
  • Weak texture filtering.
  • FOG between low and medium.
  • Motion blur in high.
  • PS4 Pro : 1188p-1440p.
  • Lower vegetation density, shadow resolution and LOD.
  • No SDFAO (Signed Distance Field Ambient Occlusion).
  • Almost locked in 30fps
  • Data streaming can be slow when you move too fast.
  • Pre-rendered cutscenes are in 24fps.
  • Loading times are short.
  • They didn't have time to test the game on PS4 vanilla
 
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Evilms

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  • Runs on UE4.
  • PS5 Performance Mode in Temporal Anti-Aliasing Upsample 4K: 1296p-1440p/60fps with some drops.
  • PS5 Quality Mode in TAAU 4K: 1944p-2160p/30fps locked.
  • Different filtering on PS5 compared to the PC version.
  • Foliage density, texture quality (between low and ultra), shadows are higher.
  • Weak texture filtering.
  • FOG between low and medium.
  • Motion blur in high.
  • PS4 Pro : 1188p-1440p.
  • Lower vegetation density, shadow resolution and LOD.
  • No SDFAO (Signed Distance Field Ambient Occlusion).
  • Almost locked in 30fps
  • Data streaming can be slow when you move too fast.
  • Pre-rendered cutscenes are in 24fps.
  • Loading times are short.
  • They didn't have time to test the game on PS4 vanilla.

 
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Mister Wolf

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Pretty cool they use SDFAO. A step up from SSAO. I wish more games would use SSGI since its already built into UE. The only two games I know that use it is Day's Gone PC port and Gears 5.
 

Mister Wolf

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I don't understand why developers keep the console optimizations locked on PC, if they already have dynamic resolution in the engine, why no give PC users the option?

Yeah its silly. Good thing its nothing to tweak the .ini file. The one that annoys me the most is developers not letting you adjust the resolution of raytraced reflections like Control or Cyberpunk. So much wasted performance.
 
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Ev1L AuRoN

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Yeah its silly. Good thing its nothing to tweak the .ini file. The one that annoys me the most is developers not letting you adjust the resolution of raytraced reflections like Control or Cyberpunk. So much wasted performance.
Tell me more about Cyberpunk man, I'm currently struggling with my modest RTX 2060...
 
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Elios83

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Is the resolution gap that different between quality and performance mode?
I tried both and quite frankly there's very little difference so much that it's useless to give up the extra fluidity of the 60fps.
 
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Epic Sax CEO

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UE4 still with it's unsolvable streaming issues even on SSDs. This engine needs to die already, it's past it's time.
 

mansoor1980

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ultra shadows on PC are very costly and tank performance and are there any screens showing difference between volumetric fog settings on PC?
 
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skit_data

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Wierd decision to make the cutscenes run at 24fps, I hope they change that. Its always a bit jarring when it switches from 30 to 60fps and this will be even worse.
 

Black_Stride

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NXGamer NXGamer got resolution lows of 1800p.
How could DF and NXG have such different results?



Does NXG have an overclocked PS5 (I jest I jest)
Its just odd to see them have such different numbers....usually pixel counters are pretty close if not exact matches for each other.

P.S Even before doing the full analysis Alex posted screenshots of Performance mode showing resolutions lower than 1800p.
 

SlimySnake

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I don't understand why developers keep the console optimizations locked on PC, if they already have dynamic resolution in the engine, why no give PC users the option?
plenty of devs allow for DRS nowadays. ive seen it in the last few DF reviews.
 

SlimySnake

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It is still mind-blowing that this was made by 14 people and it's their first game.
Gears of War 1 was made by 40 people. The first Uncharted was made by 75 people a year later.

Smaller games like this dont require teams of 1000 people. The problem with today's game development is that everyone wants to make large open world games with a 40 hour campaign and another 30 hours of side content.

