Are you planning to play Battlefield 4 on your Xbox 360? Then you'll probably want to start clearing a bit of hard drive space.
A new help file from EA explains that the 360 version of the upcoming military shooter will come with two separate discs: one for multiplayer, the other for single player. Regardless of whichever one you choose to boot up first, you'll be prompted to perform a mandatory install of 2GB of data and then given the option to install additional content for better performance. The multiplayer disc -- perhaps tellingly referred to as "disc 1" -- has 6.6GB of additional content, while the single player "disc 2" has an additional 5.8GB of data. EA recommends you install all of the additional data to have "the best experience possible" from the game.
The situation somewhat mirrors that seen when Battlefield 3 came out; there, the PlayStation 3 version forced a complete install from the single Blu-Ray disc, while the Xbox 360 version had to make it optional in order to cater to those who did not have big enough hard drives. Battlefield 3 featured an optional installable "HD Texture Pack" that made a huge difference to the game's visuals -- executive producer Patrick Bach referred to the difference at the time as being like the disparity between playing high-definition and standard-definition versions of the game.
Our friends at Digital Foundry ran a comparison of the different versions of the recent Battlefield 4 beta and found that the Xbox 360 version, while enjoying a small performance advantage over the PS3 version, featured noticeably worse visuals, particularly on the texture front, with texture pop-in particularly apparent in a number of places. The PC version, meanwhile, not only looked better but also included considerably more in the way of level furniture and additional detail -- not only did this make environments look more realistic, it also provided considerably more tactical options to players. The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions were not available to test, but it's reasonable to assume they will be closer in execution to the PC version, since the game has primarily been built with next-gen systems in mind.
The lesson from all this, then? If you're sticking with current-gen, be prepared to sacrifice a big chunk of hard drive space, but if you want the best possible experience from the upcoming shooter, it's time to either invest in a next-gen console or a decent PC gaming rig.
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