Dark Souls: Remastered PC Performance Review
Published: 27th May 2018 | Source: OC3D Internal Testing | Price: |
When Dark Souls: Remastered was first announced, some gamers expected the game to be re-released using the Dark Souls 3 game engine, offering enhanced controls, visuals, and gameplay. Sadly, this is not the case, with QLOC, who was hired by From Software to create this remaster, deciding to preserve the title's original gameplay and visual style while offering gamers increased performance levels and graphical fidelity on modern console and PC hardware.
The most significant change with Dark Souls: Remastered is visible on consoles, moving from what was often a sub-30 FPS experience on PS3 and Xbox 360 to a mostly steady 60FPS experience on both PS4 and Xbox One, with PC also receiving support for 60FPS gameplay.
Dark Souls' original PC release is a famously bad PC port, offering a locked internal resolution and framerate on the platform, something which was eventually fixed thanks to the modder Durante and his DSFix mod for the title, which allowed players to adjust the title's resolution and framerate. Sadly, this mod was not free of downsides, with higher framerate gameplay introducing bugs like faster weapon degradation and other issues. Dark Souls: Remastered offers 60FPS gameplay with no new glitches or gameplay disadvantages.
The only downside of Dark Souls: Remastered's 60FPS gameplay is that the game's speed is still tied to framerate, with sub-60 FPS gameplay forcing the title to run in slow-motion. 30FPS is not an option in Dark Souls: Remastered, though this shouldn't be an issue as the title is now significantly easier to run.
Dark Souls: Remastered is designed to run on PS4 and Xbox One at 60FPS, with the PS4 using AMD Jaguar CPU cores at a clock speed of 1.6GHz. Jaguar CPU cores are almost laughably slow when compared to modern gaming processors on PC, which often use faster CPU architectures with clock speeds of 3GHz or higher while also offering increased performance per clock. Our 4GHz Intel and Ryzen processors were able to blitz through Dark Souls: Remastered at 60FPS, even when reduced to using two cores and four threads.
Even notorious areas from the original game can run well in this remaster, including locations like Blighttown, an area which often caused performance to chug on the game's original PC and console release.
On the GPU-side, Dark Souls: Remastered continued to deliver impressive results, with our low-end R9 380 and GTX 960 GPUs being able to maintain stable 60FPS framerates at 1440p, only struggling when we played the game at 4K. At 4K our Radeon RX 580 and Geforce GTX 1060 GPUs were able to achieve a steady 60FPS framerate, showcasing exactly how easy Dark Souls: Remastered is to run on modern PC hardware.
On the DRAM side the game typically used under 2GB of VRAM at 4K and less than 4GB of system memory, revealing what could be the only downside of this remaster effort. Judging from this performance of Dark Souls: Remastered, it seems clear that QLOC could have pushed things a lot further visually, either with additional graphical effects or higher resolution artwork/textures.
The graphical options menu of Dark Souls: Remastered is extremely limited, though it is better than the original game's, offering only four graphical options which include an Anti-Aliasing setting and the ability to turn Motion Blur, Depth of Field and Ambient Occlusion On and Off.
TAA has been added to the game as a new anti-aliasing option, though it would have been nice to see Anisotropic Filtering or resolution scaling (supersampling) options for those who desire them. Supersampling and Anisotropic Filtering can be forced using your Radeon/Geforce GPU drivers, though a dedicated option in-game would be easier to use.
The main complaints that are currently being thrown at this release are the reappearance of several bugs that were in Dark Souls' original release and reports of hackers in the game's online mode. Those who want to avoid these hackers can play the game in offline mode in the game's settings. Hopefully, QLOC will be able to address these issues with a future patch.
While some will call this remaster a "low-effort" re-release, it is undeniable that this is the best out-of-the-box version of Dark Souls. Players don't need mods to play the game at 60FPS, and the game is extremely easy to run on modern hardware, so much so that lowly R9 380 and GTX 960 GPUs can run the game at 1440p Max setting without any issues. Yes, we think that this remaster could have been a lot better, though that doesn't get in the way of the fact that this PC version of Dark Souls works and runs way better than the original.
If you are new to the Dark Souls franchise or want to replay the original without having to install and setup DSFix, Dark Souls: Remastered will offer you a great experience. Just don't expect the game to be perfect.
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