At the tail-end of last week, Capcom delivered a multi-platform release of the Resident Evil 2 Remake - the so-called '1-shot' demo that gives users just 30 minutes to play a very small portion of the full game. It's shaping up to be a beautiful game that sees the consoles push higher-end features of the foundation RE engine for the first time, and it also sees the developer make some fascinating technical choices for both the vanilla and enhanced consoles. Meanwhile, the PC version opens up a vast array of possible settings, but based on the experience the demo delivers, the top-end experience does require some meaty hardware.
Hardware-friendly, locks to 60fps - and beyond.
And can lower-end Nvidia RTX cards sustain 60fps at 1080p?
Tomorrow's technology today.
Impressive on consoles, but PC is a genuine game-changer.
Battlefield 5 has shipped on PC, accompanied by our first look at a revolution in gaming graphics - real-time ray tracing via Nvidia's new RTX line of GPUs. It's a watershed moment in many ways and a phenomenal technological achievement - not just from the RTX hardware that makes it possible, but also from the engineers at DICE who committed to ray tracing in all of its shiny, real-time reflection glory. But alongside the revolution in visuals is the reality of the implementation - this is an alpha patch running on first-gen hardware. Real-time ray tracing remains massively expensive from a computational perspective, performance isn't completely ideal - but this is emergent tech, optimisations are coming, and having spoken to DICE directly, we know what kind of strategies the developer is pursuing to push frame-rates higher.
Will Red Dead Redemption 2 receive a PC version, and if so, what kind of visual upgrades could Rockstar deliver? The truth is that the existing console versions already possess high-end techniques sometimes reserved for high-end PC GPUs, so on the face of it, the options seem limited. And let's remember that Rockstar hasn't actually confirmed any PC version at all - though a data dump of the RDR2 mobile companion app seems highly indicative.
Microsoft surprised us last week with the backwards-compatible re-release of the Crysis trilogy for Xbox One and Xbox One X. Once again - alas - there's no sign of X-enhanced support for these titles, but what we do get is one of the most dramatic performance upgrades yet, and a chance to revisit a fascinating period of Xbox 360 history.
Assassin's Creed Odyssey on PC version is utterly gorgeous, with the ability to scale well beyond consoles in terms of visual quality, frame-rate and resolution - but to play this game at its best, some serious hardware is required. Yes, careful settings management helps - and we've got you covered here - but even getting to 60fps with a console-equivalent look requires some meaty kit. Mainstream GPUs like GTX 1060 and RX 580 have the horsepower to get the job done in terms of the graphics requirement but even the enthusiast's price vs performance champion - the Core i5 8400 - can't keep you locked to 60fps.
Nvidia showcased a number of ray tracing titles at its GeForce RTX launch and it was 4A Games' Metro Exodus - alongside DICE's Battlefield 5 - that impressed us most with its implementation of ray tracing technology. In fact, RTX on vs RTX off within the 4A title demonstrates the challenges and opportunities of the new hardware: right now, it seems we need to choose between remarkable realism and accuracy with a significant performance overhead, up against lighting based on established techniques - less accurate but still good-looking and much faster. Which will prevail?
Playground Games is back with a new Forza Horizon, complete with a creditable PC port just a patch or two away from being something truly special. While the series has deep roots on Xbox consoles, Forza as a franchise is still fairly new to PC and it's had some definite growing pains. Forza Horizon 3, in particular, initially launched with some CPU-related issues, but the good news is that this area is much improvedthis time around. In fact, the overall improvement in this area is so dramatic, I have to wonder if the introduction of the Xbox One X 60fps performance mode may be partially responsible.
A battle royale game with only 12 players? How is that going to work? We recently had the opportunity to go hands-on with Dying Light: Bad Blood - Techland's answer to that very question, and came away really impressed. While the sheer size and scope of the concept is miniaturised somewhat, the action is no less thrilling - in fact, the close-quarters intimacy of the encounters, paired with Dying Light's parkour traversal system makes for a unique take on the battle royale concept.
The embargo lifts today on video capture of Battlefield 5's beautiful new Rotterdam map, which looks all the better when rendered in RTX - Nvidia's brand new ray tracing technology for its upcoming 20-series cards. We had the chance to go hands-on with an RTX-enabled version of the game, and to talk directly with the graphics engineers responsible. How does ray tracing work? What are its limitations? And with performance such a hot topic surrounding RTX titles, what are DICE's plans for future optimisation and further features?
