This summer Square Enix released an updated version of Final Fantasy 7 Remake for the PlayStation 5 that Digital Foundry called a "stunning upgrade"—it upgraded textures across the board, overhauled the lighting, and offered a new 60 fps performance mode in addition to a 4K 30 fps option. Both were rock solid. Six months later, Square Enix has finally brought FF7R to PC, and something has gone very wrong. Not only is the PC port missing virtually all of the graphics options we'd expect from a high-end PC release, but it's showing stuttering issues on some systems, too.
"The PC port is terrible," tweeted Digital Foundry's John Linneman.
Terrible may be an exaggeration—unlike truly awful PC ports, FF7R isn't crashing or exhibiting game-breaking bugs that we've seen. But for $70, stingy graphics options in a game of this size and budget are a real red flag. Here's the entirety of what you can tweak:
There's no variable framerate option, no way to tweak anti-aliasing, toggle VSync, or control effects like motion blur. The port also doesn't let you control resolution scaling, which is now a common option for balancing image quality and performance.
On consoles, FF7 Remake uses dynamic resolution scaling to maintain a smooth framerate, meaning that your resolution might drop from 1440p to something closer to 1080p in the heat of battle to maintain 60 fps. The PC port does this too based on the framerate target you set—and gives you no option to disable it. It's a truly bizarre option to force on players, and seems like it may be the source of some of FF7 Remake's performance issues, too. There's already a mod to disable dynamic resolution.
When Square Enix ported Final Fantasy 15 to PC several years ago using its own in-house engine, it took time and care to make sure the PC port was up to snuff. It had far more options. Surely if Square Enix could pull that off with its own engine in 2018, it could do as well in 2021 with Unreal Engine 4, technology that has been used across countless PC games.
Here are the PC graphics options in Kingdom Hearts 3, another Square Enix game running on Unreal Engine 4 that was released just this year.
An unlocked framerate, separate detail level options for characters and backgrounds, anti-aliasing and motion blur? The gang's all here! Kingdom Hearts 3's options aren't as extensive as a showpiece Unreal Engine game like Gears 5's, but they're still leagues ahead of FF7 Remake's.
Players have reported and recorded video like the one above of stuttering issues in FF7 Remake, which may be an issue with how Unreal Engine compiles shaders. A note on the PCGamingWiki suggests that FF7R may run into VRAM issues with textures set to High on graphics cards with less than 8GB of VRAM which smacks of an optimization problem, but it doesn't fully explain the stuttering. Digital Foundry's Alex Battaglia pointed out a stuttering issue in the opening scene on an RTX 3090, which has 24GB of VRAM.
I never really do this, since I usually cover this in a video, but @oliemack is going to be on this when I am on holiday. But this is just one brief moment in the first 5 minutes of the game. Spinning the camera causes a sustained drop and then a big stutter. RTSS does not see it https://t.co/pvTAML3dEX pic.twitter.com/UgDWzO9IavDecember 17, 2021
In our own quick testing of the first 30 minutes of Final Fantasy 7 on multiple systems we didn't run into any significant stuttering, but the issue seems to be exacerbated in denser areas like the Slums, according to most players reporting problems. Streamer MaximilianDood spent part of a play session on Thursday trying to diagnose the stuttering he experienced on an RTX 3090. While FF7R can run at 120 fps thanks to the dynamic resolution scaling, something is clearly wrong with its frame pacing.
This would be disappointing for any game, but Square Enix has absolutely no excuse here. It's selling Final Fantasy 7 Remake for a premium $70 on PC, and that price is even steeper in other regions: €80 works out to almost $90 USD, for example. And Square Enix has had since April 2020, when Final Fantasy 7 Remake first launched on PS4, to work on the PC version and implement at least the basic expected graphics options. Six months after Death Stranding hit consoles, it arrived on PC with a fantastic implementation of Nvidia DLSS that helped it run well at 4K. Final Fantasy 7 Remake doesn't even let you change your anti-aliasing settings.
If you're going to sign an exclusivity deal with the Epic Games Store, the least you can do is work with Epic to make sure your Unreal Engine 4 game offers the PC options we've expected for decades.