I woke up this morning in a bright new world, a world in which what may be Hideo Kojima’s final Metal Gear game [official site] is available on PC. It still seems like an impossible dream, that a series that has only sporadically stealthed its way onto our machines should be here day one, the same time as the console launch, so I was expecting something to go wrong. Performance issues due to the port from console to PC? A sudden stepback in visual quality as compared to ‘prologue’ mission Ground Zeroes?
Remarkably, The Phantom Pain hasn’t gotten its cape into a tangle and seems to be running smoothly while looking devilishly handsome. There are some caveats and snags though, as always.
The most pressing concern, and one that will hopefully be fixed so quickly that I’ll feel like a fool for having written about it, relates to CPUs that don’t support SSE4.1; that includes the still-common Phenom II series. People with those CPUs are reporting crashes, often at launch. There is a possible fix but the developers are on the case already and reckon they’ll have a solution ready later today. Good work.
There seems to be some confusion as to whether all AMD GPUs and CPUs are affected but that’s not the case. As far as I can tell, the problem relates directly to SSE4.1 support. If you’re not sure whether or not your CPU supports SSE4.1, this might help.
There are also reported problems with borderless fullscreen, ranging from screen tearing to an occasionally visible mouse cursor for those using controllers. Switching to regular fullscreen appears to fix both issues.
I’ve also seen reports of crashes on Windows 10. Since I’ve already sold all of my data to the highest bidder, I’ve been using the new operating system for a couple of weeks now and early tests this morning show that Metal Gear is happy to play along. I suspect there’s some crossover with the SSE4.1 issues mentioned above and a statement that MGSV doesn’t officially support Win 10 has helped to stir the pot. Presumably, the lack of support is simply a way of saying that full testing hasn’t been carried out on Win 10 rather than an admission that there will be any specific problems. I’ve only booted up and taken a look but everything looks fine here and reports of Win 10 issues seem rare.
In terms of options, audio sliders are the biggest gap. There’s currently no way to adjust the levels of music, voice and sound effects separately, which doesn’t seem like a big deal until everyone’s chatter is drowned out by a trumpet. I play with subtitles anyway (it just seems right in Metal Gear and I couldn’t say why) but I can understand the frustration for those who don’t.
Some mouse and keyboard controls are fixed, with rebinding unavailable for certain actions. There’s no way to switch between ‘toggle’ and ‘hold’ for binoculars and scopes either, which is slightly bothersome as I much prefer a toggle for keyboard and to hold a button if I’m using a controller. Here, you’re always holding the button down to stay in different viewing modes. On top of that, the game seems to communicate using controller prompts at times even if you’re playing with mouse and keyboard. I’d be playing with a controller anyhow – I prefer to in third-person games and the inventory and map interface here is designed for buttons rather than pointing and clicking – but the quibbles with the keyboard controls are still valid.
And if you’re planning to push the framerate above 60FPS, you might see some anomalies. The Fox Engine’s physics are tied to the framerate, which means the world might become a little unpredictable if everything is running faster than intended. That just makes me want to fiddle with framerates all the more, of course.
Finally, here’s a picture of the graphics options. Phwoar.
I’ll be looking out for any developments. I’ll be doing that instead of playing the game because sometimes this job is not kind to me. The horror of my situation is amplified by the hours I spent with Ground Zeroes on Saturday. It’s a proper stealth game and I love it.