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[Digital Foundry] Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora - PS5/Xbox Series X|S Tech Review - Graceful Scaling vs Maxed PC

Draugoth

Gold Member


Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora on PC is a defining technological statement for state-of-the-art gaming visuals in 2023... but where does this leave PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles? How well do the premium machines deliver the experience in their 30fps quality and 60fps performance modes? And is Xbox Series S still at the races with its 4TF GPU and reduced memory? Tom Morgan has all of the answers.

00:00 Introduction
04:18 Performance vs Quality Mode Comparison
07:05 Series S vs Series X Comparison
11:01 PS5 vs Series X Comparison
12:24 PS5/Series X 60FPS Performance Mode Test
16:28 PS5/Series X 30FPS Quality Mode Test
17:25 Series S Frame-Rate Test
18:41 Verdict/Final Thoughts
 
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tommib

Gold Member
Accompanying article:

For the warriors:

Based on the first three to four hours of play, neither PS5 or Series X get away unscathed from frame-rate issues - and gaining access to flying mounts later may even add additional stress to the engine. At times there's a constant GPU load, too, with the dynamic resolution scaling bottoming out at 864p and 50fps on both consoles. In these completely time and weather-matched scenarios, it's curious that neither console holds an advantage in terms of outright performance: both hover at the 50fps mark.

There is one further issue on Xbox Series X: traversal hitching. It's rare, but there are sudden frame-time spikes that pause the game entirely for around a second. I spotted it on a route to the Resistance HQ and around the Hometree base as well. Switching to PS5, neither of these areas have any hitching issues whatsoever. It's not a common problem, but it is one less grievance owners of Sony's machine have to contend with.
 
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tommib

Gold Member
lol at those resolution 😂😂😂
Donald Trump GIF by GIPHY News
 

Mr.Phoenix

Member
Summary incoming... (feel free to add this to your OP)

- Performance 30hz
- All three platforms have the 30fps performance mode with the series S having it as the only option,
- PS5/SX base dynamic rez of 1296 - 1800p FSRD'ed 2 to native 4K.
- Series S DRS 720p-1080p
- Same visual preset between PS5/XSX
- RT global illumination used and RT reflections are used for large reflective bodies as a fallback for a high fidelity SSR. The result is very good and convincing.
- Locked 30fps mode with consistent frame pacing and the recommended mode to play.

Performance 60hz-
- PS5/SX base dynamic rez of 864p-1260p FSRD'ed 2 to native 4K.
- Lower geometry detail and scene complexity, however, are still above presets used in the XSS 30fps version.
- Framerate on average maintains 50fps, with lows of 45fps and hioghs of 60fps. Recommended for VRR-enabled displays.

Highlights
- XSX/XSS versions suffer from traversal stutter not seen on the PS5.
- XSS/XSX shows more reconstruction artifacts that are not present on the PS5. Assumed to be some sort of bug.
- XSX maintains higher average pixel count vs PS5, more apparent in quality mode, which presents as a slighter sharper image on the XSX.
- Reconstruction artifacts are somewhat apparent in the performance mode. Makes for a noisy presentation.
- XSS has different lighting presets, and generally appears darker in indoor areas, suggested could be as a result of fewer RT bounces.
 
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Vergil1992

Member
My summary is going to be much shorter than Adamsapple's because I'm short on time, but from what I've seen, what stands out is this:

- In performance mode, PS5 and XSX perform more or less the same. Resolution, graphic settings and even the framerate are quite identical, none of them is clearly dominant.

- In quality mode, XSX has a slight advantage in resolution. It's not big enough to make PS5 look blurrier.

- Xbox Series (S and X) have cross stuttering issues. It is rare.

- Xbox Series has some temporal reconstruction issue that causes more artifacts than PS5, especially Series S. They appear even without motion, it's a weirdness that they think is a bug and hope it gets fixed.

Overall, it seems like a tie. A slight resolution advantage on XSX in quality mode; but this "victory" is affected by stuttering and artifacts.
 
