July 26, 2021

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Soulcalibur 6 analysis: every version tested

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Marking the series’ 20th anniversary, a tale of souls and swords is retold once more in Soulcalibur 6 – a sequel that positions itself as something of a successor to the Dreamcast classic, in reprising its cast. It’s a direct link that only highlights just how far we’ve come in the interim. We have two decades worth of move-set changes, added mechanics and technical upgrades to factor in, where Bandai Namco’s efforts today are based on an entirely different engine. With the move to Unreal Engine 4, as with Tekken 7, it gives the team scope to push for more effects and shaders than we’d thought possible back in 1998. At launch, it also gives it the means to scale across more platforms than any entry before it. In doing so, there’s a huge gulf in image quality between the four current-gen machines.

As usual, it’s resolution that scales most obviously across all four console versions. Xbox One X fares best here, even though it’s only truly hitting 2560×1440 while connected to a 4K display. There’s no hint of dynamic res scaling, but it does hold up reasonably well even so – just expect more shimmer on specular highlights. In terms of the visual feature set, it’s effectively a match with PC at its best – the only system that can deliver full 4K. We tested this on a Titan X Maxwell, broadly equivalent to a GTX 980 Ti and the popular GTX 1070. This still drops frames in targeting 4K at max settings, requiring internal resolution scaling to drop to 80 per cent to lock at 60fps. For reference then, a GTX 1080 should be your target for a full 4K60.

Tracking back to the consoles, the next-best version of Soulcalibur 4 is inevitably the PlayStation 4 Pro, though only a native 1920×1080 is possible here. Anyone expecting proper support for an Ultra HDTV will be disappointed, but if you connect the Pro to a 1080p display, it’s the only console to give an unscaled match for the final output. Indeed, a standard PS4 renders only at 900p, while Xbox One only pushes a comparatively meagre 720p. The trade here is obvious – aside from some small frame-drops in non-playable sections on Xbox One X, Soulcalibur 6 delivers a locked 60 frames per second – essential for a game like this.

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