Forspoken’s release on PlayStation 5 was tricky from a technical perspective, with uneven visuals and inconsistent performance, so I was wondering if the PC version might be the panacea for all problems. John mentioned in his technical review of DF. We’ll get into the gory details shortly, but the good news is that the PC version it does it plays better than the PS5 version, at least on higher-end hardware. However, there are also some serious issues unique to the PC version that need to be addressed.
So here’s what you need to know, including comparing the PC version to the game on PS5, a look at how DirectStorage reduces load times, and optimized settings to boost performance.
However, on first boot, Forspoken for PC makes a positive first impression. There’s a full settings menu with options to select image reconstruction techniques, dynamic resolution, ray-traced ambient occlusion (RTAO), and even an in-game waypoint. But while it’s great that these options are there, these PC niceties fail to execute.
Let’s start with the image quality options. DLSS (2.4.12), FSR (2.1), and even XeSS are provided depending on your GPU, but despite being a net positive, each suffers from a few issues.
For example, FSR image resolution has issues with transparency effects like particles, so things like fire can look much worse with FSR compared to DLSS or XeSS. Elsewhere, motion and de-occlusion artifacts are present, and post-process blurs like depth of field look pixelated, as if they weren’t being reconstructed. XeSS interacts with depth of field in an even worse way, with massive flicker issues that surely need to be fixed.
DLSS is probably the best option here, but both it and XeSS have issues with single-pixel specular effects when motion blur is enabled; these pixels are trailed in lines by motion blur, as if a firefly filter it is decoupled. Even the game’s TAA at native resolution has issues, with ghosting exhibited on particles, just like FSR.
However, even with all these issues, image quality on PC is at least noticeably better than on PlayStation, mainly due to DLSS (if available) being generally better than the FSR 2.1 used on PS5 and the internal resolution on PC. it is much higher.
Dynamic Resolution Scaling (DRS) is another rare inclusion for a PC port, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to work properly in either the release version or the patched version of the game. In the startup code, the option only did something when used with native resolution plus TAA, but I was still able to turn it on for some reason when DLSS, FSR, or XeSS were enabled, which was quite confusing for the user. A patch released today fixes this issue, providing the ability to use image reconstruction techniques like DLSS at dynamic resolution, but enabling this seems to have a detrimental effect on frame times for reasons I don’t fully understand. For now, I recommend not using this feature. VRS is equally confusing, as enabling it provides no measurable performance benefit, nor any apparent change in visual quality.
This brings us to Forspoken’s two ray tracing options, shadows and ambient occlusion (RTAO). To be honest, these are the lackluster RT options in a AAA title to date. RT shadows, for example, don’t apply to many objects, such as larger grass or foliage, character hair, and even some characters; instead, you only get a minimal implementation that helps dull small details close to the camera and good smoothing for distant shadows. Enabling RT shadows reduces performance by around 20 percent on the RTX 4090, and for mid-range GPUs or below, the cost of the BVH fabric on video memory is enough to make it extremely difficult to recommend.
RT Ambient Occlusion should be a more significant update to the world of Forspoken, but it almost feels like it doesn’t work or has such a short beam length that it’s extremely subtle, with many scenes exhibiting artifacts typical of RT space Ambient Occlusion. screen (SSAO). . However, oddly enough, some scenes do seem to feature RTAO which works correctly, only to have this disabled after the scene even though RTAO remains enabled in the settings. So there’s no point in enabling RTAO either, with nearly 10 percent performance loss on RTX 4090, over an additional 500MB of VRAM used, but most scenes look identical regardless.
So, based on my testing, it seems like a lot of Forspoken’s options aren’t working properly, and there are other more transient issues as well. For example, LODs may never load, or entire buildings may never load, so people just float around in the ether. Performance is also strange, as in a test I found that simply moving the camera corresponded to an instant performance drop of ~20 percent, which is pretty novel behavior. I also found what looked like dropped frames, but when I examined it with our tools, it became clear that the game was still running at 60fps, but the camera was stuttering on its own. I’ve also logged four crashes while playing the PC version in the short time I’ve been with it, which isn’t a deal breaker in and of itself, but contributes to an overall lackluster feeling with the PC release. At least there’s no stutter in the shader build, which is a relief.
