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.”

Final Fantasy XV is shaping up to be intensely demanding of GPU hardware, with greater deltas developing between nVidia & AMD devices at High settings than Medium settings. The implication is that, although other graphics settings (LOD, draw distance) change between High and Medium, the most significant change is that of GameWorks options. HairWorks, Shadow libraries, and heavy ground tessellation are all toggled on with High and off with Medium. The ground tessellation is one of the most impactful to performance, particularly on AMD hardware; that said, although nVidia fares better, the 10-series GPUs still struggle with frametime consistency when running all the GameWorks options. This is something we’re investigating further, as we’ve (since writing this benchmark) discovered how to toggle graphics settings individually, something natively disabled in the FFXV benchmark. Stay tuned for that content.

In the meantime, we still have some unique GPU benchmarks and technical graphics analysis for you. One of our value adds is 1440p benchmarks, which are, for some inexplicable reason, disabled in the native FFXV benchmark client. We automated and scripted our benchmarks, enabling us to run tests at alternative resolutions. Another value-add is that we’re controlling our benchmarks; although it is admirable and interesting that Square Enix is collecting and aggregating user benchmark data, that data is also poisoned. The card hierarchy makes little sense at times, and that’s because users run benchmarks with any manner of variables – none of which are accounted for (or even publicly logged) in the FFXV benchmark utility.

Separately, we also confirmed with Square Enix that the graphics settings are the same for all default resolutions, something that we had previously questioned.

Rico's back in town. This time, the vigilante who saves the people by blowing up The People's Water Tower comes in high-fidelity graphics with a focus on lighting FX and water tech. Just Cause 3 revisits a partnership with nVidia's GameWorks development kit, making use of the WaveWorks tech that was previously found in Just Cause 2 (a 2010 release). The game's graphics settings are fairly simple for anyone following our game benchmarks, but we'll recap potential points of confusion further down.

Our Just Cause 3 GPU benchmark puts nVidia & AMD graphics cards to the test at 1080, 1440, and 4K resolutions, using “Very High” and “High” settings for FPS testing. Among others, the video card benchmark includes the 980 Ti (+ SLI), 980, 970, 960, et al., and AMD's 390X, 380X (+ CrossFire), 290X, 270X, et al.

We've noticed some curiosities with Just Cause 3's implementation of water detail scaling and will cover that further down.

The variety of games at PAX East’s Indie Megabooth supporting local multiplayer or cooperative gameplay always impresses. Not only is Kitfox Games’ action-RPG Moon Hunters a cooperative title for up to four players, but it also offers a unique setting far from generic fantasy or generic sci-fi.

After talking to Chris Roberts about procedural generation, we headed over to the Square Enix & Psyonix shared booth to discuss Nosgoth. And played it. I actually played a game at PAX – shocking. Nosgoth is another in the growing line of third-person battle arenas, and unlike Skara – Nosgoth seems to have gotten the pacing right.

nosgoth-slider

You play as one of two different factions in Nosgoth, humans and vampires, alternating mid-round after a time limit for balance reasons. Each team has a distinctive playstyle – the humans use a lot of ranged weapons to fight from afar and the vampires use their abilities and speed to quickly navigate terrain elements. Vampire movement is enacted in a fashion that allows them to close the distance on human prey with great efficiency.

Note: Nosgoth is still in closed beta right now.

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