So, you've decided to play Skyrim again. Or perhaps this is the first time. Either way, you've installed the game, played a few minutes, and realized something: wow, this is pretty ugly.

Skyrim isn't exactly a game that has visually aged well. It's more than three years old, was already a bit dated when it came out (Bethesda's four-year development cycle shows), and with gorgeous games like The Witcher 3 having been released this year, Skyrim doesn't really have much to offer on the visual front.

It is, however, a gun that runs on Creation Engine, and it has a development kit with an active community. We have the technology. We can rebuild it.

Cloud Imperium Games' Star Citizen has several planned differentiators when it comes to space sims. One of the most noteworthy is the promise of ships manned by multiple crew members, expected to be released as a separate “multi-crew module” in the near-ish future. Pilots, co-pilots, gunners, engineers, and other roles will all need to be filled to create a co-operative, team-intensive gameplay experience; it's an ambitious goal, but one that CIG's Chris Roberts feels confident can be achieved.

Our recent trip to CIG's Santa Monica offices already yielded a progress update on the game's “Star Marine” FPS module, addressing concerns of delays, and now we're back with multi-crew. CIG CEO Chris Roberts joined us to discuss multi-crew combat, game engine technology, technical challenges faced with zoning and instancing, and more.

Star Citizen’s been oscillating in the news cycle lately. The game – now around $80m in funding – has reached a point of industry-wide recognition, ensuring contentious encounters with groups unsupportive of the game’s progress.

We first went deep on Star Citizen’s first-person shooter module, now called “Star Marine,” at PAX East in April of 2014. This was Chris Roberts’ first time explaining (with great detail) the overall vision for FPS and its interaction with other gameplay elements. Following this, an unveil event at PAX Australia showcased some of the FPS module’s progress. In January of 2015, CIG CEO Chris Roberts revealed new information on the persistent universe during PAX South, leading the PAX East 2015 hopes of FPS availability to backers in the March to April timeframe.

Regardless of how its mechanics pan-out, Star Citizen is slated to claim the throne as one of the most graphically intense PC games in recent history. This is something we discussed with CIG's Chris Roberts back when the Kickstarter was still running, diving into the graphics technology and the team's intent to fully utilize all tools available to them.

We've been trying to perform frequent benchmarks of Star Citizen as the game progresses. This progress monitor comes with a massive disclaimer, though, and is something we'll revisit shortly: The game isn't finished.

The recent launch of the GTX 980 Ti, R9 Fury X, and AMD 300 series cards almost demands a revisit to Star Citizen's video card performance. This graphics benchmark looks at GPU performance in Star Citizen's 1.1.3 build, testing framerates at various settings and resolutions.

We already covered Fallout 4’s initial trailer, along with analysis of what was seen in the reveal. Just Sunday night, Bethesda showed more of the much-anticipated post-apocalypse title at their E3 press conference. This is by far the most comprehensive view of Fallout 4 we have seen to-date, so now comes the time to look over everything.

For die-hard Fallout fans, the hype train has exploded from the station. With rockets. And possibly a few deathclaws running after it. This is thanks to Bethesda’s release of its first-ever glimpse of Fallout 4. Recently, a countdown on Bethesda’s Fallout site (and Fallout4.com) appeared, lacking any real details. It was simply a countdown with the iconic “Please Stand By” loading screen from Fallout.

Digital distribution platform Desura, recently acquired by Badjuju, has reportedly failed to pay its partnered developers over the past several months. Through forum posts and reader emails, we've learned that indie game developers who have entrusted the service with the sale of their games have gone unpaid, despite exceeding payment threshold requirements. We've received multiple emails from indie developers pertaining to Desura's lack of payment and decided to conduct further investigation.

The launch of the Witcher 3 introduced a couple of game graphics options that aren't very commonly available in settings menus. Photographers may be familiar with the likes of chromatic aberration and vignetting, but not many games have offered these items for tweaking in the past.

We recently benchmarked The Witcher 3 for GPU performance and remarked that the game was horridly optimized, taking the opportunity expand on the graphics settings in a limited fashion. Since this posting, CD Projekt Red has released a new game patch (1.03) that drastically improves PC performance on various video cards; AMD is expected to release a Catalyst 15.5 beta driver update that focuses on the Witcher in the near future.

This Witcher 3 optimization guide defines the best graphics settings for improving FPS in the game, seeking to explain each option in greater depth. We independently benchmarked various game settings on a Titan X (to eliminate bottlenecking on the hardware) and took a graphics settings comparison video, found below. Although screenshots can get some of the job done, a comparison video is critical for a game like The Witcher; CD Projekt Red's newest RPG makes heavy use of temporal filters, which means that the filters make the most impact over time (seen through movement, which isn't conveyed in a screenshot). We'd encourage checking out the video for just a few comparisons of the many options.

During the GTA V craze, we posted a texture resolution comparison that showcased the drastic change in game visuals from texture settings. The GTA content also revealed VRAM consumption and the effectively non-existent impact on framerates by the texture setting. The Witcher 3 has a similar “texture quality” setting in its game graphics options, something we briefly mentioned in our Witcher 3 GPU benchmark.

This Witcher 3 ($60) texture quality comparison shows screenshots with settings at Ultra, High, Normal, and Low using a 4K resolution. We also measured the maximum VRAM consumption for each setting in the game, hoping to determine whether VRAM-limited devices could benefit from dropping texture quality. Finally, in-game FPS was measured as a means to determine the “cost” of higher quality textures.

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