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Digital Foundry: Hands-on with console Battlefield 1

Announced just two months ago, Battlefield 1 is now available to select users in alpha form across all three major gaming platforms. In typical DICE fashion, what we have here feels like a genuine alpha test as opposed to a marketing demo so of course, you can expect some rough edges. We’ve spent time with the PC version already but, now that the console version is out in the wild, we’ve been able to put all three versions to the test. The results are certainly interesting.

The key discussion point surrounding this alpha is one of performance – Battlefield 1 targets 60 frames per second on both consoles just like the last three DICE titles, but in its current form, it’s not quite there. There are two modes in this alpha – conquest and domination – and each one offers a very different performance profile. Domination focuses on a smaller, infantry based skirmishes. Limited to just 24 players, we found that both consoles had little difficulty hitting and maintaining the target frame-rate. Conquest, on the other hand, is a very different story, calling to mind the performance challenges faced by the previous Battlefield titles: BF4 and Hardline.

Focusing on large scale 64-player battles with lots of destruction, Conquest is the heart of Battlefield, and also the most demanding on hardware. At this stage in development, neither console is able to maintain a stable level of performance in this mode. Moving across the battlefield with light combat is enough to incur dips into the 40s while the busier sections can drop into the 30s – especially on PlayStation 4. While the two are very similar in terms of performance, it’s clear that Sony’s platform is currently the one struggling the most with frame-rate – and of course, it’s the PS4 that has the lower level of CPU performance.