One of the first things we discovered when we began testing the PC version of Dead Rising 3 this week is that the Capcom game ships with a 30 frames-per-second cap that cannot be adjusted within the options screen. Instead, in order to unlock higher frame-rates you need to generate your own custom user.ini file and put it in the game's installation directory. And not only that, but the game defaults to 720p resolution, so you have to dig deep into the options to access higher pixel-counts.
"The game is capped at 30fps," Capcom told us. "However, if you would like to experiment with that, create a user.ini file which contains a single line: 'gmpcr_unlock_frame_rate=True' (no quotes) and place it in the same folder as deadrising3.exe before running the game." If you're not sure how to make a user.ini file, here's one we made earlier. However, an unlocked frame-rate isn't the developer's preferred option, with Capcom suggesting that the game has been optimised for 30fps, warning that unlocking the frame-rate is done at the user's discretion and that performance is not guaranteed.
We tested the unlock and there doesn't appear to be any artificial limitation on performance. Animations work fine, physics operate exactly as they should at the higher frame-rate, and gameplay doesn't suffer in any way. However, the game does have frame-pacing issues with a 30fps lock, and we had to use Nvidia's half-rate refresh GPU control panel option, in combination with the frame-rate lock in Riva Tuner Statistics Server (a part of MSI Afterburner), to fix that as well.
Based on our initial testing, if you're looking to lock performance at 1080p and 60fps on max settings then you are going to require some serious PC horsepower anyway. We tested Dead Rising 3 on a PC running a Core i5 3570K quad-core processor overclocked to 4.5GHz, running in concert with a high-end GeForce GTX 780, and found that the game could not sustain 60fps. CPU utilisation averages at 70 per cent with the occasional 100 per cent spike, while the GPU hits 95 to 100 per cent load throughout. Lowering resolution to 900p and 720p sees GPU utilisation drop to 90 per cent and 75 per cent respectively, while CPU usage remains unchanged.
By and large, the top-end 'high' preset is a match for Xbox One visual quality, albeit with improved anti-aliasing options in the form of SMAA, which is a stunning state of affairs bearing in mind how potent the GTX 780 should be in this situation. Lowering GPU quality presets reduces load significantly, but we're still looking at CPU load in the 60 to 65 per cent range. That's a whole lot of horsepower, bearing in mind we have four Intel cores running flat-out at 4.5GHz.
We'll have more thoughts on Dead Rising performance in our upcoming PC tech comparison piece, but the frame-rate is probably capped in order to get the game running on as many PCs as possible. Moving it onto an i7 3770K system clocked to 4.3GHz, working alongside a much humbler GTX 760, we get a maxed-out GPU at 1080p30, and while CPU utilisation was lower, this was mostly down to lower frame-rates generated by the less capable graphics card. Turning off hyper-threading, utilisation across four physical cores still hit 60 per cent. We have a feeling that on mid-range enthusiast systems (Core i5 with a sub-£200/$300 GPU), 1080p is going to turn out to be the best experience you'll get. Let's put it this way - we also ran the game briefly on a six-core i7 3930K system with a 6GB GTX Titan and we still couldn't achieve a locked 60fps.
Also, as mentioned at the outset, Dead Rising 3 PC renders at the Xbox One standard 720p by default. The output resolution is defined in the initial video settings, but even if your monitor operates at 1080p, the game still renders natively at 720p, and it's only by dipping into the 'game quality' setting can you actually adjust the actual native resolution - options available are 720p, 900p, 1080p and the actual resolution of your display.
Dead Rising 3 testing this week has been a bit of a trial thanks to repeated crashes on our main gameplay PCs - a situation also affecting some other players. Our initial impressions are of a game that really could have benefited from more testing, and we understand that the developers are looking into the problem now. We'll report back with more thoughts on the game in the next few days.