There’s good news and bad news with Batman: Return to Arkham’s latest 1.02 update. On the one hand, it’s clear that there’s been a big push towards optimising the product into the kind of game it should have been at launch, meaning that owners of standard PS4 hardware now get a solid game overall with just minor issues. On the other, the vaunted PlayStation 4 Pro support (officially flagged in the patch notes) is basically an affront to everything the system stands for – to the point where some believe it’s actually a step back from the original Pro ‘features’ the game shipped with.
There are two titles in Return to Arkham, of course, each with their own set of issues, but let’s talk first about the more problematic of the pair – Arkham City. When we first looked at the game running on base PS4 hardware, the wildly fluctuating, unlocked frame-rate generally saw performance in the 30-40fps ballpark, but the title could hit 20fps and below in particular stress points. The prognosis here is good. A perfectly frame-paced 30fps is now in place, and the majority of the sub-30fps drops are now gone. In essence, the title now offers up performance similar to the last-gen console releases, but enjoys all of the visual changes brought by the move to Unreal Engine 4. We’ve traded raw frame-rate here for consistency – and the improvement is marked.
The push for optimisation hasn’t impacted dynamic resolution: we ran several fresh pixel counts on the game at peak stress points, and with patch 1.02 installed, the standard PS4’s resolution comes in at lowest 1344×1080, but typically rests at 1920×1080 as usual. A dynamic resolution system is still used then, and where it does drop, image quality is identical to the last patch in matching scenes.