Seems fine to me considering there's RTGI & RT reflections. You either play with all the bells & whistles at 30 or take the nips & tucks for 60 🤷‍♂️
 

Zuzu

Member
Summary

General:

- Dense foliage, ground debris renders at full high-quality geometry.
- Plants react to player movement and procedurally break apart when you shoot them
- Rolling time of day and weather changes
- Ray-traced reflections and ray-traced global illumination on PS5 and both Series S & X
- Ray-traced reflections used on large water bodies like lakes with screen space reflections running over the top
- RTGI enables plants to bounce their specific hue onto the scenery

Resolutions and graphical settings:

- Series X Performance Mode: 1536x864 - 2240x1260 using FSR to reconstruct up to 4k. Movement on screen sometimes causes break up which reveals jagged edges
- Series X Quality Mode: 2304x1296 - 3200 x 1800. Quality is much cleaner.
- PS5 resolutions operate according to the same range as those on Series X but sometimes in the same sections PS5 will run at a lower resolution than Series X which reduces image clarity a little bit. Often hard to pick the two apart.
- Quality mode opens up a motion blur setting on consoles which helps smoothen 30fps in a small way
- Foliage LODs are improved on Quality Mode and shadows and ambient occlusion improve as well. SSR, volumetrics and alpha transparency effects run at higher settings on Quality mode as well.
- Series S resolution: 720p - 1080p which is reconstructed up to a higher resolution (Tom doesn't specify the reconstructed resolution but I'm guessing it's 1080p).
- Series S has lower texture resolution, lower plant density, lower volumetric effects, lower SSR quality. It still receives RT reflections and GI but ray tracing is also running at lower quality settings.
- FSR2 implementation has an issue with image break-up on Series consoles which doesn't affect PS5 to the same degree (or at all).

Performance:

- Both PS5 & Series X generally run at 60fps during on-foot traversal in performance mode.
- Both consoles can't lock to 60fps. They can range between 45 - 60fps. Battles often cause drops into 40s and 50s.
- Series X has traversal hitching while the PS5 doesn't have this hitching issue.
- Neither console has performance advantage over the other
- Both consoles run at a mostly constant 30fps with even frame pacing in quality mode but Series X still has traversal stutter in this mode
- Series S runs at a mostly stable 30fps but does tear some frames and have occasional frame drops into high 20s.
 
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Xbox seems to struggle with hitching when traversing though major areas, not just in this title, but others. I think they fix it/optimize it eventually, but still, they may need to revisit something in their GDK moving forward. Anyways, this game could really benefit from a 40fps/120hz mode.
 

adamsapple

Or is it just one of Phil's balls in my throat?
Xbox seems to struggle with hitching when traversing though major areas, not just in this title, but others. I think they fix it/optimize it eventually, but still, they may need to revisit something in their GDK moving forward. Anyways, this game could really benefit from a 40fps/120hz mode.

It's a fast moving FPS, I think 60 would be the best way to play even at the cost of lower resolution.

Thanks to the peeps for the summaries. The game is a looker (in Quality mode) but it has been a slog to play, even more so than the last couple of Far Cry games.

9/10 for the tech
5/10 for the game
 
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Zuzu

Member
So what you're saying is, Series X wins?

thsrtjhjtsj.jpg

Lol maybe, but the FSR2 image break-up problem and the traversal hitching might be seen as more detrimental than the PS5's lower resolution at times. Digital Foundry thinks the FSR break-up problem may be fixable via a patch though🤞
 
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Vergil1992

Member
Lol maybe, but the FSR2 image break-up problem and the traversal hitching might be seen as more detrimental than the PS5's occasionally lower resolution. Digital Foundry thinks the FSR break-up problem may be fixable via a patch though🤞
Yeah, I really don't think there's a winner here objectively speaking. Honestly, I think that for us if XSX has a small resolution advantage we won't notice it, and I also don't think we can see the "random" artifacts of Xbox standing still without being very attentive and being 20 cm from the screen. They are things without much importance. What I do see as more likely is that the Xbox artifacts, since they are (apparently) an error, will be solved, but if there is a difference in resolution it is less likely that this will change.

