Today marks the release of the latest gaming beast: Evolve. Powered by CryEngine, you’d expect this to be another graphically demanding game that will require a lot of GPU power to run it at high resolutions and high quality settings, and right on time NVIDIA has released their latest 347.52 WHQL driver that’s Game Ready for Evolve. Also worth noting is that Evolve is an NVIDIA The Way It’s Meant to Be Played title. As usual, the new driver incorporates all of the performance improvements from NVIDIA’s 346 branch (346.xx and 347.xx driver versions), which makes nearly two months since the last major release (347.09), though there was also a 347.25 update for the GeForce GTX 960 launch. The drivers are available for all the major platforms and GPUs at the usual place.

As part of their Game Ready optimizations for Evolve, NVIDIA is including an SLI profile for the game, and I’ve confirmed that multi-GPU users (or at least GTX 970 SLI) should have no troubles right from the start – which hasn’t been the case with a few other launches during the past several months (e.g. Far Cry 4, Dying Light, and Assassin’s Creed: Unity to name a few). The release notes also detail performance improvements that have added up since the GeForce GTX 970/980 344.11 launch driver back in September, but while there are some decent increases most of these came earlier, so we don’t expect much of a performance difference from the earlier 347.xx drivers in most cases. On the other hand, GeForce Experience notes show 5-10% improvements over 347.25 in at least ten other titles at specific settings for GTX 970 and 980. SLI profiles have also been added and/or updated for several other titles, though some of these updates came out previously via GeForce Experience.

The game itself is a rather hefty download, tipping the scales at 26.4GB in Steam (note that Steam lists 50GB as a requirement, but that doesn’t seem to be the case). As you’d expect of a CryEngine title, there are plenty of advanced rendering features available, including DX11 tessellation and particle effects. Interestingly, Evolve will apparently also use some additional GameWorks libraries that have not yet been enabled. The system requirements for Evolve in general look pretty steep, with the GeForce GTX 560 and Radeon HD 5770 being the minimum GPU officially supported, and the GTX 670 and R9 280 being recommended. I’ve done limited testing on GTX 970 and GTX 970 SLI, however, and it looks like the game runs reasonably well on even a single GTX 970 – around 50 FPS at 2560x1440 and Very High settings, or with GTX 970 SLI I averaged 48 FPS at 4K Very High settings. Note however that Evolve seems to be quite demanding on the CPU side, as the 4.1GHz i7-4770K I run seems to be the bottleneck at around 90 FPS.

Gameplay is something of a cross between squad-based shooters like Left 4 Dead with a dash of the old Giants: Citizen Kubuto, in that a squad of up to four players is tasked with taking out a single monster that can also be player-controlled. Or if you prefer, this is an “asymmetrical shooter”. It should also be noted that the developers Turtle Rock Studios are the same team that brought us Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2, and the core concepts are appear similar in many ways. The game features four game modes: Hunt (kill the monster before it can destroy an objective), Nest (10 minutes to destroy six eggs that may hatch into minions), Rescue (race to save/kill five colonists scattered on the map), and Defend (protect/destroy a ship). There are also Quick Play (a single match) and Evacuation (a five match story mode) options available. While the game is mostly geared towards multi-player gaming, single player offline modes are also available.

Perhaps the biggest issue however isn’t with drivers or performance, but rather it’s DLC. There are quite a few DLC skins as well as additional DLC characters available already, which seems awfully stingy for a game that retails for $60 and apparently only includes twelve maps. Then factor in that even the $25 Evolve Hunter Season Pass only includes the four additional Hunters plus Magma skins for the three core monsters. Or you can get the Evolve PC Monster Race for $100 that adds a fifth playable monster at a later date (while the fourth is coming with a spring 2015 DLC), two more Hunters, and some additional skins – but even this doesn’t seem to include “everything” that exists for the game. Ouch. Good game or not, Evolve is likely to draw a lot of criticism for the overload of day one DLC. Hopefully 2K Games and Turtle Rock Studios follow a similar path to what Valve did with the Left 4 Dead games and provide additional maps/packs as free downloads, but I wouldn’t count on it.

Anyway, 2K’s DLC practices don’t affect the NVIDIA side of the story, which is that they have new drivers that are optimized for the game. If you’ve been looking forward to Evolve and have an NVIDIA GPU, there’s no reason we can see to hold off on updating drivers.

Source: NVIDIA

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  • dragonsqrrl - Wednesday, February 11, 2015 - link

    The amazing thing is your 750Ti probably performs just about on par with your 6970, but at 60W TDP.
  • JeffroGymnast - Wednesday, February 11, 2015 - link

    The 6970 is *significantly* faster than the 750ti...
  • KenpoJuJitsu3 - Wednesday, February 11, 2015 - link

    Not really.
  • hammer256 - Wednesday, February 11, 2015 - link

    The 1080p results are surprisingly close.... Although I imagine at 1440 and above the 6970 is much faster. Still, interesting.
  • dragonsqrrl - Wednesday, February 11, 2015 - link

    You probably wouldn't want to run modern games beyond 1080p on these cards anyway.
  • darkfalz - Wednesday, February 11, 2015 - link

    32GB will be absolutely useless for games, FYI. Even 16GB is overkill. Highest RAM usage I've seen in a game so far (total usage, including system) was around 5GB with most between 2 and 4. This might change, but I doubt it - you really don't need massive amounts of RAM these days with a move to texture streaming engines, cards with huge VRAM and SSDs.
  • DerekZ06 - Thursday, February 12, 2015 - link

    My system idles from boot at 4gb. I can easily hit 8gb screwing around on the Internet. While working, I average around 12gb and I'm sure it would go higher, but windows starts clearing things out alone they're.

    I wish i would have bought the 32gb 2 years ago because now its expensive. And before that, my last rig was on ddr2 and it was more expensive to upgrade to 16gb than it was to get an i7, motherboard, and new ram.

    You can never have too much ram.
  • Murloc - Thursday, February 12, 2015 - link

    there are people who use their computer only for gaming and office work.
    This is actually most of the people. Most people don't run virtual machines regularly, don't do video editing, and don't run instrument synthetizers.
    Right now I'm sitting at 1.78GB used and I have firefox open too which is using 400 MB.

    16 GB provides enough memory for years to come for the typical user.
  • Daniel Egger - Thursday, February 12, 2015 - link

    > My system idles from boot at 4gb. I can easily hit 8gb screwing around on the Internet. While working, I average around 12gb and I'm sure it would go higher, but windows starts clearing things out alone they're.

    Right. That's because modern OSes cache as much as possible in the hopes they might be able to use that information at some point in the future but it certainly doesn't mean that the memory is put to *good* use.

    I've control over many systems (including 3x 2S ones with 128GB RAM each) and I can tell you with confidence that having more than 8GB of RAM in a single user machine is a complete waste of money and potentially even performance.

    I'm a heavy user (developer) with hundreds of running processes running right now on this machine right now and I still have over 1GB unused memory out of 8GB.
  • twtech - Saturday, February 14, 2015 - link

    Some compilers require 1-2GB per compiler instance. If say you have an 8-core hyperthreaded CPU, and want to run 16 processes in parallel to maximize core usage, that's up to 32gb right there.

    It's true that most games aren't going to use that much, and that's because games follow the consoles. A PC game's memory usage is going to typically be just a bit higher than the available RAM on a console, because that's the memory target the developer had to aim for if it's a cross-platform game.

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