Imagine the cover-shooting mechanics of Gears of War combined with four unique superhero classes and an open world layout with up to three player squads – and basically, that’s Outriders. Developed by People Can Fly, the demo is enjoying plenty of attention at the moment – allowing players to test out the first chapter, then roll that progress into the full game due early next month. Within this advance sampler, users get a slice of the story, some side-missions, along with a chance to check out some fiery superpowers. All are hugely satisfying in their own right and combat is fast and dynamic, but it’s fair to say that the experience varies significantly by the platform. We checked out the game on Xbox One X for a taster of the last-gen experience, then moved on to the new wave of consoles to see what’s what – and the results are intriguing.
The key difference between the generations is very simple – frame-rate. It’s worth pointing out here that Outriders isn’t a straight ‘back compat plus’ upgrade as far as we can tell, it is definitely a native PlayStation 5 application, but the overall effect looks pretty similar in that a 30fps experience on the last-gen machines has the frame-rate limiter removed, allowing what is effectively the same game to run at up to 60 frames per second. Xbox One X is the most powerful machine of the prior era, and Outriders is certainly an impressive looking experience: Unreal Engine 4’s temporal upscaler delivers a 4K output, but native resolution rendering is dynamic – 1728p at the minimum, 1944p on the maximum.
30fps is indeed the target for the last-gen machines, but the action is not as smooth as it should be: improper frame-pacing sees new frames delivered at 16ms, 33ms and 50ms intervals for the most part, so there is a consistency problem there. On top of that are genuine performance drops, one to two second stutters at points and obvious texture pop-in. However, the scope and quality of the visuals looks very close to what the new wave of consoles are delivering.