Godfall is coming to last-generation PlayStation consoles after initially only releasing on the current-gen PlayStation 5 as well as PC. However, taking a game which was built with forward-facing features such as ray tracing and paring it down to work and work well on last-gen hardware is no easy task. However, the team at Counterplay Games have done so and have invited us to have an exclusive look at the action RPG in action on both PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro.
First things first: if you’re expecting ray-tracing, you’ll be disappointed. Previous generation hardware is simply unable to render the traced rays in any way that would make the game itself playable. The goal of the PlayStation version is seemingly to retain the look and feel of what makes Godfall unique, while still ensuring a stable, enjoyable version on older hardware. And by the looks of it, the team at Counterplay have largely succeeded.
While Godfall was a technical showcase for the PlayStation 5, releasing as a console launch exclusive for the platform, the PlayStation 4 and Pro versions look a bit muted. This could simply be down to the lack of ray tracing present; therefore the world doesn’t have the same shine and bloom I’ve associated with the PC and current-gen versions of the RPG. However, in the two clips provided to us by Gearbox, the publishers of Godfall, the distinct world of Aperion does shine through, with the above ground reefs and ethereal feel of the Water Realm in the single player footage specifically catching my eye.
It’s definitely pared back, which Counterplay Games is making no secret about here. The lighting, while still very pretty and adds a lot to each scene, does feel muted compared even with its PS5 counterpart, and where many particle effects would take up the whole screen during fast-paced combat sequences, the particle density itself feel as though they’ve been culled a bit to help keep the framerate smooth.
But moments such as wandering the long corridors of the Water Realm, as in the clip provided, do show that the style that makes Godfall look unique is still there. I appreciate the purple hues of bounce lighting illuminating an alcove, and enemies still fade into obscurity in a flutter of carefully lit particles. The watery ground shows off light bouncing in the scene, as well as the reflection work, which is still demanding on any GPU. Foliage looks dense, giving each scene the feel as though it's just crammed full of stuff, showing an untamed world full of ruins being reclaimed by the dense above-water reefs.
Godfall is a game centered around its combat, so one of my major questions going into this was how it holds up on the performance side of things. Full disclosure, we’ve not been able to go hands on with Godfall on PlayStation 4 consoles just yet, but the footage sent to us was meant to show the action RPG at some of its most demanding. It should be noted that like the PlayStation 5, the last-gen consoles run with two modes: Performance and Resolution. The major differences being, obviously, the resolution being the focus or more stable performance at the cost of resolution, depending on the mode. On the PS5, Digital Foundry reports performance mode hitting a typical resolution of 2400x1350, and in doing so it hits a smooth, solid 60fps. Resolution mode itself is a bit less of a solid offering with the resolution hitting 4K at the cost of stable performance.
Keep in mind, unlike most games this generation where you see them being scaled up to current gen consoles as well as PC, Godfall was built for what would be next-gen first and is being ported down to scale to the less powerful PlayStation 4. However, even with this in mind both the base PS4 and PlayStation 4 Pro sport both performance and resolution target modes, giving players a bit more choice in how they want to experience the looter-slasher on their console.
In terms of metrics, the base PS4 targets a dynamic resolution between 900p-1080p at or above 30fps. The resolution mode targets a locked 1080p with a 30fps refresh. The Pro model, on the other hand, targets about the same in practice when hooked up to a 1080p screen. However, when set up to run a 4K signal, the PS4 Pro’s performance mode scales dynamically between 1600p-2160p(4K) at or above 30fps, while the resolution mode locks to 4K30, according to CounterPlay Games. The studio does state that the performance on both consoles typically finds itself above the 30fps mark, settling int the 30-45fps range.
One of the things to keep in mind too are loading screens. While the PlayStation 5 comes standard with a super fast solid state drive, the PlayStation 4 and Pro models are still using by default slower, mechnical drives. This will result in slower loading times on the older platform, though they don't appear to be too terribly long, as seen in the Thraex Hunt mission embedded below.
It's not perfect, but it's far and away better than I imagined when I heard the RPG was coming to PS4 platforms. There are some moments of hitching or spots where the framerate does dip during combat specifically, but it isn't to the extent we typically see on the platform. I do appreciate that the footage being revealed shows how Godfall would look in typical gameplay instead of being edited to only show the best moments. Given that the PS5 version of Godfall was rather well optimized, it stands to reason that the PlayStation 4 versions would follow suit.
Combat looks like it still has the same heft and retains much of the fluidity as you see in the PS5 version, though obviously if you’re looking for the rock-solid 60fps as seen in the current gen game, you’ll need the more powerful hardware. But, for a game build with what was “next gen” at the time in mind being ported down to a less powerful rig, Godfall’s style shines, both through its art as well as the fast-paced combat.
We’ll have more to say on this once we’re able to go hands on ourselves with the PS4 versions of Godfall, but if you’ve been curious about how the last-gen version was going to look come August 10th, you don’t have to look far. For a current-gen game being pared back to work on last-gen hardware, Counterplay looks to have largely succeeded in making it retain the look of what I associate with Godfall. It should be noted too that the PS4 versions do upgrade for free to the PS5 version, so if you've been itching to try this and haven't found a PS5 yet (I'm right there with ya), you won't be paying the upgrade tax either. Godfall launches on PS4 August 10th alongside the upcoming DLC, Fire & Darkness and the extensive Lightbringer update the same day.
Check out the video embed above and below showcasing both the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro running Godfall.