PC Gamer

Welcome, dear reader, to the dumbest thing that has happened this week—in gaming news terms, at least.

A Microsoft marketing executive reaffirmed, on Twitter, that the enormo-corp will be publishing Rise of the Tomb Raider. It's almost as if Capcom's recent announcement that Street Fighter V would be exclusive to PC and PS4 caused the makers of the Xbox One to reiterate their own anticipated acquisitions. The console "wars" are nothing if not childish.

This tweet lead to fans, forums and news sites questioning whether this could harm RotTR's chances of a PC (and PS4, I guess) release. This is despite the fact that both Dead Rising 3 and Ryse: Son of Rome were published by Microsoft, and had timed Xbox One exclusivity. Both eventually crossed over to PC after the deal expired, and were self-published by their respective developers on Steam. This is also despite the fact that Microsoft previously admitted that the deal had a duration.

Despite this, people spent actual time chasing Square Enix and Microsoft for comment. Square Enix then told GameInformer the following:

"Our partnership with Microsoft on Rise of the Tomb Raider does have a duration, but we aren t discussing those details at this time and are focused on collaborating to deliver a great game on Xbox One and Xbox 360."

Like, yeah, obviously. If Microsoft had a full Xbone-only (Xbonly?) exclusivity deal with Rise of the Tomb Raider, they would state it unambiguously. That they never have is a sign that RotTR will probably spend around 6-12 months exclusively on that system before filtering its way on to PC at the very least, and possibly the PS4 as well.

Fun fact: the gaming industry is kind of ridiculous sometimes.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (John Walker)

Four years after the surprise twist in the Tomb Raider franchise that was Lara Croft And The Guardian Of The Light, Crystal Dynamics have punctuated the releases of their reinvented Lara with its sequel, Lara Croft And The Temple Of Osiris. The review code we received did not yet have multiplayer switched on, so here’s wot I thought of playing it through on my own.>

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

Alec wrote about some of his favourite gaming moments last week and I was inspired to put together something similar. Ever the structuralist, I decided that I’d string my favourite moments across a fictional interpretation of an actual day. Here is one of many days in my life, from a breakfast of champions to the blurred bottles at the heart of Saturday night.>

… [visit site to read more]

Announcement - Valve
For the next six days, take advantage of huge savings throughout the Steam store on thousands of titles. Plus, discover new and recommended games on your personalized Exploration Sale page here. Check back each day for new Daily Deals.

Today’s Featured Deals Include:


The Steam Exploration Sale runs from now until 10AM Pacific Time, December 2nd. Complete information on Daily Deals and other special offers can be found on Steam.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Philippa Warr)

Nice shooting, Tex!

Valve’s Team Fortress 2 team are running a competition whereby the entire Tomb Raider franchise is fair game for TF2 Workshop content creation. Their official blog post on the matter goes straight for “the heavy in short shorts” at their first example of the contest’s potential*. But why on earth would you want to help Valve and Square promote a game for free? Let’s take a look at the rules.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (John Walker)

A rather strange addition to Steam’s Early Access list popped up over the weekend – the Eidos Anthology. Eidos, which sort of exists inside the maw of Square Enix, is no slouch when it comes to noteworthy games, and Eidos Montreal recently picked up a Golden Joystick for Best Hair or similar. An anthology of their games is quite the thing.

In a collection of quite enormous proportions, Square are selling 34 games (including all the Tomb Raiders, all the Thiefs, all the Deus Exes) and about forty-nine billion DLC packs at just over half the price of buying them individually. That price, however, is 160. Cor.

… [visit site to read more]

Announcement - Valve
Today's Deal: Save 75% on the Eidos Anthology!*

Look for the deals each day on the front page of Steam. Or follow us on twitter or Facebook for instant notifications wherever you are!

*Offer ends Sunday at 10AM Pacific Time
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Whatcha looking for, Lara?

When Square Enix announced Rise of the Tomb Raider at E3, they were careful not to mention platforms. The natural assumption was that they were wooing Microsoft and Sony over rights to call it “exclusive” to their console for a few months, but a PC release was a given, right? So I shrugged today at talk during Microsoft’s big Gamescom press event that Tomb Raider 11 is coming “exclusively on Xbox”, thinking that simply meant MS had given Squeenix an invitation to its birthday party, 2, and a Sherbet Dip Dab to ignore Sony at school for a term.

