Kingdom Come: Deliverance is destined to become one of the most talked about games of 2018.
It began as a Kickstarter campaign that promised a realistic medieval world full of possibilities. Be who you want, do what you want, etc. It sounded too good to be true, but people supported it in the hopes it might deliver. After many, many delays, the game finally arrived. Even though the final product is plagued with bugs, questionable design decisions, and a load of controversy involving its historical moral principles, the game makes good on its biggest promises. It’s a true epic that lets you assume the role of a peasant in a world full of incredible quests, fantastic character building opportunities, and conflicts that utilize a truly great combat system.
However, the most interesting talking point Kingdom Come brings to the table is the rapidly aging technology that powers the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Microsoft and Sony want you to believe that the Xbox One/PlayStation 4 are perfectly fine systems. It’s hard to disagree with that narrative. We’re still seeing developers push the technological limits of those consoles and they both house some truly great games. They both have large userbases – the PlayStation 4’s is significantly larger – meaning that they are the flagship consoles for both companies and figure to be for quite some time.
That’s all well and good, but Kingdom Come: Deliverance showcases why those sentiments aren’t the full story of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in the modern age.
Kingdom Come is an incredibly demanding game. Some of those demands stem from the fact that its developers aren’t the most experienced and probably had to adapt to console game development as they went along, but the point still stands. If you play this game on a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, you are going to have to suffer through noticeably lower framerates, longer loading times, and less impressive textures/effects.
The impact of those less impressive textures and effects is debatable, but the performance related technical issues are more of a hindrance. The PlayStation 4 takes about two-and-a-half minutes to load Kingdom Come according to recent tech reports. The Xbox One X can do that in just under a minute. It’s worse in-game. The framerate drops on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One X actually can make the game’s timing-based combat more difficult than it needs to be and can even affect world exploration thanks to certain pop-in issues.
On the surface, it probably doesn’t sound like a problem that people who own a more powerful system will get better performance out of a modern game. It’s not. The problem is that the Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro were sold as enthusiast devices meant to appeal to technophile gamers who loved their 4K displays. In the case of Kingdom Come, those consoles feel like more of a genuine necessity.
It’s the kind of situation that makes you wonder whether developers are being needlessly hindered by the technological limitations of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It’s also the kind of situation that makes you wonder whether the difference between owning a PS4/Xbox One and a PS4 Pro/Xbox One X will soon become less like flying first class vs. flying coach and more like flying first class vs. having to drive there.