Hitman on Xbox One X piles on the upgrades

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Hitman creator Io Interactive bought itself from writer Sq.-Enix earlier this yr, retaining management over its signature stealth assassination collection within the course of. A brand new GOTY version of the title is now accessible, full with all authentic content material and a brand new Affected person Zero marketing campaign variant. In the meantime, the studio has revamped the look of Hitman and rolled out a extremely spectacular Xbox One X replace.

This improve follows the proud custom set by Io with the PS4 Professional patch, which launched improved efficiency, a 1440p decision bump and a short time later, full HDR assist. It was an excellent enhancement to a wonderful sport, however the Xbox One X title replace takes factor even additional and the end result is likely one of the most spectacular upgrades we have seen but for the brand new system.

It begins with the decision choices. Hitman now gives two choices that decide picture high quality – a top quality mode and a excessive frame-rate mode. The previous renders out the sport at a full, native 4K, with a delicate go of temporal anti-aliasing on prime. The excessive efficiency mode targets 60fps, however does so with a 1440p decision versus the usual 1080p deployed in comparable modes in Rise of the Tomb Raider and Gears of Struggle four.

It is the standard mode we desire. Hitman is an absurdly detailed sport and the bounce to native 4K makes an enormous distinction when it comes to total readability. It is not nearly decision although – this sport is wealthy in incidental element, proper right down to lavishly modelled soda cans. Paired with native extremely HD, it is a remarkably stunning sport. Hitman additionally makes use of parallax occlusion mapping greater than every other title we have seen, giving an additional dimension to in any other case flat surfaces. Rounding off the upgrades, texture filtering can be amped up, enabling sharper floor element at a distance whereas shadow high quality is additional enhanced.

How do you watch Digital Foundry HDR video?


We put together our video analysis of the latest Hitman in full HDR. Now, the chances are you’ll be watching this via YouTube on a standard dynamic range screen – in which case, YouTube converts the HDR image to SDR using a technique called tone-mapping, meaning you get a very standard-looking presentation. To watch this video in actual HDR, you’ll need specific hardware.

Obviously, an HDR screen is a given, and mid-range/high-end Samsung screens from 2016 and the newer 2017 models will get the job done via its internal YouTube app. Selected Roku devices – including some integrated into 4K HDR screens – are compatible too. Alternatively you can stream the video from your phone to a Chromecast Ultra to get the desired effect. YouTube has also rolled out an update for HDR-enabled smartphones like the Galaxy S8, S8+, Note 8, LG V30 and Sony Xperia XZ Platinum. Watch our video on one of these devices and you’re good to go.

Last but certainly not least, for access to the original source file, visit our video download site for Patreon supporters, digitalfoundry.net. All of our video content is there to download, offering a vastly improved, pristine experience. Just copy the file to a USB stick, plug it into your 4K HDR display and you’re good to go.

Here’s our full 4K HDR analysis of the new Hitman upgrade for Xbox One X.

Comparisons with Pro are interesting – the Sony console only has one quality mode, which is broadly equivalent to Xbox One X’s performance set-up. There’s one subtle change though – Microsoft’s console pushes out detail further into the distance on both modes. Meanwhile, all of the quality-based enhancements – resolution, shadows and filtering – aren’t available on the Sony system.

So why offer two modes on Xbox One X then? Well, it’s all about frame-rate stability. With the high quality mode, you can toggle between a capped or uncapped frame-rate. By using the 30fps cap here, Hitman offers a mostly stable experience at native 4K, dropping under the threshold just a touch in the most packed environments such as the Marrakesh stage. Performance mode’s drop to 1440p and lower quality settings allows the game to mostly run at 60fps – though depending on how dense the scene is, it can vary from 50-60fps. Tellingly, comparing Xbox One X’s performance mode to the unlocked PS4 Pro game, the Microsoft console hands in a 20fps advantage in virtually all scenarios, the differential only limited by the 60fps cap. And remember, the X is pushing out its LODs too.

The exception to the rule is the taxing Marakesh stage, which sees the delta reduce to just 10fps – likely a result of the punishing CPU load on this level. While Xbox One X has demonstrated a strong GPU advantage, this stage highlights that at their core, both systems are still using very similar AMD Jaguar CPU cores. And traditionally, this has posed a problem for Hitman performance – but even here, Io Interactive has taken steps to boost throughput.

It’s achieved by using a technique we’ve seen before in titles like Destiny 2 and Halo 5 – half-rate simulation. Essentially, the underlying processing of the game world is handled at half the rendered frame-rate, and this manifests in the form of half-rate animations on some (but not all) NPCs. It seems to have been included on both PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, but the behaviour seems more aggressive on the X, with more entities running at reduced tick rates, so perhaps the Pro could turn in faster results with some tweaks.

Still, overall, outside of problem stages like Marrakesh and Bangkok, Xbox One X does manage to get reasonably close to delivering 60 frames per second across the game, which is an impressive feat indeed. This might be a perfect game to test using a Freesync display, as it should eliminate all judder if all works as hoped.

So, to summarise – Hitman’s quality mode offers a great native 4K experience, almost always locked to 30fps. It’s one of the most detail-rich, beautiful games on Xbox One X. You can unlock the frame-rate here, but we don’t recommend it. Performance mode is less successful at holding 60fps but it comes reasonably close and feels great as a result. It’s not perfect but it’s the smoothest Hitman experience seen to date on consoles.

We’ve also got to put in a good word about the game’s HDR implementation – which is common to all platforms now. This isn’t a game that blows you away with bright highlights but it makes use of HDR in a way that does enhance the overall experience by allowing for a greater range of exposure on-screen at any point. When exploring a darkened room, the outdoors will appear very bright but you can still clearly see what’s happening outside. This effect of moving between rooms of varying brightness is greatly enhanced when using HDR and it does enhance the mood. The focus here isn’t on a mind-blowing HDR showcase, but on making the game look more ‘correct’ – but in doing so, there are select scenes that just look stunning. If you can watch our video in full HDR, you may catch one or two of them.

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Finally, with the GOTY launch and the Xbox One X patch, Hitman continues to impress. Io Interactive has accomplished an incredible job supporting and increasing upon the unique idea, enabling this to turn into one of many easiest – if not the very best – video games within the Hitman franchise. It seems to be nice, performs effectively and takes good benefit of each console platform.

The most effective has been saved till final although, with Hitman on Xbox One X providing larger efficiency or a considerably improved 4K expertise, giving customers the selection on which to make use of. What was all the time an excellent sport to play is now additionally a extremely spectacular showcase title for Microsoft’s new console. In case you do not personal the sport, and you’ve got simply invested within the Xbox One X, we extremely suggest including it to your assortment.

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