Batman: Arkham City—New Villain DX11 Man on PCs!by Jarred Walton on November 23, 2011 4:30 PM EST
If you’re one of the gamers who waited anxiously for the PC release of Batman: Arkham City yesterday, and you have a reasonably high-end PC, there’s a good chance the initial experience caused some serious concerns. Originally launched last month for the PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles, PC gamers have waited for what they hoped would be the superior version, complete with DX11 support. The game released on Steam yesterday, and like many we were in line for the download. 16GB+ later, I fired up the game and decided to see what it could do—as a benchmark, of course.
Now, a bit of background information on my PC: I have a GTX 580, 12GB RAM, an overclocked i7-965X processor, and plenty of storage, all hooked up to a 30” LCD. Gaming in general isn’t a problem on this system, even at the native 2560x1600 resolution. The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim for instance launched a couple weeks back, and after poking around at the settings for a bit I settled for 2560x1600 and the “Ultra” defaults, and I still get >30FPS throughout the game, and typically >60FPS. Batman: Arkham Asylum was a great game, but it wasn’t particularly taxing on PC hardware, easily pulling 60+ FPS even on moderate systems. So, with that in mind I decided to go for the glory and set everything to maximum quality.
Upon launching the game and playing through the intro, it became readily apparent that the settings were too much. FRAPS was showing 60+ FPS in some areas, but with frequent dips into the single digits, and averages of around 30FPS. Ouch! I decided to dial it down a notch, since 1.5GB of video memory might not be enough for 4xAA and 2560x1600, right? Off went AA, with almost no difference in performance. Hmmm. Then I dropped to 1920x1200, still with very little difference in performance: single digit minimums remained in the built-in benchmark, with averages around 35 FPS. I tried disabling PhysX, which helped a bit, but the choppy performance remained. Then I tried turning off DX11 Tessellation (nope, it didn’t help), Ambient Occlusion (again, nope), and eventually I disabled the DX11 features entirely. Bingo!
Without DX11 features enabled, my setup is able to max out all the remaining settings (including PhysX) and still pull >60FPS in most areas, with dips to around 30FPS in scenes with a ton of PhysX eye candy (e.g. the pellets from the ice gun in the built-in benchmark). Turn off PhysX and minimum frame rates are above 50FPS with averages above 85FPS. So at least on NVIDIA, there’s a serious problem with DX11 right now, but what about AMD hardware? Additional testing confirmed that the extreme choppiness with DX11 features enabled extends to AMD hardware as well; on an HD 6950 DX11 mode got 22FPS average (and 0FPS minimum) while disabling DX11 bumped it up to 70FPS. The problem is also confirmed by this Batman forum post (for those who likely missed it).
So for now, disable DX11 support for the game and you’ll be fine as far as performance goes, but there’s a bigger question: why did this happen? I don’t think it requires a mathematics degree to put things together:
Thanksgiving Break + Black Friday + New Release = Profit!
There’s no way this didn’t get caught in validation testing, particularly since DX11 support was one of the new features added for the PC version of the game. Sadly, not only do we get second-hand treatment but we also get broken enhancements. We’ve heard a fix is in the works and should come within the next week or so, at which point we can add Batman: Arkham City to our revised benchmark list and move forward. Still, after the delayed DX11 support for Crysis 2 this sort of thing doesn’t leave me with a warm fuzzy feeling. On the bright side, if you liked the last Batman game, Arkham City picks up pretty close to where things ended and is so far looking to be another intense and entertaining outing for the Dark Knight.
PS: As if the above doesn’t already show the PC version was shoved out the door, Steam Cloud, Games for Windows Live, and/or Batman apparently overwrote my save game when I ran it on a second PC, wiping out my progress. Probably some combination of the three, but regardless I’m a bit ticked that several hours of playing just went poof. Consider yourself warned.
Source: AnandTech Testing