No, they really do mean Rise of the Tomb Raider won’t be released on PC. Or so they say. Hmm!

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer
Rise of the Tomb Raider


The big bombshell of Microsoft's Gamescom presser was the announcement that Rise of the Tomb Raider the follow up to the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot will be available "Holiday 2015, Exclusively on Xbox".

There's a reason I'm putting that line in quotes: I don't entirely know what it means. Microsoft spent the entire conference twisting the meaning of language itself to make its platform look more desirable. During an ID@Xbox section, they showed games like Space Engineers and Smite games already available on PC and used the misleading refrain "coming first to consoles on Xbox".* Admittedly, "exclusively on Xbox" is a more solid statement, but companies have long since stretched the word beyond understanding. Will it be a timed exclusive? A full exclusive? An exclusive exclusively for 'Holiday 2015'? We don't know, and neither the conference nor Crystal Dynamics follow-up statement make it particularly clear.

"As you may have seen, we ve just announced that Rise of the Tomb Raider, coming Holiday 2015, is exclusively on Xbox," writes Crystal Dynamics head Darrell Gallagher. "We consider all of you to be the lifeblood of Tomb Raider and the work we do at Crystal. I d like to give you some insight into this decision, and why we feel this is the very best thing for the Tomb Raider sequel we re creating at the studio.

"Tomb Raider in 2013 was a success due in large part to your continued support. Our goal has always been to deliver something truly special with Rise of the Tomb Raider. Today s announcement with Microsoft is one step to help us put Tomb Raider on top of action adventure gaming. Our friends at Microsoft have always seen huge potential in Tomb Raider and have believed in our vision since our first unveil with them on their stage at E3 2011. We know they will get behind this game more than any support we have had from them in the past - we believe this will be a step to really forging the Tomb Raider brand as one of the biggest in gaming, with the help, belief and backing of a major partner like Microsoft.

"This doesn t mean that we re walking away from our fans who only play on PlayStation or on PC. Those are great systems, with great partners, and amazing communities. We have Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris coming to those platforms this December, and Tomb Raider: The Definitive Edition is available on PS4."

What Gallagher seems to be saying is that Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics think the way you put Tomb Raider "on top of action adventure gaming" is to prevent the majority of its fan base from playing it. However you try to spin it, exclusivity is not a positive. It doesn't help the people who own that console they would still be able to play the game if it was multi-platform and it definitely, obviously doesn't help those who now can't play a series they previously had access to. It is a move that goes directly against their fans, and one almost certainly motivated by Square Enix's financial issues over the last few years.

Hopefully, then, this will be one of those woolly, meaningless exclusives, and six months down the line we'll see Rise of the Tomb Raider arrive on PC. The alternative possibility that the true third-party platform exclusive is back as a viable option would be a big step back for gaming as a whole.

*"Coming first to consoles on Xbox" would appear to mean "of the consoles, it will be on Xbox first". But that's not what's being said. Including the phrase "first to consoles" is a deliberate attempt to nest the idea of exclusivity within an admission of none. It means the exact opposite of what the actual sentence is saying. This is the point we've reached in this increasingly desperate battle.
PC Gamer
samsung-4k-teaser


The future aka 4K gaming is made up of very, very small pixels. After spending the past two weeks checking out games on Samsung's U28D590D 4K monitor, I'm still going to call 4K gaming the near future rather than the present. Yes, you can play games at 3840x2160 pixels right now. Yes, 4K monitors are becoming more affordable. But are they worth it? After spending a couple weeks using one, I can comfortably say: no, not yet. Even for a high-end graphics card (or two), 4K is too demanding for max settings and high framerates. If you're willing to play at 30 frames per second, though, 4K is a different story.

If you want to skip straight to the 4K gameplay section, click here to jump to page 2.

The Samsung U28D590D and the basics of 4K
The Samsung U28D590D is a 28-inch, 3840x2160 monitor that has an MSRP of $700, though it's only $570 on Amazon as of this writing. The monitor has a 60Hz refresh rate, unlike some earlier 4K monitors, though you'll have to use DisplayPort for 60Hz. The current HDMI spec only supports 4K at 30Hz.

