Born exclusively for PlayStation 4, Death Stranding by Kojima Productions is now available on PC thanks to a port that we definitely recommend. While it is true that the graphics options are a bit limited considering the origin on PS4, on the performance front we are at excellent levels and, above all, Death Stranding is a unique game even in the heterogeneous landscape of PC. With high-end character rendering technology and wonderful environments and effects, Kojima Productions is spectacular on PC. It’s a first look at what the Tenth Engine can do once freed from the limitations imposed by PlayStation 4 and beyond: this PC port allows the game to show itself in its form closest to the designer’s vision.

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Kojima Productions CTO Akio Sakamoto talks about the scalability options of the PC version versus the PS4 version with an emphatic tone: “Higher frame rates, of course! We created the game at 60 frames per second and I must point out that they are now possible. Obviously, it’s not limited to 60 fps, but depending on the hardware, it can reach much higher frequencies. According to our test of the game, we can say that the work done by the studio is quality, even from a not-so-obvious point of view. When loading the game, the first surprise is that a graphics engine developed by Sony runs on PC using Microsoft’s graphics APIs, DirectX 12. Bearing in mind that previous versions of the Decima engine worked on PC (for purposes development only) under OpenGL, we expected to see Vulkans as APIs.

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“Our first goal as developers was to do nothing less than what is available on PS4. Thinking about the APIs used on consoles, we realized that it would be difficult to maintain the same level of quality using DirectX 11, ”said Sakamoto. “For that, we looked at both DirectX 12 and Vulkan. We compared ourselves to our partners, Nvidia and AMD, and gathered information from a variety of sources. We obviously also analyzed the market (asking how many users are using Windows 10, how many DX12) and we also had to consider the PC version release window. At the end of this process, we decided to use the DX12s. I must say, however, that there was not a lot of information available on the Vulkans. ”

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It seems that the development of the Decima engine is still underway in Guerrilla, for production reasons. “As a development tool, we already had a PC version of the graphics engine, but graphically, to get performance comparable to that of the PS4, we had to develop in order to take advantage of DirectX 12. When we were working on it, there wasn’t a lot of information on these APIs so I can say that was the hardest part. ”

In addition to the choice of which API to use, another factor contributing to the success of this port is found in the game’s migration to more modern CPU architectures. According to what we learned about the Decima during visits to Guerrilla headquarters, the engine is based on frame updates every 30 seconds, so every free CPU cycle every 33 milliseconds is dedicated to predictive delivery of environments. . In our test, Death Stranding topped 120fps while filming on a Core i5 8400, with the sole exception of videos shot with the game engine, which unfortunately was limited to 60fps.

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“How can we optimize the processor? How can we improve performance? Akio Sakamoto wonders. “With these goals in mind, we looked at the best solutions. We spoke with Intel and AMD trying to optimize as much as possible so that users with lower performing PS4 machines could also enjoy the best possible performance thanks to the new way threads are used. ”

The result is an engine optimized for a low-power 8-core AMD Jaguar cluster capable of running on processors with fewer cores. The minimum specs recommended by Kojima Productions speak of the Core i5 3470 or Ryzen 3 1200, the two quad-core chips. The IPC values ​​are much higher than those of the Jaguars, but the lower number of cores can cause issues as we have seen in other console ports such as Red Dead Redemption 2 and Detroit Become Human. With more modern processors, hitting 60 fps shouldn’t be difficult: we did it with no issues with the Core i5 8400, so to speak. We also put to the test a Ryzen 9 3900X that performed well, although there were significant changes in the high frequency frame stimulation.

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Continuing to analyze the graphics specs, on the GPU front, the RX 560 and GTX 1050 3GB are recommended by the manufacturer for playing at 720p and 30fps. Oddly enough, the RX 560 is more powerful than the chip used on the PS4 base which however manages to run the game at native 1080p. In our testing, we found that the Radeon RX 580 guarantees 1080p at 60fps, so let’s imagine that the minimum specs on the front of the GPU are actually wider than those reported by the developers. The AMD card gives a 12% advantage over the GTX 1060, which sometimes falls below the sixty mark.

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One thing to note is that some old DX12 cards will not be able to run the game. We wanted to try Death Stranding with a 4 GB R9 270X, for example, as it is the closest computer to the PS4 GPU. Unfortunately, however, the game needs at least DX12 12_0, while first-gen GPUs have stopped at 11_1. According to Kojima Productions, the resources guaranteed by DX12 are used to improve the memory management of the graphics card.

Unfortunately, mods are not supported, just like there is no cross play feature between PS4 and PC. On the bright side, the Steam and Epic Game Store versions use the same servers.

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In the next few days we will show you a super detailed analysis (oddly enough, the embargo for the assets registered by the game is different), but we can already say that the basic options of the game will give you an experience very close to the one encountered on PlayStation 4, with the only difference in the anisotropic filtering fixed here at 16x, instead of the 4x used on console. In addition to resolution and frame rate, however, scalability is limited: the models’ dedicated detail tuning reduces LOD pop-in by pushing it away, weighing very little on performance. Shadows at high (and medium, because they look the same) level are actually console level, like all other settings. Indeed, in addition to the possibility of removing the pop-in from the details, there is little to improve on the graphic front.

“I know that for the PC version, the ability to change the configuration is very important,” Akio Sakamoto said. “But for the PS4 version, we worked on fixed hardware, so we could focus on getting the best performance on that platform. Adapting to a wide variety of materials is completely different. Since we only started working on the PC version after completing PS4, we were unable to implement all of the options we hoped for, but worked hard to make sure we had enough options to satisfy the PC user! ”

Increasing the resolution has a significant impact on performance and in the case of Death Stranding we find innovative options. AMD’s Adaptive Contrast Shading is rendered at 75% of native resolution on both axes, then increasing image definition at a very low cost. The results are generally good, but well below Nvidia’s DLSS 2.0 support. There are two modes dedicated to performance and quality with scaling via AI of 50 and 67% respectively. An overclocked RTX 2060 manages to hit 4K at 60fps in performance mode, while quality mode gives such remarkable results that Nvidia decided to tie Death Stranding to its RTX GPUs.

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“On PC, Death Stranding supports DLSS but not ray tracing,” Akio Sakamoto said. “We are obviously interested in the technology and put it to the test, but since we wanted to release it to PC as soon as possible, we decided not to work on it this time. We will keep it in consideration for the next games. “

All of this brings us to the next conclusion: With the PC version of Death Stranding, Kojima Productions has produced a port that takes the limits of the current generation of consoles and works wonderfully on decidedly better performing PC games. In our opinion, the game is also scalable enough to give us, in perspective, a great experience on PlayStation 5.

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“Right now we’re focusing on the PC version of Death Stranding, so we can’t talk about PS5,” Akio Sakamoto said. “When we catch our breath after the PC version is released, we’ll start to evaluate it thoroughly, that’s for sure, and we hope to let you know as soon as possible when we’ve made a decision. “

Source : Reddit