A Plague Tale: Requiem now has a 60fps option – so what’s the catch?

Your wish has been granted. A Plague Tale: Requiem released on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and S in late 2022 – a true next generation project with a huge leap in visual quality over the original 2019 game. A game that pushed developer Asobo Studio’s in-house engine with vastly higher quality materials, lighting, and scene detail – even boosting the number of rats from 5,000 to a tidal wave of 300,000. It remains a real showcase for newer consoles, but for many, the discourse online was side-tracked by the fact it ran at just 30 frames per second on PS5 and Series X. Or, at 40fps if you happened to run the game with a 120Hz display connected. Still, it’s 30fps for a majority of people and crucially a step back from the original game’s 60fps performance when played on these consoles.

Enter patch 1.5 then, and Asobo finally has a response. This new update adds a 60 frames per second performance mode, next to the existing 30fps resolution mode – and it genuinely works. At last, the game’s action, its combat, the camera motion all flow at a silky smooth 60fps. In fact on both PS5 and Series X I’ve barely spotted a single drop underneath on this new performance mode. As an aside, Series S sadly receives no upgrade here whatsoever, and that version sticks to 30fps as usual. But there is a catch for the two premium consoles as well.

There is a trade-off. The clue to just how 60fps is achieved is in Asobo’s patch notes, where on PC there are new options as of patch 1.5. Crucially, players are now able to adjust the refresh rate for rats and NPCs – as well as reduce the number of rats on-screen. All of this saves hugely on CPU performance. And yes, to cut to the chase, both PS5 and Series X make use of these ‘low rat and NPC refresh rate’ options. The result being? While we get 60fps gameplay in the performance mode, the catch is the swarms of rats – and characters around towns – still update at 30 frames per second.

A video breakdown of A Plague Tale: Requiem’s new 60fps performance, tested on both Series X and PS5.

The most obvious example of Asobo’s reduced animation trick is in Requiem’s dark crypt areas. We get 60fps animations on Amicia as she lights a path through the shadows – but here the rats at her feet scurry around at 30fps. It creates an otherworldly effect, a disconnect between the player motion – the camera – running at 60, and then the swarm of rats updating at half that rate. Honestly for any scenes where rats dominate the screen space to such an extent, it begs the question: can the game always truly claim to be running at 60? The good news is, this doesn’t represent most of gameplay. Entire missions go by without seeing any half-refresh elements, rats or otherwise, and you might get used to it too. Either way, it’s a clear demonstration of just why A Plague Tale Requiem was fixed at 30fps in the first place on release.

Curiously, it’s difficult to spot an obvious reduction in the number of rats on PS5 or Series X – as per the PC option. I’ll be honest, I haven’t counted all 300,000, but what we do have in the 60fps performance mode is still an overwhelming amount. No complaints. The more standout change however is in the NPC refresh rate on PS5 and Series X. NPCs in towns rely on a similar trick, even if it works a little differently to the rats. In this case, the animation rate on the townsfolk is metered out according to distance, similar to Elden Ring’s approach with its enemies. At a far distance the individual characters update at just 20 frames per second, but Walk closer and that switches to 30fps, and then finally, we get complete 60fps animations once we’re within a few metres. Thankfully, this only affects NPCs around big cities. Human enemies in the field always update at 60fps – and even across huge distances they stay at 60. Asobo made the right call here: keeping enemies at 60fps unquestionably helps for player reaction speeds and counters during any real action.

Other trade-offs are also made in order to get the frame-rate up to 60, starting with the resolution. Taking Series X as an example – though all of this applies to PS5 as well – the pixel count drops to a native 1920×1080, down from the 2560×1440 on the regular resolution mode. On both PS5 and Series X, this 1080p image tends to blur details towards the far distance. But on balance, I’d suggest the doubling in refresh on performance mode makes up for the loss in image quality.

A Plague Tale Requiem’s new 60fps perofrmance mode runs at a lower 1080p target on Series X – and PS5 – down from the 1440p of the resolution mode. It also reduces texture quality and scene complexity. Note the reduction in folage on the ground, and even the loss in fauna populating the 60fps mode’s streets.

A few other tweaks bear mention on the performance mode. Asset quality is reduced, meaning up-close views of materials like wood, rock and even character clothing, reveal a much lower resolution texture. It does take some wrestling with the camera in gameplay to spot, but in cut-scenes, the comparisons show the resolution mode is a clear upgrade for visual purists. Again, all this applies on PS5 as well. Likewise, draw distances are affected and there’s even a subtle change to ambient occlusion and shadows as well – but nothing quite as noticeable overall.

