Fallout 4 runs at 1080p on consoles, but the frame rate suffers

Fallout 4 is, without a doubt, the most hotly anticipated title of the year. After the incredible commercial and critical success of Fallout 3 and New Vegas, this sequel was bound to draw in a huge crowd regardless of the content of the game. But now that the game is finally out in the wild, it’s time to see just how well it holds up.

Over at our sister site IGN, the game received an impressive 9.5/10 thanks to the superb world-building, the entertaining characters, and the versatile crafting system. Based on the 40 reviews currently available, the PS4 version has a score of 90/100 on Metacritic. The PC and Xbox One versions have very similar scores, but the number of reviews for those platforms are relatively scarce. All in all, popular opinion has it that Bethesda has successfully iterated on the Fallout 3 formula here, but the underlying technology qualifies as something of a disappointment.

Over at the Digital Foundry, the performance analysis has already begun. As you can see in the video embedded above, the game is clearly uneven from a technical perspective. However, both the Xbox One and PS4 versions of the game are running at 1080p with virtually identical visuals. The effects, textures, and geometry are, for all intents and purposes, indistinguishable between the two consoles. Considering how rare 1080p releases are on the Xbox One, this news is actually a pleasant surprise.

Unfortunately, the frame rate takes a serious hit on both versions of the game. Despite targeting a modest 30fps, asset streaming and intense action tend to cause noticeable dips. Both versions begin to drop frames while traveling to different areas of the game, but the PS4’s frame rate takes less of a hit. In fact, the Xbox One occasionally gets so bogged down, it will briefly drop to 0fps. It’s not necessarily a deal breaker for everyone, but hiccups of that magnitude are hard to brush away as just a “minor issue.”

The PS4 typically offers up a better experience, but the Xbox One does have the upper hand during a handful of intense combat moments. When there’s an absurd amount of fire and smoke on screen, the PS4 can drop down into the 20s while the Xbox One holds relatively steady. Even so, this small advantage does little to make up for the Xbox One version’s other shortcomings.

From a performance perspective, the PS4 is unambiguously the preferred console, but there are other aspects to keep in mind. Xbox One owners will receive a digital copy of the Xbox 360 version of Fallout 3, and Microsoft’s console will see mod support before Sony’s does. If those perks matter at all to you, maybe all of that stuttering will be worth putting up with.

Considering which developer we’re dealing with here, it should go without saying that the PC version of Fallout 4 is superior to the console versions. DF found that it runs very well on budget gaming PCs, so don’t expect any Batman-like shenanigans. Like every other Bethesda release before it, this game is glitchy, but there’s no indication whatsoever that the game is in a broken or unplayable state. But if you’re worried about getting burned, it never hurts to wait for Bethesda to push a few patches out the door before dropping 60 bucks.