What we might notice is Xbox transversal stuttering, but fortunately, it occurs very rarely. I have been saying for a long time that it is much more common on PC than on consoles (even in well-optimized games like RE4 Remake the problem persists on PC), but more and more cases are appearing on consoles and especially on Xbox. It is clear that it is an asset load but on PC/Xbox it usually has stuttering, and on PS5 it depends on the game but it seems much less frequent.



Edit:

I have tried to capture the framerate drop situations on both systems at the same points. It seems like they are almost 1:1.

Captura-de-pantalla-2023-12-14-171555.png


Captura-de-pantalla-2023-12-14-171636.png


Captura-de-pantalla-2023-12-14-171936.png


Captura-de-pantalla-2023-12-14-171855.png
 
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SlimySnake

Flashless at the Golden Globes
Kinda crazy that the 30 fps mode hits 1800p internally. It is way higher than I expected from a next gen game that actually looks next gen. Massive are wizards.

Series S looks like a completely different game. Even wizards cant help that console. Its a shame that arguably the most visually pleasing game of this gen is going to be played by the vast majority of xbox users on this machine that drops to 720p, has insane shimmering, poor LODs, and a completely different GI look indoors. The opening shot of Tom saying it looks the same while the series s looks like a pixelated mess made me scratch my head. I would understand if the series s basically got the performance mode of xsx running at thirty fps but nah, the resolution is way too low and the settings are severely downgraded. Series S was supposed to be the same thing but at half the resolution. Here the resolution gap is at least 3x and it comes with other downgrades. The game and xbox owners deserve better. A 6 tflops GPU with enough vram shouldve given the series s owners a visually identical experience with half the resolution.
 

Darsxx82

Member
Very impressed with the graphic and technological level achieved by Masive. Snowdrop is presented as an incredible NextGen engine capable of working "miracles". Of course, achieving that level of detail in XSS, vegetation with RT GI and RT reflections at an incredibly stable framerate..... It is certainly admirable.
Then, the same can be said for the PS5/XSeriesX versions. Fantastic result, one of the best games (it could even be debated if the best) with novel graphics and technology in both and with the entire NextGen feature package.

The hopes and good vibes for STAR WARS OUTLAWS couldn't be better. .

P.S Happy to be wrong in my predictions. Generally, games where SONY has total marketing and is treated as exclusive at the advertising level do not usually have the best XSeries version on the day of release. In this case I think there has been great attention on the part of Massive.
 
Most people won't notice the resolution difference in quality mode (resolution seems identical in performance mode) but they'll certainly notice those FSR visual artefacts on XSX.

- Series X has traversal hitching while the PS5 doesn't have this hitching issue.
- Neither console has performance advantage over the other
I am sorry but if XSX has framerate stutters (which are very long dropped frames) then performance is better on PS5 period. It seems PS5 much superior I/O solution is starting to be noticed even in multiplatform games.
 

Lysandros

Member
Look which disingenuous blind is talking about "10TF vs 12TF power divide" and awarding academic wins... What do you of all people know about system power besides your fixation on a single GPU metric dear single minded 'analyst'? Meanwhile every PS5 performance and/or IQ advantage is tied to 'bugs', oversights and very 'strange peculiarities'... Same old same old trademarked narrative since 2020. At this point i am done, i'll completely disregard his bias tainted work in the future, not anymore views and comments from me. Professional and objective analysis this ain't.
 

adamsapple

Or is it just one of Phil's balls in my throat?
Look which disingenuous blind is talking about "10TF vs 12TF power divide" and awarding academic wins... What do you of all people know about system power besides your fixation on a single GPU metric dear single minded 'analyst'? Meanwhile every PS5 performance and/or IQ advantage is tied to 'bugs', oversights and very 'strange peculiarities'... Same old same old trademarked narrative since 2020. At this point i am done, i'll completely disregard his bias tainted work in the future, not anymore views and comments from me. Professional and objective analysis this ain't.