For complex areas – like towns – the cutbacks go even further in order to hold 60fps. For a start, on performance mode entire chunks of grass are stripped outright from the scene. In switching back and forth between the modes in the market, it’s clear plant detail never manifests in full bloom when playing at 60fps. More surprisingly still is that wildlife – the poultry, waterfowl walking the streets – are removed on performance mode as well. Certain animals remain on the flanks as you walk through, but the free-roaming animals are cut out of the scene. These creatures tend to duck and weave out of your way as you run forward, and so again, it’s likely another concession to free up CPU load.

A final few points: the resolution mode on patch 1.5 runs at 1440p, of course, and uses principally the same settings as the default mode before the patch. On both PS5 and Series X, anyone happy to run at 30fps with higher settings in textures, draw distance and more will still have an option to do so today on patch 1.5. And the second point? If you’d rather play at 60fps in the performance mode, both PS5 and Series X deliver the same level of visual quality. The settings comparisons between the two show no difference either way: both run at 1080p, with matching presets for textures, draw distances and so on. And, as we’ll get to, they both run at a flat 60fps this way too.

Even with the 30fps rat animations, the pay-off is that both PS5 and Series X run at a practically faultless 60fps.

In performance testing it’s a huge success all round for Asobo’s optimisation push for 60fps. After the drop to 1080p, the removed flora, fauna, the dropped texture resolution and ambient occlusion quality. After locking the rats to 30fps, the actual gameplay does genuinely run at fluid 60fps. The benefit in playability is palpable as well. For targeting with the slingshot, for the general smoothness of panning the camera it flows beautifully. I’m all for the option to choose, and all the more-so delighted this performance option rarely drops beneath the target on PS5 or Series X. Even the town marketplace, and the open areas with enemy NPCs and rats show no issue. I’ve only spotted one slight instability as the rats first introduce themselves on Series X, though this cleaned up to a flawless 60fps on a second run.

On top of the successes of the 60fps performance mode, there’s a surprise extra on update 1.5 here. In hooking your PS5 or Series X up to a 120Hz display instead, this mode runs with an entirely unlocked frame-rate. Potentially this lets the renderer go right up to the max 120fps as well, in rare instances – in select cut-scenes, too. But in general gameplay, we’re more often looking at between 70fps to 100fps – occasionally dropping into the mid 60s during the opener around the castle ruins. It’s honestly fascinating to see this included, and gives an insight into where the biggest stress test areas are. Into just how wide, or narrow, the clearance is above the 60fps line when running at 60Hz. Another curious twist here is, the rat animation refresh changes to at 60fps instead, so long as either console outputs at 120Hz.

It’s also worth touching on the state of the 1440p resolution mode. Connected to a 60Hz display you get a 30fps lock just as before the patch, running at 1440p with all the extra bells and whistles in textures, foliage density and more. And as before, switching to a 120Hz display in this mode means the cap raises to 40fps once again. I’m glad to say this runs equally well on both Series X and PS5 – with few major drops under 40 if you’d prefer to push for higher visual quality. At 40fps, or 30fps, on the resolution mode, it also inevitably hides the lower refresh on the rats, and NPCs. Either way, it’s never run better and since launch, with performance ironed out to a (mostly) flat line.

Setting either console to output at 120Hz gives us an unlocked frame-rate for the first time – so long as performance mode is selected. Curiously Series X offers a consistent performance lead over PS5.

Asobo Studio has answered the call for 60 frames per second gameplay. The sacrifices are clear: in the drop to 1080p, the half-refresh elements, the lower quality textures and removed town details – but it delivers. A Plague Tale: Requiem flows smoothly at 60fps, and accepting the disconnect with those 30fps rat animations, it really does play better than ever before. It’s a great optional extra, and nothing stops us from reverting back to the original 30fps experience either.

As a response to the criticisms of it running at 30fps at launch, update 1.5 also reveals the cost of next-gen visuals as well. The advances in scene complexity, materials, and AI elements which are embedded into the game design are each a huge step over the original A Plague Tale. However each of these points is telingly pared back to make 60fps possible here. It makes it clear that pushing any technical envelope doesn’t come for free and even on newer systems like PS5 and Series X, GPU and even CPU resources are still a big consideration in targeting 60fps.

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