Game development has actually gotten easier thanks to advancements in asset creation. you can pretty much drag and drop assets and build an entire world in weeks. The Embark Studios devs created this world in 3 weeks. Just 3 people.


ND made a 30 hour game in a little under 3 years. They couldve easily churned it out in 2 years if they had stuck to a 15 hour campaign like the original TLOU. The 8 hour Lost Legacy was made in a little over a year.

It's all about scope at the moment.
 

Black_Stride

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Man DF has become so boring, litteraly 75% of the video is dedicated purely to resolution and framerate.

What did you want them to talk about?
I don't understand why developers keep the console optimizations locked on PC, if they already have dynamic resolution in the engine, why no give PC users the option?
Alot of devs do use DSR and Unreal Engine devs almost always use TAAU if the game has a scaling slider.....Emberlab is a relatively new dev so its understandable they might not have fully optimized the PC version just yet.
Lets wait for a patch or two before fully condemning them.
 

winjer

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Man DF has become so boring, litteraly 75% of the video is dedicated purely to resolution and framerate.

You are complaining that a video on DF talks about technical stuff.
They always did this. Comparing resolution, frame rate, settings, graphical effects.
 

Black_Stride

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Gears of War 1 was made by 40 people. The first Uncharted was made by 75 people a year later.
Smaller games like this dont require teams of 1000 people. The problem with today's game development is that everyone wants to make large open world games with a 40 hour campaign and another 30 hours of side content.
The 8 hour Lost Legacy was made in a little over a year.
It's all about scope at the moment.
Off topic.
But this has to rank way towards the top of most impressive feats in game dev in recent history.
 
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Mister Wolf

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The village hub resolution comparison is pretty conclusive. It even shows the PC version at 1800p, supposedly the lowest PS5 resolution according to NXG. However you can clearly see the PS5 is at a much lower resolution at that moment.

Well that settles that. I will take what the other guy says about pixel counts with a grain of salt moving forward.
 
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Well that settles that. I will take what the other guy says about pixel counts with a grain of salt moving forward.
The others have taken the screenshots at rest while DF took the screenshots in motion. It's because of UE4 TAAU that quickly reconstructs the image up to 2160p when not in motion.
 
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KyoZz

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You are complaining that a video on DF talks about technical stuff.
They always did this. Comparing resolution, frame rate, settings, graphical effects.
What did you want them to talk about?
I disagree, look at their earliest videos. They talked about how tech was implemented in the engine, new effects and features, showing you little details that you could miss, the aimed art style and how to approach and translate it in real time, a much more deeper look at the textures, effect, shadows...
They also dived a lot more into the engine himself, detailing the specific elements needed for a game etc...

Now it's resolution scaling, this is boring.
 

Bulletbrain

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I disagree, look at their earliest videos. They talked about how tech was implemented in the engine, new effects and features, showing you little details that you could miss, the aimed art style and how to approach and translate it in real time, a much more deeper look at the textures, effect, shadows...
They also dived a lot more into the engine himself, detailing the specific elements needed for a game etc...

Now it's resolution scaling, this is boring.
Tbf Alex mentions the usage of UE4 here isn't different from what's come before. And they did mention some unique features about the game stemming from the Devs' animation background. The game is pretty, but nothing much to talk about.
 
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winjer

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I disagree, look at their earliest videos. They talked about how tech was implemented in the engine, new effects and features, showing you little details that you could miss, the aimed art style and how to approach and translate it in real time, a much more deeper look at the textures, effect, shadows...
They also dived a lot more into the engine himself, detailing the specific elements needed for a game etc...

Now it's resolution scaling, this is boring.

Wrong. They always did resolution and performance comparisons. And this was their main focus.
They also did some special articles talking more about tech, and they keep doing it. But these are the exception.
But currently, it's about newer tech, like ray-tracing, DLSS, TAAU, XeSS, etc.
The other thing to consider is that this is just another game using UE4.26. There isn't anything new in terms of tech.
Wait for UE5 to be released, in 2022, and we'll see plenty of articles about new tech.
 