You're completely in your right to boycott DF threads and not post in them.



Yeah, I really don't think there's a winner here objectively speaking. Honestly, I think that for us if XSX has a small resolution advantage we won't notice it, and I also don't think we can see the "random" artifacts of Xbox standing still without being very attentive and being 20 cm from the screen. They are things without much importance. What I do see as more likely is that the Xbox artifacts, since they are (apparently) an error, will be solved, but if there is a difference in resolution it is less likely that this will change.

What we might notice is Xbox transversal stuttering, but fortunately, it occurs very rarely. I have been saying for a long time that it is much more common on PC than on consoles (even in well-optimized games like RE4 Remake the problem persists on PC), but more and more cases are appearing on consoles and especially on Xbox. It is clear that it is an asset load but on PC/Xbox it usually has stuttering, and on PS5 it depends on the game but it seems much less frequent.



Edit:

I have tried to capture the framerate drop situations on both systems at the same points. It seems like they are almost 1:1.

Captura-de-pantalla-2023-12-14-171936.png


Captura-de-pantalla-2023-12-14-171855.png

All valid points.

If we're going to be real pedantic about it, and I mean *REAL* pedantic. SX owners with VRR displays will have a much better experience owing to the consoles larger VRR window (40~60hz) as opposed to PS5 (48~60hz). Any time the performance drops below 48 (like your second picture), it will manifest in a notable judder.
 
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Kurotri

Member
I find it kinda interesting that the scores vary so much.

wMb4Yxj.png

Guess I should give it a go at some point, but I really am burnt out on anything resembling Far Cry..
 
You're completely in your right to boycott DF threads and not post in them.





All valid points.

If we're going to be real pedantic about it, and I mean *REAL* pedantic. SX owners with VRR displays will have a much better experience owing to the consoles larger VRR window (40~60hz) as opposed to PS5 (48~60hz). Any time the performance drops below 48 (like your second picture), it will manifest in a notable judder.
Those drops under 48fps are very rare based on the video and they had to look for them. And those traveral stutters won't be hidden by VRR. Those are immersion breaking and the main reason some people are buying games on consoles instead of PC.
 
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Vergil1992

Member
Most people won't notice the resolution difference in quality mode (resolution seems identical in performance mode) but they'll certainly notice those FSR visual artefacts on XSX.


I am sorry but if XSX has framerate stutters (which are very long dropped frames) then performance is better on PS5 period. It seems PS5 much superior I/O solution is starting to be noticed even in multiplatform games.

I don't think anything hardware related has anything to do with it here. I think it's just an API/GDK and asset streaming thing. It is quite common in PC games, many times the problem is solved; Control (Remedy) for example had this stuttering issue and it was fixed with a patch (XSX). I think there are a few more examples, but I don't remember them right now, plus in some cases they surely solve it and we never know because no one does a reanalysis. Another example that comes to mind is Gotham Knight, which was plagued by stuttering and was fixed on all platforms.


I think it's an optimization issue, the PS5 API is more developer friendly and it's probably easier to optimize asset streaming.


Besides, your argument is easy to turn around; Just as technically it could be said that PS5 has better performance because it does not have stuttering (we are also talking about very occasional stuttering), it can also be argued that Xbox Series X has better image quality due to its higher resolution. It doesn't seem right to me, in the end it's just having a few stutters on Xbox Series But for example, if I play Resident Evil 4 Remake or Dead Space on my PC at 4K/60fps, could we say that on PS5 they have better performance because they do not have transversal stuttering?

Very debatable, right?

