In 2023, many incredible games made their way to PC, but not all had a smooth ride. Take The Last of Us Part 1, for instance. Despite being a massive hit on consoles, its PC launch hit some bumps. Players were left frustrated and let down by problems like stuttering and less-than-ideal CPU performance.
Other PC ports, such as Wild Hearts and Forspoken, were almost unplayable at launch due to terrible optimization. Even though upscaling technologies such as DLSS and FSR helped, they could not compensate for the poor optimization done by the developers.
Due to numerous poorly optimized titles, I think 2023 is ending as a poor year for new AAA releases on PC.
Why it matters: In a year with great PC ports like Alan Wake 2 and Returnal, it is disappointing to see poorly optimized ports on PC.
EA Disappointed Gamers This Year
Three of the worst ports this year came from EA, including Wild Hearts, Dead Space, and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. Respawn’s latest Star Wars entry had a rough start on PC, facing ongoing issues despite multiple updates.
Shader compilation stutter, found in games like Elden Ring, was initially manageable. But then, traversal stutter made the game nearly unplayable, especially on the vast Koboh planet, even for those with high-end hardware like the RTX 4090.
To make matters worse, the game heavily relied on AMD’s FSR at launch, resulting in limited options for users of other graphics cards. Despite some improvements later on, crashes were frequent, with my own playthrough marred by at least 15 crashes.
Stuttering also bogged down an otherwise excellent remake of Dead Space. Likewise, Wild Hearts was unable to run smoothly on the best hardware. I personally experienced massive stutters, particularly during combat, which greatly diminished my overall experience.
Last of Us Part 1 & Forspoken Were Disastrous
The Last of Us Part 1 has to be the most disappointing launch on PC this year. Considered one of the best games of all time, it was an unoptimized mess when it finally launched on PC.
The textures, especially on 8GB GPUs, were painfully low-quality, giving off a vibe of old-school hardware. The launch version was released half-cooked, bringing back memories of the infamous PC launch of Batman: Arkham Knight.
The frustratingly long shader compilation process at the main menu added to the disappointment of players. Long loading times were another major headache, adding to the many issues of this release.
Annoying bugs, such as characters looking wet indoors and textures turning into a chaotic rainbow, piled on the troubles. On the other hand, Forspoken was hardly any different. However, in this case, the game also ran poorly on consoles.
The game faced challenges on both platforms, with issues like flat lighting and underwhelming ambient occlusion.
Arkane Dropped The Ball With Redfall
Redfall entered the gaming arena with a stumble, echoing issues seen in other troubled titles. PC players encountered performance problems reminiscent of the previously mentioned games.
Low frame rates, particularly in crowded areas, and subpar shadows were persistent challenges. The initial release felt like a chance missed for an improved PC version.
The game demanded a lot from your system and suffered from pop-in if your GPU had less than 8GB of VRAM. Moving around in the open world was a bit shaky, with noticeable stutters.
Multiplayer had its share of issues, including elements not working right, character models disappearing, and crashes happening often. However, Redfall went through many improvement patches.
Visual problems, especially with shadows, got fixed, and the CPU performance got noticeably better. The developers are planning long-term support for the game, which is a positive sign.
Some PC Ports Redeemed Themselves
While some titles were terrible at launch, a few ports saw improvements through subsequent updates. Things started to look good for The Last of Us as the developers rolled out improvement patches.
By version 1.10, they had made significant improvements to performance, boasting a 30% boost in CPU performance. Texture quality on 8 GB GPUs got a noticeable upgrade, aligning more closely with the PlayStation 5 version.
The long wait times for shader compilation, a big issue at the start, were considerably shortened. The Last of Us Part 1 evolved from a chaotic and unplayable state into an experience worth recommending, although there’s still potential for further enhancements.
Moreover, the developers of Forspoken deserve credit for their dedication to making things better. With later patches, they reintroduced the ambient occlusion system from Final Fantasy 15, greatly improving the visuals.
On PC, subsequent updates tackled several issues, such as smoother CPU performance, enhanced texture options, and a more reliable dynamic resolution system.
What began as a visual disappointment transformed Forspoken into a significantly improved game, thanks to the developers’ committed post-launch efforts.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for games like Dead Space or Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, which are best avoided on PC, in my opinion.
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