Game Engine, Image Quality, And Settings
Again, Battlefield 4 employs an updated Frostbite 3 engine, the newest version of Digital Illusions CE's game technology for the next-gen console and PC platforms. While it makes its commercial debut with Battlefield 4, Frostbite 3 will also power Need or Speed: Rivals later this year, in addition to the next iterations of the Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and Star Wars: Battlefront franchises.
Compared to it's predecessor, Frostbite 3 features higher-resolution textures, particle effects, and changes to tessellation, according to the company's feature video. A new networked water feature ensures that all players see the same waves in the water at the same time, allowing small naval craft to hide behind waves in rough seas.
First we tested the Low, Medium, High, and Ultra detail presets, finding that the texture detail on Low appeared dependent on the game type. We noticed higher-resolution textures on the Low setting in domination mode compared to conquest, even on the same Seige of Shanghai map. It's not clear whether this is a beta glitch, or a result of the game dynamically allocating resources based on the number and size of models in the map.
We chose to benchmark the domination map because of its higher texture resolution on the Low setting. We didn't notice a significant performance hit shifting between the Medium and High presets, so we tested Low (MSAA off, AA Deferred off, Ambient Occlusion off), High (MSAA off, AA Deferred high, HBAO enabled), and Ultra (4x MSAA, AA Deferred high, HBAO enabled) detail presets.
The challenge of benchmarking a multiplayer game is that every run is potentially different, altering the load from one test to the next. For this reason, we performed our measurements on servers with low 40 ms-or-less latencies and no other players. Populated servers are likely to exact more demanding CPU loads. However, we needed to eliminate this variable from our testing. The good news is that, when we compared our numbers to runs on servers with more people on them, frame rates didn't change noticeably.