Saying that the artifacts are more or less noticeable than the difference in resolution seems questionable to me at the very least. We do not know. What we do know is that one thing (resolution) usually means a performance advantage, and the artifacts in this case are probably a bug, nothing to do with the performance of the platforms here. The FSR is probably being applied incorrectly, which is why typical FSR patterns appear on static objects at random.



In short, I think that looking for "better performance here" is absurd. It is clear that these are only small differences in the optimization of the game. In fact, the only thing that DF attributes to a difference in performance is the higher resolution of XSX in quality mode, which they literally say is due to the 2TFlops difference.


Nor should we rule out that the dynamic resolution has differences in performance mode; What DF suggests is that they have noticed it in quality mode because it is more noticeable, but they do not rule out that there are resolution differences in both modes.
 

Gaiff

SBI’s Resident Gaslighter
Look which disingenuous blind is talking about "10TF vs 12TF power divide" and awarding academic wins... What do you of all people know about system power besides your fixation on a single GPU metric dear single minded 'analyst'? Meanwhile every PS5 performance and/or IQ advantage is tied to 'bugs', oversights and very 'strange peculiarities'... Same old same old trademarked narrative since 2020. At this point i am done, i'll completely disregard his bias tainted work in the future, not anymore views and comments from me. Professional and objective analysis this ain't.
This must be the highest ratio of tears to pixels I've ever seen in a post.
 

Vergil1992

Member
This must be the highest ratio of tears to pixels I've ever seen in a post.
I have thought the same thing, I don't think I have ever seen anyone react in such a "personal" way against an analyst for remembering the 2TFLOPs difference. The funny thing is that he recently used DF analysis (by Tom Morgan) to say that COD: MW3 was a victory on PS5 because literally in one scene in XSX it dropped to 59fps and PS5 was at 60fps. Very crazy (the situation, not the user).


But it's a matter of using logic here. If we see "FSR artifacts" in static object situations where artifacts appear and disappear randomly, it is logical to think that it is a bug. It's a strange behavior, it's like in XSX you move when you don't; which is why Tom thinks it will probably be solved. Such erratic behavior points in the direction of the failure and not a degradation of the image, such as resolution.
 

Darsxx82

Member
Most people won't notice the resolution difference in quality mode (resolution seems identical in performance mode) but they'll certainly notice those FSR visual artefacts on XSX.


I am sorry but if XSX has framerate stutters (which are very long dropped frames) then performance is better on PS5 period. It seems PS5 much superior I/O solution is starting to be noticed even in multiplatform games.

Those same things that happened in Control and the same superior I/O thing was also said until they were solved ?🤔

The same ones that occurred in Calisto Protocol and were also solved in the very first patch? 🤔

And that's just to name a few that were later resolved with patches and not the different cases where the PS5 version also suffered from them....

It's funny to see someone censure another for declaring a victory for an insignificant reason and at the same time wanting to declare a victory for another equally or even more insignificant reason.
 
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Vergil1992

Member
Those same things that happened in Control and the same superior I/O thing was also said until they were solved?🤔

The same ones that occurred in Calisto Protocol and were also solved? 🤔

And that's just to name a few that were later resolved with patches and not the different cases where the PS5 version also suffered from them....

It's funny to see someone censure another for declaring a victory for an insignificant reason and at the same time wanting to declare a victory for another equally or even more insignificant reason.
In fact, in the Alan Wake 2 patch Remedy says that they have fixed the asset streaming stuttering that was affecting all platforms, especially Xbox platforms:


Improved streaming by removing occasional 10 – 100ms stalls that mostly affected Xbox Series platforms.


Why on Xbox is this problem always solved later? Magic?

