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DF Direct Weekly: do we really need a Horizon Zero Dawn remake?

Plus: path-traced Quake, PSVR2 and the new Need for Speed.

Do we really need a Horizon Zero Dawn remake? That was the first topic on this week's Digital Foundry Direct, as John, Rich and Alex grapple with the prospect of a PS5 remaster of a recently-released PlayStation 4 title.

It's a hard question to answer, as undoubtedly the team at Guerrilla Games wants their work to be playable at the best possible quality, but the 2017 PS4 release already runs well on PS5 thanks to a patch - and the PC edition from 2020 remains one of the best-looking games on the platform two years later. Creating a remake could be a good way for the developers to work on a PS5-only engine for future titles but that same development time could also be devoted to an entirely new Horizon game, albeit one that won't result in an influx of cash for the company quite as soon.

It's an interesting point of discussion, and the rest of the spreadsheet that spawned the Horizon Zero Dawn remake rumour also makes for entertaining reading. There's mention of a Horizon multiplayer 'live service' game for PS5 and PC and a new Death Stranding, for example.

Elsewhere, PSVR 2 has reportedly entered mass production, with Bloomberg reporting two million units on the way by March 2023 - and that ties into another leak that suggests that Half Life Alyx could be coming to the PlayStation VR headset. In theory, such a port would make a lot of sense - Alyx is undoubtedly one of the most polished and 'AAA' VR releases ever and would certainly run well enough on PS5 hardware. The Bloomberg report also suggests that the launch would be significantly scaled up beyond the original PSVR, with something like three times as many units available for launch - which in turn implies a strong level of confidence from Sony in the platform.

Watch on YouTube
  • 00:00:00 Introduction
  • 00:00:58 News 01: Horizon Zero Dawn PS5 remake leaked!
  • 00:12:00 News 02: PSVR 2 enters mass production
  • 00:18:53 News 03: Ray-traced Quake 1 released
  • 00:25:10 News 04: New gameplay trailer for Dead Space remake
  • 00:31:31 News 05: Need for Speed: Unbound revealed, dated
  • 00:38:59 News 06: Nintendo shows first trailer for Mario film
  • 00:45:45 DF Content Discussion: Intel ARC review follow-up and questions
  • 01:01:30 DF Supporter Q1: Is there a project that was just too big for DF Retro?
  • 01:03:39 DF Supporter Q2: Will Unreal Engine 5.1 fix the #StutterStruggle?
  • 01:04:55 DF Supporter Q3: What’s a game you love that is largely unknown?
  • 01:10:35 DF Supporter Q4: What potential RDNA 3 feature could get people to switch to AMD?
  • 01:16:27 DF Supporter Q5: Is there any reason to use last-gen hardware instead of current gen backwards compatibility for PS4/Xbox One games?
  • 01:18:43 DF Supporter Q6: Why don’t developers use DLSS 2/XESS/FSR 2.0 to upscale RT effects?
  • 01:21:43 DF Supporter Q7: What game would you like to see remade that will never happen?

Of course, it wasn't all about leaks and rumours. Alex also detailed the recently released path-traced version of the original Quake, following the release of Quake 2 RTX from 2019. This is available via Github and comes from the same developer working on a path-traced version of the original Half-Life. It's exciting stuff, and well worth trying out even in its early form.

Similarly, a trailer for the new Dead Space remake dropped, and it offers some tantalising hints about the state of the release. The graphics look impressive, with more detailed textures and more modern lighting provided via the Frostbite engine, and there are hints towards more substantive changes too. Need for Speed Unbound has also been officially revealed following a retailer leak, and it actually looks pretty cool - there are realistic vehicles and environments, but characters are cell-shaded and there are some interesting visual effects accompanying things like tyre smoke and vehicle lights.

After a busy week of news - including the official DF analysis of the Mario movie trailer! - the remainder of this week's DF Direct is dedicated to a follow-up discussion on our Intel Arc graphics card coverage and answering supporter questions.

For Arc, it was Rich and yours truly running the benchmarks and putting together the reviews, and we were fundamentally quite pleased with the new A770 and A750 graphics cards. Alex offered a similar outlook, with the power of these higher-tier GPUs making them significantly more useful than the budget A380 that preceded them - even if the driver situation hasn't meaningfully improved, with poor performance guaranteed in DX11 titles and/or with Resizeable BAR disabled. For DX12 or Vulkan titles though, performance per dollar is excellent.

It's been interesting for us to see how varied different Arc A770/A750 reviews have been, and DF supporters have picked up on this too. As usual, it all comes to down to the many variables in PC hardware testing - choosing different scenes in the same game can have massive implications on performance, let alone choosing different graphics APIs (DX11, DX12) and different games.

Regardless though, looking at the range of publications covering the cards, performance seems to have beaten expectations even if DX11 frame-rates are dire. Going forward though, we'd like to see a timeline for DX9/DX11 improvements, detailing how Intel will address the situation, what games will be specifically targeted, if any, and generally what we can expect in terms of future performance uplifts. Listening to community complaints is key here too.

The DF supporter questions are also good this week, with a question on whether Unreal Engine 5.1 could solve the #StutterStruggle and potential RDNA 3 features that could shift the GPU marketplace. And finally - what game remakes would we love to see, but would never happen? If you'd like to submit questions of your own, and see these DF Direct episodes early, then please join us!

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