Halo 5: Guardians developer 343 Industries is prioritizing framerate over resolution to ensure that the first-person shooter is always running at 60fps — but not necessarily at 1080p — according to a Halo Waypoint post this week from three of the game's creators.
In short, to keep Halo 5 running at 60fps amid the chaos of alien warfare, 343 will periodically decrease its resolution beneath the maximum 1080p.
"Framerate is king for us on Halo 5," studio head Josh Holmes writes, explaining that Halo 5's game engine uses a "new progressive resolution system that allows us to dynamically scale the resolution at which we render the game (up to 1080p) based on the needs of the scene. This enables us to deploy resources where they have most impact across a diverse series of experiences throughout the game while delivering the most visually stunning Halo game ever."
Campaign environment art lead Justin Dinges echoed Holmes' statements and explained why changing resolution on the fly helps to enable a diverse set of environments. On the environmental side, Halo 5's campaign spans from "snowy mountain tops to mysterious alien jungles," he wrote. And players will experience everything "from giant battles amidst large-scale destruction to quieter moments spent exploring the ruins of alien civilizations or interacting with the habitants of a human colony beyond the reach of the UNSC."
Whether loud or quiet, bombastic or intimate, with teams or lone wolfs, Halo 5 will maintain a constant framerate. But variety and complexity come at a price, and 343 is using resolution as its currency.
"When we want to get really crazy with vehicles, visual effects and combat we can trade some of the resolution in order to maintain the crucial 60fps."
"Building each of those experiences brings its own unique challenges, particularly with our commitment to solid 60fps gameplay," Dinges wrote. "Ensuring 60fps throughout our play experience has required constant focus. Some sections of a mission might be relatively quiet and achieving 60fps is straightforward, but there are many situations where we dial the intensity up to 11. At those times, we need to maintain 60fps and give players the total experience from both a design and artistic perspective. This is where our new progressive resolution system comes into play, allowing the game to scale resolution dynamically as the experience gets more intense and complex. In much of the campaign you may be playing at 1080p, but when we want to get really crazy with vehicles, visual effects and combat we can trade some of the resolution in order to maintain the crucial 60fps. Without this system, we would need to either reduce the scale of our most intense combat encounters or lower the quality of content across the game in order to stay at 60 fps at all times. With progressive resolution, we get the best of both worlds: epic scale experiences that look incredible while running at a consistent 60fps."
Campaign lead designer Chris Haluke explained that Halo 5's expanded scope allows "missions to have the most weapons, vehicles, enemies, tactical and exploration options ever seen in Halo."
Halo 5: Guardians is set for an Oct. 27 release, exclusively on Xbox One. Press play above and below to see the game in action.