Your wish has been fulfilled. Released on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and S in late 2022, A Plague Tale: Requiem is a true next-gen project with a huge leap in visual quality over the original 2019 game. A game that pushed developer Asobo Studio’s in-house engine to significantly higher quality materials, lighting and stage detail – even increasing the number of rats from 5,000 to 300,000. It remains a true showcase for newer consoles, but for many the online discourse was diverted by the fact that it only ran at 30fps on the PS5 and Series X. Or 40fps if you ran the game with a 120Hz display attached. Still, that’s 30fps for most people, which is a significant step back from the original game’s 60fps performance when played on these consoles.
Then enter patch 1.5 and Asobo will finally have an answer. This new update adds a 60fps performance mode alongside the existing 30fps resolution mode – and it really works. Finally, the action in the game, its combat, camera movement – everything flows at a speed of 60 frames per second. In fact, on both PS5 and Series X, I barely noticed a drop under this new performance mode. Also, the S series unfortunately doesn’t get any upgrades here, and this version sticks to 30fps as usual. But there is also a catch for the two premium consoles.
There is a trade-off. A hint on how to achieve 60fps is in Asobo’s patch notes, where there are new options on PC starting with patch 1.5. Importantly, players can now adjust the refresh rate for rats and NPCs, as well as reduce the number of rats on screen. All this significantly saves CPU performance. And yes, by the way, both the PS5 and Series X use the “low refresh rate for rats and NPCs” settings. What is the result? While we get 60fps in the game’s performance mode, the catch is that rat packs and characters in cities still refresh at 30fps.
The most obvious example of Asobo’s reduced animation trick is in the dark areas of Requiem’s crypt. We get 60fps animation on Amicia as she lights a path through the shadows, but here the rats at her feet scurry around at 30fps. This creates an otherworldly effect, a disconnect between the movement of the player – the camera – running at 60° and then the swarm of rats updating at half that speed. Honestly, any scenes where the rats dominate the screen to such an extent begs the question: can a game always really claim to be running at 60? The good news is that it doesn’t reflect most of the gameplay. Mission objectives are completed without any half-upgrades, rats or otherwise, and you might as well get used to it. Either way, it’s a clear demonstration of why Requiem for a Plague Tale was patched to 30fps at release.
Interestingly, it’s hard to see the obvious reduction in rats on the PS5 or Series X – in line with the PC variant. I’ll be honest, I didn’t count all 300,000, but what we have in performance mode is 60 fps, which is still an amazing number. No complaints. However, the more noticeable change is the refresh rate of NPCs on PS5 and Series X. NPCs in towns rely on a similar trick, even if it works a little differently than rats. In this case, the animation level for the townspeople is scaled according to distance, similar to the Elden Ring’s approach to its enemies. At long distances, individual characters only refresh at 20fps, but get closer and that switches to 30fps, and then finally we get full 60fps animation when we’re a few meters away. Fortunately, this only applies to NPCs around major cities. Human enemies on the field always refresh at 60 fps – and even at great distances they stay at 60. Asobo made the right point here: keeping enemies at 60 fps definitely helps the player’s reaction time and counters during any -what real action.
Other compromises are also made to get frame rates up to 60, starting with resolution. Take the Series X as an example — although this all applies to the PS5 as well — the pixel count drops to a native resolution of 1920×1080 compared to 2560×1440 in normal resolution mode. On both the PS5 and Series X, this 1080p image tends to blur details at long distances. But overall, I’d suggest doubling the refresh rate in performance mode makes up for the loss in image quality.
There are a few other settings worth mentioning in productivity mode. Object quality is lower, meaning close-ups of materials like wood, stone, and even character clothing show textures at a much lower resolution. In gameplay, you have to fight with the camera a bit to notice, but in cutscenes comparisons show that the resolution mode is a clear upgrade for visual purists. Again, this all applies to the PS5 as well. Draw distance is similarly affected, and there’s even a slight change in ambient dimming and shadows, but overall nothing that noticeable.
