Remedy’s new shooter, Quantum Break, is out today. We don’t have a review for you, because we only received code a few hours before release. Rarely a good sign. My suspicions were confirmed this morning when I launched the game and it was running at 10-20 frames per second, even on low settings.
Being a fan of Remedy’s games, I’d been looking forward to playing it, and felt slightly deflated as my character walked around the first level in near slow motion. I played through the opening sections, expecting things to get worse when all the shooting inevitably started, but it didn’t. The performance actually got better, and the frame rate issues subsided almost entirely.
I don’t know what happened. It could have been a problem with my PC. Someone contacted me on Twitter to say the latest NVIDIA drivers were underclocking their GPU, so maybe it was that. I have no idea. But now the game is in a playable, if not perfect, state. The frame rate holds at 50-60 indoors, dropping to 40 outdoors. Some have suggested the game could have been unpacking data in the background, as I ran it just after the download finished. But these problems persisted for a good hour.
I’m running a GTX 970, an i7-5820K CPU clocked at 3.30GHz, 16GB of RAM, and playing the game on ultra settings at 1080p with the latest NVIDIA drivers. And, if it makes any difference, I have the game installed on an SSD. Hardly a monster PC, but well within the recommended specs. I tried playing at higher resolutions on my 4K monitor, but the frame rate, unsurprisingly, took a massive hit.
As well as the frame rate issues, there’s also some distracting pop-in, particularly with foliage. Sometimes you’ll approach something—a car parked on a street, for example—and you’ll see it transition instantly from a low-detail model to a high-detail one. You don’t notice this stuff when you’re in the thick of a time-bending firefight, but it makes the experience feel disappointingly scrappy sometimes.
The inconsistent frame rate doesn’t render the game unplayable, but it’s a shame, because this is supposedly one of the flagship games for Microsoft’s new Universal Windows Platform. After the sorry reputation Games For Windows Live had, this isn’t exactly going to enamour people to this new venture. And I have no idea why a digital copy of the game is £45 on Xbox, yet PC gamers are being charged £50.
One of the most talked about features in Quantum Break is the live-action TV show that accompanies it, which changes depending on your actions. I’ve just watched the first ‘episode’, and while the video quality is fantastic, there was some stuttering—especially in fast-paced scenes with a lot of camera movement. Again, I don’t know if this is a problem only affecting me, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
I haven’t played enough of the game yet to form a solid opinion, but I’m glad my performance issues have largely cleared up, because now I can focus on reviewing the damn thing. Posts on forums and social media suggest others haven’t been so lucky—someone with a GTX 980 is allegedly getting under 30 frames on low settings—but not enough people have the game yet to get a real sense of how widespread its problems are. This thread on NeoGAF is worth keeping an eye on.
The PC version of Alan Wake is great, and Remedy have always served our platform well. So I don’t know if this is their fault, or if the game is suffering because of having to support the UWP. Quantum Break uses a new engine, Northlight, so perhaps it’s related to that? Who knows. I’m sure someone will figure it all out. In the meantime, I’m going to continue playing the game and hoping a patch will sort these lingering frame rate blips out. My full review will be up shortly.