To be honest, I have to admit that the quality of From Software’s PC ports has improved over time. The original Dark Souls was a complete disaster, but until Sekiro PC users stopped getting the best version of their games. Unfortunately, this upward trajectory comes crashing down with the launch of Elden Ring; their problems are numbers, but the most serious of them are constant shooting that breaks the rhythm of the game, generating poor presentation that must be urgently corrected.
How the game got to this state until users is unclear, but the reason has a clear explanation: Elden Ring is the first title in which the From Software engine jumped to DirectX 12. As we previously commented (for example, with the deceleration port for PC in Final Fantasy VII Remake), DX12 gives developers much greater control over the GPU; things like memory management or threads no longer depend on the driver, with which many of these responsibilities are passed directly to developers. The issue with the shots suggests that the handling of shader compilation is quite poor, with each shader’s code compiling the first time it’s needed in-game, causing delays of at least a second in the duration of the whole experience.
And it’s a constant problem. There is an obvious shot when your character first moves. Again, when you first shuffle your sword. Each time a particular new effect is generated, the game returns to fire shots. With each new enemy you encounter, you shoot more. It gives me the feeling that every time a new shader effect is invoked that you haven’t seen before the game tries to compile it as it renders the image. And here’s the problem: in my tests, each time a hit is produced for this reason, the game slows down to a quarter of a second.
The more games there are, the fewer situations there are in these encounters, with which the fluidity inevitably improves. Content you’ve already experienced will also have fewer planes, provided the shader compilation is cached when first read. Without restrictions, all this is reset with each game update, user reinstallation or graphics card driver update, in which case the problems with shots return with the same severity as before. We’ve seen a few reports of people using PCs with Alder Lake processors having compiled so fast that the game continues to run at 60FPS, but even if this is confirmed it would mean that only a small proportion of all PCs in the world is capable of moving the game to established 60FPS. Coming to this point it should be noted that the console versions do not have this problem of compiling shaders: on fixed platforms the game is distributed directly with these shaders already pre-compiled.
Apart from this issue, there are more hits, apparently related to the bottom line. Descend stairs in the game intro or cross marked fields, either way. Moving around the open world also causes some frames to drop, and there’s no real consistency between them. Sometimes a few frames can run in a few meters, while other times you can run hundreds of meters (in-game) without any issues. Finally, there are also shots in the camera transitions of some theaters, and this flaw is curious because it only occurs on PC, not on consoles.
All of this is one to produce a deceptive experience that cannot be topped simply on the basis of improved specs. In my case, I tried the game on a high-end device with an Intel Core i9 10900K processor and an Nvidia RTX 3090 graphics card, and even setting the game to 720p with all graphics options below I couldn’t have a smooth experience. This empirical situation is always more powerful than your PC, especially when it comes to the CPU. In more common hardware, note that aside from drills, they also produce sharpening, enhancing the experience. We also tested the game on the Steam Deck, and shots there produce increasingly extended ratings. It’s a shame, because even beyond that, Valve’s portable machine can easily kick the game up to 30 frames per second.
Everything we’ve commented on so far is something From Software needs to address to ensure the game is in an acceptable state, but there are still things to work out. To start the vertical sync is turned on by mistake and there is no way to turn it off inside the game – you have to go back to the GPU control panel for that and then find out that the game is artificially stuck at 60FPS. This is a serious problem: ever since Dark Souls was released, the PC public has been asking From Software to allow the use of arbitrary frame rates. This happens every time the company releases a new game, but again we tend to go back to mods to move the game to 60FPS frame rates. It’s also compatible with ultrawidescreen monitors, so there are already two things the PC port should have as standard from day one that it doesn’t.
And what about expandability beyond the quality of the versions for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X? There are some improvements, but that brings us to another problem: the clutter of the options menu, which doesn’t offer explanations or an overview of what each option does. PC users can try out a preset of enhanced effects that render lighting a bit better, as well as access console-limited quality effects and use them at higher performance levels. A little further down you might find a table where we outline the PC options that are equivalent to the PlayStation 5 modes, but still have a few unknowns; as happened with Sekiro, we literally have no idea what exactly makes the choice of shader quality, which doesn’t seem to impact image quality or performance.
In terms of recommended options for gaming at 1440p, if you have an Nvidia GTX 1080 or higher GPU, use the options to the max; there is almost no difference between High and Maximum visually, except for the quality of the shadows. If you have a GTX 1070 or a previous generation AMD GPU, like the RX 580 or lower, one of the options on Medium, but with shades on High Quality (on Medium they look quite poor) and anti -aliasing up. Comparing the yield of these presets with the experiment at maximum observed a 22% increase in yield, although with an obvious decrease in shade quality and a complete absence of tall grass.
|PC equivalent options||PS5 frame rate mode||PS5 Quality Mode|
|SSAO/Depth of Field||High/Max||High/Max|
|Lighting quality||Media (at a minimum)||Media (at a minimum)|
|Reflection quality||Alta (approximately)||Maximum (approx.)|
|Water surface quality||High||High|
Recommended options: Everything to the max. Acceptable offers for less powerful GPUs: options in the middle with anti-aliasing at the top and shadows at the top.
And what about the classic GTX 1060 or RX 580 with a 1080p monitor? Including taking into account the shooting issues, neither of these two GPUs is able to maintain 60FPS while sacrificing graphics options, especially since the Nvidia card is capable of offering up to five improvement percent performance over its AMD rival. . Dropping the resolution to 900p should get you up to 60FPS or you can maintain 1080p and enjoy the benefits of a G-Sync or FreeSync monitor, but even those monitors can help in situations where GPU limitations are exceeded, its efficiency in monitoring shooting time issues are much more limited.
I am convinced that Elden Ring deserves its positive acidity and, in this regard, have no doubts about its impressive score in the review. Without hesitation, I can’t help but feel that this is where From Software takes a bit more time to technically clean up the game, avoiding situations like this. The performance situation on consoles isn’t perfect, but there are ways for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X users to have a really good experience – you can avoid frame rate issues on PlayStation 5 by using the PlayStation 4 Pro version, sacrificing something of graphic quality for better performance (although, of course, tampoco is justified that the user is in this position). Meanwhile, Xbox Series X users can combine performance mode with a variable-refresh screen to achieve smooth and enjoyable gameplay.
But, at the moment, there is no easy solution to fix Elden Ring performance on PC, from there on user side, and it will depend on developers to fix these issues.
Translated by Josep Maria Sempere.