Unreal Engine 4 Demo for PS4, Reduced Quality?

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems | February 26, 2013 - 08:07 PM |
Tagged: ps4, unreal engine 4

Unreal Engine 4 was present at Sony's Playstation 4 press conference, but that is no surprise. Epic Games has been present at several keynotes for new console launches. Last generation, Unreal Engine 3 kicked off both Xbox 360 and PS3 with demos of Gears of War and Unreal Tournament 2007, respectively. The PS4 received a continuation of the Elemental Demo first released at the end of E3 last June.

All I could think about when I watched the was, “This looks pretty bad. What happened?”

If you would like to follow along at home, both demos are available on Youtube:

As you can see from the animated GIF above, particle count appears to have been struck the worst. The eyes contain none of the particle effects in the PS4 version. There appears to be an order of magnitude or two more particles on the PC version than the PS4. There are no particle effects around the eyes of the statue. Whole segments of particles are not even rendered.

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In this screenshot, downsampled to 660x355, the loss of physical detail is even more apparent. The big cluster of particles near the leg are not present in the PS4 version and the regular cluster is nowhere near as densely packed.

And the lighting, oh the lighting.

On the PS4 everything looks a lot higher contrast without a lot of the subtle lighting information. This loss of detail is most apparent with the volcano smoke and the glow of the hammer but are also obvious in the character model when viewed in the video.

Despite the 8GB of RAM, some of the textures also seem down-resolution. Everything appears to have much more of a plastic look to it.

Still, while computers still look better, at least high-end PC gaming will still be within the realm of scalability for quite some time. We have been hampered by being so far ahead of consoles that it was just not feasible to make full use of the extra power. At least that is looking to change.

February 26, 2013 | 08:36 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Unless we know what PC system was being used its not a fair comparison. The PS4 is going be around a $400-500 device probably. I'd bet the PC in the demo is some high end Core i7 with some SLI GPU setup.

Apples to Oranges dude.

February 26, 2013 | 09:52 PM - Posted by MrAnderson1st (not verified)

Also, we already (kind of) know that PS4's discreet GPU is behind today's current generation even with the advantages of having software stacks that are closer to the hardware.

Moreover, I doubt UR4 is fully optimized for PS4 hardware. Even though, I don't think they'll be squeezing that much more particles out of it...

I was still impressed since we still have not seen any games on the PC with those interesting affects. At least on the console the standardization will mean the same experience for everyone.

It did not look like PS4 power took any wind out of the Sails of the other impressive demos. BTW I'm a PC :D

February 26, 2013 | 09:58 PM - Posted by zakattak80 (not verified)

In a year the price to performance for the PS4 well be even lower. So even though you are right to a degree, his point well hold more water when the consoles are release.

February 26, 2013 | 10:03 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

We did know since last June: Single GTX 680.

The question is more what kind-of headroom is left for optimization. That would be interesting to know.

February 27, 2013 | 06:30 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

So they were using a system where the video card costs more than what a whole PS4 will.

In other news a Corvette is faster than a Honda Accord...go figure

February 27, 2013 | 07:13 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

1) A GTX 680 launched a year ago at 499$ (MSRP, not cost) which was the launch price of the cheapest (20GB) PS3... ignoring inflation.

2) A 499$ PS3 cost 805$ in parts and labour. Sony took the research + development + marketing + 306$/unit loss.

3) Making judgments based on cost is usually a good thing that people need to do more of. For example, "Hey these two cameras are both 70$, but this one takes a lithium battery pack instead of AA batteries... guess it really is a 50$ camera with a 20$ battery." In the case of consoles, however, the platform owners write off way too many expenses and hide too much revenue in fees to users and developers to analyze it in that way.

March 1, 2013 | 06:37 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

That may be true but it doesn't validate the comparison. Its what the end user can or can't buy for a certain level of graphics fidelity. If Sony takes a loss on hardware that's their choice.

The bottom line is these videos compare hardware setups that will have very large costs difference to the end user. If PC perspective ran a article saying how a $600 computer can't run at the same level of a $1200 one people would go "no shit dude thanks for telling us the obvious".

That's basically what this article is. Your telling us something hardware enthusiasts already know.

This isn't some sort of revelation or big secret you exposed to us.

