Despite boasting 12 teraflops of computational power and support for 120fps, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla looks like it will fall short of hitting the coveted 4K/60fps experience that many gamers crave.
Speaking to Eurogamer Portugal, Ubisoft said, “Currently, we can guarantee that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will run at least 30 FPS. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will benefit from faster loading times, allowing players to immerse themselves in history and the world without friction.
“Finally Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will benefit from improved graphics made possible by the Xbox Series X, and we can’t wait to see the beautiful world we’re creating in stunning 4K resolution.”
We reached out to Ubisoft UK, who also confirmed that the game will run at “a minimum of 30 FPS”, and placed a further emphasis on “leveraging not only the graphics enhancements offered by the next generation of consoles, but also faster loading times and the new architectures.”
Graphics over performance
Despite the addition of a few fancy graphical bells and whistles, then, the experience will largely be the same on Xbox Series X – performance wise – as it will be on Xbox One X. Let’s not forget, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey ran at 4K/30fps on Xbox One X and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is also coming to Microsoft’s current-gen console. Will there be enough of a distinction between each version to separate the two?
Of course, it’s unclear whether Ubisoft will make a performance mode available in the game, which usually drops the resolution significantly in favor of a higher, often unlocked framerate. There’s also a chance that Ubisoft will be able to make further optimizations to the game before launch.
Nevertheless, it’s hard not to be disappointed that one of the biggest third-party titles for Xbox Series X will only output at 30fps when running at 4K resolution, a target that we really shouldn’t have to deal with anymore when you factor in the huge leap in processing power Microsoft’s new console provides.
Consoles have been consistently hamstrung by weak CPUs that are often designed for laptops and repurposed accordingly. It’s why 60fps gaming has been possible (and largely the norm) on PC hardware for well over a decade, while console games can often suffer from notoriously unstable performance. Nowadays, most PC gamers far exceed 60fps in favor of higher refresh rates, such as 144fps, so it’s jarring to play console games that feel so sludgy and blurry in comparison.
And yet, even though both the Xbox Series X and PS5 will feature an AMD Zen 2 processor, it looks like the constraints of 30fps aren’t going away anytime soon. We’ve slowly seen more developers move away from the arbitrary frame cap, particularly in competitive games such as first-person shooters and fighting games.
But single-player titles seem to be more reluctant to take the next step, often prioritizing graphical effects over smoother, more responsive gameplay. Surely it’s time console gamers got to enjoy the benefits of both?
Microsoft is bullishly claiming that Xbox Series X is the most powerful console ever made, which is admittedly hard to deny on paper. However, hitting 4K/60fps might prove to be an ambitious target, with even Nvidia’s top of the range graphics card, the GeForce RTX 2080Ti, struggling to keep a locked 60fps at 4K in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey at max settings. That being said, I’d like to at least see the choice to choose between either resolution or performance, as often the differences between 1440p (a common resolution for PC monitors) and 4K can be negligible, while the jump between 30 to 60fps is instantly apparent.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will invade Xbox Series X (and presumably PS5) when it’s released this holiday season. We’re likely to find out more about the game at Ubisoft’s E3-style digital event, Ubisoft Forward, which takes place on July 12, and we’ll also get a better picture of developers’ priorities as more next-gen games get announced.