Xbox One launch title Ryse: Son of Rome was noteworthy for its amazing visuals, its extreme gore, and the amazing visual fidelity with which its extreme gore was rendered on Microsoft's new console. Given the categories PC games normally excel in, its upcoming port must look even snazzier than the original, right?
The hardware pros at Eurogamer's Digital Foundry set about answering this question recently. Based on their characteristically thorough analysis, the short answer seems to be: yes, the PC version of Ryse does look better in several meaningful ways. But as it so often does, that answer comes with a few important caveats.
First, Digital Foundry notes that they've only been able to test out preview builds of the PC version of Ryse—not the complete game yet. Still, author Richard Leadbetter was able to put the demos he accessed through a number of tests and concluded that the PC version can improve upon the Xbox One version in two key areas: its resolution and frame-rate.
"The PC version we tested—a two-level press demo—offers the opportunity to resolve these issues conclusively." Leadbetter writes. "Slotting a Radeon R9 290 into our Core i7 3770K PC overclocked to 4.3GHz, Ryse's spectacular opening renders beautifully at a native 1080p, with a flawless 60fps update. A 30fps cap is included in the options, but crucially, Crytek allows PC users to run fully unlocked - and given the right hardware, the impact is spectacular."
"Given the right hardware" strikes me as a key phrase here. Leadbetter continues a moment later (emphasis added):
What's clear from our testing—and showcased quite spectacularly in the comparison video above—is that the ability to shape the performance level of the game has far more of a positive impact on the title than running it at native 1080p. Slowed down to 25 per cent speed, the ebb and flow of the Xbox One update is very much at odds with the sheer consistency of the PC's delivery of new frames. But image quality? There's an improved clarity to the game in motion, and a hint of blur on Xbox One (especially evident in completely static scenes), but it's hardly a revelatory improvement, with the advantage mostly lost in movement. We need to move to 2560x1440 and 4K to see a truly game-changing difference - and that requires some serious GPU power.
So the game might run better on the PC in some important ways. But to see a real boost in image quality, you'll need a monster of a gaming PC—say, like the 4K Ultra HD machine Mike built for himself earlier this year. Of course, settling on a proper version of Ryse comes down to a matter of personal taste and value—as well as your ability to access and use high-end PC gaming technology to your benefit. But it's worth noting that Ryse isn't the kind of game that will just look spiffed out straight out of the box on any old gaming PC. Later on in the article, Leadbetter suggests that "a maxed-out Ryse is going to challenge a lot of lower-end hardware." The Xbox One version, meanwhile, still manages to hold its own graphics and performance-wise compared to high-end gaming PCs.
One important area that Digital Foundry did not mention specifically is how Ryse's famously comical jiggle-physics measure up on the new version. I'm guessing this didn't come up in the relevant demo sections. We'll just have to wait and see how they fare for the master race, I guess.
Read the full Digital Foundry analysis here.