Back in June, Bethesda announced that Fallout 4 would run at 1080p/30fps on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with Pete Hines saying last month that it runs at a “solid 30fps [on PS4]. I play it all the time. I think you’ll be pleased.”
To see how accurate Bethesda’s targets were, Digital Foundry did a performance analysis of Fallout 4 on all three platforms (with the day one update installed), confirming that both console versions “render at a native 1080p resolution, with no compromise in either case.”
After saying the core graphics settings “are surprisingly close across the board” on PS4 and Xbox One, Digital Foundry looked at the frames-per-second, mentioning that it targets 30fps with v-sync engaged. Unfortunately, “It’s far from a perfect situation on consoles as far as frame-rate consistency goes, and neither can truly latch on to a rock-solid 30fps reading.”
All things put into perspective, Fallout 4 does hold 30fps as a general rule, but drops are noticeable. For example, moving between major city areas is a particular strain on the engine, causing PS4 and Xbox One to drop to 20fps in matching spots on the map. Like clockwork, each platform lurches downward for a spell when passing a threshold in the environment – suggesting assets are being decompressed on the fly for the next location. 30fps is restored relatively quickly on arriving at the next spot, and it’s business as usual from there. However it’s not an ideal setup when these connecting areas are filled with enemies, and controller response suddenly takes a hit – though PS4 holds a frame-rate advantage in matching runs.
It’s worth nothing that “most locations hold mostly steady at 30fps,” but the busy town of Diamond City sees the frame-rate drop on both consoles when walking around, though there’s a smoother experience happening on PS4. Also, while the PS4 version does drop to the low 20fps range in an early Deathclaw battle when using a minigun, “just about every other battle produces similar results between the two consoles.”
Overall, Digital Foundry says, “PS4 is in the better shape as terms of consistency across the game; it has nothing close to the stuttering seen on Xbox One, and a better frame-rate in big towns and cities as well. Xbox One has a repeatable advantage in the Deathclaw battle, where effects clash heavily, but in most scenarios we get matching, or superior results on PS4.”
However, they add, “From our initial tests PS4 and Xbox One have issues holding 30fps,” and the PC version presents the smoothest experience.