Warzone 2.0 Crossplay: Are Next-Gen Console Players at a Competitive Disadvantage?
With the Warzone 2.0 servers now live for a few weeks, it’s clear that PS5, Xbox Series X, and Series S runs the game brilliantly at 60 fps, or even 120 fps. But what about the older consoles, the millions of PS4 and Xbox One that are still in use? And what about the enhanced consoles, PS4 Pro and Xbox One X? To find out if any of these next-gen options are competitive with current-gen consoles and PCs, in frame rate or configuration, we went back to Al Mazrah for further testing.
Let’s start with the base PS4. This console is surprisingly well optimized for both campaign and 6v6 multiplayer, and it’s more or less locked to 1080p 60fps. Although Warzone 2.0? That’s a different story, unfortunately. 60fps is possible, while you’re on the plane or during 2v2 gulag matches, but when you’re out in the world, frame drops are unavoidable and texture pops become hard to ignore. Frame-rates of 40-60fps are common, dropping to 30 in the most frantic moments of combat.
This is despite resolution drops on both the horizontal and vertical axes, to 960×540 minimum and upscaled to 1080p with TAA; in the resolution of the campaign, the scaling affected only the horizontal access. The lack of definition makes it difficult to select distant players and ensures that those on PS4 are at a disadvantage.
We’d expect even worse results on Xbox One, as this is the most power-constrained console of the last generation and one that doesn’t feel like a likely leading platform for development efforts. And indeed, we see a sub-900p resolution target, scaling up from a low of 800×450, resulting in a muddy image. However, settings like shadows, textures, and foliage density remain the same as on PS4, suggesting there are no ‘lower than low’ custom Xbox One settings.
The lower resolution means that glare in grass and noise in fine texture work are more noticeable, and it also doesn’t prevent quite harsh textures from appearing. Interestingly, Xbox One also suffered from audio issues in my tests, with certain channels in the mix (music, ambient effects) cutting out entirely for a few seconds until the world finished loading. Frame rates are also exceptionally low, averaging 10fps lower. than the PS4 version, so 30-50fps is the norm, with tearing at the top of the screen, something I saw on Xbox One X as well.
In turn, low frame rates have a detrimental effect on input latency. Turning, shooting, or picking up weapons happens with a noticeable delay, providing a huge handicap against enemies on every other platform. So Warzone 2.0 runs on Xbox One in the broadest sense of the word, and is best avoided if you have any alternatives. (In related news, the Series S has dipped as low as ~£190 recently, and it would provide a terrific upgrade over the original Xbox One.)
The two premium consoles, One X and PS4 Pro, fare much better. PS4 Pro runs the game at a smooth 50-60 fps at dynamic 1512p, typically scaling on the horizontal axis at 1536×1512. This isn’t a locked-down 60fps, but it’s surprisingly close. Xbox One X, on the other hand, aims for a full 4K image and drops as low as 1080p, but this relatively high target resolution can cause frame rate drops below PS4 Pro and even PS4 in some foliage-heavy scenes.
Looking at a four-way comparison, Al Mazrah’s geometric design is identical between last-gen consoles, while shadow detail and grass draw distance are also relatively similar. The biggest dividing factor is resolution, with the One X far ahead in image clarity and the Xbox One far behind. However, PS4 Pro is the better balanced option that is more likely to offer 60fps.
One last point concerns the field of view (FOV) setting in the PS4 version. The default 80° is quite narrow, so does a wider setting incur a performance penalty? Based on two tests comparing 80° and 120° settings, yes, but it depends. We detected a minor 1 fps drop off in a less challenging scene, but a relatively variable ~5 fps drop looking towards the encroaching gas. So for the best framerate, keeping the default FOV narrow is the way to go, but overperforming consoles can go as high as 120° without significant ill effects, so this might be a better shout out for consoles. and current generation PCs. .
Looking at all four Xbox consoles, it’s clear to see the wide range of fidelity in which Warzone 2.0 is rendered on a Microsoft platform. The X/S series maintains a locked-in 60 fps, while also having higher turf density and longer turf shooting distances. Strangely though, image quality on the Series S isn’t quite as sharp as it was on the One X before it.
With this test behind us, IW Engine’s scalability is (as always) hugely impressive. The fact that we are seeing such a variety of machines with different specifications producing the same world is remarkable, indeed. But there’s a sense that its true potential is stuck in the past, especially with the Xbox One trying to keep up with it.
The bottom line? Warzone 2.0 does not hide the intentions of Infinity Ward. It’s written big on the sub-40fps drops on Xbox One and texture popping that affects even PS4. It’s a project that moves away from a next-gen approach, in favor of building the optimal experience for PS5 and Series X/S. It also talks about the future of the Call of Duty series, which is rumored to not have a major release in 2023. Warzone 2.0 will help fans of the series in the meantime as a major cross-platform, multi-generational effort. After? Who knows, but I hope we’ll see an unabashedly next-gen Call of Duty in 2024.