June 14, 2021

Xbox One X

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Red Dead Redemption 2 looks and plays best on Xbox One X

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PlayStation 4 – and latterly, PS4 Pro – have taken centre-stage in Red Dead Redemption 2’s pre-release marketing campaign, meaning we have a pretty decent idea of how Rockstar’s latest epic presents on Sony hardware. Today, we can discuss the Xbox One versions of the game, and the key takeaway is this: if you’re looking for the very best RDR2 experience, Xbox One X is the go-to platform for this game. Rockstar’s stunning technological achievement runs at native 4K on the X, and also delivers the smoothest performance. Bearing in mind just how far Rockstar is pushing current-gen hardware, that’s a stunning achievement.

With that said, while there are key differences between the four different console versions, the level of commonality in terms of the visual feature set is worth emphasising. Long-time Digital Foundry readers may remember that the original Red Dead Redemption saw a reduction in environment detail – specifically with foliage – on PlayStation 3, with Xbox 360 delivering richer landscapes. There are no such differences that we could spot with the sequel. Environments are equally as lush on all platforms, rendering effects are almost a complete match, while draw distances and pop-in are just as solid regardless of the machine you play it on.

However, the implementation of certain effects – shadow quality and the intensity of depth of field – is tied to rendering resolution, an aspect of the presentation that varies substantially between each version of the game. At the top of the stack sits Xbox One X, rendering natively on ultra HD displays and looking magnificent. Taking the runner-up position here is PlayStation 4 Pro, which uses a reconstruction technique – likely checkerboarding – to take a native 1920×2160 framebuffer up to 4K.

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