Metal Gear Solid V – The Phantom Pain

Today, we’re looking at Metal Gear Solid V – The Phantom Pain on the PS4 and Potato Masher!

SHINY
It’s worth noting that while the Potato Masher exceeds the minimum video card requirement and matches the RAM requirement for the game, its processor is 3 generations older than the minimum processor the game claims to need. Here at Casual Shenanigans, we think minimum system requirements are a little outdated. The Potato Masher didn’t meet the requirements for The Witcher 3, and it ran it extremely well. Metal Gear Solid V – The Phantom Pain is no exception. The Phantom Pain is one of the rare PS4 games that natively runs at 1080p and 60fps. You’d expect the game’s visuals to suffer to hit that target, but overall the game looks great on every system. You can tell that a lot of loving care went into crafting beautiful visuals that could also run on slower systems. Character models, textures, and shaders all are excellent. While there are a few issues with both the PC and PS4 versions of the game, the Potato Masher definitely looks better. Matching the PS4’s 1080p and 60fps was not hard, and the Potato Masher even did it at High settings. If you want to see the exact settings I used, they are linked in the video description.

The PS4’s shadows are probably its biggest issue. There is jaggy aliasing visible in almost every shadow. This is especially noticeable during cutscenes, but you will still see it in normal gameplay, as well. Even if it doesn’t bother you, the flickering and stuttering motion of aliased shadows can be distracting, especially during nighttime stealth missions. I didn’t think much of it until I tried the Phantom Pain on the Potato Masher, where the difference was almost immediately obvious.

Another gameplay-affecting graphical advantage on the Potato Masher is the lighting. On most of the games we test, the PS4’s lighting is slightly worse than the Potato Masher, and it rarely makes a difference to the gameplay. However, in a game where you infiltrate plenty of enemy camps at night, accurate lighting can be very helpful. The Potato Masher has deeper shadows, brighter hotspots, and even more lens flares, if that’s your thing. There also more light sources on the screen at any given time. The PS4’s lighting looks flat and boring, by comparison.

The third main graphical advantage the Potato Masher has over the PS4 is texture filtering. Also called Antistropic Filtering, this controls how sharp and detailed textures appear at distances. While both the PS4 and PC versions of The Phantom Pain have a fair amount of pop-in, which is unfortunately common in open-world games, the texture filtering on the Potato Masher is much better than the PS4. The PS4’s textures look muddy and blurry by comparison.

Both versions of the game have notable aliasing, even when the Potato Masher is on very high settings. The anti-aliasing is not a standalone option, and it appears to be tied into the Post-Processing effect and is very hard to turn up all the way if you want to maintain 60fps. The PC aliasing looks a tiny bit better than the PS4, but both versions could be better. The PC also has slightly nicer depth of field and reflection effects, but these are mostly noticeable in cutscenes. Combined with the Potato Masher’s greater draw distance, the PS4 looks worse the more you look at it. It’s by no means a bad looking version of the game. If you saw just a few short gameplay clips, you probably wouldn’t immediately spot the differences I’ve been talking about. Again, both platforms look great, but the PS4 can’t compete with even a moderately powerful PC like the Potato Masher.

OTHER RESOLUTIONS
By now, you’d probably be disappointed if the Potato Masher couldn’t play every game we test at 1080p. While consoles might sometimes lower their resolutions to maintain playable framerates, the Potato Masher starts at 1080p and only goes up! At High settings, the Potato Masher couldn’t quite hit 60fps. It worked fine at 30fps, but by lowering only a few settings, 60fps was easy. I’m calling it Medium because it’s technically lower than High, but as you can see in the settings screenshots linked in the video description, most of the settings are still on High. 4K was a little tougher. Even on Very Low, I couldn’t hit above 40fps. Once I locked the framerate at 30, I could run it at Medium without any issues. That’s still impressive. Here, to scale, is the PS4 running the game at 1080p, and here is the Potato Masher running the game at 4K. For good measure, here is the Potato Masher running at 1440p, also to scale. Now in regards to the framerate, I know what you’re thinking: The PS4 runs it at 60. Why would you want to play at 30fps, even if it’s at 4K? I get that. I’m playing the game at 4K on my personal rig, and I lowered the settings until I could hit 60fps. I love 60fps. I know it’s unrealistic that most people who are building a $350 gaming computer will also want a 4K monitor, but if that’s you, you can play The Phantom Pain. 30fps is much worse than 60fps for fps, racing, and sports games, but it does matter a little less for a slower-moving stealth game. The Potato Masher is on the left, running at 4K and 30fps. The PS4 is on the right, running at 1080p and 60fps. The Potato Masher is running at 4 times the resolution, so it has finer detail, but runs at half the framerate. You can see that faster action definitely looks better on the PS4, and the game looks a little better at 4K on the PC. Keep in mind that unless you are viewing the original footage on a 4K native monitor, a lot of the advantages of 4K will be harder to see. It’s up to you to choose which setup you’d rather have, but with the PC, you have options!

CONCLUSIONS
The Potato Masher isn’t perfect, of course. I already mentioned some pop-in issues, but there are a few more things I didn’t like. The framerate is locked to a maximum of 60fps. The game assumes you have a controller plugged in, so even if you are using only a mouse and keyboard, it still gives you controller prompts during the beginning tutorial missions. The menu is unintuitive to navigate with a keyboard, and there is a 1 or 2 frame stutter when the game saves. Overall, these are fairly minor issues and are the type of things that sometimes get fixed in a patch or two, but they do slightly tarnish an otherwise stellar experience.

Overall, this comparison shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Both platforms are great, but the Potato Masher is a little better looking and has framerate and resolution options. The better shadows and lighting on the PC do enhance the gameplay, in my opinion, but that is somewhat subjective so I’ll let you make up your mind. Thanks for taking a look!