I gave a general overview of the U28D590D and the demands of 4K gaming in a segment of The PC Gamer Show, which you can watch here:



The monitor looks great and I never noticed any issues with refresh rate or response time, but I didn't perform in-depth testing to determine the actual response time (never trust the too-good-to-be-true listed response time. TFT Central offers a good primer on what those specs mean). Because it uses a faster, cheaper TN panel, response time comes at a cost: inferior viewing angles and color accuracy compared to IPS displays. The monitor stand is also disappointingly limited--it has no height adjustment, rotation, or VESA mount support.

Unfortunately, if you're still running Windows 7, 4K is a terrible experience, no matter what 4K monitor you're using. The OS isn't designed to scale to such a high resolution, and everything will be impossibly tiny unless you crank up DPI scaling to 125% or 150%. But that scaling is for text it doesn't properly resize other UI elements or affect some applications like Steam. Chrome doesn't scale its text properly, either. Windows 8 is much better about properly scaling, and requires no setup to scale text, UI elements like Windows Explorer, and applications to 4K resolution. Text in Steam and Chrome is noticeably fuzzier than system text, but everything is usable and legible without constantly squishing your face up against the monitor.

The Samsung's $570 may be cheap for a 4K monitor, but it's still expensive for a monitor, in general. What that money buys is an extremely pixel-dense display, and games really do look amazing on it. My standard monitor is a 27-inch, 2560x1440 display, which comes out to a pixel pitch rating of 108.79 PPI. That's way higher than, say, a 24-inch 1080p monitor (95.78 PPI) or a 50-inch 1080p TV (44.06 PPI).



At 3840x2160, the 28-inch Samsung U28D590D has a 157.35 PPI. As a result, games running at native resolution look sharp, even without anti-aliasing enabled. The pixel density really does make a difference. Remember, a 1920x1080 monitor creates an image out of 2,073,600 pixels. A 4K monitor displays 8,294,400 pixels. As a result, a graphics card has to push out four times as many pixels. Not even two Nvidia Titans, or a newer Titan Black, can handle refreshing eight million pixels 60 times per second.

On the next page: my gaming experiences with Metro: Last Light, Tomb Raider, and other games, with some gameplay footage captured with Nvidia Shadowplay (at the max capture resolution of 1440p).


Gaming at 4K
The first game I tested at 4K was the most graphically intensive game I could think of: Metro: Last Light. With settings cranked up to Ultra, Last Light had trouble cracking 20 frames per second. Mostly, it ran in the teens, and even lowering a few settings barely helped. The world isn't ready for Metro: Last Light at 4K. Luckily, most of the other games I tested ran better.

For the games listed below, I'm going to give a rating based on playability at 30 fps and 60 fps. While I did tweak some specific settings like antialiasing, depth of field, and tessellation, I didn't turn game settings down to medium or low just to see if they'd perform well. I'd rather play a game at high settings, with better textures, lighting, and particle effects, than sacrifice those graphics options for pure resolution.



Bioshock Infinite

Bioshock Infinite runs on a heavily customized Unreal Engine 3, but it's not a particularly demanding game I had no problem running it at 60 fps on an AMD 7870 at 1440p when it was released. At 4K on a Titan Black, with all settings on Ultra, it was playable, but the framerate fluctuated considerably. It only occasionally reached 60 frames per second, and mostly hovered in the low 40s. Not bad! Usually. I found that some particle effects and rapid animations like the carnival games in the plaza near the beginning of the game--sent the framerate plummeting down into the teens.



By switching Bioshock Infinite's settings down to "Very High," I was able to run it at a reliable 30+ fps. I also ran the Infinite benchmark utility on its highest setting: DX11 with Depth of Field enabled. It averaged an overall framerate of 37.01 fps.

Consistent 60 fps at 4K? No.
Consistent 30 fps at 4K? Yes.



Tomb Raider

When I played Tomb Raider on my (overclocked) AMD 7870 last year, I was shocked by how well-optimized it was. I ran the game at max settings, with TressFX enabled, and kept a solid 60 fps. It didn't fare as well at 4K. At first, I ran the game at Ultra on a Titan Black, with only TressFX disabled. Depth of Field was turned to high, and tessellation was enabled. On those settings, the game typically ran at 22-24 fps and peaked around 30 fps. That framerate, combined with the game's handheld-style shaky camera, made cutscenes uncomfortably twitchy to watch. In smaller enclosed spaces, the game ran better when I took Lara into an underground area, it actually ran at 55-60 fps.



