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Port Report: Batman: Arkham Origins

By LDK on Oct 29 2013 05:43 PM in Port reports
Port Reports are a new series of quick first impressions of the technical aspects of a PC game. This report was written by PCGamingWiki contributor LDK. For an up to date account of Batman: Arkham Origins' fixes and improvements, please visit its respective PCGamingWiki article.

Batman: Arkham Origins is a prequel to the very popular Batman series. This iteration focuses on origin story of Bruce Wayne as a young Batman. First two titles were developed by Rocksteady Studios but this one is developed by the rather new studio Warner Bros. Games Montréal. We will look how they managed to tackle technical aspects of the game - what options can be set, how the game runs and what effects are most demanding on your system.

Batman: Arkham Origins was released on October 25, 2013 for Windows, and is available through several digital distribution channels.

System requirements

Minimum

  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo, 2.4 GHz / AMD Athlon X2, 2.8 GHz
  • RAM: 2 GB RAM
  • HDD: 20 GB
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTS / AMD Radeon HD 3850 or better with 512 MB of VRAM

Maximum

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-750, 2.67 GHz / AMD Phenom II X4 965, 3.4 GHz
  • RAM: 4 GB RAM
  • HDD: 20 GB
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTS / AMD Radeon HD 3850 or better with 512 MB of VRAM
Testing was done on a system with Core i7 clocked to 4.5 GHz, 32 GB RAM and an AMD Radeon HD 6870 in 1920x1200 resolution via benchmark build in the game. Download size is around 18 GB, with the same amount of space occupied on the HDD.

Video settings


As its predecessors, the game is running on the Unreal Engine 3 and features a nice set of options. Everything can be set directly in-game and only PhysX requires a game restart. Apart from standard settings like resolution and v-sync, you can set anti-aliasing, DX11 specific effects, PhysX and ambient occlusion. Unfortunately there are no presets, so you'll have to set everything manually.

There is a rather annoying bug in this menu: when you lower some options, the appropriate effect is lowered/turned off accordingly but frame rate stays the same. In order to get performance boots, you have to load your save or restart whole game.

Video settings


Field of view


There is no field of view slider, which can be very annoying for many players. Default field of view is very narrow - 56 degrees - and very distracting.

There are two methods to change field of view. First method will bind one of your key to change value of field of view to your liking. The game will scale all other values based of this value, so no other setting is necessary; however if you'd like to tweak FoV values for different situations, follow guide at our our wiki article. Note that this permanent method did not work for me.

Key binding method:
1. Navigate to the game install folder, specificaly here: ..\Steam\steamapps\common\Batman Arkham Origins\SinglePlayer\BMGame\Config\
2. Open file BmInput.ini
3. Select all lines starting with "Bindings" in section [Engine.PlayerInput] and copy them to the [BmGame.RPlayerInput] section within the same file.
4. Add "Bindings=(Name="F10",Command="fov xx")" without quotes at the end of the [BmGame.RPlayerInput] section. Change xx to your desired field of view value.
5. Addionaly you can create another command with "Bindings=(Name="F11",Command="fov 0"), that will reset field of view to default, which is useful in cutscenes.



Performance


Batman: Arkham Origins runs on the DX11 renderer by default if it finds a DX11 GPU in the system, however the game is capable of running in the older DX9 renderer by putting "-d3d9" into launch options within Steam. DX9 renderer offers slightly better performance at the cost of a few DX11-specific effects.

BAO general  performance


As this game does not have low, medium and high presets, I've tested only everything on low and everything on high with both DX9 and DX11 renderers just without anti-aliasing. AA under DX11 is true performance killer and results wouldn't be very clear. More about AA later in the article.



Anti-aliasing


The game features a surprising amount of anti-aliasing methods. Players can choose two levels (low and high) of post process FXAA filter or true anti-aliasing in form of MSAA in three steps: 2x, 4x and 8x. For owners of Nvidia GPU there are also two levels (low and high) of TXAA method that I unfortunately I wasn't able to test.

