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PC Report: Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel on Linux

By Soeb on Oct 22 2014 02:30 PM in Port reports
PC Reports are a series of quick first impressions regarding the technical aspects of a PC game. This report was written by PCGamingWiki contributor Soeb. For an up to date account of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel fixes and improvements, please visit its respective PCGamingWiki article.

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel came to Windows, OS X and Linux on October 14, 2014, developed jointly by Gearbox Software and 2K Australia and published by 2K Games. This is a first day one Linux release in a long time, and another Borderlands title coming to non-Windows platforms with the help of Aspyr Media - a porting company responsible for bringing Borderlands 2 to Linux just last month.

We will be taking a look at how the Linux port measures up in performance, feature parity, and compatibility regions.

System requirements


Minimum - Linux

  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad, AMD Phenom II X4
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • HDD: 13 GB
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce 260
  • OS: SteamOS, Ubuntu 14.04

Minimum - Windows

  • CPU: 2.4 GHz Dual core
  • RAM: 2 GB
  • HDD: 13 GB
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce 8500, ATi Radeon HD 2600, DirectX 9 compatible
  • OS: XP SP3
With the Pre-Sequel release, we can once again see a small discrepancy in the minimum requirements. As the game relies on the same engine and technology fully, it should not come as much of a surprise the requirements are shared with the game's predecessor.

One thing to note, is that the requirements on OS X are much closer to Windows. This can only suggest that with time, as Aspyr become more comfortable with Linux and have more experience working on this platform, we should see the situation improving for the better. Unfortunately, Aspyr are currently still unable to provide support for non-Nvidia graphics cards, as with Borderlands 2. This doesn't mean the game won't work if you have an AMD or Intel GPU, but just that you're not guaranteed to receive help from the developer - the current driver situation for non-Nvidia cards may lead to degraded performance.

The following report is based on the performance of the game on a machine with an Intel Xeon E3-1241v3, 8 GB of RAM, Nvidia GTX 770 with 2 GB of VRAM and a Kingston HyperX 3K 480GB SSD. The game was running on Windows 7 64-bit and Ubuntu 14.04 64-bit, both fully updated. The GPU driver version used on Windows is 344.11 and on Linux 343.22. At the time of writing, these were the latest stable drivers available.

Graphical comparison


As the Pre-Sequel is very similar to Borderlands 2, especially in terms of graphical fidelity, just as its predecessor, it has all graphics options available on all systems.



The only notable omission is the lack of higher levels of PhysX. At the time of release, hardware acceleration from PhysX on Linux was only available for a few days. Because of this, the situation might be addressed in the future, but just the availability of the feature is in no way a guarantee. Due to the version difference between PhysX used, and the new SDK release, it's far more likely this won't happen, as issues from the transition might have risen. Hopefully, Aspyr will be able to go the extra steps towards an even better Linux experience, but it's not a major issue.



The game looks at its best on all systems, and that's by far more important than the lack of one tiny feature.

Performance


While the experience is generally stutter-free, by default it will not be close to a fluid 60 fps. Though the style of the game lends to the poor framerate being forgivable, the difference is hugely noticeable.

Chart 1


The above results were based on benchmarking a 90 second period of the game multiple times, and then averaging the result for each system. Because of the lack of higher PhysX effects on Linux, we set the option to low on Windows as well.

Performance is quite a repeat of Borderlands 2 - which is not entirely unexpected. With the games sharing quite a lot between each other, so do the ports. With Nvidia's threaded OpenGL optimizations enabled, the game was a lot more playable, with there barely being any falls to below 60, and roughly only 2.7% of frames taking more than 16.7ms to render - a swell improvement over the 53% without threaded optimizations. On Windows, the number of frames is practically insignificant.

I decided to look into how Linux users may be able to get the same or similar performance to Windows, without sacrificing graphics too much. The simplest way proved to match Aspyr's approach to using unsupported hardware. The biggest hits in performance were caused by bloom, lens flares and dynamic lights. Disabling these in the configuration files lead to comparable performance, with Linux and Windows barely having a noticeable difference, though at a small cost in the graphics department.

Chart 2




Aspyr have already stated they are planning on improving the port's performance in the future, meaning that hopefully, we may be able to achieve similar performance without having to disable some of the graphical options. Only time will tell how much further can the port be pushed.

Linux perspective


The Linux version of the game brings with it a few enjoyable differences. The first thing you'll notice when playing on Linux, is the complete lack of a launcher. The developer's have once again opted to remove the launcher completely from the Linux version, as all its features are provided already in-game.

A major improvement that makes all controller using players happy, is the vastly improved controller support. Thanks to the use of SDL2, every controller that works under Linux will work with the Pre-Sequel - which in practice means almost every controller. In certain cases, you may need to configure your controller at least once in Steam Big Picture, but from that moment forward, the controller will be usable in all SDL2 titles.

On the compatibility front, it's all good. You can play in any combination of the three systems, meaning that Linux, OS X and Windows users can enjoy each other's company in the game without any hassle. At times, this may be impossible, as patches to the game will be released on Windows first, and other platforms later, leading to a few days where users attempting to play together will get version mismatch errors.

For similar reasons, cross-platform save synchronization is disabled. While save data can be moved between systems without a worry, you will have to do so manually for the time being. Hopefully at some point in the future this will be addressed in some way, but in the meantime, you can find the correct save paths in our wiki article

Conclusion


As a first in a long time Linux release, this is without a doubt, a brilliant port. The lack of performance and some missing features, like PhysX, are still a tad disappointing, but the compatibility and general quality of the port still remains great. When taking future plans into consideration, it may become one of the better ports so far.

We're excited to see how Aspyr's next big release fares. While we already know that they're working on brining Civilization: Beyond Earth during the holiday season, they may still surprise us with something else between now and then.

PC Reports are a series of quick first impressions regarding the technical aspects of a PC game. This report was written by PCGamingWiki contributor Soeb. For an up to date account of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel fixes and improvements, please visit its respective PCGamingWiki article.

  • Mirh likes this


1 Comments

Hi,

I will try to benchmark soon (will browse the web for info), but with a GTX 680 on Ubuntu 14.04 Full HD is usually ~60 FPS but in some instances goes down to even 30...
Was wondering if anybody tried playing with a 980 or 970.

Anyhow, another way not to sacrifice graphical quality and have everything turned on to Max is to play in HD (1280x960). That will result in a rock solid 60 FPS experience (at least with this video card).

Cheers!
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