When it comes to the quality of modern games, input lag is a make-or-break factor — and it’s even more crucial in first-person shooter titles, as it’s tightly intertwined with the overall gameplay experience. At the moment, two massively popular FPS series are neck-and-neck for supremacy in having the least amount of input lag: Battlefield and Call of Duty. Tests done at Digital Foundry, conducted using methods from gaming enthusiast and tester Nigel Woodall, lay the speculation to rest and determine which franchise’s games offer the quickest, most responsive controls.
In gaming, input lag refers to the delay between pressing a button on a controller (the signal that the monitor or television receives) and it being displayed on screen (seeing the game react accordingly). Woodall’s method of input lag testing, said to offer millisecond accuracy, converts HDMI to analog, disables two components when a button on a controller is pressed to produce a green bar on-screen, and then tracks the frames between the bar and the animation appearing.
Using this approach, Digital Foundry uncovered a ton of interesting statistics. The first round of tests involved last-gen versions of Call of Duty: World at War, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Battlefield 3, and Battlefield 4. World at War clocked in at 72.5ms input lag with a target frame-rate 60fps, where the PlayStation 3 version of Modern Warfare 2 produced 77.5ms of latency with the same target frame-rate. On the Battlefield side of things, Battlefield 3 came in at 157.2ms while both the PS3 versions of Battlefield 4 had a noticeably improved stat of 97.6ms of latency. Both games hold a frame-rate target of 30fps. Conversely, the PS4 release of Battlefield 4, with a target frame-rate of 60fps, slashed latency down to just 63ms.
The following testing cycle moved to current-gen games, all of which aim for 60fps gameplay. Comparatively, the results of this round were massively improved from the last. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare displayed 39.3ms of latency, with Modern Warfare Remastered lagging just a bit behind at 40.3ms. Unfortunately, Battlefield 1 was much slower, showing 56.1ms of input lag.
Tests were also carried out on current-gen Halo 5 (63ms), Battlefield 4 (63.7ms), Titanfall 2 (71.8ms), Overwatch (76.8ms), 2016’s Doom (86.8ms), Killzone Shadowfall multiplayer (89.8ms), and Killzone Shadowfall single-player (110ms). It’s clear to see that even beyond its primary competition of Battlefield, the Call of Duty series takes the cake in latency.
Though the results of the input lag test prove Call of Duty the winner overall, it’s important to remember that Battlefield games offer snappy gameplay as well, and that the engine used in Call of Duty games play a huge part in the latency differences. Additionally, Battlefield contains more advanced destruction, vehicles, and a sandbox map, contributing to a more complex render.
Though the Call of Duty titles are less sophisticated in comparison, they offer consistent figures, solid frame-rate, and quick response — all of which boost playability and the general gameplay experience.
Source: Digital Foundry