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Black_Stride

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Somebody pixel counting credibility about to take a hit.

Alex from DF posted screenshot showing the resolution below 1800p so 1800p couldnt possibly be the lower bound


I disagree, look at their earliest videos. They talked about how tech was implemented in the engine, new effects and features, showing you little details that you could miss, the aimed art style and how to approach and translate it in real time, a much more deeper look at the textures, effect, shadows...
They also dived a lot more into the engine himself, detailing the specific elements needed for a game etc...

Now it's resolution scaling, this is boring.
This game is using UE4 the way UE4 has been used before.
You want them to rehash the same things over and over again.
Then people will argue they are extending their videos' by talking about the same stuff over and over again.

Look at their video on TLOU2, Flight Simulator, Demons Souls R or even the critique of Halo Infinite where its actually doing things differently....they went into more detail where it was needed.
Weve all seen their deep dives into UE4 games before Kena isnt doing anything thats new or better than other UE4 titles.
Its the artstyle or rather art design and direction that propels Kena high not any particular techniques or pieces of tech so there really isnt much need to talk about stuff that for lack of a better term isnt special.
 
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KyoZz

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Tbf Alex mentions the usage of UE4 here isn't different from what's come before. And they did mention some unique features about the game stemming from the Devs' animation background. The game is pretty, but nothing much to talk about.
Yeah I know, but I'm not specifically talking about this video. This is a trend that I have observed for several months.
Wrong. They always did resolution and performance comparisons. And this was their main focus.
They also did some special articles talking more about tech, and they keep doing it. But these are the exception.
But currently, it's about newer tech, like ray-tracing, DLSS, TAAU, XeSS, etc.
The other thing to consider is that this is just another game using UE4.26. There isn't anything new in terms of tech.
Wait for UE5 to be released, in 2022, and we'll see plenty of articles about new tech.
You have a point by mentioning that a lot of new tech is based on resolution.
They always did res/perf comparisons for sure, but what I mean is when a new game is out now it's like the res is the most important thing to discuss: pixel count, reconstruction, FSR, DLSS.... stoooooop lol.

For Kena, I expected them to discuss a lot more about those character model, how that Pixar look was really achieved, the use of the motion blur, maybe the transition between the normal world and the spirit world etc..., there is stuff to look at.

Wait & see I guess.
 

yurinka

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There is something weird with the pixel counts of the performance mode, NXgamer says it's 1800P-2160P dynamic in that mode in his analysis video.
Dynamic resolution means it changes across the game depending on how the console is stressed in that moment. They only check out the resolution in a few short videos/screenshots, so DF and NXgamer very likely will use different areas of the game so may find different maximums and minimums.

Gears of War 1 was made by 40 people. The first Uncharted was made by 75 people a year later.
Not true. According to MobyGames.com the game credits of these games include 304 people for Gears 1 and 605 people for the first Uncharted. They still didn't include Kena's game credits.
 
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Black_Stride

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Dynamic resolution means it changes across the game depending on how the console is stressed in that moment. They only check out the resolution in a few short videos/screenshots, so DF and NXgamer very likely will use different areas of the game so may find different maximums and minimums.

The thing is Alex found resolutions lower than 1800p in the first 5 minutes of the game?
So its unlikely that NXG would have not found the same resolutions or atleast similar.

And the village which is a bit more stressful than the start of the game should have outright shown NXG that the res is lower than 1800p.
So unless he stood still for a few frames to let the TAAU to resolve he should have found resolutions lower than 1800p.

Even in run to run variations there shouldnt be that big a gap.
Heck even in console to console variation there shouldnt be that large a gap....remember when DF basically baked a PS5 and its performance didnt change?
Its a finely tuned machine and would have very subtle changes between consoles not 1800p minimum on one machine and 1296p minimum on another machine.
One resolution is closer to 4K the other is closer to 1080p.
Thats a "send my PS5 back its broken" level of a difference.

