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DF Direct Weekly on The Callisto Protocol - and Nintendo's Pokémon performance promise

Plus: Modders look to fix Sonic Frontier's egregious pop-in problems.

After a short delay owing to the arrival of some embargoed Witcher 3 content, DF Direct Weekly returns with its 89th instalment - featuring a chastened and bowed Alex Battaglia exhibiting extreme disappointment with his lot. The truth is, putting together our review coverage for The Callisto Protocol proved rather challenging. While the PlayStation 5 version of the game arrived in excellent shape, we faced production issues in reviewing the game because the other renditions of the title were essentially unfinished and we had no real idea if they'd be representative of the day one experience.

The biggest challenge facing us concerned the PC version - hence Alex's dismay - which launched in a completely unacceptable state, rife with stuttering problems that swiftly condemned the game's Steam rating and rendered the title basically unplayable. We reported these issues to the developer as and when we discovered them and were told they'd be addressed - but we couldn't actually confirm whether this was the case until the arrival of the day one patch (improvements were slight). Meanwhile, throughout the review period, Xbox patches arrived that improved a game that was clearly experiencing issues that PS5 didn't have. Even so, the game launched on Xbox without the ray-traced reflections that are very important to the look of the game in its quality mode - again, the developer is looking to address this but we can't quite fathom why this happened.

We're trying to find the time right now to re-examine the PC version, which received a day two patch that apparently improves the stuttering problem - but this is the most high profile example yet of a compromised PC port that should never have shipped in the state it did and highlights continuing problems with shader compilation stutter that have made this one of the worst years yet for PC gaming.

DF Direct Weekly #89 features the stylings of John Linneman, Alex Battaglia and Rich Leadbetter.
  • 00:00:00 Introduction
  • 00:00:37 News 01: Callisto Protocol analysed!
  • 00:33:04 News 02: Poké-patch arrives for Scarlet/Violet, Nintendo talks performance improvements
  • 00:36:06 News 03: Fixes arrive for Sonic Frontiers
  • 00:41:23 News 04: I am Jesus Christ Prologue: biblically-accurate graphics!
  • 00:46:53 DF Supporter Q1: Which Switch games look better than you would expect?
  • 00:50:54 DF Supporter Q2: Given the success of the Steam Deck, should Valve do Steam Machines again?
  • 00:54:03 DF Supporter Q3: Who will implement a Nanite-style virtualized geometry system next?
  • 00:58:28 DF Supporter Q4: Why do some games have broken physics when you increase the frame-rate?
  • 01:03:14 DF Supporter Q5: Could Nvidia offer new tech as a paid subscription in the future?
  • 01:06:54 DF Supporter Q6: If you could bring back a dormant Activision/Blizzard IP, which would it be?

Elsewhere in the show, we discuss Nintendo's announcement of a new patch for Pokémon Violet/Scarlet and a pledge that it's actively looking to address the game's terrible performance. We'll be investigating to see if the new update changes anything (it's likely too soon to deliver much beyond bug fixes) - and we'll also be looking into the various theories that have emerged online that are said to improve the game. First impressions suggest that regular restarts do help, which may or may not influence findings on the various other theories that emerged online. Can overclocking the Switch help? It's not an option we should be considering but to satisfy our curiosity, we may look into it.

Another interesting discussion topic this week concerns the contentious Sonic Frontiers - John loved the game, but it's clear that there's an egregious pop-in issue that needs to be addressed. Modders have already made tweaks to the PC code that solves the key issue - and they're pointing the finger at conformity with the Switch version, which has its own issues that arguably shouldn't impact more powerful consoles and PC. And finally, IGN posted a remarkable video of the I Am Jesus Christ Prologue - running at 4K60 on RTX 4090, 'as Jesus would have wanted' and we felt compelled to talk about it.

DF Direct Weekly is built around the backing we get from the DF Supporter Program so please consider joining us for production updates, early access, bonus material, an enhanced DF Retro and much more.

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About the Author
Richard Leadbetter avatar

Richard Leadbetter

Technology Editor, Digital Foundry

Rich has been a games journalist since the days of 16-bit and specialises in technical analysis. He's commonly known around Eurogamer as the Blacksmith of the Future.

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