BAO AA comparison


In this comparison picture you can see most of the methods under both renderers. AA under DirectX11 appears little better considering same amount of sampling. The smoothest edges offers post process FXAA filter but for a cost of little bit texture blurring.

Performance of AA in this game is a little bit of a mystery to me. Clearly every method works under both renderers, but with widely different framerate drop. From the graph below you can see that overall the least impact has FXAA, which is no surprise due to the nature of this filter. What baffles me is massive impact of MSAA with DX11 renderer. Just turning MSAA on you'll lose 50% of your framerate, maxing it out on my system means drop to unplayable single digit framerate.

The other renderer - DX9 - hasn't got any problems with MSAA and performance drop is negligible. I first thought that no AA is used under DX9, but when I checked screenshot, AA is clearly there and is progressively better when the sample rate is increased.

BAO   AA performance


For screenshots from this benchmark in full resolution and in lossless format visit our gallery.

Dynamic shadows


Dynamic shadows sets shadows for character models. It has no impact on pre-rendered (baked) world shadows. Performance impact is not very severe between Off and Normal state. DX11 Enhanced shadows are more costly - around 15% without significant visual impact.

BAO   dynamic shadows performance




Ambient occlusion


This usually performance-hungry effect is rather modest in Batman: Arkham Origins. "Normal" AO will cost you around 10% of the framerate, DX11 Enhanced method another 20%. The game is using this effect very nicely - it adds subtle shadows to dark corners and it is not adding dark "glow" around every object as some other games can.

BAO   AO performance




Controls


The game is designed to be played with a controller. The Xbox 360 Controller is preferred and when the player navigates to the control menu the game shows the Xbox control scheme first no matter what control scheme are you using. Fortunately there is an option to remap keys, and for every action two keys can be set.

Keyboard controls

Xbox controller binds


But there are severe limitations to the mouse setting: there is no mouse sensitivity slider at all, and fourth and fifth mouse buttons are not supported by default. Mouse sensitivity can be set via config file:

1. Navigate to the game install folder, specificaly here: ..\Steam\steamapps\common\Batman Arkham Origins\SinglePlayer\BMGame\Config\
2. Open file BmInput.ini
3. Locate line MouseSensitivity=60.0 and change its value to your liking.

A controller is automatically detected when plugged in even if the game is already running. On-screen prompts are immediately changed between keyboard and controller based on last used device. Unfortunately there are no options for controller, not even a sensitivity slider or axis inversion.

Audio


Batman: Arkham Origins features quite a rich sound setting. There are few presets for sound system: headphones, TV, stereo and home theater. The game is using Wwise for its sound system so unfortunately only up to 5.1 surround sound is supported.

There are also a toggle for subtitles and volume sliders for sound effects, music and dialogue but no slider for master volume.

Audio options


Game itself


Here on the Port Report we don't usually comment on the "game content" part of the analyzed title, but I have to make an exception. This game is unbelievably broken. I was suspecting something when even the biggest magazines hadn't received PC review copies prior to release, but this exceeded my expectations.

The game is riddled by bugs, and not little ones but really game-breaking bugs as scripts are not running properly. Often players are unable to progress due to closed doors, inaccessible areas, bad geometry clipping and much more. A bug list is kept on the Steam Community Discussions page, but there are few fixes available as this can only be fixed by the developers.

Conclusion


From a technical standpoint the game is rather solid. This is most likely due to the fact that this is third game in the series based on the same engine, and most likely built with the same tools. Graphic option menu is nothing spectacular, but offers tweaking to some degree. Performance issues are only with MSAA under DX11 renderer, other than that all effects are having expected performance drop. Controls menu is not very rich and offers only basic binding. No mouse or controller settings are available even though both devices are supported.

The game part is unfortunately horribly broken and plagued with game-breaking bugs. We are looking closely on this and we are keeping article on PCGamingWiki updated, but I'm afraid these bugs will have to be fixed by developer.

