Metro: Exodus technical analysis across all versions
A technical achievement across all platforms.
Artyom is back, in his most polished, expansive, action packed and story driven adventure yet. My upcoming complete technical analysis will cover all the 4A engine and team have delivered here with exceptional proficiency across every platform.
The PC and console versions all look exceptional with some specific treats saved for those top end PC players that is not as common with large scale multi-platform releases. The changes between consoles and then PC can be larger than first expected with some exceptional results at times.
Resolution is the least important, as I always say, but still relevant within a games presentation, the various render target buffers have always varied but geometry or depth is the one we care most about. On base PS4 and Pro we see a fixed and locked resolution, no dynamic scaling appears to be present on either machine giving us a native 1920x1080 and 2560x1440 resolution on both, backed up with a temporal AA that does an incredible job keeping stability and clarity high, this is one of the best IQ’s I have seen on consoles with all the fine material properties from fabric weave, scratched leather, Dented metals and latex like skin all coming through with striking impact, it looks incredible both in dark and light across a simply gigantic Moscow landscape.
Next is the Xbox family and here we see a different element applied, dynamic scaling is in affect here with the base S model. IQ is still excellent on this machine but the sub HD output is obvious. In quieter scenes it holds within the 1664x936 level with only sky views hitting close to 1080. Once in action this can dip to 1600x900 and even lower 1536x864 . When the game ramps up the action later on with the opening few hours not seeing as much load Once past the Volga it ramps up heavily. The X comes in with a resolution that hits native 3840x2160 in all tested sections but again when action ramps up this may dip below as it likely follows the same DX12 paths as the Base and Win10 versions. It maintains the cleanest image of the gaggle and thanks to that superb AA and motion blur any dips that should arise would be pretty much impossible to notice aside this kind of in-depth look, That said I found none at all. The AA solution does look less aggressive than the Pro which will help and is understandable due to the higher pixel count. The team have used the machines well with that dynamic scaler helping the Base Xbox consoles in addition to the adaptive V-sync they all run, results here do demonstrate more could be done on the PS4.
Taking base consoles, they target 30fps as all versions do, but use that adaptive v-sync to help when things get heavy, and they do. Most traversal, exploration and mild combat holds that locked almost always on every machine. The dips and tearing come when in heavy firefights or some of the real-time cinematics. Here the obvious reduction in Xbox Alpha effects, volumetrics and such and addition to that dynamic scaler pay off. It can dip and tear but the long sector streams and saves hit both machines equally. In heavy combat though the PS4 struggles more, at times tearing 100% of the time to maintain a 33ms frame time. The higher quality alpha effects are clear filling your view at times as is the dynamic light precision which Adds up to a lower performance metric during these moments. The S tears and dips also, just less frequently than the PS4, I hope they can implement their dynamic scaler here with an equal reduction of alpha buffers which I think would all go unnoticed but return performance to S levels or better. I am sure patches are on the way.
The premium consoles do much better at handling this, with similar segments going unnoticed on the bigger machines, again tearing and dips occur including sector loads and saves but the qty of these is reduced so that it never feels as obvious. Of the 2 machines in near as I can get battles and cut-scenes I see the Pro and X trading blows to a level that makes the gap almost irrelevant, the real-time average at the bottom shows you how close they are and if you have the premium consoles by do a great job of delivering a solid and sharp image across the board on a 1080 or 4K screen. The alpha and volumetric fog also are better here than base machines but are more in line with the PS4 comparatively than the S as they are so present in Metro games it does stand out.
Visual Quality and Effects
We do see the lowest levels of S, but LoDs and draw distance is close between the 2 base machines with texture streaming being slightly more consistent on PS4 but assets are identical. This carries over to premium consoles with them having a higher LoD setting and draw distance which helps long views and object detail stand out between the 2 levels of consoles, all use Pom to improve depth and detail on snow, mud or other areas with the sharper resolution aiding the fidelity. Weather effects, driving rain, atmospheric scattering or storm clouds all look excellent with none loosing out over the other. Shadow map resolution and filtering is better on Pro and X largely due to the bump in resolution but to be fair all version use dynamic lights and AO often which is another high point of the game itself.
Moving to PC then we see a large leap in fidelity and options but you need the machine to do it, only my Zen powered RTX 2700 can achieve the level here with lesser machines than these top end cards reducing the still stunning game to console levels. Hairworks, PhysX and Ray Traced Global Illumination and other features bump the PC above the high level of consoles, a reminder of when teams target bleeding edge tech you can get some incredible leaps. The Ray Traced lighting model is something I cover in more depth in my other videos, but it delivers a more consistent and realistic light model than we are used to. It does not work on dynamic light sources at all or indeed interior lighting, instead focuses on one directional point light within an Area which predominately means the sun or moon.
The obvious effect is light bounce from the global illumination trace this offers can give some scenes a darker look, as per my Quake 2 video a couple of weeks ago. But this is far more than just that, the new method of lighting does save on the raster method by turning off light probe elements, cube maps and other multiple point lights placed within a scene by the lighting artists, instead the single point of light and shared Ray per pixel allows this singular lighting source to drastically change not only how a scene looks, but how it’s materials are handled. The shift takes me right back to the software to hardware rendering changes I went through from Quake 2’s software and OpenGL render methods. Here DX12’s DXR and the bespoke RTX Nvidia API is the on,y choice that PC gamers have, I cannot stress how good and more grounded the scenes that rely on this method CAN look, my only issue is many segments that are not lit from external lighting are completely unaffected and the opening hours of the game really avoid showing any of this. I have seen other channels on launch showing this as an example and it is really not valid and actually not even ray tracing as it simply does not use the new hybrid method and is predominately still a raster lighting method. Check my full technical analysis video for much more on this.
This new metro title is without doubt the best the 4A team have tolled over for the past 5 years. It is as polished, labored and technically accomplished as anything a much bigger and even exclusive team would have crafted. Some weaknesses do arise and much of that is across every version. But it takes this dark and gritty tale of hope to a whole new level and hopefully audience, unmistakably a Metro title, with all the unique delivery, quirks and narrative focus but raised to a level that stands shoulder to shoulder with the best FPS shooters on PC and consoles, a work of Artyom.
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