Resident Evil 2/3 Remake: PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series updates tested

Resident Evil 2/3 Remake: PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series updates tested

In the wake of its ‘E3’ press conference last week, Capcom left us a pretty thoughtful gift: current-gen updates for Resident Evil 2 Remake, Resident Evil 3 Remake, and Resident Evil 7. Like previous RE engine titles running on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series, new features include higher resolution, ray tracing, and 120Hz support. Compared to the PS4 and Xbox One versions, and their upgraded equivalents, we’re seeing a substantial set of updates, but at least for remake titles, remakes aren’t without their downsides.

Due to the high volume of test cases here, we have chosen to split the coverage. After all, even factoring in PC upgrades (which we’ll also cover a bit later), we’re still talking about three games with three different performance profiles – 27 different test permutations. With that in mind, we have chosen to target the Remakes first.

Of all the various modes on offer, it’s the ray tracing update that we wanted to look at first because, in theory, it should eliminate one of the most glaring visual issues with Remake titles: an ugly rendition of space reflections from the screen completely at odds with what is otherwise a high-quality presentation across the board. The problem with SSR is very simple: by their very nature, screen space reflections can only work where there is screen space detail to work with. In a third-person shooter like Resident Evil, the main character on screen occludes much of the required detail, leading to large gaps in reflections. This is compounded by poor quality reflections when the data is actually there.

A host of updates define the new Resident Evil Remake experience, tested here on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S.

Like previous RE titles, there are actually two RT effects at play: reflections and global illumination. Reflections offer the most obvious visual improvements: all hidden omissions are gone, while low-quality reflections and their associated ‘fading’ are also a thing of the past. To be clear, like Resident Evil Village, the reflections are still pretty low resolution, but it’s a huge improvement nonetheless. The clarity of the effect depends on the roughness of the underlying material, with smooth surfaces giving the cleanest results. Enemies are also reflected, although the alpha effects are understandably not enough. In general, the new RT reflections seem subtle but stable, although the selective application of RT reflections is disappointing; for example, some mirrors do not offer adequate reflections. However, from what I’ve played, Resident Evil 3 Remake seems to improve the distribution of RT reflections compared to its predecessor.

Ray-traced global illumination is also in effect, though the results are generally subtle. Fixed some of the smaller inaccuracies present in the original release, while additional bounce lighting is seen in some scenes. This is definitely an additive technique, rather than a replacement for the existing baked GI, but the results are reasonable considering the limitations. The RT GI also appears to disable ambient occlusion, with somewhat mixed results. Altogether, both of these RT features don’t provide a transformative upgrade to the Remakes’ visuals, but they do manage to address its most obvious visual flaws while touching up some discontinuities in ambient lighting.

PlayStation 5 and both Xbox Series consoles are getting the RT updates, with the more powerful machines targeting what bills as a 2160p checkerboard, while the Series S is targeting a similar 1440p rebuild – the lowest resolution. on the Xbox junior it also results in lower resolution RT reflections. . Still, all machines look suitably clean and clear, although the image is a bit soft due to a heavy reliance on post processing. Relative to the existing Xbox One X version, which ran at 1620p with rebuild, image quality has improved, although the differences are often subtle despite a fairly large increase in resolution in the new Series X code. Fine details like hair are improved and distant textures are resolved a bit more clearly, but in typical gameplay it doesn’t seem too far off.



Ray tracing cleans up the underwhelming screen space reflections of RE titles (left), while Resident Evil 3 Remake (right) has a lot more reflective surfaces to show off the tech. Click on the images for higher resolution versions.

Performance is a mixed bag depending on the chosen mode. Perhaps not surprisingly, RT mode is the most hardware-heavy. The most powerful machines mostly operate in 40-60fps territory, a kind of frame rate no man’s land. Constant vibration and inconsistent input are the result on a conventional screen. The Series S suffers a bit more and generally operates around 30-50fps, with a minimum of 26fps during a particularly demanding scene. VRR makes a difference, but only for Xbox Series X, where the performance level stays above the required level of 40fps (assuming your display supports 40Hz VRR). The other machines ‘ping pong’ in and out of the VRR window, which is not a great experience. So, on the one hand, I like the RT support and how it cleans up images, but the number of users who can use that mode effectively and nicely represents a minority of the audience. The performance drop is disappointing, to be honest. After all, a similar RT implementation appeared in last year’s Resident Evil Village, and that title mostly stayed at 60fps on PS5 and Series X. Image quality isn’t too far off the PS4 Pro or Xbox One versions. X, but the performance is certainly more consistent. .

That leaves us with the high frame rate mode of the game options, which again offers the same rebuilt 4K/1440p resolution without RT, but removes the frame rate cap, opening the door to up to 120Hz performance for those with displays that supported the increased refresh rate. There are no other settings, which means that both the PS5 and Series X tend to stay between 80 and 120fps, although they generally hover around 100fps or so. The Series S is similar, although it tends to bottom out a bit lower, with some readings in the 70fps area at intense moments. Between Series X and PS5, frame rates are fairly similar, although Series X tends to have a small performance advantage in matching footage (around 5fps), although it does vary a bit.

The improved responsiveness and fluidity of the picture is certainly appreciated, but again this is a mode better suited for use on VRR screens. As frame rates increase, frame timing inconsistencies become less prominent and the perception of judder decreases, but I still find the unlocked frame rate distracting on a TV without VRR. VRR saves the day, of course, and will give you smooth, stable output on a suitable display. I like the option to play at 120Hz, but a more stable lock at 120fps would have been appreciated; it’s unlikely we’ll be CPU-limited given the performance of these titles on the latest-gen boosted machines, so a few graphical settings tweaks might have been enough to produce a stable 120fps.


RT performance is disappointing on all consoles, not just PlayStation 5. Series X performs the same, while Series S is slower. Non-RT modes take it to 60fps and higher in ‘high frame rate’ mode.

We’ll be reviewing Resident Evil 7 separately soon and updating this article accordingly, but here and now, updates to Resident Evil 2 and 3 Remakes are welcome, but not quite ideal. There are decent improvements here, with solid improvements in graphical fidelity and performance available on all three consoles, including the Xbox Series S. The problem is that frame rates are too inconsistent in two of the three available modes, both with the ray tracing and high frame rate modes typically fail to meet their frame rate targets. Most users should really stick to the no RT and no high frame rate profile here, as that’s the only way to achieve stable performance.

If you are part of the minority of users who have a 120Hz VRR-capable display, you have more options. 120Hz mode offers a significant improvement in smoothness over 60Hz non-RT mode, as long as VRR is enabled. Similarly, VRR helps bridge the RT modes to some extent, though only the Series X paired with a 40-60Hz VRR window feels stable enough to recommend.

But VRR should be a bonus, not a necessity. With some tweaking, more stable frame rates should be possible in these modes. Lowering the resolution might be a good place to start, as games’ dark, low-contrast color scheme, plus their heavy reliance on post-processing, minimizes the need to push a lot of pixels. As it stands though, the RT and high frame rate modes really demand variable refresh to make it look smooth. And that’s a shame, because I think these modes have some attractive features. The RT modes have particular appeal as they manage to overcome one of the most obvious visual flaws of the original releases, while also improving the complexity and consistency of ambient shading. Resident Evil 3 particularly benefits, with its high density of reflective surfaces. Perhaps these performance issues can be fixed in time. Until then, this is an intriguing upgrade, but you’ll need an advanced screen to get the most out of it.

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