Having come from a console background over the years and then much more recently delving into the deceiving PC domain has been a real eye opener. On one hand, having the option to up the graphical stakes on most multi-platform releases is one of the major appealing factors in going PC for most people, alongside cheaper games and the option to see what clever modders can come up with to enhance the experience. On paper at least, PC gaming should be the platform for the most die-hard of gamers and whilst it does cater to those who want to mess around with various SLI or multi-GPU systems not everyone has the time or money to get involved with such antics despite the cost not being so high when using two older graphics cards. However, there’s another side to PC gaming which isn’t so favourable and requires a bit of patience.
One of the biggest arguments in favour of console gaming is the uniformity across systems which means developers can be assured that their product will work as planned across the board. This also works the other way as well where any problems can be universally fixed. Console gamers don’t have to upgrade their parts to remain competitive so frequently either which although has the negative of not being so cutting edge. What this does mean is that every console owner is in the same boat and the software reflects this. Pc gaming on the other hand is a much more complex set of variables for consumers and developers alike and it’s here where problems occur.
Having just purchased a newer R9 290x graphics card (for around the price of an Xbox One console) recently which replaced the now aged HD 7970 which wouldn’t run Ubisoft’s most recent release Assassin’s Creed Unity on my system despite being the recommended minimum spec GPU. I have come to conclusion that PC gaming does have its fair share of problems, namely with its software. The HD 7970 is a competent card, but AMD’s newer R9 200 Series is an improved (and hotter) replacement. Booting up Assassin’s Creed Unity turns the game from unplayable (HD 7970 15 fps) to a playable (R9 290x 25-60 fps) which is good news all round except the performance overall is horrendous, with constant fluctuations in frame rates often dipping below 30 frames per second. So, as a person who already completed the game on the PS4 the PC version has highlighted a few things for me. Upgrading is a big issue and being forced to upgrade in my circumstances (I believe others with the same HD 7970 have been able to play the game), has been costly. However, Assassin’s Creed Unity’s performance out of the gate isn’t very good. Sure, Ubisoft are in the process of “fixing” the problem – the latest patch does nothing to improve the stability or performance in general with regards to the frame rate – but some weeks after launch and I am still waiting for a definitive working version.
It’s not just one game either as there have been a number which simply don’t run well on PC at release. The recent Wolfenstien the New order had performance issues. Far Cry 4 also performs badly with horrible unfixable stutter. There’s a whole list of games which require post release fixing which could be down to the lack of uniformity across PC systems. In a way, unoptimized games at launch is an inherent flaw of gaming in general but seems to be exasperated in PC gaming. The question one has to ask is, are the improved visuals and frames per second worth it? For those with patience, then yes. But those who expect things to work as advertised at launch might be a little disappointed having to wait for third party fixes/workarounds or official updates which in this case can take weeks.