 

winjer

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You have a point by mentioning that a lot of new tech is based on resolution.
They always did res/perf comparisons for sure, but what I mean is when a new game is out now it's like the res is the most important thing to discuss: pixel count, reconstruction, FSR, DLSS.... stoooooop lol.

Resolution upscalers are the new hot tech. They allow us to maintain high image quality, while improving performance.
For the last year, I have been using TAAU and DLSS to get some performance back in some games. Without having to lower many graphical settings.
At a time when getting a new GPU at MRSP is almost impossible, this has been a life saving feature.

If you don't like it, sorry to disappoint you, but there's going to be a lot more about it.
Be it from FSR, DLSS, DLAA, XeSS, TAAU, Epic's Super Resolution, etc. They will be a very important part in games, from now on.

Truth be told, TAAU is the reason why this game can have resolution drops that are quite big, but still look as good as it does.
 

yurinka

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The thing is Alex found resolutions lower than 1800p in the first 5 minutes of the game?
So its unlikely that NXG would have not found the same resolutions or atleast similar.

And the village which is a bit more stressful than the start of the game should have outright shown NXG that the res is lower than 1800p.
So unless he stood still for a few frames to let the TAAU to resolve he should have found resolutions lower than 1800p.

Even in run to run variations there shouldnt be that big a gap.
Heck even in console to console variation there shouldnt be that large a gap....remember when DF basically baked a PS5 and its performance didnt change?
Its a finely tuned machine and would have very subtle changes between consoles not 1800p minimum on one machine and 1296p minimum on another machine.
One resolution is closer to 4K the other is closer to 1080p.
Thats a "send my PS5 back its broken" level of a difference.

Other than knowing Alex sometimes is a cunt and seems biased, I have no idea of their workflow and how serious, accurate and unbiased is their work beacause I don't have a lot of sources to compare and I didn't personally went to check it.
 

KyoZz

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Resolution upscalers are the new hot tech. They allow us to maintain high image quality, while improving performance.
For the last year, I have been using TAAU and DLSS to get some performance back in some games. Without having to lower many graphical settings.
At a time when getting a new GPU at MRSP is almost impossible, this has been a life saving feature
I'm not sure why this was needed but yeah I know that. I'm also a big fan of DLSS, best tech in years for gaming imo.
If you don't like it, sorry to disappoint you, but there's going to be a lot more about it.
Be it from FSR, DLSS, DLAA, XeSS, TAAU, Epic's Super Resolution, etc. They will be a very important part in games, from now on.
Again yeah, this is obvious talk. I think you are missing my point as I'm not saying stuff like that shouldn't be talked, but should it take the major part of most of their videos? Even more that this has already been talked a lot since a few month? I don't think so.

I'm saying this a lot here because people want everyone to think the same as them but: this is just my opinion. You have yours and that's cool but it's not universal.
There are several of us here who are thinking the same thing: shorten the res talk and focus more on the game himself.
 

winjer

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I'm not sure why this was needed but yeah I know that. I'm also a big fan of DLSS, best tech in years for gaming imo.

Like Epic stated when they presented UE5. The goal of Super Resolution is to have near 4K quality, while running at 1080p.
Higher resolutions are very hard to process, so having a good upscaler allows to keep performance, while improving graphical quality.

DLSS, is very good to get some performance back. And so is TAAU.
Have you tried to use TAAU in an UE4.26 game? It's not as good as DLSS 2.2, but it still does an amazing job.
 

SlimySnake

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Dynamic resolution means it changes across the game depending on how the console is stressed in that moment. They only check out the resolution in a few short videos/screenshots, so DF and NXgamer very likely will use different areas of the game so may find different maximums and minimums.


Not true. According to MobyGames.com the game credits of these games include 304 people for Gears 1 and 605 people for the first Uncharted. They still didn't include Kena's game credits.