May 6, 2021

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Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War – what PC hardware do you need to match PS5?

The arrival of a new gaming generation always shakes up the status quo – not just in the console space, but for PC owners too. With new Xbox and PlayStation hardware effectively resetting the baseline, how does your existing gaming rig stack up? Do you need to upgrade? What kind of PC kit is now required to match the console experience? We’ve already tested Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, finding that relatively high-end PC kit is required to get the job done, while Watch Dogs Legion lowered expectations – provided you had an Nvidia RTX card. Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War is our next port of call.

You can watch our entire process in matching PlayStation 5’s visual make-up to PC in the embedded video below, but through a process of careful testing, it was possible to provide a very close match, up to and including ray tracing features, so let’s get straight into the nitty-gritty. The volumetric lighting setting controls the resolution of lit volumetric fog in the game, where PS5 is closest to PC’s low setting. Water tessellation controls the displacement of water, offering up more detail and this is turned off on PlayStation 5. Other features are engaged though – motion blur on PS5 is equivalent to the PC game with its ‘all’ setting, yet has fewer samples in motion than the closest ‘high’ quality level. Meanwhile, texture quality on PS5 is equivalent to PC’s maxed out setting, as long as the high quality texture pack is installed.

The object detail setting is interesting – it controls the draw distance of odd one-off bits of environmental detail, usually only noticeable in the far distance. Through a process of elimination, PlayStation 5 looks closest to PC at medium. Other settings reveal the developers erring more towards the high end – screen-space reflections, for example, are an important aspect of the game’s visual make-up and so PS5 runs at what looks like a match with PC’s high preset, while the model quality option (which is self-explanatory) is again for a match for PC at its best. Ordered independent transparencies increase sorting quality for transparent effects – with some very odd artefacing when disabled. However, I could find no difference between low and high settings, so PS5 could be equivalent to any of them. Meanwhile, sub-surface scattering more realistically renders the way that light interacts with skin on character models. It’s an on/off setting and it’s definitely enabled on consoles.

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