We’ve already discussed 4A Games’ marvellous work on Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition on both PC and Xbox Series consoles, but today we can complete the set as we look at the PlayStation 5 version – and it’s an absolute treat. Just like all the other versions of the game, it’s using the latest rendition of the 4A Engine, rebuilt from the ground up to support hardware accelerated ray tracing, which is used to deliver phenomenally realistic global illumination. And similar to its console brethren, 60 frames per second is the target. Oh and while it’s brand new for PlayStation 5, owners of the PS4 version get a free upgrade.
So let’s cut to the chase – what’s the difference between PS5 and Xbox Series X renditions of the game? The first thing I noticed is that colours are darker and richer on PlayStation 5, when stacked up against the other renditions of the game – and this is curious as I’m not sure it’s correct but at a superficial level, I think I prefer it on the Moscow level, but found the Xbox presentation more appropriate on the Caspian stage. When using the initial calibration menu, it seems clear that the darkest details appear to be ‘crushed’ and aren’t visible – and strangely, it is comparable with the PC version with the ‘deependark’ launch option active. We’ve had some issues with PS5’s gamma output being skewed, but that only applies to SDR video – with Metro, this seems to apply to both SDR and HDR. It’s a little strange overall, but we’re noting it more to explain the change in tone you may notice in the video embedded directly below. It’s not going to impact your enjoyment of the game.
Beyond that, the Enhanced Edition’s visual feature set on PlayStation 5 is entirely consistent with what we saw on Xbox Series X. It has the same level of detail, the same suite of ray traced effects, and the same trades up against the PC version. Even the limited variable rate shading support (used only on forward rendered elements of the presentation) is identical – though the implementation of it on consoles does not necessarily require hardware support. Similar to the VRS used in Call of Duty: Warzone, what we’re seeing here can be achieved through exploiting the multi-sample anti-aliasing hardware within the GPU. And it is a bit of a shame that the full Tier Two VRS implementation isn’t used on any rendition of the game, not even PC. Temporal upscaling is also used to deliver a decent-looking 4K presentation: internal resolution is lower, but detail is accumulated across frames and incorporated into the one currently rendered.
So far then, we’re looking at close parity between the two consoles but there are some interesting variances. It starts with the game’s dynamic resolution scaling. The demands of hardware-accelerated ray tracing are numerous, so the range of internal resolutions you’ll see is wide, albeit mitigated by the temporal upscaling. On Xbox Series X, the rare minimums were in the region of 1080p – PlayStation 5 will dip lower at the highest stress points. In terms of typical resolutions in the open world, the Sony machine operates between 1296p and 1512p, while Series X runs in similar scenarios at 1512p to 1728p. In essence, PlayStation 5 is usually a little softer, with circa 80 per cent of Xbox Series X’s throughput. I put about six hours into the game in getting these results, but getting to the Taiga stage – the most demanding of all – requires a lot of time, so the ranges I have here may shift in the most challenging content towards the game’s end.
A cut and dried Xbox Series X advantage is mitigated a little when it comes to the matter of performance, where I generally found PlayStation 5 to have a significant advantage in locking to 60 frames per second. Sony’s new console delivers a Metro Exodus experience that’s super-smooth in combat, and equally robust in traversing the open world. Similar to Xbox Series X, there can be the odd one-frame drop, but where I found PS5 smoother is in areas where I saw some significant stutter on the Microsoft machine. Quite why the Xbox version has this issue isn’t immediately clear, but I’d hope to see this addressed by the developer as there’s little evidence that it’s directly caused by GPU load.
Both console versions also have significant loading time advantages over their last-gen equivalents, but don’t seem to tap into the new storage APIs – I found Xbox to load just a touch faster than its Sony equivalent. For its part, 4A does put the DualSense’s haptics to good use, however, with palpable resistance to weapon and battery pumping, along with indications of when you’re close enough to an enemy to initiate a stealth attack. I’m not exactly a huge fan of some of the DualSense’s implementations, but there’s also resistance when pulling the trigger to fire a weapon – and the level of resistance varies according to the gun you’re firing.
Ultimately, Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition is a simply stunning game – and it’s astonishing to see a developer double down on ray tracing so early in the generation. From my perspective though, the gamble pays off. Side-by-side with the last-gen rendition, there’s a night and day improvement in the quality of the visuals while absolutely nobody can complain about a 30fps shooter transitioning across to 60fps while delivering this huge improvement to the overall quality. This is a sensational release from 4A Games and it goes without saying that I recommend it highly across all systems.
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