Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus PC Performance Review
Published: 2nd November 2017 | Source: OC3D Internal Testing | Price: |
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is a very interesting game, especially on PC hardware. What Machine Games have released here is the first Vulkan-only PC game, lacking an OpenGL back-end to fall back on, offering users a modern API-only experience while also offering compatibility with older operating systems like Windows 7. This is the key advantage of Vulkan Over DirectX 12, which only supports Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system.
This technical achievement does not come without its downsides, from the stuttering issues that some have experienced thanks to buggy Async Compute implementations and the need for both AMD and Nvidia to release hotfix drivers to fix some of this its issues, though for the most part, this game offers a good experience on PC.
From a PC hardware standpoint, the thing that needs to be said here first is that Wolfenstein II is a VRAM hog and that the game isn't listed with a 4GB minimum VRAM requirement without a good reason. Yes, we have found that users of older 2GB like our GTX 960 Strix and R9 380 Strix GPUs being capable of running this game at 1080p but only with some significant visual compromises (Low Settings with no AA).
Even our R9 Fury X, a GPU with 4GB of VRAM, struggled to run the game at 1080p max settings, with these settings taking up almost 5.5GB of VRAM on our GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition. To say the least, this game is stressful on VRAM and the game's settings need to be adjusted accordingly.
Aside from VRAM concerns the game does perform well on both AMD and Nvidia hardware, but when comparing our RX 480 and GTX 1060 Strix models it is clear that AMD has the performance advantage here. This is unsurprising given the fact that the game starts with a Radeon/Ryzen promotional splash screen, showcasing some clear signs that the game was developed with Radeon in mind. Even so, the game cannot be said to perform badly on Geforce hardware.
One neat feature that Wolfenstein II offers is built-in hardware overlays to analyse CPU load and other performance metrics like frametimes and a standard FPS counter. This is very useful as most overlay suits lack support for Vulkan or come with annoying bugs on modern APIs, which means that these overlay tools add quite a bit to the game from an analysis perspective. This can be very useful when initially playing the game, especially as players change their graphical settings to achieve an optimal framerate. One addition that would be nice here is some form of VRAM usage indicator, as this proved to be a more frequent issue than running into CPU/GPU compute limits.
From a CPU perspective, Wolfenstein II is pretty much CPU agnostic, with the game performing similarly on all of our tested CPU core configurations and models tested. The performance difference between Ryzen and Intel were minimal, with the game playing at high framerates on even our 2c/4th setup.
The only real problems that we can find with the game visuals is that some textures would be more detailed, especially on weapons and when viewing up close details. This is quite a nitpicky of us, as Wolfenstein II is designed to be a fast-paced FPS, where players would not be spending a lot of time standing still, making an increase in a lot of these details meaningless aside from offering the ability to take better-looking screenshots.
While the game's VRAM requirements can be seen as a bad thing, it must be stated that games are generally moving in this direction, with new consoles like the Xbox One X already offering a total of 12GB of system memory. This is not the first game where we have seen 2GB GPUs struggle, though it will be interesting to see how this trend progresses. How long will it be until 2GB of VRAM simply isn't enough for modern PC games?
When looking at Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus it is hard to level any major complaints at the game. Yes, we have experienced issues but all of them were easily resolved. As a modern Vulkan-only game is it understandable why these issues are here and why the game requires so much VRAM, but at the end of the day Wolfenstein accomplishes what it has set out to achieve, high framerates and a steady gameplay experience when using the game's minimum and recommended system requirements.
If you were a fan of previous Wolfenstein games or other fast-paced FPS titles Wolfenstein will offer you a great gameplay experience, offering the bleeding-edge technology of DOOM (2016) and taking it a little further by cutting the game's OpenGL support and making use of the large banks of VRAM provided by modern GPU hardware.
You can join the discussion on Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus' PC performance on the OC3D Forums.