Game News

Following Final Fantasy XV’s benchmark launch, which we found to be flawed in a few ways, Square Enix has now launched its playable demo for the first portion of the game. This is the first time that FFXV has been playable on PC, barring some flukes in the benchmark, and is also the first revisit to the game since the benchmark’s launch.

Our primary concerns with the benchmark tool were validated by Square Enix, who noted they’d be addressing the concerns. The primary issue was that no graphics customization options were present without exposing the game’s .ini files via .dlls, which we did, and we later found the other issue: Some objects were being drawn at high LOD when never appearing on screen, something we validated with inspection tools. This included non-GameWorks objects and GameWorks objects, with the latter impacting performance more heavily on both AMD and nVidia devices.

We recently published a deep-dive that discovered a lack of lower LOD scaling to HairWorks effects in FFXV, an issue we attributed to Square Enix and flagged to nVidia. We further noted that it wasn’t just GameWorks effects, but entire models were being drawn when miles away from the player. Following the report, Square Enix’s official FFXV twitter account (@FFXVEN) has released a series of tweets about the issue, noting: “A Level of Detail (LOD) issue has been discovered that affects the benchmark scores. The benchmark also suffers from stuttering; both of the issues will be addressed in the shipping game.”

We’ve been working on our Final Fantasy XV benchmarking and already have multiple machines going, including both CPU and GPU testing. This process included discovery of run-to-run variance, pursuant to slow initialization of game resources during the first test pass. We can solve for this with additional test passes and by eliminating the first test pass from the data pool.

One of the downsides to Final Fantasy XV’s benchmark is that there is no customization for graphics settings: You’ve got High, “Middle,” and “Lite.” Critically, the medium settings seem to disable most of the nVidia GameWorks graphics options, which will impact performance between nVidia and AMD cards. We spoke with AMD about a driver update for the game, and have been informed that updated drivers will ship closer to the game’s launch. In the meantime, we’ll be testing High and Medium settings alike, building a database for relative performance scaling between AMD and nVidia. That content is due out soon.

While we’ve been working on programming our benchmark, reddit user “randomstranger454” grabbed Final Fantasy XV’s quality settings that create the presets. We will bold the settings we believe to be most interesting:

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is launching this Friday, and Bethesda have now published the final minimum and recommended specs. Bethesda is touting some PC-focused features like uncapped framerates (as we saw in the Destiny 2 beta, this can also mean “capped above 144”), choice of aspect ratio (4:3, 16:9, 16:10, or 21:9 ultrawide), an FOV slider (70-120), and 4K support.

The New Colossus will use the Vulkan API, following in the footsteps of the notoriously well-optimized DOOM reboot. In our DOOM testing more than a year ago, AMD’s RX 480 benefitted strongly from using Vulkan rather than OpenGL, as did NVIDIA’s 1080 to a lesser degree. Vega is specifically mentioned in this release, and Bethesda claims that with Vulkan they’ve been able to “utilize the power of AMD's Vega graphics chips in ways that were not possible before.” We’ll be publishing GPU tests as soon as possible.

From Bethesda’s site:

Total War: Warhammer 2 will be officially released on September 28th but, as of August 31st, it was already the most preordered Total War title thus far, just as its predecessor was “the fastest selling Total War title on Steam.” That probably has something to do with Steam’s ever-increasing presence, but the preorder bonus is also tempting: the new TWW 1 Norsca DLC faction comes free (normally $10).

The Warhammer trilogy is being released as three full standalone games, rather than the large-scale expansions Total War fans may be used to. TWW 2 therefore includes several new graphical features: improved SSAO, volumetric fog with god-rays, a new sharpening filter, and improved wet surfaces. That’s good news overall, but it means our TWW 1 benchmark results won’t 100% carry over. Creative Assembly’s official system recommendations are as follows:

Creative Assembly has been busy with the Total War: Warhammer franchise lately. The second game of the planned trilogy is coming on September 28th, and in preparation a host of updates and bugfixes have been added to the original, as well as the new Norsca DLC faction.

One part of these updates was quietly replacing the default benchmark packaged with the game, which we’ve regularly included in our current cycle of CPU reviews. It was a short snippet of a battle between greenskin and Imperial armies, shot mostly from above, with some missile trails and artillery thrown in. Its advantages were that it was fairly CPU intensive, from a modern game that people are still interested in, and extremely easy to run (as it is automated).

The Steam Summer Sale is upon on us, and we’ve put together a list of some of the best deals. This year’s Summer Sale runs from June 22nd to July 5th, so there is time to pick up these or any other games that might be of interest.

Destiny 2 will serve as Bungie and Activision’s follow up to the first Destiny, which was exclusive to Playstation and Xbox consoles. Destiny 2 was announced as coming to PC a few months back, but few details were given at that time. Since then, on Thursday May, 18th, there was a livestream event discussing some features of the new game and showing the first official gameplay footage. If you missed the livestream, don’t worry -- we have you covered, we’ve posted the link to it and all the trailers below.

For anyone who missed the news last week, Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood has a freshly released benchmarking tool included in the download.

In anticipation of the official release of Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood, Square Enix has revealed a benchmark tool, and a new trailer – itself a recording of the benchmark.

Final Fantasy XIV has never exactly been a demanding title for PC hardware; however, the release of the Stormblood expansion marks the end of PS3 support, which has effectively served as the lowest common denominator while developing the MMORPG across multiple platforms. With the PS3’s hardware limitations no longer a constraint—plus an upgraded North American Data Center—Square Enix has vowed both graphical and functional advancements (think inventory space) over both A Realm Reborn and Heavensward.

RTS Re-Awakening: Northgard Hands-On Preview

By Published March 20, 2017 at 6:40 pm

Northgard is an unusual sidestep for Shiro Games: Moving from the genre-exploring Evoland titles to city building and real-time strategy is not the usual course, it’d seem. Shiro Games assured us that Settlers and Age of Empires were as important to them as gamers as the RPGs that inspired Evoland, and have set forth to build Northgard.

As Evoland picked the most memorable bits from the history of JRPGs, Northgard feels like it must be made of Shiro Games’ favorite bits of the 4x and RTS genres. Those familiar with Settlers will recognize the similarities in Northgard immediately, and AOE fans also have some familiar items.

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