March 3, 2013 | 06:01 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I can see that the particles have been lowered in the ps4 version but all the rest remains present. The character model looks better IMO on the ps4 (only a matter of visual preference, which is based solely on Opinion) Also you can see more back ground in the ps4 version. Was this ps4 demo even running on the updated PS4 Dev kits or was it an earlier model. They had to show something for the Ps4 announcement so I Strongly doubt they had much time to optimize. Also if I may add Consoles systems are not really tapped into Until half way or the end of its life span.Its all to soon to make comparisons. I feel we will know for sure what ps4 has to offer during this years E3 and beyond.
Also PC owners need to realize that you are only getting more from PC's because you get to add more Hardware such as multiple GPU's (sli) or Over clock your system to push things beyond its limits,(which can cause problems, and higher power consumption. Lets leave it as a fair comparisons use a single GPU, which is what the majority of the consumer PC market will be using in their home Gaming rigs. ALSO instead of saying your PC is better than a console, How about just stick to comparing your PC gaming rig to the next Persons PC gaming rig.

March 18, 2013 | 01:42 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

seeing that JUST the Video card that rendered the demo on the PC most likely cost 2 times what the PS4 is going to cost, It should dam well look magnatudes better than the PS4.

April 17, 2013 | 12:02 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Dont be an idiot. The ps4 is at least a 600-700 dollar system.

February 26, 2013 | 11:27 PM - Posted by Kusanagi (not verified)

I'm going on a whim and say that they didn't have enough time to get things up and running like they wanted to. Plus, it'll get better over time.

February 27, 2013 | 12:25 AM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Of course, the real point -- which I probably should have mentioned in the article, in fact I might update it -- is that Epic made this demo to show console developers why they should implement high-end hardware in their consoles. This seems to suggest that Epic's vision needed to be scaled back slightly.

Epic routinely fights console manufacturers behind the scenes a ridiculous amount. According to Mark Rein, Tim Sweeney and some exec (I think CTO of Xbox division) were fighting over 256MB vs 512MB of RAM. This was at the time where Carmack and others were complaining about the non-guaranteed harddrive ((it turns out they were right too, given that eventually Microsoft needed to install a dashboard update that was too large for the unit, so they had to give out free 512MB memory cards unless the user wished to opt for a cheap HDD)).

Eventually Sweeney emailed out the image which cost Microsoft a billion dollars and, I think, caused the whole 360 shortage at its launch.

It's also possible that if something is lacking, Epic might win again and the PS4 could get a behind-the-scenes hardware upgrade. Who knows.

February 27, 2013 | 07:12 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

High end hardware means high end costs and prices. Does everybody forget the disaster that was the PS3 launch when sales were horrible because of a $600 price tag?

Consoles aren't about competing with tech enthusiasts and $1500 gaming rigs, they never have been. I don't know why people keep comparing them. They never will be equal.

February 27, 2013 | 01:14 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Lets be honest here...

We ALL saw how awesome Aliens: Colonial Marines looked 3 years ago. Magically it turned out to be not even half-way decent looking from a game preview in 2009.

I rest my case. Developers love to bullshit the reality of what gamers will actually see. All except Crysis which prides itself on being future proof because you'll need to be a long way into the future before you can even play it.

February 27, 2013 | 02:06 AM - Posted by Symmetrical (not verified)

Wasn't it rumored this demo was only running on 4GB of GDDR5 anyway?

And the PC demo was confirmed to run on a single GTX 680.

So is anybody really that surprised that a console that is going to be $400-$500 isn't going to perform the same as a $500 GPU + the rest of the computer?

February 27, 2013 | 02:49 AM - Posted by Scott Michaud

You really cannot do parts/labour cost analysis with consoles. They are sold at a loss. Sometimes that loss is massive and ridiculous.

The economics are all in license fees.

February 27, 2013 | 08:05 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

And while there is a lot of truth to this statement, Epic isn't making a really great case because they aren't the ones having to eat such a "massive and ridiculous" loss.

Sony has figured out where they feel comfortable in the price/performance range to sell to consumers as a loss leader. Epic will just have to live with the fact their metal man with the flaming hammer will have less particles and some baked on lighting.

"It's also possible that if something is lacking, Epic might win again and the PS4 could get a behind-the-scenes hardware upgrade. Who knows."

I think this sounds far-fetched.