Tweaking individual settings in Tomb Raider also makes a big difference. By disabling tessellation and turning down depth of field and SSAO to normal, the framerate hung steady in the mid-30 fps range, even in cutscenes and open environments. I didn't get to any of the game's dramatic action setpieces, but a little settings tuning should be enough to keep the game running over 30 fps at all times.

Consistent 60 fps at 4K? No.
Consistent 30 fps at 4K? Yes.



Sleeping Dogs

United Front Games' Sleeping Dogs has a gorgeous open world, but it relies on the rain-soaked neon of Hong Kong for its looks, not tessellation like Tomb Raider or the lighting and physics of Metro: Last Light. With all of Sleeping Dogs' settings cranked to Ultra (except anti-aliasing) and its high resolution textures installed, the game managed to run at an almost-but-not-quite solid 60 fps during gameplay. It sometimes dipped into the 50s, but still played extremely smoothly.



During cutscenes, the framerate dropped into the 40-50 fps range, but never dipped anywhere near 30 fps.When I ran the Sleeping Dogs benchmark utility (with AA enabled), it returned an average framerate of 56.5 fps, a maximum of 67.1 fps and a minimum of 39.2 fps. Not bad, Sleeping Dogs. Not bad. And you still look pretty good, too.

Consistent 60 fps at 4K? Very, very close.
Consistent 30 fps at 4K? Yes. Easily.



Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Surprise! A game running on the Source Engine runs putters along at 4K resolution and 60 frames per second just fine. On the Large Pixel Collider's three Titan setup, CS:GO blazed past 60 fps with max settings and showed no signs of dipping down below that threshold. Even on a weaker computer, Source engine games should be able to run at 60 fps no problem, especially with tweaking to settings like AA.

Consistent 60 fps at 4K? Yes.
Consistent 30 fps at 4K? Double yes.



Total War: Rome 2

The last game I tried, Creative Assembly's Total War: Rome 2, ran better than I expected. The Total War games are notoriously system intensive on both the CPU and GPU, but even on Ultra settings, the game ran well at 4K. At least, "well" by Total War standards. On the battlefield, zoomed out, the game consistently ran at more than 30 fps. Zoomed in, the framerate slowed to around 24 fps when there were dozens or hundreds of units on screen at once. But that feels normal for Total War, so the game didn't feel sluggish.



In fact, on a Titan Black, Total War: Rome 2 runs better at 4K than it did for me at launch on my AMD 7870 at 1440p. Creative Assembly has patched the game numerous times over the past year to fix bugs and increase performance, but overall Rome 2 ran better than I expected. Still nowhere near 60 fps, but that's hardly a surprise for a game rendering thousands of units at once.

Consistent 60 fps at 4K? No, but that's no surprise.
Consistent 30 fps at 4K? No, but closer than expected.
Wrapping up
The games above are just a small sample of how PC gaming fares at 4K resolution. Obviously performance will differ between systems not everyone has a Titan Black to play on, but a pair of overclocked SLI'd cards could handle these games even better, and even manage to keep framerates hovering around 60 fps. From my testing, though, I don't think 2014 is the year to invest in a 4K monitor. Even 30 fps at 4K is a struggle for some games, but it's doable with the right tweaking.

If you're accustomed to playing games at 30 frames per second already, chances are you don't have a graphics card capable of handling 4K. Buy a new GPU in 2014 or 2015, though, and 4K at 30 fps will be within your reach

For 60 fps, you'll need at least two Nvidia 780 TIs in SLI or an AMD R9 295X2, and neither of those cards will guarantee 60 fps in every game. Total cost for those cards? Between $1400 and $1500. Throw the cost of the 4K monitor in there, and, well...Unless you want to spend a whole lot of money, the 4K future is still a year or two away.
...

Search news
Archive
2014
Dec   Nov   Oct   Sep   Aug   Jul  
Jun   May   Apr   Mar   Feb   Jan  
Archives By Year
2014   2013   2012   2011   2010  
2009   2008   2007   2006   2005  
2004   2003   2002