Batman Arkham Knight
Post Patch Test
Posted by Ben at 05:57

Like a great many people I bought Batman Arkham Knight on pc at launch. I wasn't quite climbing the walls waiting for it, I really like the Batman games but after Arkham Asylum, City, City again on the pc, then the underrated Arkham Origins, a bit more time between games wouldn't have gone unappreciated. Guess I got my wish.

After hearing the reports of the state of the game, plummeting frame rates, crashes, muddy low res textures, and with games to review and Witcher 3 left unfinished, I was happy to wait until Arkham Knight was patched. I'll be honest, I wasn't expecting it to take as long as it has. I'm telling you this not as a way to fill up space, but to explain that this is my first time playing the game. The video below is to show how the game runs post patch, it was recorded live, streamed to YouTube. In hindsight, a video intended to show the quality of the game, a compressed 720p 30fps video isn't the best, but you can see the hangs and frame rate drops. There's also some images below and in the gallery to illustrate a few points. And, just to give you the full picture, my pc has an Intel i7-3770 (quad core, 8 threads at 3.4ghz), 8gb of ram, a Gtx 970 with 4gb of vram, and a Samsung hdd 7200rpm. More detail than you probably need but given the scattergun approach to people's experience with the game I think it's a case of the more information the better

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Well, first off, as you can see the patch hasn't fixed the game. Launching in to the air, getting in to the Batmobile, suddenly turning around or looking up, all will cause the game to halt. The worst example I saw of it was actually outside the video as I approached Ace Chemicals. It's a story mission where Batman tears up to the outside of the building in the Batmobile, pulling up in front of the waiting Jim Gordon. The game stuttered and froze to such an extent that it knocked the sound out of sync. I'm no expert, but I think part of the cause is the engine blocking off what it loads in. So when you reach a new area, load a cut scene, take off in to the skies with the grapple, it's having to pull new content, which is something we know the game struggles with.

It would explain the Batmobile too. It runs ok for me, while I am a big believer that you can see, feel and tell the difference in frame rate, particularly between 30 and 60, somewhere in between feels perfectly smooth, so long as it's constant. As you can just about make out from the video, once I get in to the Batmobile the frame rate drops from 60 to 34fps. On the video I also point to how some of the detail streams in, particularly grass, but it's possible there's other details I'm missing. It's hardly a surprise, and to clarify I'm not suggesting this makes it all ok, but you move at pace through a busy detailed city. It's a very different experience from gliding above the rooftops where details are either hidden or small and distant enough to load at a super low resolution, or even not at all.

Heading in to the graphics options shows you how much vram you have to play with and how much you're using. Altering settings is immediately displayed on the vram graph, drop the textures down to normal and it makes a huge difference, turn the reactive fog on and the vram usage shoots up. How much difference this makes I can't say, I'm below the vram cap and I still have frame rate drops and freezing, so I thought it best not to push things. Still, in theory, I can run the game at 1080p 60fps, on high, with only the reactive fog turned off.

For what it's worth, the game is impressive. Driving around in the car, rain billowing towards you, smoke screeching from your wheels. As you leap out of the car your brake discs glow red, light bounces off the camera. The city is busy, bustling with criminals, buildings are packed with details and neon signs, if anything it's a bit too busy. The textures, a source of grimace for many, are, admittedly, very good. I'm sure there's probably games with better textures, but if Batman Arkham Knight becomes the standard for a few years then it's a very high low bar. They're varied, different graffiti, posters and the like, pavements are cracked and cobbles have depth. I'm not sure if the rain texture glitch has been completely fixed, but I saw rain pouring down the Batsuit and soaking in to criminals clothing.

I can't really speak too much about the game but I have played a chunk more than is shown in the video (I'm heading over the bridge). I don't mind the Batmobile, but there is too much of it. Hopefully it's just because it's the new toy and you're left to your own devices later on, and if it is I get it, but it is overused. I mean it gets to the point where you can't even enter a building without it. I really like the combat though, the slight improvements really add to the flow, it's hard to quantify but it is certainly better. I'll say this, I started Arkham Knight with no intention of playing past recording the video, now I'm thinking about spending an hour clearing up some side missions before putting the game down to wait for the next patch

It would be nice if Warner could get Batman completely fixed, the truth is I'm not sure how many more games like this we're going to get. AAA games have become something of a rarity, games that really push the PC even more so, and what we do have include yearly franchises that are hampered by their schedule. The consoles are underpowered, and while the PC market has found renewed prominence, how many companies can really afford to push the boat out. I'm not saying they'll be no more, but they aren't going to come around all that often, and Batman, regardless of if they fix things completely, is tarnished

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