The benefit of a new generation of hardware like the PS5 and Xbox Series X is that it provides useful points of comparison, like we’ve got with Death Stranding.
Death Stranding was already a great showcase for the PS4 Pro and when it made the jump, 4K gaming on PC. But now that Death Stranding: Director’s Cut is out, we’ve got one of the rare instances where we can compare how a last-gen title gets upgraded for the more powerful PS5 and PC platforms, providing an interesting data point on where the PS5 actually sits against modern hardware.
One of Death Stranding‘s best attributes on PC, for instance, has been how well the game performs when upscaled via machine learning algorithms. There’s been points where Nvidia’s deep learning super sampling has been touted as producing better quality images than when the game runs at a native 4K resolution. That’s interesting given the whole idea of AI upscaling is to improve performance while losing as little detail as possible.
But when you compare the PS5’s quality against hardware that’s much more on par with the actual console, the results are pretty staggering. It’s become more valuable to draw this kind of comparison with the ongoing chip shortage, as it better illustrates what you get from the $749 PS5 (or Xbox Series X) compared to comparable hardware.
For instance, just have a look at the sheer difference in detail between Death Stranding: Director’s Cut in this scene on the PS5, compared to the game on PC running at native 4K or upscaled to 4K via DLSS.
It’s part of an excellent, exhaustive breakdown by NX Gamer that specifically tackles how the PS5 handles Death Stranding against two PCs. The PCs are specced out with equivalent hardware — one rig with an Nvidia RTX 2070 and an AMD offering with an overclocked RX 5600 XT.
Even the performance mode for Death Stranding on the PS5 has miles more detail in the scene. You can see the cutbacks more if you look closely — things like soft shadows have been sacrificed — but the added density does wonders for the total immersion.
The idea is to analyse what the PS5 is properly capable of with what it has, as opposed to just doing a comparison of the image quality and performance analysis of the PS5 against PCs with vastly more powerful graphics cards that have the room to use way more power than what the PS5 can support.
It’s also a really good analysis of what DLSS does and doesn’t do. In Death Stranding, the PC version of the game introduces some bizarre frame blending that causes close-up detail to look blurry and rather ugly. Nvidia’s AI-upscaling helps fix that — but when you’re moving around, it introduces some uglier ghosting on background details that you don’t get at a native 4K resolution, on the PS5, or even on AMD cards.
Of course, that doesn’t mean DLSS is worse. It’s just a solution, just like checkerboard rendering is a solution for consoles to generate a 4K-like image. It just so happens that every solution has its strengths and weaknesses, all of which are really neatly covered by NX Gamer below.
One takeaway here, one reminiscent of when Death Stranding first hit PC, was just how well the game is optimised across the board. Even with the reduction in detail and the tradeoffs that have to be made with the 5600 XT and the RTX 2070, the amount of visual detail is still incredibly pleasing.
Of course, the real standout winner here is the performance-per-dollar that you get from the PS5. Kojima Productions has obviously done a lot more fine-tuning to maximise what they can get out of the PS5, to the point where the console is delivering performance more in line with an RTX 3070 than the last-gen RTX 2070.
That’s huge. The benefits are obviously specific to Death Stranding, but given the current market where most RTX 3070 cards are retailing for more than $1200 by themselves, it’s enormous in context.
The overhead also raises some interesting questions. The PS5 supports 120Hz / 120 FPS output, but it’s more thin on the ground than it is for the Xbox Series X. But the analysis also makes one wonder what the PS5 can accomplish if the amount of foreground and background detail is pared back.
It’s not something you’d want to explore for Death Stranding, but for faster-paced shooters, larger MMOs that have to stream in a lot more data or things with bigger worlds, it’s fun to think about.