"The question is more what kind-of headroom is left for optimization. That would be interesting to know."

This sounds far more realistic. Those who feel let down by this demo should give it a few years for devs to squeeze more from the system. If it looks just as bad, then complain.

March 1, 2013 | 06:41 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

That is not something the end user deals with. Its what the hardware costs to them. Console manufactures take a loss, its part of the game.

February 27, 2013 | 02:58 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

the pc version have physx, the ps4 has not

February 27, 2013 | 03:53 PM - Posted by MrAnderson1st (not verified)

Yes, PC will have better visuals, but not everyone will have that experience. I would predict that is a best quality demo given the status of UR4 at the time and using the best hardware at the time... that's how demoing works.

Software engineers will always get more out of the hardware at least in the first 3-4 years with the line starting to flatten out. The OS has room to improve, and developers get used to the idea that they are not working with a moving target and component configurations.

We need PC developers to write software to make viewing PC from TV distance... that should be part of the OS experience. Windows 8 seems to be doing a little of this... and Steam Big Picture mode are steps in the right direction. We now need fonts and in game text to adapt to TV viewing verses PC desktop distance. I think is this is one of the leading issues with people connecting PCs to the HD TVs. You cannot see the menus! Let alone see the particles :D

February 27, 2013 | 04:17 PM - Posted by ea1985 (not verified)

>>The big cluster of particles near the leg are not present...<<

I've got major bingo bucks on Josh running away w/ this later on.

February 27, 2013 | 04:58 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

[■] Offensive

[■] Josh Can't Breathe

February 27, 2013 | 06:56 PM - Posted by beerdoodle (not verified)

The sad thing is, as soon as this thing comes out it will be outdated and there will be new GPUs out from AMD and Nvidia. As PC gamers we can only hope that at the launch of a new console they can match a decent gaming PC at that time. Long console life cycles only make things worse. Envelopes that need to be pushed aren't because of consoles. I'm glad they are getting better, I'd be happier if they were a lot more expensive and a lot more capable.

February 28, 2013 | 12:23 AM - Posted by ezjohny

Instead of putting the PS4 against the PC, they should of put the PS4 against the PS3, so we the public could see if there is going to be much of a difference in this up and coming PS4!!! I'm a PC gamer and I would want video games for this consoles to evolve, not to be put back again!!!

February 28, 2013 | 02:45 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

It is funny that only one mention PhysX and he/she was ignored.

March 1, 2013 | 11:22 AM - Posted by camberry

I still cant help thinking that this has at least some to do with platform optimization.

Has anyone seen the Demo for "Deep Down" from Capcom? That looked pretty amazing on the PS4, which is why I think that some of the issues are due to optimization.

Of course PC hardware will always kill the consoles, but this is the first generation of machines that I can remember that are closley akin to general purpose PC's (since Xbox1). Makes me think that the Steambox might actually get some traction since most development will be for similar hardware.

March 1, 2013 | 07:08 PM - Posted by VG779 (not verified)

For what its worth, this info (concerning the development of the UE4 PS4 demo) seems to shed some light on the specs available in the early devkit used:

From: http://www.psu.com/forums/showthread.php/306813-PS4-Specs-for-Dummies/pa...

"According to some known devs at B3D, [the UE4 demo] was all done on the old devkits... With basically 1.5GB of usable memory.

"Specifically regarding the UE4 tech, that was done rushed and unoptimized. A poster called "MikeR" said thus:

"This demo was created/running on approximation hardware - not final dev/PS4 silicon. Also, the demo was created within a constrained timeframe for showing. Just for sh**s and giggles, the demo only used 27-29% of the AH resources - unoptimized. Before you ask, there is no link, I am the link."

From: http://beyond3d.com/showpost.php?p=1712718&postcount=88

March 3, 2013 | 06:07 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Whew look at all the particles, Looks lovely. But all the light makes the PC one look washed out. I can see everything clearly in the ps4 one. Sometimes its a waste to over do things like that in video games, It will be hard to see whats going on, in real world Game environments.

March 8, 2013 | 10:47 PM - Posted by DavidGX (not verified)

Anyone who seriously thought the new consoles could even come close to a PC was fooling themselves to begin with.

July 1, 2013 | 02:40 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

What PC for $400 can look that amazing? PS4 FTW!

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