[Update: Our full review for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is now up for your reading pleasure. Original article follows.]
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has now been confirmed to target 4K 60 FPS on PS5 and Xbox Series X, but will it be the outlier once future games come out?
To date, every Assassin’s Creed game has stuck to 30 FPS (except the PC versions). Even Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, the first cross-gen entry, only provided a resolution bump to 1080p on the PS4 and Xbox One and remained at 30 FPS. This was largely due to the CPU improvements in the 8th generation of consoles not being as massive as the previous generation.
Why The Franchise Has Stuck to 30 FPS, Until Now
The primary reason that certain developers target lower framerate is that it lets them divert more resources to visual fidelity. Assassin’s Creed is both a signature franchise for Ubisoft and an open-world one at that – which sometimes can become their own weakness. As such, they have to provide the best visuals they can, and cutting around the framerate helps a lot.
And then there’s the amount of gameplay mechanics at play here. As the series has progressed, so has Ubisoft’s ambition to expand on the open-world settings. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey marks one of the biggest open worlds in the history of gaming ever, so as you’d expect it eats up a lot of resources.
Another reason why the series stuck to 30 FPS on current-gen consoles is extremely clear – developers were annoyed with the shortcomings of the AMD Jaguar CPUs present in PS4 and Xbox One. Even the mid-gen enhanced consoles did not improve much on the CPU side, leaving most optimized games at either a lower resolution with an unlocked framerate or dynamic 4K at 30 FPS. The franchise has always targeted 30 FPS regardless of resolution or fidelity. Even the Ezio collection was capped at 30 FPS, despite it coming out on the much more powerful PS4/Xbox One consoles compared to the previous generation it came out on.
Why Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Is a 60 FPS Title
The reason why Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla is launching with 60 FPS is simple – it’s a cross-gen title. On current-gen consoles, it will still target 30 FPS. The massive CPU improvements with AMD’s Zen 2 architecture on both the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S is the main reason why we’re getting a 60 FPS mode, that too supposedly at 4K. However, as developers start making games specifically designed for next-gen hardware, who’s to say they won’t revert back to pushing graphics over performance?
It’s certainly a possibility, but there’s one thing that we haven’t talked about – 4K. The new next-gen consoles (except Xbox Series S) are targeting gameplay at 4K resolution, which is a big increase over the base 1080p that the current generation started with. Now, many will say that native 4K or even dynamic 4K is a big waste of resources, and that’s partly true. Reducing the resolution can easily result in increased performance. That’s something we could see with the true next-gen version of Assassin’s Creed.
Maybe we’ll get 4K 30 FPS with ray tracing and a 1440p mode with 60 FPS. It’s certainly possible! Also, it needs to be noted that the AnvilNext 2.0 engine that all AC games have used since Unity is extremely CPU-intensive. Valhalla is switching to a newer DirectX12 API, which should help in using the CPU more efficiently, and we’ll share more details about it in our performance guide.
We’ll know more once Valhalla is released and developers can talk more about the future instalments. Check back on this space for our first impressions and full review once the game has released!