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PC Report: Fallout 4
The Fallout 4 is the next title in a series of a very popular post-apocalyptic RPG's developed by Bethesda Game Studios. The game key was generously provided by Gamesplanet. We are going to look at the technical quality of the PC version of the game.
- CPU: Intel Core i5-2300 2.8 GHz or AMD Phenom II X4 945 3.0 GHz
- RAM: 8 GB
- HDD: 30 GB
- GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 550 Ti or AMD Radeon HD 7870 2GB of VRAM
- OS: Windows 7, 64bit
- CPU: Intel Core i7-4790 3.6 GHz or AMD FX-9590 4.7 GHz
- RAM: 8 GB
- GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 or AMD Radeon R9 290X, 3GB (Nvidia), 4GB (AMD) of VRAM
All the tests were done on a system with a Core i7-2700k clocked to 4.6GHz, 32 GB RAM and AMD R9 390 with 8GB of VRAM, Catalyst 15.11 Beta graphics drivers and version 22.214.171.124.0 of the game. Testing was done at 1920x1200, and because there is no built-in benchmarking tool, a test run consisted of one minute of playing the game in one of the larger cities and included a short fight with a pack of ghouls. This resulted in very consistent frame rate measurements so only two measurements were averaged for each effect.
Most of the graphics settings have to be set in the launcher. This is rather inconvenient because there are very few graphical options directly in the game. Other that that the launcher offers a fairly standard arsenal of graphical settings and a few presets. The game has also auto detection system that sets options during the first launch of the game. A nice addition are the Windowed and Windowed borderless toggles.
Field of View and wide screen setups
Field of view is locked in low 80's by default and there is no direct option to change it from the game. Players have to edit configuration files to set a comfortable field of view.
Same applies for ultra-wide and surround resolutions as these are not directly supported. Again, configuration files needs to be edited and even that can hide some of the GUI elements, thus rendering the game unplayable.
For easy configuration file editing and tweaking a special configuration utility can be used.
Overall performance and image quality
Fallout 4 offers four image quality presets - Low, Medium, High and Ultra. There is only a 3% difference in performance between Low and Medium. High preset has a more significant performance drop of 33% and Ultra costs almost 40% of Low's framerate.
The framerate is limited to 60 FPS by default, unlocking it via editing .ini files will unfortunately cause problems, as the game logic and physics are tied to the framerate. I've experienced severe framerate drops in major cities where the game's framerate seemingly randomly falls from 100 FPS to sub 30 FPS.
The game also loads very slowly on mechanical hard-drives. The loading times were around 30-40 seconds, after moving the game on SSD loading times dropped significantly to only few seconds.
During my testing I've found only one effect (Shadow Distance) to have significant performance impact on the game. Even the dreaded over-tessellated god-rays effect led only to a 4% drop in FPS. The rest of the effects have negligible or non-existent performance cost so I'm not going to include all the graphs here. Feel free to browse through the measurements though.
Visual quality on the Low preset is nothing special, shadows are visibly low resolution and cut not far from camera, vegetation is shown only very close to the player and textures are not very sharp. Medium preset improves shadow resolution and cutoff distance of vegetation. High preset further improves vegetation cutoff distance and increases cutoff for shadows and the scene seems to be less flat. Ultra preset further increases render distance. Overall the game doesn't look particularly impressive visually and the renamed Gamebryo engine very clearly shows its age. Full resolution screenshots: Low, Medium, High, Ultra.
Texture quality controls the texture resolution and can be set in three steps - Medium, High and Ultra. Visual difference between High and Ultra is very small and performance impact wasn't clearly measurable. The textures are not very sharp to begin with so there is definitely room for improvement. Full resolution screenshots: Medium, High, Ultra.
Shadow Distance setting controls cutoff distance of the shadows and is the most demanding effect in the game. High setting causes almost 30% framerate drop, Ultra costs another 2% on top of that. Full resolution screenshots: Medium, High, Ultra.
The game offers only two anti-aliasing methods and these are only post process filters FXAA and TXAA. Both have major visual impact and horribly blurs the whole scene, vegetation lose its definition, broken lines are kept broken, textures are slightly blurred as well. At least these effects has only 3% performance impact. Full resolution screenshots: No AA, FXAA, TXAA.
The game doesn't offer very large controls options. Mouse sensitivity can be set and the keys can be remapped but there are major problems with controls in Fallout 4. First of all there are multiple actions on one key that doesn't make sense and will cause trouble. Melee attack shares button with a Throw grenade function for example. There is also a system of favorites weapons and items, but slots are locked to the number keys and cannot be remapped. Scroll wheel also cannot be remapped (to navigating favorites for example) and controls camera distance which I find fairly useless.
There is a mouse acceleration turned on by default and can be turned off only by editing an .ini files.
Pip-Boy and GUI navigation is nothing short of a disaster. I was expecting it to be bad as horrible controls are Bethesda's trademark but this is a whole new level of awful. Nothing is consistent after more that 20 hours of playing I still have to think really hard about what key is doing what in the menus. For example, exiting or going back a menu is sometimes Tab, sometimes it's E and sometimes it is Esc. Worst is the settlement building option which suddenly has you using the arrow keys and the game doesn't even hint that Shift WSAD can be also used. Alternative GUI mod cannot arrive soon enough.
On top of that tutorial is almost non-existent and fairly important game mechanics are never explained like VATS or how to assign settlers to jobs.
Fallout 4 offers fairly standard audio options with many volume sliders. The game supports surround sound setups up to 7.1 and audio sound fairly good with one exception though. Voices have very low volume outside of cutscenes and very often are inaudible when speaking character is more than few meters away.
Fallout 4 suffers from heavy consolitidis. The underlying game is fun and the world is rich but visually the game looks unimpressive and old, almost like modded Fallout 3. Performance is not terrible overall but there are framerate drops suggesting optimization issues, almost none of the graphics settings has any meaningful performance impact on the game.
Keyboard and mouse controls are awful and should be redesigned from the ground up. Many of core PC features like FoV, widescreen support or unlocked framerate are absent and has to be edited in via configuration files. Another six month of polishing would greatly benefited the game, but obviously Bethesda is counting on modders to fix the game for free and that is not a good sign.
PC Reports are a series of quick first impressions regarding the technical aspects of a PC game. This report was written by PCGamingWiki contributor LDK. For an up to date account of Fallout 4 fixes and improvements, please visit its respective PCGamingWiki article.
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