Wolfenstein: The New Order technical issues: the problems detailed, plus a few fixes
We've only had access to Wolfenstein: The New Order since this morning, so our full review of the game won't be available until Friday this week. I'm writing this now because we've all encountered technical issues with the PC version that warrant a warning for early adopters. I didn't encounter any of these problems when playing earlier PC builds of the game, but those sessions took place in publisher-controlled environments. That said, several of the issues seem to be related to graphics drivers - suggesting that recent updates might have thrown a spanner in the works.
White screen when loading the game
Andy began playing the game during its midnight launch last night on a 64bit system with a 3.2Ghz i7-950, 6Gb of RAM and a Radeon HD 6890. Initially, he couldn't load the game at all - the game would boot into a white screen and then crash with a Windows error. Fixing this meant updating his graphics drivers - thanks to guide4games.net for the tip. If you do this, try to avoid also installing the latest Catalyst software, as this can cause framerate issues as detailed below.
Persistent framerate problems
Both Andy and I encountered extremely low framerates when playing through the tutorial - 2-5FPS, unplayably bad. Andy's issue may be due to AMD's Catalyst software, which reportedly causes problems in its current version.
In my case, I resolved it by knocking the settings down to their lowest for this opening sequence, in which case I got 25FPS for most of the tutorial and 10-15FPS for a sequence involving cloth physics. This is on a 64bit system with a 3.3Ghz i5, 16Gb of RAM, and a GeForce GTX 560 Ti.
During the first mission proper, I managed to get up to 60 FPS by dropping the game down to 720p - resolution seems to be a major factor in those initial performance issues. That said, I've still had problems entering indoor environments and during certain scripted sequences.
During a later part of the mission, inside a bunker complex, I could acheive 40FPS at 1080p on high settings - but this was very inconsistent, and not particularly pleasant to play.
Received wisdom at the moment suggests disabling triple buffering in the NVIDIA Control Panel and using application settings for V-sync, but this has had no appreciable impact on the performance issues listed above.
Turning down shadow resolution helps, as does switching off screen space reflections.
Several of our other machines in the office have been able to run the game at 1080p without the same issues. One of them is exactly the same as the machine I'm currently playing on with the exception that it's using the older GeForce 331.82 drivers rather than the current 335.23 ones - this lends credence to the notion that the problems are driver-based.
Update: I've managed to resolve the problem with the latest GeForce drivers by checking the 'Include beta drivers' checkbox in GeForce Experience and downloading the 337.50 beta drivers. With them installed, the game runs much better and texture pop-in is less noticeable.
Radeon owners should update their drivers without installing the Catalyst update at the same time. This should resolve the crashing problems and keep your framerate manageable.
Every machine we've tested the game on has nontheless had problems with texture pop-in when you turn quickly. Remember RAGE? It's not as pronounced as it was in the first id Tech 5 game, but it's the same issue. Higher graphics settings help the issue slightly but don't solve it entirely and come with their own FPS issues.
These two animated gifs should give you a sense of the problem.
Wait. It seems likely that the most serious issues are being caused by drivers, and as such it's likely that updates from AMD, NVidia and the game's developers will be able to resolve the issue. Launch tech issues aren't unheard of, after all. It may well be that the game is much more playable later in the week. I can't tell you if it'll be worth the wait yet, but our sister mag Official Xbox Magazine really liked the console version.
As for that texture pop-in - well, I'm less certain that it'll get patched out. It's a real shame that id Tech 5's most prominent problem is still apparent three years after RAGE.
If you're having an issue that isn't related to the above, the game's Steam forums are the best place to find advice.
I've spoken to Bethesda, sent them a detailed list of these problems, and am waiting to hear back with official comment.