One of Forspoken’s few bright spots on PC relates to its load times, which are excellent, in some cases faster than the near-instant version on PS5. That’s because this is the first title to ship with DirectStorage 1.1, Microsoft’s toolkit for reducing load times on PCs equipped (ideally) with NVMe SSDs running Windows 10 or 11.
|PS5 (performance mode)||4.4s|
|PC, DirectStorage enabled (Core i9 12900K + NVMe SSD)||4.1s|
|PC, DirectStorage disabled (Core i9 12900K + NVMe SSD)||5.4s|
|PC, DirectStorage enabled (Ryzen 5 3600 + NVMe SSD)||6.8s|
|PC, DirectStorage disabled (Ryzen 5 3600 + NVMe SSD)||11.7s|
|PC, DirectStorage enabled (Core i9 12900K + sata SSD)||10.2s|
Loading the exact same save from the same area, we can see that a 3.5GB/s SSD (PCIe 3.0) loads the game faster than on PS5 (4.1s vs 4.4s); with DirectStorage disabled via a command line option, the same load takes around 25% longer (5.4s), making it slower than PS5. However, that’s with a fast 12900K processor; the same drive used with an older, slower Ryzen 5 3600 still benefits from DirectStorage (6.7s enabled vs. 11.7s disabled), but uploads take longer. So DirectStorage helps, but CPU speed is also a factor. Similarly, SATA drives also benefit from DirectStorage, but in my test, a SATA SSD took more than twice as long to load the game as an NVMe SSD (10.2s on SATA vs. 4.1s on NVMe). Finally, Windows 11 offers better loading performance than Windows 10, with game loads finishing two seconds faster on Windows 11 with DirectStorage turned on (6.8s vs. 8.8s) and essentially the same speed with DirectStorage turned off. (~11.8s).
Note that the DirectStorage 1.1 standard includes GPU decompression, but this doesn’t seem to be used in Forspoken at the moment, with no GPU compute usage spikes when the game is doing a dedicated load. So despite not using what is arguably the coolest part of the DirectStorage 1.1 API, game load speeds are significantly faster than they would otherwise be. During gameplay, streaming tends to stay within reasonable levels, typically maxing out at 300MB/s when traversing the game world quickly and panning the camera.
However, there seems to be a bug related to your stream. After loading a save game, the game transfers at 500MB/s for minutes, even when the camera is completely still. In one example, I captured it transferring 90GB of data in three minutes until the behavior stopped for no apparent reason. Forcibly disabling DirectStorage also seems to severely hinder performance in CPU-limited scenarios, though as you need to dig into command-line options to disable DirectStorage, this isn’t likely to affect normal gameplay.
Based on everything we’ve seen so far, the Forspoken PC release has a lot of issues, and this unfortunately carries over to overall performance and “optimized” settings. The game is notably unplayable on GPUs with 8GB or less of VRAM. In my tests with the textures set to standard or any setting, the textures never seem to load and are still a blurry mess, whereas on graphics cards with 10 GB of VRAM, the textures load just fine. This makes it impossible to recommend the game on PC unless you have more than 8 GB of VRAM.
For those with a sufficiently capable GPU, I would recommend disabling the RT options (shadows and AO) unless you have a modern processor (eg at least Ryzen 5000 or 12th Gen Intel) if you want a consistent 60fps. Second, to easily increase GPU performance, turn the cloud quality down to low—you’ll hardly see a difference, but it can yield a performance improvement of more than 10 percent in some situations. Third, consider lowering screen space reflections to standard if you’re looking for higher GPU performance, although it does sometimes lead to a bit of instability and flicker on SSR. Otherwise, I don’t have optimized settings, as the game doesn’t look very good anymore compared to similarly performing titles on PC, and sacrificing settings like shadow or model quality would be unwise.
So while Forspoken’s comprehensive PC settings menu makes for a good first impression, this is a deeply disappointing port with near-useless RT and a severe texture quality penalty for those on graphics cards with 8GB or less. of VRAM. Overall image quality and load times improve on PC compared to PS5, with the right hardware and software, but there are few meaningful options to bring performance back on lower-end hardware or push visuals further. from the PS5 version. Hopefully some or all of the issues identified in this review can be addressed as there is a core of a fun game here and PC gamers deserve better.
#Forspoken #Tested #Confusing #Deeply #Disappointing #Port