It was always a bit weird that Starfield launched without DLSS support, given the way Nvidia GPUs dominate the Steam Hardware and Software survey. Better late than never, though, and after some early help from modders and a beta test that launched on November 8, DLSS support is now fully live, meaning owners of compatible video cards can now take advantage of DLSS Super Resolution, Deep Learning Anti-Aliasing (DLAA), Nvidia Reflex Low Latency, and DLSS Frame Generation.
And yes, it makes a big difference. Bethesda may have partnered with AMD on the making of Starfield, but as we noted shortly after the DLSS beta began, Nvidia is still the king of upscaling. Testing with an RTX 4080 card revealed that DLSS 3.5 both performs and looks better than native rendering and AMD's FSR, while Frame Generation "delivers a frame rate nearly double native at 4K, exceeding DLSS's Ultra Performance mode, which has a render resolution of just 33%, and still looks absolutely fantastic."
Previously you had to sign into the Starfield beta branch to enjoy those performance benefits, but today's 1.8.86 update brings them to everyone. As previously announced, it also enables players to eat and drink food items immediately or save them for later.
Despite the performance benefits, initial reaction to the patch announcement on Steam and social media is tepid, rather like the emerging feeling about Starfield itself. It's not a bad game by any measure, but it has proven a little disappointing over the long run for gamers expecting a revolutionary sci-fi RPG, and after such a long string of open-world RPG hits from Bethesda it's unexpected and odd (even in the context of user reviews, which tend toward chaos as a general thing) to see that level of negativity in a game that was widely regarded as a sure thing.
That's even more strikingly reflected on Steam, where the user rating has slowly slipped to "mixed," meaning that less than 70% of user reviews are positive. That's not a catastrophe, nor is it an insurmountable obstacle (Cyberpunk 2077 is proof of that), but I sure didn't see it coming.
The full 1.8.86 patch notes are below.