The Formula 1 series has gone from strength to strength with each year. From the work developer Codemasters puts into its sublime HDR and volumetric lights in the most recent instalments to the new team-building career mode of F1 2020, there’s always a forward step. What isn’t so widely explained about 2020 though is the technical upgrades: to the tracks, the cars and the Ego engine powering it all. The good news is that beyond the graphical changes this time around, performance is unquestionably superior in this year’s edition – but does it come with a cost?
At least looking at the base rendering stats, it doesn’t appear to be the case. All of the pixel counts of last year are left as-is essentially, though digging into the PC version gives some idea of how the options work on the consoles. Xbox One, for example, is arguably the most fascinating; it’s using a 1080p target, but with heavy reconstruction to achieve it. As a result you get checkerboard artefacts on any movement. It’s easy to pick out in stills, though in fairness, those artefacts blend nicely with a temporal anti-aliasing pass that cleans it up in motion. The combination of checkerboarding and TAA is a big feature on PC too; a real performance saver if you need it, with dynamic resolution options opening up for it in a greyed sub-menu. It even lets you pick the frame-rate target – 30, 60 and beyond, plus the aggressiveness of the scaling. It’s really impressive stuff, and I’d expect these settings are used behind the scenes on the console builds too.
It’s a challenge to pinpoint the lowest resolution figure on Xbox One, but for context, PC lets you drop it to 50 per cent scale of the target. That’s an extreme measure, but would give the engine flexibility to adjust for 19 AI cars, heavy rain and complex tracks like Monaco. What’s also clear is that base Xbox One relies heavily on this reconstruction – more so than any other version – whereas the other consoles barely show the same artefacts, including the base PS4. Sony’s machine pushes a 1080p target just like last year, but with far less visible noise around edges on motion, suggesting it hits 1080p natively more often. Otherwise Xbox One X is again a 3840×2160 target image with potentially a minimal use of reconstruction to get there. PS4 Pro is very similar to the X rendition, though the max resolution sits at 3200×1800.