One of the most divisive elements for gamers surrounding the upcoming launch of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One revolves around screen resolution, especially in games like Call of Duty: Ghosts. The Activision shooter runs at a native 1080p on PS4, but only 720p on Xbox One. Speaking with Sony president Shuhei Yoshida at a PS4 review event in New York, he said that there’s a practical reason developers aim for 1080p: “I don't think any team is just fixated on 1080p, it's just one of the options...but [1080p] games allow you to be more precise and a better gamer. That's clearly the benefit.”
Yoshida offered an example focusing on Killzone: Shadow Fall. “You immediately notice the difference compared to playing most games on PS3, like [the original] Killzone which was rendered at 720p. You can clearly see the enemy in the fog, and with the accuracy of the DualShock 4 dual analog sticks, you can aim and shoot at enemies with pixel-perfect accuracy.”
Posing the same question to Mark Cerny, lead architect of the PS4 and director of Knack, he said, “Resolution does make a difference. One point of confusion is that people say, ‘Oh, you won’t notice the difference because you can’t resolve individual pixels unless you’re very close to the TV set.’ But even if you take a 1080p image and scale it down to 720p, it looks better. That’s called supersampling. It’s a very specific quality graphics technique.”
“In Knack, for example, there is no 720p mode,” he continued. “If you’re playing on a 720p HD TV, we’re just scaling the 1080 down, and it looks better than if we had produced that image at 720p. All of the details of the scene are much more visible as a result.”
But for some games, higher resolution can come at a cost. For the PlayStation 4 review of CoD: Ghosts, Giant Bomb editor Jeff Gerstmann wrote that he experienced “a handful of noticeable dips in its frame rate.” However, GameSpot reviewer Shaun McInnis didn’t experience similar issues. Gerstmann wrote later that an upcoming patch from Infinity Ward may solve the issue.
To explain, Cerny said, “Every developer is doing a trade-off between framerate and resolution, and they do that based on the game experience they are trying to create. Typically the fighting games and the driving games want to be at 60 because of the twitch aspects of the gameplay, so they’re much more sensitive to framerate. The other genres then, tend to have a bit more freeform. Specifically looking at the launch titles for PlayStation 4, most of them are at 1080p. There are a variety of framerates.”