Before I begin, let me just note that this is not a full review of Call of Duty: Ghosts. I already reviewed the game when it released on the Xbox 360 and since its Xbox One counterpart is nearly identical, reviewing it in full again would be redundant. This review is simply a look at how the next-gen version runs and my thoughts on what are a very small handful of differences between the two.
As I mentioned in my original review, I wasn’t completely blown away with Call of Duty: Ghosts. I liked it, but didn’t love it. I felt that Infinity Ward had gotten really lazy with the single player campaign and by far it was the series’ worst outing. That being said, a robust and endlessly entertaining online component eventually won me over. I summed up my thoughts as such:
Call of Duty has always been a series known for its excellent online gaming and Call of Duty: Ghosts is no different. Settling back into the game’s multiplayer world was a real treat. As disappointing as the single player portion was, after a few matches online I felt right at home again, forgetting about the recycled campaign and instead, remembering exactly why Call of Duty is so well-loved.
The Xbox One version of the game doesn’t do much to change those sentiments. In fact, they are still pretty much the same. Even running on Microsoft’s new console, Call of Duty: Ghosts still lacks a compelling single-player campaign, but almost makes up for it with a stellar online offering. But the point of this review isn’t to determine whether or not Ghosts is a good video game, we’ve already established that. The point is to determine which version is superior, between the Xbox 360 and Xbox One, at least.
So, with that in mind, what is the real difference between the two?
Well, unfortunately, the Xbox One and Xbox 360 versions are pretty much the same. Running in an upscaled 720p rather than 1080p on the Xbox One, it’s hard to even say that Ghosts looks significantly better than its Xbox 360 counterpart, because it really doesn’t. Honestly, you’d be hard pressed to find many people who could even tell the difference. I can’t speak to the PS4 version of the game, as I haven’t played it, but Call of Duty: Ghosts on the Xbox One does not feature any giant leaps that make you go “wow, this is truly next-gen!”
Even as I write this review, I’m trying to think of aspects of the game that clearly define it as next-gen, but I’m struggling to find anything significant. All of the differences here are smaller things that are by no means game-changing.
Yes, it’s true that Ghosts runs extremely smooth on the Xbox One, without any frame rate hiccups whatsoever, and this is noticeable throughout. Does it make a huge difference? No. But for those looking for it, it’s there and is definitely appreciated. Not that the Xbox 360 version was choppy or anything, but there is an overall smoothness to the Xbox One version that does come across while you’re playing it.
Visually speaking though, while these are not poor graphics, they just aren’t spectacular and it’s hard to even say that they are next-gen. You’ll still see the same dull character models and rough textures that you saw in the Xbox 360 version, though they are slightly more defined here, and while some extra detail is added into environments, it’s really only noticeable during a handful of moments throughout the game. I mean, how often are you going to stop to look at a tree or look down at the grass and notice the improved textures on it? Unless you’re staring at side-by-side screenshot comparisons, the small, insignificant differences won’t even pop out to the average, everyday gamer.
What you’ll probably notice the most, aside from the game running a bit smoother, is the lighting in certain areas. It’s definitely improved but once again, this is another small improvement that likely won’t catch many gamers’ eyes. Colours tend to be more vibrant on the Xbox One too and some of the destruction effects come off as a tad bit more realistic but there’s nothing drastically improved here. Overall, Call of Duty: Ghosts still has a softer look to it when compared to some of the console’s other launch titles, like Ryse: Son of Rome, and it is not at all what I would call reference quality.
And again, none of this is to say that Call of Duty: Ghosts is a bad looking game. It’s not. Visually speaking, it’s very pretty and looks extremely solid. It’s just that the next-gen version doesn’t do much to make it really look next-gen. Again, I can’t speak to the PS4 version but on the Xbox One at least, Call of Duty: Ghosts looks more or less like an Xbox 360 game with strong graphics.
Where there is a big difference between the two versions is in the multiplayer section. On current-gen versions of the game, multiplayer matches were capped at 12. One next-gen versions, you get up to 18, which is a huge plus for those who spend a lot of time on Xbox Live (or PSN). This may not seem like a big deal to most, but on some of the maps it makes all the difference in the world, trust me. Of course, there’s not as many people playing online on the next-gen versions, but there’s enough gamers out there that I never had trouble finding a match. And that number will only increase in the coming weeks as more and more people pick up their new consoles.
It should also be noted that if you buy Ghosts on the Xbox 360 and then decide to upgrade to the Xbox One version, all of your online stats and rankings will carry over seamlessly. So no need to worry there.
What it comes down to is this. Call of Duty: Ghosts is a great looking game, no matter which console you play it on. I don’t think anyone can disagree with that. But if you’re looking for something that truly screams next-gen and something that you can really call reference quality, you’re better off with the aforementioned Ryse: Son of Rome. Or even Assassins’s Creed IV: Black Flag, as that too looks pretty spectacular on next-gen consoles. Between the Xbox 360 and Xbox One versions of Ghosts, obviously the game is more visually striking on the Xbox One, but unless you’re really looking for it, you won’t notice many differences and by no means will anything that’s presented here alter your experience with the game.
This review is based on the Xbox One version of the game.
Ultimately, Call of Duty: Ghosts on the Xbox One is far too similar to the Xbox 360 version to really stand out as a next-gen title, but by no means does it look or run poorly. It's easily the better version of the two and will not disappoint.