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Redfall on PC continues the run of unacceptably poor ports

Poor performance and a range of technical issues and bugs make this one to avoid.

The four lead characters from Redfall in a collage
Image credit: Arkane Austin

It's with a depressing sense of inevitability that Redfall arrives on PC in a poor state. Like Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, Redfall has troubling performance problems on PC, along with a number of serious graphical presentation issues. It does get some things right, but once again, we're looking at an experience with an unacceptably high CPU requirement and - yes - stuttering issues.

There's the sense that the game just isn't finished, that's it more like a beta, and that starts with the lack of tweakable options on the settings menu - which is essentially the barebones Unreal Engine 4 set-up. The user has few indicators of what the settings actually do as there are no meaingful descriptions, preview images or hints as to what the performance impact might be when changing a setting. The default UE4 settings are simply not good enough - and it's not just down to the lack of transparency with the user. The lack of utility is also a problem.

So, for example, one setting may actually change multiple aspects of the game. Post-processing can turn off various elements you may want to change individually, including motion blur, depth of field and ambient occlusion. The generic UE4 menu is a bad fit in other regards - the low volumetric setting, for example, completely ruins the effect. It's a far cry from the likes of Days Gone and Returnal, also running on UE4, but deliver real-time previews, great descriptions, frame-rate counters that dynamically adjust with settings adjustment and much more. Arkane really should have done better here.

Redfall on PC is a distressingly poor version of the game.Watch on YouTube

The options menu's one saving grace is support for all vendor-supported forms of reconstructive upscaling: XeSS, DLSS and FSR2 are all included, as is DLSS 3 frame generation and DLAA (effectively, DLSS's anti-aliasing implemented onto a native resolution image). The only issues I noticed were particular to DLSS and DLAA - and a little bit for XeSS. For one, XeSS and DLSS suffer from occasional sparkle fireflies that cause the bloom effect to go wild. This also happens to a degree with XeSS though it is far less of an issue. Another problem with DLSS and DLAA is that some flashing lights have a temporal lag in them where the colour does not flash rapidly as it should, making it look like lights are strobing in intensity rather than flickering on and off.

There's other good news in that shader compilation stutter is not an issue with Redfall. There's no visible pre-compilation step on first boot, but the CPU does look unusually busy - perhaps in precompiling shaders. Regardless, I didn't see any hitching or stuttering tied to the arrival of new objects or effects, so in that respect, we are looking at an improvement over Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. Unfortunately, the really bad news is that just like Survivor, Redfall suffers from really bad traversal stutters and intense CPU limitations that make the game frankly unplayable on mid-range hardware, requiring really ultra modern CPUs for 60fps, but even then the experience is far from optimal.

Basically, when you move across the game world, the game loads in assets at invisible lines that the player cannot see, and when you cross them there is a big spike in frame-time even on ultra high-end processors. General CPU utilisation is also poor for the many core era, with the game relying on two main threads while the rest of the processor is heavily under-used.

Epic settings on a Ryzen 5 3600 reveals just how CPU-limited Redfall is.

In the video embedded towards the top of the page, you'll see how little performance changes by enabling and disabling cores or toggling hyper-threading. Compare and contrast to something like Cyberpunk 2077, which does improve performance as further CPU cores and threads are enabled. With a reliance on single-core speed, rather than spreading out load over however many cores are available, performance is limited.

So where does this leave Redfall? On an enthusiast-class processor like the Core i9 12900K, you can target 60fps and the processor has enough single-core grunt to do that rather well most of the time - but no matter what, it will still stutter and this stutter is found throughout the game world. This is a shocking turn-out for one of the fastest processors around.

With that in mind, more mainstream processors won't stand a chance. Older mid-range CPUs like the Ryzen 5 3600 fare much much worse, with constant CPU limitations and highly inconsistent frame-times, on top of the traversal stutter. Taking a cue from the consoles, I tried limiting the game to 30fps and found that low settings delivered a consistent frame-rate, but the point is that low settings looks pretty poor. The higher you ramp up the settings, the more stutter enters the picture. I just couldn't get a workable, enjoyable experience from the game.

Redfall on Xbox - the Digital Foundry console tech review. There's unfulfilled potential here in gameplay terms, while the console rendition has its own range of technical issues. Watch on YouTube

I'd say you wouldn't want to drop settings from the highest 'epic' preset on the PC version because Redfall's graphical presentation is already poor to the point where it looks similar to the low settings in other games. A good example of this is found in shadow quality, which is already of a startlingly low resolution at the epic preset, with intense jittering and aliasing and resolving only very close to the camera. Many shadows render in a completely broken way too - presenting in the periphery of the camera, and not directly in front. It's bizarre but the point I'm trying to make is that if this issue presents at the highest possible settings, it makes no sense to lower those settings.

With all of this in mind, I can't suggest any optimised settings for the PC version of Redfall, because in my view, an optimal experience is not possible to anyone who doesn't have a top-tier CPU along the lines of Ryzen 7000 or Intel's 12th and 13th generation Core offerings. And even then, stuttering issues will occur.

And that's where I'm going to bring this piece to a close as there's only so much of value we can realistically say about a title that looks somewhat unfinished - but to sum it up, there's limited utility from the settings menu, the CPU requirement for even a consistent 60fps is unreasonably large while mainstream processors simply can't run the game well at all, potentially alienating a vast proportion of the game's audience. Put simply, Redfall on PC requires a lot of work and should not have been released in its current state.

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