Another Xbox First-Party Game Looks Better On PS5

Interestingly, another former Xbox first-party title demonstrates noticeable advantages on PlayStation 5 for the third time in a row.

Another Xbox First-Party Game Looks Better On PS5

The third of Xbox's multiplatform efforts on PS5, Sea of Thieves, reportedly boasts superior visuals on the Sony machine. A recent analysis comparing the Xbox Series X/S and PS5 versions of Sea of Thieves revealed the latter pulling ahead on the graphical front.

After an endless whirlwind of rumors, Xbox announced in February that it'd be releasing four games from its first-party catalog on competitor platforms PlayStation and Nintendo, namely Pentiment, Hi-Fi Rush, Sea of Thieves, and Grounded. Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer said that this move was made with Xbox's long-term health in mind, and that gamers shouldn't expect tentpole titles like Starfield and Indiana Jones to be among the ported games. So far, Xbox has released Pentiment and Hi-Fi Rush on PS5, and in both cases, the PS5 port has exhibited some curious improvements over the equivalent Xbox Series X version.

Sea of Thieves continues the pattern, as analysis experts Digital Foundry have put the Xbox Series X/S and PS5 builds of the game under the microscope, with very intriguing results. Mirroring the situation Hi-Fi Rush found itself in, Sea of Thieves has noticeably sharper, more detailed shadows on PS5. This advantage is consistent whether they're examined up- or over long distances, with the PS5 nearly matching the highest shadow quality preset on the PC version of the game. The PS5 also draws distant foliage detail (draw distance) slightly better than the Series X — comparable to ultra settings on PC.

PS5 Has One More Trick Up Its Sleeve

Both current-gen consoles offer a crisp 3840x2160p (without temporal anti-aliasing) resolution output, but the framerate comparison is interesting again. 60fps is the default goal for Sea of Thieves, but the Series X version suffers from dropped frames due to frequent frame-time spikes, possibly due to network play. PS5 is a little smoother in this regard, with the spikes occurring sporadically, but not as much as the Microsoft console. However, the PS5 version had a glaring issue where it would freeze and require a complete reboot of the game. It's important to note that Digital Foundry was testing the recent open beta build of Sea of Thieves on PS5, so the code isn't final, and the issue may be resolved before the full launch on April 30, 2024.

With Pentiment running at twice the framerate of Series X and Hi-Fi Rush's superior shadows, Sea of Thieves is the latest Xbox release that is better (in some capacity) on the PS5. It's quite baffling why Xbox's own first-party games are looking and/or running better on its direct competitor, with the only reasonable explanation being that the studios working on them found clever optimizations while developing the PS5 ports. These benefits may make their way over to Xbox consoles in the future as well, like Pentiment's 120Hz mode. Even though it's easy to use this predicament as console war fodder, both PlayStation and Xbox Sea of Thieves fans should ultimately benefit from technical enhancements, not to mention a larger player base for the game.

Platform(s) Xbox Series X , Xbox Series S , Xbox One , PC Released March 20, 2018 Developer(s) Rare Publisher(s) Microsoft Game Studios Genre(s) Adventure X|S Enhanced Yes

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