The recent release of Bloodborne had me excited as an avid fan of FromSoftware, Hidetaka Miyazaki, and the Dark Souls series in general. However, being a primarily PC orientated player, the transition to playing on the PlayStation 4 was a hard one: I was playing on a TV not a monitor, I was using a PS4 gamepad and not an Xbox 360 one but, by far, the hardest transition was the framerate.
I had played both Dark Souls and Dark Souls II at 1080p 60fps on my home PC but starting Bloodborne would have meant playing the new title of the series at 30fps, a visible downgrade and a hard transition which made the occasional frame drop much more noticeable. This is not to say I don’t like Bloodborne just because it’s at a lower framerate, I adore the game and think it’s a fantastic addition to the series. The point I’m leading to here is that, while developers continue to opt for a 30fps centered game design, these title simply provide a worst experience than their 60fps counterpart.
A game running at a smooth 60fps has less latency and is more responsive, something key to a game like Bloodborne. Playing a game at 30fps when there is no other option does not bother me, however the continued defence by developers in the industry does. Prior to the release of Bloodborne, game producer Masaaki Yamagawa stated that “they weren’t targeting 60fps because it’s not first-person shooting, it’s an action game.” He later stated that this design choice was the best for Bloodborne, being the title an action game, although it seems clear that the choices were made considering the limited computing ability the developers could squeeze out of the PS4.
If FromSoftware stated that they had attempted to achieve 60fps at 1080p but were unable due to technical limitations I would say “okay” and just enjoy my time with Bloodborne. However, they insist on excuses, following a trend of other recent games such as the Order 1886 and its excuse of wanting a ‘cinematic’ aesthetic to the game or Assassins Creed: Unity and saying that 60fps was ‘weird’.
a good game will be good at 30fps and a bad game will be bad
I am not trying to argue for the necessity of 60fps, a good game will be good at 30fps and a bad game will be bad. However the blatant PR spin on the limitation of consoles seems wrong, especially when we have great looking games at 60fps, Bayonetta 2, Wolfenstein the New Order etc. The argument for a cinematic experience was one that many developers have used before; the Evil Within developers used this for the lower framerate and the widescreen bars (also present in The Order 1886) last year. I would much rather have full disclosure by developers on the limitations of their game, this argument for a cinematic experience is the most baffling, people need to realise games are not movies.
The attempt to imitate cinema in both feel and aesthetic is one I have never understood; they are two totally different mediums each with their merits. Bringing this back to the topic at hand however, 30fps does not equal cinematic, there is so much more work that needs to go into a game to make it look like a movie, lighting, motion blur, camera angles. Thus the clear and blatant excuses for hardware that can’t handle the games companies want to develop.
With the strive for ‘next-gen’ to really begin and people’s console purchases to be justified, developers are attempting to make bigger and better looking games. However good games are not measured by their graphical fidelity or even the framerate they run at but by the quality of the games themselves. Bloodborne is a great example of this, there are better looking games, games with higher framerate but there is no experience like it at the moment on the current generation of hardware. I believe next-gen will truly start when we get good games from passionate developers who aren’t afraid by admitting their limits and the hardware’s limits. I want a next-gen full of disclosure from developers, publishers and everyone else in the industry, and great games no matter the framerate.