Gaming Features

We've been conducting CPU benchmarks on Star Wars Battlefront over the past few days and, thanks to DRM install limitations, it's taken a lot longer than normally. The testing has finally progressed to low-end CPUs, including the A10-7870K ($128) and popular Intel Pentium G3258 ($50) dual-core processor. The 7870K posed no issues with Battlefront – performance is nothing phenomenal, but it works – but the G3258 didn't work at all.

This limitation was a result of Battlefront's forced CPU requirements. The game demands a quad-core CPU, and the Pentium G3258 will produce a black screen issue when launching Battlefront. Interestingly, the beta seemed to work on the G3258 just fine – again, not the best FPS, but it worked – and that has ceased with the full launch. We're seeing a black screen with max FPS (200, capped) that allows console input, but doesn't actually output video. This threw a flag that the game should work with the G3258, even if poorly, and we decided to do some research.

During GPU and CPU benchmarking for Battlefront, we encountered a 200FPS framerate cap / lock when using high-end configurations. For accurate benchmarking, this FPS limit had to be removed to allow the “natural” or absolute performance of the hardware on-bench. Thankfully, being that Battlefront runs on a familiar Frostbyte engine to previous Battlefield titles, the console commands are all nearly identical to Battlefield 4.

Here's the command you want to unlock FPS and disable the FPS limit in Star Wars Battlefront:

This is sort of a two-in-one fix – at least, it was for us.

Fallout 4, shipping tomorrow, is built on the same engine as Skyrim and previous Fallout games. Anyone familiar with Skyrim's expandability through mods and .ini tweaking may recall “iPresentInterval” – well, it's back.

iPresentInterval isn't just a V-Sync equivalent, which would lock the framerate to the refresh rate; instead, iPresentInterval caps the framerate at a hard 60 max (even with a 120Hz display). In Skyrim, changing this setting could impact physics events and was often recommended left on, despite the framerate limitation. To be fair, neither Skyrim nor Fallout are games that benefit from the notoriously high framerates demanded by CSGO players, for instance, but users of high refresh rate monitors still want their FPS.

FPS games are shrouded in arcane mythology pertaining to the accuracy of mouse input, with never-ending debates over acceleration, smoothing, mouse input filtering, and raw input detection. Call of Duty: Black Ops III doesn't escape from this.

One of the first questions we encountered upon publication of our Black Ops III benchmark related to mouse smoothing and acceleration. Namely, “how do I get rid of it?” 

The ever-increasing pile of computer hardware coming into our labs has been backing us up lately, as is usual for this time of year, and we've had to pull-on some additional help to clear the review inventory. As a part of this, we thought it would be a fun idea to start running a recurring “In the Lab” segment to provide a sneak peek to active hardware being tested. This content will provide some introductory technical coverage of the products, talk about testing methodology, concerns we're encountering, and initial thoughts, all before publication of the finalized reviews.

Out first episode overviews the Steam Link & Steam Controllers, for which our reviews go live next week, the Corsair VOID headset, MSI's B150A Gaming Pro motherboard, and some Skylake CPUs.


Sword Coast Legends is a newly-released D&D cRPG that has entrenched itself deeply within Wizards of the Coast territory, all the way down to adoption of the 5th edition core ruleset. For those of us who haven't yet dug our way out of the insurmountable pile of 3.5 books, the ruleset may be unfamiliar, but it's still D&D.

We've previously covered Sword Coast Legends, with our first round of coverage from GDC – near the game's unveil – and the most recent at PAX Prime. Until recently, our only hands-on sessions with the game were as players, with one limited on-the-fly DM session. This DM session dropped me in to a premade dungeon crawl with my staff (“with,” not “against,” because we're playing co-operatively to enable a good experience); my role here was limited to staying one step ahead of the players, trying to plant mobs and traps according to current challenge. I did not get to look at the actual DM toolkit – the utilities used for making longer campaigns and custom modules – until the last two weeks.

This time, I spent about eight hours building a fully fleshed-out module, complete with back-story, multiple levels, and custom quests. The objective was to give my old D&D group a run that'd remind us of the tabletop days.

CitizenCon 2015, the fan event dedicated to Cloud Imperium Games' Star Citizen, today opened with an emotional speech from VP of Marketing Sandi Gardiner. The team then moved on to an upbeat “How Did We Get Here?” video, showing the ramping progression of the Cloud Imperium Games teams and events. The studio is now a global icon within the games industry, employing 270 staff across its Austin, Santa Monica, London, Montreal, and Frankfurt offices.

CIG CEO Chris Roberts went on to disclose, deploying between-the-lines commentary on recent events, that the CIG team has only increased in development staff, including an increase from 260 to 270 staff in the past two months alone.

Introductory content aside, today's presentation swiftly moved to a focus on content reveals.

Our definitive coverage of the latest CitizenCon event, hosted by Cloud Imperium Games at the Manchester Airport, dives into the A-list cast for Squadron 42, multi-crew ship demonstrations, and underlying technology.

In this sixth episode of Ask GN, we're addressing user concerns regarding the recent Star Citizen & Escapist engagement, the relevance of RAM speed and density, PCI-e lane differences (chipset vs. CPU), and 4K gaming bottlenecks.

Our thanks to the engaged fans who have continually, for six episodes, submitted high-quality, thought-provoking questions.

You can find the full Ask GN episode below:

Our most recent interview with Cloud Imperium Games' Chris Roberts became a two-parter, following an initial discussion on DirectX 12 and Vulkan APIs. Part two dives deeper into the render pipeline, network and render optimization, zoning, data organization, and other low-level topics relating to Star Citizen. A lot of that content strays from direct Star Citizen discussion, but covers the underlying framework and “behind-the-scenes” development operations.

Previous encounters with Roberts have seen us discussing the game's zoning & instancing plans in great depth; since then, the Roberts has brought-up the system numerous times, expressing similar excitement each time. It is clear to us that the zoning and instancing architecture have required a clever approach to problem solving, evidenced to us by a previous pre-interview conversation with the CIG CEO. In a pre-shoot talk, Roberts told us that he “loves engineering problems,” and had considered the instancing system to be one of the larger engineering challenges facing Star Citizen. The topic of instancing was again revisited in this sit-down, though at a lower, more technical level.

We were recently joined by Cloud Imperium Games' Chris Roberts, known best for space sim Star Citizen, to discuss DirectX 12, Vulkan (OpenGL Next), and game engine pipelines. This content has been split into two pieces: This content and the second video & article, which will discuss game engine architecture and engineering solutions to development problems. The second piece will go live on Friday this week.

A truncated video can be found below. The remainder of the discussion goes live alongside the Friday content. Note that, unlike most our previous interviews with Roberts, this was conducted over Skype – that means occasional connectivity problems and reduced overall video quality, but the content is still strong. Highlights are in the below editorial content.

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