2022 was an enormous 12 months for PC sport releases, for higher and worse. We noticed exceptional achievements in constancy in titles like Dying Mild 2, but in addition basically damaged PC ports like Gotham Knights. As 2022 closes out, I needed to have a look again at the perfect and worst PC video games we noticed previously 12 months.
Remember that ReSpec is a technical column — I’m centered on the technical points of PC releases, not essentially my favourite video games total. Elden Ring, for instance, gained our greatest video games of 2022 roundup, and it’s a private favourite. But it surely doesn’t present up on this checklist in fairly the identical mild.
Greatest: Portal RTX
Portal RTX is an insanely demanding sport, and I debated placing it on this checklist as a consequence of how few folks can truly play it. But when nothing else, Portal RTX is a superb showcase of Nvidia’s RTX Remix modding toolkit and the way ray tracing can work to redefine the feel and appear of the sport.
We’re far previous the times of Quake II RTX the place some over-saturated lighting and distracting reflections have been the perfect showcases of ray tracing we had. Bodily-based supplies, extra environment friendly path tracing strategies, upscaling, and body technology all labored into bringing extra practical lighting into video games, and Portal RTX is our first showcase of the ability these strategies can have.
I’m significantly enthusiastic about what it means for RTX Remix sooner or later. Modders have already put out variations of Max Payne, Half-Life, and SWAT 4 revitalized by way of RTX Remix, and so they all look unimaginable. I’ll be taking a more in-depth have a look at these video games (and hopefully extra) sooner or later.
Worst: Gotham Knights
Gotham Knights is on the alternative finish — it’s an unsightly look into the previous. Within the vein of the notorious Arkham Knight PC port, Gotham Knights shipped on PC with large stuttering points paired with lackluster ray-tracing choices. Even with a bevy of upscaling options on faucet, Gotham Knights can’t keep a steady body charge.
It doesn’t assist that the sport seems to be dated, as nicely. It was initially designed with last-gen consoles in thoughts earlier than the writer determined to tug the plug, but it surely fails to dwell as much as even that commonplace. Shortly after launch, a flood of photographs evaluating the graphical constancy of the sport to 2015’s Arkham Knight began flowing out (and spoiler: Arkham Knight gained that battle).
Personally, this one hit arduous. Even with some points which you can examine in our Receivedham Knights evaluate, I used to be excited to play the sport. I can’t bear the overwhelming stuttering, although, which hasn’t been mounted even months after launch. It’s worse than Elden Ring’s stuttering and some other sport I’ve performed this 12 months, and I don’t see the difficulty getting resolved any time quickly. Only in the near past, a patch for Gotham Knights truly rendered the sport unplayable on Steam. Yikes.
Greatest: Uncharted Legacy of Thieves Assortment
Uncharted Legacy of Thieves Assortment is a primary instance of find out how to do a PC port proper. Rock-solid efficiency, a large breadth of graphics choices, and pre-compiled shaders make it a easy expertise on mainly any rig — and a long-overdue debut for Nathan Drake on PC.
PlayStation has knocked it out of the park with all of its PC releases, however Uncharted is toned down in comparison with God of Struggle and Marvel’s Spider-Man. You’ll discover some enhanced textures, however the unique console launch is usually intact. As an alternative, the port focuses on stability by compiling shaders within the menu to keep away from stuttering and offering upscaling for any GPU within the type of FidelityFX Tremendous Decision (FSR) 2 and Nvidia’s Deep Studying Tremendous Sampling (DLSS).
The one draw back is the set up measurement. Uncharted Legacy of Thieves Assortment requires 126GB of house (after the whole lot is finished, it’s round 113GB, however we’re splitting hairs right here), and lots of that measurement comes on the again of the improved textures. 100GB+ installs are widespread on PC with these high-resolution belongings, however video games like Far Cry 6 let you skip the higher-resolution belongings for a smaller set up measurement, which I might’ve favored to see in Uncharted.
Nonetheless, if all I can complain about is the set up measurement for a PC sport launched in 2022, that’s an excellent factor.
Worst: Warhammer 40,000 Darktide
I’ll admit, Warhammer 40,000 Darktide is considered one of my private favourite video games of 2022, however that’s regardless of its truckload of technical points. A prolonged and bug-filled beta interval led to an much more damaged launch at launch, which featured fixed community disconnects, game-breaking crashes as a consequence of ray tracing, and myriad visible errors.
Some examples: Turning off the nebulous and over-demanding sub-surface scattering setting meant that pores and skin merely wouldn’t render on characters; turning on DLSS to enhance ray tracing efficiency would crash the sport; and lens flares may trigger an enormous discount in body charge, which is considered one of many settings that may create a nasty CPU bottleneck within the sport.
Since launch, developer Fats Shark has continued to enhance the sport, and it’s in a significantly better place now. There’s no denying the tumultuous launch state of the sport, although, which is disappointing contemplating it was considered one of just a few new titles launched with DLSS 3, quite than backported to older releases.
Greatest: Marvel’s Spider-Man (and Miles Morales)
Marvel’s Spider-Man and Miles Morales took a unique method to Sony’s PC ports, leaning heavier on PC tech quite than steady efficiency. They’re each steady video games, however they’re additionally filled with ray tracing, a slew of upscaling choices, and tech like Deep Studying Anti-Aliasing (DLAA) and DLSS Body Technology.
Ray tracing seems to be unbelievable in Marvel’s Spider-Man, and it lets you push reflection and shadows past what’s out there on the PlayStation 5. Miles Morales is especially spectacular with DLSS 3, even when the AI-generated frames don’t at all times look good.
Now that Spider-Man 2 is introduced for subsequent 12 months on PlayStation 5, I can solely hope we see it on PC. If these first two releases are something to go by, the second sport will hopefully shine much more on a high-end gaming rig.
Worst: Stray/Elden Ring
I’m grouping Stray and Elden Ring right here as a result of they each had the identical subject: shader compilation stuttering. Elden Ring has been patched right into a significantly better state, as has Stray, however they each launched with constant stuttering on PC as a consequence of shaders compiling on the GPU.
That is primarily an issue with Unreal Engine, as you possibly can see from Gotham Knights. That mentioned, Elden Ring makes use of a customized engine, exhibiting that it might affect video games engines, as nicely. The shaders (packages) want to maneuver to your GPU earlier than they will execute, inflicting a slowdown every time new shaders are launched.
The excellent news for these two releases is that they’re playable now, a lot in contrast to Gotham Knights. Nonetheless, it’s disappointing to see such extreme stutters in two video games that have been broadly thought-about among the many better of the 12 months.
PC ports in 2023
Wanting ahead to 2023, I’m hopeful that the times of shader compilation stuttering and borked PC ports are behind us. Fortnite‘s transition to Unreal Engine 5 reveals a brilliant future for the huge variety of titles that use Unreal. On the opposite finish, we’re nonetheless seeing the next-gen Witcher 3 replace and titles like The Callisto Protocol launch in devastating states.
On the plus facet, extra PC releases are embracing applied sciences like FSR, DLSS, Body Technology, and latency-reduction instruments like Reflex, serving to video games which can be optimized on the engine facet run extra easily. I’m certain in 2023 we’ll see much more progress on that entrance.
This text is a part of ReSpec – an ongoing biweekly column that features discussions, recommendation, and in-depth reporting on the tech behind PC gaming.