The game achieves native 4K (3840 by 2160 pixels) on Xbox One X unlike the checkerboarded 4K approach the PlayStation 4 Pro version adopts. Apart from that, it also features better post-processing effects which smooth out jaggy edges when compared to the competition. However, the title also uses a dynamic resolution scaler on Xbox One X to maintain the frame rate at 30 FPS in "4K Mode". The PlayStation 4 Pro version runs at checkerboarded 4K all the time.
The resolution on Microsoft's console drops down to 1800p (3200 by 1800 pixels) at times, especially in areas like Crookback Bog, but the frame rate remains stable unlike on PlayStation 4 Pro. However, even when it drops down to 1800p, the image still appears to be sharper than the PlayStation 4 Pro version because checkerboarded 4K produces many visual artifacts. Digital Foundry gave the edge to Microsoft's console in their comparison mostly due to the fact that it maintains a stable frame rate even in demanding areas.
What's surprising is that currently the Xbox One X version features an exclusive "Performance Mode" which dynamically scales the resolution of the game between native 4K and 1080p (1920 by 1080 pixels) to maintain 60 FPS. This mode is only available on Xbox One X because there isn't an option like this available on PlayStation 4 Pro. We verified this ourselves by testing The Witcher 3 on Sony's console.
Additionally, the PlayStation 4 Pro version lacks HDR at the moment. CD Projekt RED has promised to update the title with HDR support but it's unclear if they'll add the 60 FPS Performance Mode to Sony's machine. Even though the Performance Mode isn't perfect, as the frame rate goes down to around 45 FPS in areas like Novigrad, it's still great when you're exploring outside of cities. Maybe the developer will introduce further optimizations which make it stick closely to 60 FPS in the future.
It's great to see developers taking advantage of the 1.8 teraflops advantage the Xbox One X has over the PlayStation 4 Pro to introduce native rendering and advanced effects. The Witcher 3 is probably one of the most significant examples of the power difference because it has a 60 FPS mode despite the fact that it achieves native 4K resolution on the console. Hopefully this trend will continue in the future and the difference will become even more substantial as developers become more familiar with the Xbox One X. Only time will tell.
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Asher Madan handles gaming news for Windows Central. Before joining Windows Central in 2017, Asher worked for a number of different gaming outlets. He has a background in medical science and is passionate about all forms of entertainment, cooking, and antiquing.