  • Jinx likes this


4 Comments

Really good article. I love the AA closeups, which show something I've noticed on recent games- FXAA has gotten really good. If you are on AMD, you can force it using RadeonPro, and on High/Ultra it is superior to in-game FXAA in Borderlands 2, or regular AA in some games like Dishonored (based on my old card, an HD6870), though there is a bit of a performance hit on Ultra. Imo RadeonPro is a must for AMD users... I'm seriously missing it, there is nothing as user-friendly for Nvidia unfortunately.

 

I am running with a GTX760 4GB and Phenom II x6 3.2ghz right now.  Nvidia's TXAA is very nice... definitely felt it was superior to the other AA methods. However, the performance drop is significant, as it combines temporal AA with some regular MSAA. So I'm just using FXAA for now. I'll try to take a few comparison shots later to compare.

 

I also found enhanced DX11 depth of field - which has really cool bokeh lense flare effects - gave major performance hits. It looks so good in some places I am tolerating it, though.

 

I have run into no game break bugs whatsoever at this point, no graphical bugs or texture pop-in, and no crashes, but I'm not too far into the game (just past the Deathstroke fight). I am wondering if the game is more stable on Nvidia hardware since they worked with them on it (we saw something similar with Tomb Raider, where the developer's work with AMD left the game poorly tested and optimized for Nvidia cards).

 

Good report.

 

*edit*

 

Here is a .zip of screenshots taken at 1080p comparing FXAA Ultra to TXAA High. I left the FRAPS fps on them, the fps hit varies but TXAA is always less (FXAA is on left or top in all shots). And I included some closeups to make it easier to compare. They are in .bmp format, the differences are so small I didn't want compression screwing them up.

 

Overall impressions:

 

TXAA High is definitely superior, though it's hard to say it's worth the framerate hit. It's most noticeable in the usual places like distant details. It seems more precise than FXAA; FXAA seems to "fill in" to de-jaggie, resulting in lines and surfaces that are sometimes "bulging" slightly. TXAA maintains the proper dimensions of objects while keeping an almost flawless AA across the surface itself.

 

The "T" is for "temporal", so I'm not sure screenshots give a full impression of how it "feels" to play with it on. Things just feel... I don't know, smoother? It almost feels like you are playing at a higher resolution if that makes any sense. So overall I'd say it's a pretty good job on Nvidia's part.

 

FXAA (left) vs TXAA (right)

07fxaahighvstxaahigh.jpg

It's really disappointing how poor parts of this port are, considering how much work they've done on the previous games over the last few months, moving them to Steamworks.

Well, the developing went from Rocksteady Studios to WB Montréal (a pretty new team) and the MP was handled by Splash Damage (who are familiar with MP games but not that great). I think that's why they didn't want to give PC review copies.

 

But I'd like to add something to the technical part of the review : I'm using an AZERTY keyboard on Arkham City GOTY and while you can rebind your keys just fine, navigating certain type of maps is rather hard with the keyboard since it's not gonna automatically rebind to ZQSD (it keeps the WASD scheme). I had to rebind them manually through the bminput.ini file. And that is definitely not user friendly.

I hope they won't pull out the same crap with that again.

 

But I don't think it's worth getting right away. Maybe on a steam sale when the GOTY is out.

@Kiopho:

You can bind your keys in-game in Origins, and you can bind actions to two different keys (which I really like). Pic Here. I don't remember having to do anything weird in Arkham City to bind my keys, it's handled through the launcher (BmLauncher.exe). Pick "settings", then the "controls" tab on the top right and you are good to go:

bmacrebinds.jpg

 

Did you just miss that you could do that? I don't understand why you would need to dig into the config file just to change the basics like WASD.

 

One issue with Origins is that it doesn't recognize Mouse 4 and 5, which the other games did; had to create a profile in my Logitech software to make them emulate the appropriate keypresses. You also need to tweak the config file to alter the sensitivity, though again I just did that via my mouse software.

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