We’ve spent some time with the Xbox Series S version of Grand Theft Auto 5, and it’s by far the least spectacular of the new’remasters.’ It’s perfectly fair to release a Series S version with a lower resolution than the Series X version – after all, that’s how games were designed to scale down to the smaller Xbox – but the compromises and downsides are more evident, making it that much tougher to sell this as a paid upgrade.
Fidelity and performance modes, similar to those found in the PS5 and Xbox Series X code, are available, with 30fps and 60fps targets, respectively. The former’s 4K resolution is reduced to 1440p, while the latter’s 1440p resolution is reduced to 1080p, the same resolution objective as the PS4 and Xbox One S models. However, the performance RT option is absent, therefore ray traced sun shadows aren’t possible. The quality setting also lacks ray tracing, further distinguishing it from the Series X game.
The dilemma with performance adds to the feeling that Series S has been short-changed. We had anticipated for more consistent performance from Series S with the reduction in resolution and absence of RT, however it looks to be similar to the Series X version in stress places. Meanwhile, in performance mode, the Series S is significantly slower than the X counterpart, and it manages to run at a performance disadvantage when compared to the Series X’s performance RT mode.
In summary, while the 60fps option still provides a big increase over the Xbox One S version, and while many of the missions still run smoothly at 60fps, the point is that when we encounter frame-rate difficulties on the Series X, they appear to be exacerbated greatly on the Xbox One S. Finally, while the Series S provides a ‘OK’ overall experience, the concessions made to the experience and the lower performance level make this version difficult to justify, especially when compared to the Series X.
Let’s begin with the fundamentals. There are three graphics modes on the PS5 and Series X: performance, fidelity, and performance RT, with the latter two providing ray traced sun shadows. While dynamic resolution scaling cannot be ruled out, fidelity mode appears to operate at a fixed 4K resolution at 30fps in all tested conditions, whilst the performance options lock to 1440p at 60fps. In addition to these three modes, GTA5 has HDR for the first time, as well as texture updates and improved draw distances compared to the previous-gen game. The DualSense controller on the PlayStation 5 now supports haptic feedback and adjustable triggers, which work wonders for bringing realism to GTA5’s shooting mechanics.
Loading has also been much improved. On console systems, fast travel and mission restarts require no time at all, therefore the only true point of loading time friction is the first load into the open world. On Xbox Series X, for example, loading to Trevor’s trailer takes merely 20.76 seconds, but on PlayStation 5, it takes 23.18 seconds. That isn’t exceptionally quick by the standards of the current systems, but it is a significant improvement in a world where the same load takes more than two minutes on PlayStation 4.