Yakuza 0's PC port is low on frills but gets the basics right
It's also very, very fast.
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.
Right off the bat, the game makes itself known that it is not messing around. 'Real Yakuza use a gamepad,' thunders an early intro screen. Thankfully that is not a warning - it's just the developers having a little fun. Mouse and keyboard controls are there and whether it's in-game response or menu navigation, it's more than serviceable - though the rhythm action sub-games can be challenging without a pad. Beyond that, the only complaint is that using the mouse occasionally causes a pointer to appear on-screen - somewhat annoying, but not disastrous.
In terms of graphics options, there is a nice amount of customisation available - and more than I expected, to be honest. Beyond resolution options - which do query Windows for supported modes - arbitrary refresh rates up to 240Hz are supported, though a meaty CPU is required if you want to really get the most out of a high frequency display. Running this title at 60fps on a decent gaming PC is no problem, but even a top-end Ryzen 7 can't lock to 120fps in all scenes.
There's also an internal resolution scaler that kicks in across two options - you can downscale with the screen resolution percentage, or you can upscale using SSAA (super-sampling). The former is rather odd - selecting a 75 per cent option downscales by 75 per cent to approximately 480p, whereas a more conventional scaling solution would offer up 810p instead. Regardless, HUD elements are displayed independently at a higher resolution - though not all of them render natively. For those with GPU horsepower to spare, SSAA is offered in 2x, 4x and 8x flavours. At 1080p, 4x SSAA is effectively an internal rendering resolution of 4K.
In addition to SSAA, FXAA is also included at several quality levels, adding a further pass of anti-aliasing that works well in combination with the super-sampling. With a tiny performance hit, anisotropic filtering can safely be ramped up to ultra, while the last two settings - shadows and geometric quality - are the ones to tweak for tangible (though hardly spectacular) improvements to performance. Shadow quality drops significantly at medium settings and there's not much of a performance hit between ultra and high, making the top-end option the one to go for. Curiously, shadow quality has zero impact performance at night-time regardless of the setting you go for.
Geometry quality affects the draw-in range for objects further from the camera, but this has little impact on performance regardless of the setting you choose but definitely improves pop-in the higher up the range of presets you go. I'd recommend keeping this one pegged on ultra where there is a slight boost to quality over the PS4 version (medium settings is the closest PC equivalent to the console set-up). The bottom line is that while the graphics menu is fairly extensive, the actual improvements to performance on a modern gaming PC are minimal - only resolution choices and super-sampling are worth looking at. Bearing in mind the PS4 version runs at 1080p60 during gameplay, this is perhaps not unexpected.
Beyond resolution and smaller-scale quality improvements, the PC version is a pretty close match overall for the PS4 original. The biggest improvement of all is that cutscenes now run unlocked - these were pegged back to 30fps originally. I did note some differences in shadowing on the PC version, but nothing you'd notice outside of a side-by-side comparison - otherwise it's a very, very close facsimile of the original console game, bar some small differences in ambient occlusion. On PC at ultra, AO seems to generally shade intersecting geometry more, giving them a greater depth of shadow in their inner contours. On the other hand, PS4 has a smaller radius, leaving this space with a flatter hue. Really though, resolution, frame-rate and the uptick in LODs are the only key improvements jumping from PS4 to PC.
That said, the end result is that this port is fast. Running on a mainstream PC with GTX 1060 or RX 580, running at 1080p with 4x SSAA offers up a performance level that keeps you above 60fps for most of the duration - though do expect some occasional dips. Interestingly, bar an initial cut-scene anomaly, Nvidia's card has a clear nine to 15 per cent performance advantage, depending on the scene.
And there are further anomalies to be aware of - specifically an ugly, blurry low-res filter that kicks in when Yakuza 0 renders in its optional first-person view. The good news is that like any great PC game with an amazing community behind it, mods can sort out the problem. And thanks to the Kaldaien, whose 'Special K' injection mods on PC have famously helped remedy problems in titles such as Batman Arkham Knight or Nier Automata, we have the ability to disable this first-person filter, restoring a clean look. Other options include disabling depth of field and ambient occlusion - and with the latter option, doing so offered up a 27 per cent improvement to performance when testing on a GTX 1070. That said, the improvement to the look of the game is substantial and Yakuza 0 runs well any way - but it's a useful option for those with less capable hardware and should have been in the standard settings menu.
Overall though, I am thoroughly happy with the PC port of Yakuza 0 as it stands right now. You have the ability to play in non-standard aspect ratios with higher than 60fps frame-rates and the port is capable of delivering very high image quality should your PC hardware be up to the task. And while it does not stray too far from the original PS4 release in terms of core visual features, that base level of performance secured by PS4 version means that we get a PC version that runs really well. The game itself is truly engrossing and it's fantastic that Sega should bring this franchise over to PC where a new audience get to appreciate it. If the debut showing for the series on PC is this strong, I'm really looking forward to seeing the how future titles shape up.
Digital Foundry specialises in technical analysis of gaming hardware and software, using state-of-the-art capture systems and bespoke software to show you how well games and hardware run, visualising precisely what they're capable of. In order to show you what 4K gaming actually looks like we needed to build our own platform to supply high quality 4K video for offline viewing. So we did.
Our videos are multi-gigabyte files and we've chosen a high quality provider to ensure fast downloads. However, that bandwidth isn't free and so we charge a small monthly subscription fee of £4.50. We think it's a small price to pay for unlimited access to top-tier quality encodes of our content. Thank you.Support Digital Foundry