Sea of Thieves on PlayStation 5: the next big Xbox multi-platform game tested

April 20, 2024
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Sea of Thieves stared off life as an Xbox exclusive, growing over time into a genuine hit with a large, committed community. Now, in an effort to increase its audience still futher, it’s become a key part of Microsoft’s multi-platform push. Yes, Rare’s pirate co-op title is headed to PlayStation 5, kicking off with an open beta last weekend. So just how good is the port and to what extent does the experience vary between PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series hardware? This has been an interesting project for Digital Foundry, not just because of the new version – but also because we missed out on covering the game in its transition to current-gen hardware, so we also took a look at the game to see how it has evolved up against Xbox One X.

The most interesting place to start is with a look at the brand-new PS5 version. To reiterate, we looked at beta code, and there may be changes when the game launches on April 30th, but it does seem quite polished at the moment. First impressions suggest a game that is very similar to its Series X counterpart – but when we look a bit closer, there are some differences. Shadows look quite a bit different on PS5, with a sharper outline and more visible detail. This holds true both up-close and at a distance, with far away shadows resolving more softly on the Series machine. This is definitely an odd change, and falls in line with a similar tweak found in the PS5 version of Hi-Fi Rush.

If we boot up the PC version at max settings, the PS5 version more closely resembles the highest shadow quality option, though neither console is a perfect fit. The PS5 and PC exhibit similar looking shadow detail, with slightly stronger filtering on PC, but if we step down to the legendary setting, both consoles clearly offer better and cleaner shadow rendering. I can’t quite tell if this just comes down to a difference in shadow filtering or if the PS5’s shadow resolution has been upgraded relative to Series X, but it is very curious for sure. I tended to prefer the PS5’s shadow rendering for what it’s worth, though it’s not a difference I’d fixate on outside of head-to-heads.

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