In all fairness, the quality of From Software’s PC ports had improved over time. The original Dark Souls was a disaster, but from its sequel to Sekiro, PC users have received the best versions of these games. Unfortunately, this welcome upward trajectory dips with the exit from Elden Ring. Its issues are plentiful, but the most glaring of all is a persistent stutter that ruins the flow of the game – it’s a truly poor presentation that needs to be addressed urgently.
How the game reached consumers in this state is unclear, but the “why” has some level of explanation. Elden Ring is the first title to see the From Software engine transition to DirectX 12. As we’ve discussed previously (most recently with the disappointing PC port of Final Fantasy 7 Remake), DX12 gives developers a lot more control over the GPU. : Items such as memory management and threads are no longer handled by the driver, which means that many responsibilities are passed directly to the developer. The stuttering issues suggest that shader compilation handling is poorly handled, with shader code being compiled the first time it’s needed in-game, causing split-second delays throughout the game. experience.
It’s ubiquitous. There is a noticeable stutter when you first move your character. There’s another when you first throw your sword. Each time a new particle effect is generated, the game stutters again. For every new enemy type you encounter, there’s another big stutter. It seems to me that whenever a new shader effect is invoked that you may not have seen before, the game tries to compile it “just in time” while rendering the game. That’s where That’s the problem: in my tests, each “first” in Elden Ring produces pauses of up to a quarter of a second.
The more you play, the less “firsts” you encounter, so the fluidity of the game inevitably improves. Replaying content you’ve already experienced will also have less stutter because the shader compilation was cached the first time you played. However, this all resets every time the game is updated, reinstalled, or if the user updates their graphics driver – in which case the stuttering issues return with the same severity as before. We’ve seen a few reports of tuned PCs using Intel Alder Lake processors capable of running the build so fast that the game still runs at 60fps, but even if confirmed, that means only the smallest proportion of Worldwide PCs are capable of running the title at a constant frame rate of 60 frames per second. At this point, it’s worth pointing out that consoles don’t have the problem of compiling shaders: they’re fixed platforms, so games come with the shaders pre-compiled.
In addition to this problem, there is further away stutter, apparently related to background loading. When going up a flight of stairs in the game’s intro or crossing some fields, I noticed more hitching in both. Elsewhere, wandering the open world causes single frame drops – and there’s no real consistency. Sometimes a few frames drop a few meters away, while other times you can go hundreds of meters in-game without issue. Finally, there is some stuttering on camera transitions in cutscenes – and this one is curious because it only happens on PC, not consoles.
This all combines to produce an off-putting experience that high specs can’t overcome – I was testing on a high-end rig with a Core i9 10900K and RTX 3090. Even running the game at 720p with the lowest settings did not give me a smooth experience. It gets worse as your PC performs less, especially on the CPU side. On more mainstream hardware, I’ve noticed that in addition to stuttering, there’s lag to contend with, which adds to the game’s woes. We also played the game on the Steam Deck, where the stutter effect causes even more prolonged slowdown – and that’s a shame because outside of its freeze points, you can easily run this game locked at 30fps – on a handheld!
Everything I’ve talked about so far is where From Software needs to take corrective action to get the game to an acceptable state – but there’s still a lot to do. First of all, v-sync is the default and there’s no way to turn it off in-game – you’ll have to resort to your GPU control panel to do that, after which you’ll find the game limits artificially at 60 fps anyway. That’s a big deal: ever since Dark Souls launched, the PC public has begged From Software to adopt arbitrary frame rates. This is alluded to vocally with each new release from the company, but again we rely on mods to allow the game to run at higher frame rates. Ultrawide support is also lacking, making it two for two in terms of the basic PC upgrades From Software should have provided on day one.
So what about scalability beyond the quality threshold set by the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X versions of the game? Well, there are a few upgrades, but that brings me to another issue: the rudimentary nature of the settings screen, which offers no explanation or picture preview of what each of the configurable items does Actually. As it stands, PC users can tap into an improved effects preset that offers slightly cleaner rendering, as well as the ability to access console effects limited to quality mode and run them at theoretically higher performance levels on PC. I’ve put together a chart below showing where to put PC settings to match each of the PS5’s modes, but there are still a few unknowns: Similar to my analysis of Sekiro, I literally have no idea what actually does the shader quality option, it seems to have no visible impact on image quality or performance.
In terms of settings recommendations for owners of 1440p displays, if you have a GTX 1080 or higher power GPU, consider using the maximum settings – there’s almost no difference visually between high and max, except shadow quality exclusion. If you have a GTX 1070 or an older generation AMD GPU like an RX 580 or lower, consider using medium settings, but with high quality shadows (medium looks poor) and high quality anti-aliasing. Comparing performance with these presets at the fully maxed out experience, I saw a 22% increase in performance, but with an obvious loss of visual quality in shadows and no tall grass at all.
|PC equivalent settings||PlayStation 5 Frame Rate Mode||PlayStation 5 Quality Mode|
|SSAO/Depth of Field||High/Max||High/Max|
|The quality of shadow||High||Maximum|
|Lighting quality||At least average||At least average|
|Reflection quality||High (approx.)||Maximum (approx.)|
|Water surface quality||High||High|
Recommended settings: Maximum on the whole line. Acceptable trade-offs for lower performance GPUs: medium settings with high anti-aliasing and high shadows.
What about the classic GTX 1060 or RX 580 paired with a 1080p display? Even accounting for stuttering issues, none of these GPUs can sustain 60fps on these compromised settings, although the Nvidia card appears to have a 5% performance advantage over its AMD counterpart. Jumping to 900p should get you to 60fps or you can stick with 1080p and rely on the benefits of a G-Sync or FreeSync display – but while those displays can certainly help in properly GPU-bound situations , their effectiveness in smoothing out deep stuttering problems is limited.
Ultimately, I’m sure Elden Ring deserves its overwhelmingly positive reception as a game and in that respect its status as Eurogamer Essential is not in question. However, I can’t help but feel that it’s time for From Software to spend a little more time on improving the technical polish – to deliver the complete package and avoid situations like this. The performance scenario on consoles isn’t perfect, but there are ways PS5 and Series X owners can get a really good experience – you can work around the frame rate drops on PS5 using the PS4 Pro version, exchanging bling for extra performance (not that the user has to be put in that position). Meanwhile, Xbox Series X owners can combine performance mode with a VRR screen to achieve beautiful and smooth gameplay.
But as far as I know, there is no easy solution to fix Elden Ring performance on PC, certainly not on the user side – it’s up to the developer to step in and fix the issues. based.