Bungie jumps on next-generation systems with added support for Destiny 2 on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S and X, delivering the key feature many fans have been waiting for – a switch to 60 frames per second. But how successful has the next generation transition been? How do the three new consoles compare, and what are the key upgrades beyond boost to frame rate? Bungie has a reputation not only for excellent visual design and solid technology, but also for delivering very similar experiences across platforms ̵
To get the basics out of the way, Destiny 2 delivers true 4K resolution on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, with the number of pixels resolved by a native 3840×2160 on each in a vast majority of test images. Bungie has developed a dynamic resolution system for this engine (which is especially used on the PS4 pro), and it is probably also used here, although the appearance is minimal. There is an element of uncertainty about how the DRS system also works; a lower limit of 2560×2160 is set as a very rare extremity on each next generation machine. However, where there is short evidence of sub-native rendering, it may simply be the case of lower resolution buffers that produce aliasing. By and large, it is net positive. Essentially, when you go from PS4 Pro to PS5, you double the frame rate and remove the sharpest resolution drops while using DRS. Meanwhile, when you compare the 4K image on Xbox One X and Series X, there is little that distinguishes them on a visual level, which hinders the huge performance upgrade.
For tests then, I used the first training stages for comparisons, which take us back to the classic Cosmodrome range from the first Destiny – plus set-piece battles from Destiny 2’s latest expansions. Crucially, there is cross-game compatibility within certain console families – so that PS4 / Pro owners can play with PS5 players, while the same goes for the Xbox One and Xbox Series families. This may explain why very little has changed beyond performance: key rendering features remain unchanged, and even the disappointing texture filtering quality is exactly the same as comparing Series X to One X. Reflections may have changed slightly, but it’s clear that Bungies the focus here has been to push the frame rate hard – something it could not do on latest generation systems due to CPU limitations.
Comparing image quality between the PS5 and Series X reveals that Bungie has set a visual bar for the consoles from which it does not intend to deviate. The games are effectively identical – with the PS5 showing only a slightly higher resolution rate, falling below 4K. In fact, there seems to be evidence that the Microsoft computer does not use DRS much, at all. 60 fps performance is generally also excellent on Series X, but it has some smaller frame rate drops from the target 60 fps, while PlayStation 5 is a bit more consistent in this area. In short: a touch more clarity on the Xbox, but a very occasional smoother ride on the Sony computer. For its part, the Series S has a performance profile similar to its bigger brother, and while we noticed the DRS that applied here (with the maximum size 1920×1080), it hardly manifests itself. It’s a solid version of the game.
Another important improvement of the next generation is the ability to adapt the field of view and expand the visible play area to the user’s taste. It is a slider that is available on all next generation systems, and without a doubt a welcome addition to competitive gaming. For the record, I did not notice any performance hits in the widening field of view. Also exciting is a somewhat claims addition: 120 fps games in the PvP Crucible area of the game, only available to Series X and PlayStation 5 users (where Series S tops out at 60). On a technical level, both the PS5 and Xbox Series X target rendering resolution drops to 1440p at 120Hz – which happens to be the limit for 120Hz gaming on select HDMI 2.0 TVs. To keep the frame rates high, horizontal dynamic resolution scaling is in effect – I noticed a minimum of 1520×1440. In games, the Series X again has several drops below 120 frames per second, although each can drop to 80-90 frames per second in Iron Banner mode, especially when lots of Super Charge moves.
All in all, the addition of a 120Hz rendering of the Crucible is a fantastic extra, but I’m concerned that the latest generation of console players are still locked at 30 frames per second, having to take on 120fps and 60fps players on their shiny new consoles. It’s definitely an uneven competition when next-generation users get so much more visual feedback along with correspondingly lower entry delays, plus the FOV slider for an expanded view of each map.
Finally, while next-generation enhancements beyond frame rate are thin on the ground, Destiny 2 on the Xbox series and PlayStation 5 uses the enhanced capabilities of each machine with care to deliver a competitive enhancement while online. Running the game at 60 frames per second and beyond was previously only to preserve PC and Stadia players, and finally we have it here. With all this in mind, it’s a great time to jump back into the game – the Beyond Light expansion is well worth checking out, while Bungie clearly has ambitious plans for Destiny 2 in 2021: cross-cutting across all systems is promised and with a high framework -rate performance now available for console users, it is now closer to parity with the excellent PC version. We look forward to seeing what Bungie has in development with next-generation consoles as the baseline, but in the meantime, the new content and performance boost Destiny 2 gives a shot in the arm for console gamers.