For complex areas like cities, the cuts go even further to maintain 60 frames per second. For starters, whole chunks of grass are ripped from the stage in Performance mode. Switching between modes in the market, it becomes clear that plant details never appear in their full bloom when playing at 60 frames per second. Even more surprising is that wildlife – poultry, waterfowl roaming the streets – is also removed in performance mode. Some animals stay to the side as you pass, but free-roaming animals are cut out of the scene. These creatures tend to crouch and get out of your way as you run forward, so again, this is probably another concession to free up CPU load.
A few final points: The resolution mode in patch 1.5 is of course running at 1440p and uses basically the same settings as the default mode before the patch. On both PS5 and Series X, anyone who wants to run at 30fps with higher settings for textures, draw distances, etc. will still be able to do so today in patch 1.5. And the second point? If you want to play at 60 frames per second in performance mode, the PS5 and Series X offer the same level of image quality. A comparison of the settings between the two shows no difference at all: both run at 1080p with their respective presets for textures, draw distances, etc. And when we get to that, they both run at the same 60fps as well.
In performance testing, this is a huge success for optimizing Asobo for 60fps. After dropping to 1080p, flora and fauna were removed, texture resolution and occlusion quality dropped. After locking the rats to 30fps, the actual gameplay really runs at 60fps. The benefit in the convenience of the game is also noticeable. For slingshot aiming, for the overall smoothness of camera panning, it flows beautifully. I support the option, and I’m especially glad that this performance parameter rarely falls below the target on the PS5 or Series X. Even the city market and open areas with hostile NPCs and rats do not cause problems. I only noticed one slight stutter when the rats first introduced themselves on the X-Series, though that improved to a flawless 60fps on the second run.
In addition to the successes of the 60 fps performance mode, there is a surprise added to the 1.5 update. If you connect a PS5 or Series X to a 120Hz display instead, this mode works at a fully unlocked frame rate. It also potentially allows the renderer to reach a maximum of 120fps, in rare cases also in select cutscenes. But in general gameplay, we’re more often seeing 70 to 100 fps – sometimes dropping into the mid-60s when exploring around castle ruins. It’s frankly exciting to see this included, and gives you an idea of where the biggest stress test zones are. How wide or narrow is the gap above the 60fps line when running at 60Hz. Another interesting twist here is that the rat animation refreshes instead at 60fps if either console is outputting at 120Hz.
It’s also worth tapping on the status of the 1440p resolution mode. When connected to a 60Hz display, you get a locked 30fps, just like before the patch, at 1440p with all the extra bells and whistles in textures, leaf density, etc. As before, switching to a 120Hz display in this mode means that the limit rises to 40fps again. I’m happy to say that it works equally well on Series X and PS5 – with a few serious dips below 40 if you prefer higher visual quality. At 40fps or 30fps in resolution mode, it also inevitably hides the bottom refresh on rats and NPCs. In any case, it never performs better, and since launch, its performance has smoothed to a (mostly) flat line.
Asobo Studio answered the call for 60fps gameplay. The sacrifices are obvious: downgrading to 1080p, partial update of elements, lower quality textures and removal of city details – but it’s real. A Plague Tale: Requiem runs smoothly at 60 fps, and if you accept the cutoff with 30 fps rat animation, it really does play better than ever before. It’s a nice extra feature, and there’s nothing stopping us from going back to the original 30fps.
In response to criticism that it runs at 30fps at launch, the 1.5 update also shows the value of the next-gen visuals. The improvements in stage complexity, materials, and AI elements built into the game’s design are a huge step up from the original Plague Tale. However, each of these dots is truncated to make 60 frames per second possible. This makes it clear that pushing any technical capability doesn’t come for free, and even on newer systems like the PS5 and Series X, GPU and even CPU resources are still at a premium when aiming for 60fps.
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