If it were a problem in the system architecture, it would never be solved. But it often does, just later than PS5.
 

rodrigolfp

Haptic Gamepads 4 Life
Those drops under 48fps are very rare based on the video and they had to look for them. And those traveral stutters won't be hidden by VRR. Those are immersion breaking and the main reason some people are buying games on consoles instead of PC.
Rare traversal hiccups are immersion breaking but poop performance on quality mode and blurry IQ on performance mode are not?

del-griffith-oh-sure-sure.gif
 

eNT1TY

Member
The traversal stuters on X/S are always in the same predetermined spots rather than periodically at random locations suggesting more of a bug (i.e. fixable) rather than occurring due to scene stress like panning the camera up and down on either console. It's not some i/o deficiency or advantage favoring one or the other, otherwise it would manifest when panning from the ground to sky which stresses both similarly.
 

Darsxx82

Member
In fact, in the Alan Wake 2 patch Remedy says that they have fixed the asset streaming stuttering that was affecting all platforms, especially Xbox platforms:





Why on Xbox is this problem always solved later? Magic?

If it were a problem in the system architecture, it would never be solved. But it often does, just later than PS5.

It's clear that it's magic...😂

It's funny because I've taken a look at several threads of those games where that type of sttuterf traversal occurred in XS and then they were resolved.

Is great to see the evolution in these threads from "higher I/O and XSX architectural limitation" to "🤐" .

As you say, it is very clear that it has to do with something related to the GDK, API or Dx12 or simple PS5 is the lead console plataform....
That said, in the case of Avatar it is simply an anecdote that does not affect the gameplay or the experience and yet here they are even calling it a "serious stuttering problem" 🙃
 

Zathalus

Member
I read the article and thought that certain people on NeoGaf were going to be absolutely triggered. Lo and behold...
 
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adamsapple

Or is it just one of Phil's balls in my throat?
I find it kinda interesting that the scores vary so much.

wMb4Yxj.png

Guess I should give it a go at some point, but I really am burnt out on anything resembling Far Cry..


Honestly, I'd just say wait till its either on a service or if you want to play it sooner, get 1 month of Ubi+ for $15 and play. I would never pay full price for this and only played it at launch because of gamefly.

Just finished the story mode today and it's just mediocre at best.
 

DaGwaphics

Member
Looks decent on everything. The XSS hold up well so long as you aren't playing it side by side next to a series X, some of the darker interiors even look a little better to me than the XSX/PS5 which I think could benefit from darker blacks in a few spots. Basically what you'd expect on these heavier games.

I could totally see the FSR artificating on PS5 in the shot where it says that it isn't on there, LOL. It isn't nearly as bad though.
 

Bojji

Member
You're completely in your right to boycott DF threads and not post in them.





All valid points.

If we're going to be real pedantic about it, and I mean *REAL* pedantic. SX owners with VRR displays will have a much better experience owing to the consoles larger VRR window (40~60hz) as opposed to PS5 (48~60hz). Any time the performance drops below 48 (like your second picture), it will manifest in a notable judder.

The best Xbox feature is system level 120Hz output with LFC. With this even games dropping below 40 won't look like shit with frame doubling.

Sony leave this to devs to decide and as always... most don't give a shit.
 

Senua

Gold Member
Look which disingenuous blind is talking about "10TF vs 12TF power divide" and awarding academic wins... What do you of all people know about system power besides your fixation on a single GPU metric dear single minded 'analyst'? Meanwhile every PS5 performance and/or IQ advantage is tied to 'bugs', oversights and very 'strange peculiarities'... Same old same old trademarked narrative since 2020. At this point i am done, i'll completely disregard his bias tainted work in the future, not anymore views and comments from me. Professional and objective analysis this ain't.
Baby Doll Crying GIF
 

Redneckerz

Those long posts don't cover that red neck boy
Its pretty impressive all things considered. The 60 FPS mode feels more like the perceptual Call of Duty 60 FPS of the PS360 generation. I feel Massive can patch that out all things considered the tech on display.

30 FPS feels right here, stable and the Series S doesn't look all too bad either. I suppose Massive's engine plays to console strengths, unlike UE5 which is more akin to providing a default plug and play solution that so far has seen less than stellar results on console hardware, Robocop nonwithstanding.
 
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