For many, this is the most crucial of the next generation cross-platform comparisons. The new Assassin’s Creed is a big game, cross-gen in nature for sure, but apparently built with the new wave of machines at least partly in mind. Valhalla also represents a generational shift for the franchise as this is the first time a new series entry arrives on consoles with a 60fps target – on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X at least, delivered with varying levels of success. Ubisoft Montreal aims for complete platform parity between Sony and Microsoft’s premium consoles, but the results when they do diverge are perhaps unexpected.
Anvil Next gets a revamp, but there is the sense that much of Valhalla’s shift in aesthetic comes from the art side. In fairness, this can tap into the engine’s strengths: a sizeable enough proportion of the rendering budget is spent on the volumetric clouds system, and there are some spectacular vista shots delivered in the new game. The inclusion of wintry terrain also sees the introduction of snow displacement, similar to what we’ve seen in the past in titles including Horizon Zero Dawn’s Frozen Wilds expansion. Ultimately, the engine continues to provide the beautiful landscapes seen since the franchise shift that began with Assassin’s Creed Origins, but hopefully the dense cityscapes of Unity can be revisited with the shift to next-gen. One bonus feature we’re happy to see though: per-object motion blur arrives in Assassin’s Creed for the first time.
First of all, before we tackle the Series X vs PS5 main event, let’s talk about Xbox Series S. We’ll be discussing a fair amount of Xbox issues in this piece, but the Series S rendition of Valhalla sits in a rather tricky position. Microsoft’s marketing places Series S as a lower resolution Xbox that should otherwise mirror the Series X experience, but the key cutback here is a drop from 60fps down to 30fps, firmly pegging it with last-gen versions of the game. Not only that, dynamic resolution is rather elastic, operating from 1188p to around 1656p, often settling at 1296p – lower than Series X, and also delivering reductions in shadow resolution, alongside pulled in level of detail settings for trees and terrain. It’s a perfectly serviceable game, but not quite as fully featured as users might hope. Series S can match up fairly well in resolution terms, but the cut in feature and frame-rate is disappointing.