A welcome announcement at Microsoft’s E3 2018 media briefing, Nier Automata is receiving a long-overdue port onto Xbox One. Better yet, the game is due for release next week and our E3 hands-on suggests that Xbox One X is set to deliver the best version of the game yet. Indeed, Microsoft’s list of X-enhanced titles suggests that we’ll be receiving a 4K ultra HD experience (with HDR, no less) – a substantial boost over the PS4 Pro’s 1080p showing. So is the upgrade as substantial as Microsoft suggests?
The content we had to sample was effectively a mirror for the existing PlayStation 4 playable demo, delivering the entirety of the first full level beyond the prologue. It’s a decent enough workout for the engine, featuring an expansive stage to explore with a variety of scenarios, including some taxing boss encounters. And it’s clear straight from the off that there is a resolution advantage on Xbox One X, delivering a significantly crisper image. But native 4K? That’s quite a push bearing in mind that Nier Automata is actually a really demanding game.
We know this not just from the PlayStation 4 Pro version’s relatively low 1080p resolution but also because of how difficult it is to extract decent performance from the PC build. Over a year on, this release still has issues – most of them thankfully resolved by the FAR mod – but the big takeaway is that the global illumination system used in Nier Automata is remarkably demanding on GPU resources. The FAR mod can dial back its quality levels with only limited impact on visual quality, and right now this is the only way to get Platinum’s brilliant game operating at anything approaching a sustained 60 frames per second at 4K on GTX 1080 Ti-class hardware.
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