The 50% Power Difference that Nobody Understands
This is just mainly to clarify a few things. Mainly with this whole ps4 vs. Xbox one fiasco.
Whether or not you acknowledge the fact of a 50% power difference between the two systems is beside the point as this is not the point of the info I am about to discuss. Im speaking in terms of ANY hardware whether it be 50%, 40%, 80%, 3000% whatever.
Here is the point:
50% (or whatever percent) does not yield 50% better looking games only 50% better RUNNING games (especially in multi-platform titles, but this changes when a game is made SPECIFICALLY for a certain set of hardware). The fact of the matter is in multiplatform titles, games will run on a "core" set of textures that generally is about the same on both consoles (sometimes it is downgraded/upgraded/optimized to fit each consoles needs. But the only place a power difference would be noticed on any hardware is in the pixel output OR visual fidelity.
Meaning 50% better textures or 50% better pixel count. Essentially upgrading texture resolution is not something practical in a development sense it means you have to redefine your "core" or "infrastructure" rather than work around your "core" and even if you could improve your textures 50%, it would not necessarily yield a 50% better image.
So if a game pushes 50% more pixels it shows a 50% gain essentially due to the fact that the console is outputting more information on the "core" of the game at a higher fidelity or frame rate. So if Im running at 1080p @60fps Im outputting 124,416,000 pixels per second while in 720p @60fps Im outputting 55,296,000 pixels per second of the core (about a 44% difference). This makes things easier in development to work around the core and tinker with the graphical settings like on a PC.
When it comes down to outputting better image quality, like a car, at a certain speed you'll need 100 more horsepower to add a few more MPH to your top speed because the air is so thick. Relating back to games..essentially a system may have 90% more power lets say, but it will LOOK around 20-30% better (maybe) due to diminishing returns where the numbers get smaller and the differences smaller when it comes down to processing an image.
Just because you can't see a 50% difference doesn't mean it isn't there being processed by the hardware. If one system runs the same "core" at a higher resolution than another, a difference is present. Its as simple as that even if its a 10% power difference and a visible difference of 1%.
Granted the "core" of a game can be altered in the sense that higher quality textures can be added but it is easier to just mess with resolution for better performance that redo a bunch of textures.
Relating this back to bf4. It makes no practical sense for a game running at a lower resolution to be better looking than THE SAME game running at a higher resolution. Here is why
1) if a developer was getting worse image quality at a higher resolution (meaning more processing power) the immediate response would be to downgrade the image to fit performance needs. So the bf4 developers would tone down the resolution on ps4 if it couldnt handle identical textures at a higher resolution. It makes no sense to run worse textures at a higher resolution because you'll have a problem of "now you can see the worse textures...better" all they would have to do is keep the same texture and down the resolution that the game runs. Saying that the x1 has better textures isn't logical in that sense or the ps4 having worse textures at a higher resolution.
2) anti aliasing at a lower resolution. Essentially more aliasing is needed at a lower resolution to make up for a drop in image quality. It seems x1 has more AA from what I've read, but it is not gonna be noticed as you need more of it to do the same job at a lower resolution.
3) wait for the final head to head in depth comparison and full digital foundry analysis. This will only further prove my point when the numbers start to match on the final builds.
All this comes from 10 years of image rendering ranging from 2D to 3D at various resolutions and applying that at a larger scale. I am NOT a game developer and I do not pretend to know about the complex nature of game making only the knowledge I have about my more basic working and knowledge of basic game development applied at a larger scale. Im essentially looking at what would be practical in a financial and literal sense.
I'm open to any other PROFESSIONALS to critique anything I have said. I have nothing to hide.