Xbox One 720p is not the end of the world for the console

After much talk and rumours regarding the output resolution of the Xbox One version of Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty Ghosts, it has been revealed that both games are outputting natively at  either 720p  or 720p upscaled to 1080p, which is a similar resolution to the current Xbox 360. The Xbox One does feature its own up-scaler which no doubt produces better results compared to its predecessor, but according to various videos and side by side hands-on experiences from the gaming media, the general consensus for Battlefield 4 at least, cites the PS4 version – which outputs natively at a higher resolution 900p – as the better looking of the two despite both games playing exactly the same.

The issue of output resolution has caused quite a stir with some gamers as there seems to be a great focus on resolutions rather than how the games actually look and play in the living room, even though when compared side by side, the differences are noticeable but not that great. Neither developers DICE or Infinity Ward have commented on what procedures they have used to optimize the Xbox One or PS4 versions of their games, and so it’s debatable what compromises or workarounds, if any, have been made.  It seems some gamers are tied up on the idea that the PS4 900/1080p native resolution is far better, but in terms of actual looks which might be the case, but the reality is most mainstream gamers not taking an interest in details such as resolution would be hard pushed to spot the differences between the two if there were no indications as to which was which as seen in the numerous comparison videos.

What is perhaps the most chilling underlying theme surrounding the topical debate that has arisen, is that many gamers interested in the output resolutions of next gen consoles are now suggesting the PS4  offers the best looking versions of those two multi-format games at least, and would go as far as casting doubt on the potential performance quality of the Xbox One itself – despite it being very early days for developers. This mindset has somewhat left Microsoft in an awkward position with many of the core gaming community it is aiming to woo in its early years. It seems many gamers are naturally going to be tempted to adopt the cheaper, more powerful games console if exclusive games aren’t a primary  focus, and this is a hurdle Microsoft will have difficulty in overcoming.

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Another massive title for both consoles, Call of Duty Ghosts has also been rumoured and now confirmed as being 720p up-scaled to 1080p on the Xbox One and full native 1080p on the PS4. Previously, Microsoft claimed they were not privy to the pertinent details of third party games and didn’t know the final output resolution leaving their comments to raise some scepticism especially as Sony have been quite forthcoming with their details of the PS4 utilizing full native 1080p. The lack of clarification from the Microsoft camp has left a growing sentiment that Microsoft deliberately dodged  the issue, knowing the news of a lower resolution product could affect sales of its console.

As far as Call of Duty Ghosts is concerned and now the cat is out of the bag, if the subsequent side by side comparison videos show an inferior looking game on Xbox One, then it will perhaps come as a hard pill to swallow for Microsoft when some potential consumers opt to buy the cheaper more powerful console instead. However, if the differences aren’t that great, then it shows that perhaps some gamers are being quite blinkered simply focusing on one aspect of a game’s graphics.

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With all the talk of multi-format games being of lesser quality on Xbox One, it will have some effect on a section of core gamers purchasing decisions – that’s a given. As it stands though, Microsoft and Sony will be greatly focusing on their exclusive software to tout the full features of their respective consoles. These games will be the de facto pieces of software that ultimately determine which consoles consumers will buy – regardless of their output resolutions. So the current arguments in some ways are important, but at the same time, are not indicative of either console’s position going into launch.

Then there are those not concerned with all the technicalities and just want to play great games, for them it should be business as usual, because both versions of Battlefield 4 and COD Ghosts will look better than their current gen counterparts to perhaps justify the expensive console  upgrade. It’s certainly not the end of the world for gamers supporting the Xbox brand and those who have pre-ordered an Xbox One as some might suggest despite the obvious disappointment at the recent news. For many, the differences will have little impact especially as given time, games will become more optimized for the system. If there is a gap between the two consoles now, then  it’s likely not going to become too striking for multi format games, and if the gap does gradually widen much further in the consoles life cycle, then at least there is comfort in owning either console which offers some great exclusive titles.

Written by: Rob Cram

Rob Cram has hundreds of video game reviews, thousands of articles under his belt with years of experience in gaming and tech. He aims to remain fair and free from publisher/developer influence. With his extensive knowledge, feels his gaming opinions are valid and worth sharing. Agreement with his views are entirely optional. He might have a bias towards cyberpunk.

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