Just how demanding is Monster Hunter World's PC port? Is it really heavy on CPU as coverage of the closed beta seemed to suggest? And if so, what PC hardware is actually required to run the game at a consistent 60 frames per second? We went into this one expecting a battle - lowering CPU requirements is far more challenging with far less room for manoeuvre than tweaking graphics settings. But after extensive testing, the reality is that it is indeed the GPU side of the equation that makes running this title so challenging - and even a GTX 1070 running at just 1080p can't lock to 60 frames per second at max settings.
A surprise - but a genuinely good one! As a series debut for the franchise on PC, I went into Yakuza 0 not really knowing what to expect, especially considering the dubious history of many late-arriving PC ports - but Sega has delivered here. As you might expect, the port doesn't deliver a massive improvement over the existing PlayStation 4 game, but what it does offer up is scalabilty in both resolution and frame-rate and some small but welcome extras. Whether you're looking to game at 120Hz or on 4K or ultrawide displays, Yakuza 0 has you covered.
No Man's Sky's recently released Next update radically improves content and visuals and we've had a lot of fun playing it in its new Xbox One X incarnation - but we've got to say that the PC version still needs a lot of work. Performance doesn't seem to be where it should be, even on higher-end GPUs while basics like v-sync don't seem to work properly. On top of that, right from the off, basic user-friendliness comforts and presentation create a genuinely poor introduction to the game. For a title that has improved so dramatically since launch, we genuinely hope to see Hello Games make one last push to make life easier for PC users.
At its best, rendering technology doesn't just make a game look great and run smoothly, it has an intimate relationship with gameplay - and it's for that reason that Crytek's The Hunt: Showdown is well worth checking out. In this fascinating multiplayer first-person survival horror shooter, CryEngine is used for more than just window dressing. Yes, it looks beautiful and well up to triple-A standards, but the technology is fundamental in creating some of the The Hunt's most impactful moments, as well as establishing its unique atmosphere.
Anthem's return at E3 2018 was just as spectacular as its debut a year earlier, and last week, Electronic Arts posted a full 20-minute gameplay video of the latest demo - with developer commentary, no less. Presented in full 4K, the firm shared a source quality version of the asset with us, allowing us to take a closer look at the game's Frostbite foundations, and compared to other EA titles using the tech, we're witnessing a use of the engine quite unlike anything else we've seen before. Developer BioWare isn't talking about performance targets, but the sheer intensity in detail, and the integrity of the open world suggests that this will likely be a 30fps game on consoles - and an interesting counterpoint to the 60fps heroics of Battlefront and Battlefield.
Players of the recent Battlefield 5 alpha have been witness to quite a treat. Building on DICE's excellent work in BF1 and Battlefront 2, we're looking at an exceptionally handsome game that, small bugs aside, almost feels like the finished article. It's visually outstanding in fact, the only disappointment - if you can call it that - being that the signs are pointing towards an evolution of the Battlefield formula and its Frostbite engine, as opposed to a full-on next-gen revolution.
It's been ten years since Crysis first released on PC. In 2007, it pushed real time rendering to new heights and spawned the memetic phrase, "but can it run Crysis?". Never had a game released that pushed hardware and engine technology so much, and never has one since. In fact, combine the latest and greatest Intel Core i7 8700K overclocked to 5.0GHz with an Nvidia Titan Xp and there'll still be areas of the game that drop beneath 60fps - even at 1080p. For its own very specific reasons, Crysis is still more than capable of melting the most modern, top-end PCs, but regardless, it remains a phenomenal technological achievement. It deserves a remaster at the very least, but a franchise of this standing really deserves a full next-gen sequel, with state-of-the-art rendering and back-to-basics gameplay.
Have you ever loaded up a new PC title, run the in-game benchmark, tweaked settings for optimal performance then discovered that actual gameplay throws up much lower frame-rates, intrusive stutter or worse? It's a particular frustration for us here at Digital Foundry, and it leads to a couple of very obvious questions: firstly, if benchmark modes are not indicative of real-life performance, what use are they? And secondly, if their use is limited, how representative of real-life gaming are the graphics card reviews that use them, including ours?
Under Ubisoft's stewardship, the Far Cry franchise is now celebrating its 10th year - a full decade of series entries and offshoots that have seen the focus of the gameplay and the technology shift dramatically. And this has led to some interesting YouTube offerings from Mark Brown and CrowbCat, showing what look like substantial engine downgrades over the years. So what's going on here? Has the massive increase in processing power provided by the current-gen consoles been matched with a simplification in aspects of the technology?