Fallout 4's high resolution texture pack has been released, and it's free for the taking—though it requires a hefty chunk of hard drive space and the recommended specs are steep, calling for a GTX 1080 with 8 GB. I don't quite meet those requirements (I have a 980), but I still wanted to take a look at the new textures, see how they compared to the standard ones, and find out how much of a performance hit I'd take.
I actually had to download the 58 GB texture pack twice—the first time, it didn't seem to activate, and when I checked the Fallout 4 DLC tab in Steam, it said it wasn't installed even though I'd just spent an hour waiting for it to download. I checked the box, and it began downloading all over again. So, I waited another hour.
The second time I tried, I couldn't immediately tell if the high resolution textures were in place, but as I walked around in the game carefully peering at things, I gradually began to notice a difference. Sort of. Check out the images below, and slide the vertical bar back and forth to compare the images. The original textures are on the left, the high resolution textures are on the right. There are links to full-size images below each slider.
Full-size version here. I started in Diamond City. You can see the main difference in this shot is the texture on the canopy, which is a bit more detailed. Not much else is different, at least that I can see. Huh.
I headed to my settlement at the drive-in, because I wanted to see if the textures on my various suits of power armor had been upgraded.
Full-size version here. While I didn't see much of a change on the armor, or even on the armor crafting frames, I did notice the rusting steel beams along the ceiling in the background looked a bit different.
So, I walked over and stared at the ceiling.
Full-size version here. Not only is there greater detail in the rusting beams, you can clearly see the wood grain in the ceiling fan. If you're a fan of looking up at ceilings while you play Fallout 4, this should make you happy.
This next one had me scratching my head. There were clearly some changes, though I can't really say that one is better than the other.
Full-size version here. Hmm. The puddle is a little different? The dead grass looks like it has moved a bit? I don't know. Nothing I ever would have noticed unless I took two pictures from the same spot. For wet broken pavement and a pile of garbage, I think both versions look perfectly lovely.
I head off to Prydwn, the Brotherhood of Steel's airship, to squint at some steel.
Full-size version here. Again, I wind up focusing on the wrong thing. I assumed the wheelchair would look a bit different with the high-res textures, but the changes actually wind up being the wall behind it, and the floor, both of which show much greater detail.
How about Nick Valentine's office? Nick isn't there—I can't recall where I left him, probably on a farm or something—but I nose around his desk for a while.
Full-size version here. Nick's desk shows a bit more detail in the chipped paint, though nothing else looks like it's changed.
I could go on, but walking around staring at things, taking a picture, saving the game, quitting the game, then starting the game again to take another picture with slightly different textures is about as boring as it sounds. I think you get the idea—some things look a little more detailed, some things don't appear to have changed at all.
Also, the only way I can figure out how to disable the high res texture pack once I've installed it is by using Nexus Mod Manager. Bethesda, in its announcement post, said you can disable the texture pack using the game's launcher menu, but I don't see any way to do that.
Update: Bethesda responded to the above paragraph, suggesting that the DLC can be enabled and disabled via Steam. The easiest way (I found) to do that is by right-clicking Fallout 4 in your Steam library, choosing properties, navigating to the DLC tab, and checking/unchecking the 'install' box for the texture pack. I'd only point out that I did that after initially downloading the pack (as I said earlier) and when I rechecked the box it made me re-download the whole thing a second time. Honestly, I think it's easier to do with Nexus Mod Manager, especially if you're already using mods, since you can just check/uncheck the file there, but take your pick.
As for performance, I ran around for a while, specifically around the Medford Memorial Hospital area, because there are tons of ghouls on the streets nearby, and tons of mutants outside of the hospital, and at least three tons of mutants inside the hospital. With the texture pack enabled, I didn't notice much of a performance hit. Fallout 4 is capped at 60 FPS anyway, and with the original textures I rarely dip below that. With the high-res textures enabled, I played for a good fifteen minutes and rarely saw my FPS drop below 55.
My verdict? Well, I do like the increased detail, though it certainly doesn't look like all of the textures have higher resolution versions. I'm not sure it's something I'd really notice unless I was creeping around specifically to take pictures. And, losing a few frames every now and then isn't a huge deal. But!
My main issue is the 58 GB of space this texture pack takes up. The drive I keep my games on is 465 GB, and while that feels pretty roomy I still do have to delete games fairly often to make room for new ones. Throw in video captures and screenshots, and even with a drive double that size one could run out of space pretty quickly. It's worth it if you really like detailed metal surfaces, or you're trying to take fancy screenshots, but I'd rather use the space to keep another game installed.