Journey Into Misery: my desperate, flailing attempts to make Dishonored 2 run on my laptop

Dishonored 2 [official site] is a wonderful game, but in terrible shape on PC – not for all of us, but for many of us. The most widely-reported issue is its lurching framerate on a suitably-specced PC, and that’s been severely hampering my attempts to play it on my desktop (AMD R9 Nano, FWIW). As well as making the general sense of motion disrupted and even uncomfortable, I have bungled strangles because the game suddenly spasms underneath me. I HAVE BUNGLED STRANGLES. In desperation, I sought to instead run the thing on a three-year-old laptop with a very weeny AMD GPU, just in case Dishonored 2 was playable at lowest settings.

And so began my nightmare.

Dishonored 2 simply would not load at all on the laptop. Steam would pop up its little black loading box, but that was it. Task Manager showed Dishonored 2 was in memory for about 10 seconds, then it vanished. No obvious reason why – I’ve played Civ VI and Deus Ex: Adam Jensen Is Still There on this thing without issue. Granted, its Radeon 8770m is probably below Dishonored 2’s minimum spec, although the woolly world of mobile graphics naming conventions confuses that issue mightily. I was braced for sub-playable frame rates. But not loading? Why?

Hours and hours spent on mandating power settings in graphics drivers, on redownloading the game, of validating install files, of manually installing DirectX and Visual C++ and troubleshooting Windows Update and running in admin mode and testing compatibility options and trying external monitors and disabling hardware and drivers and drivers and drivers and drivers and and and SCREAMING and

sure, take it easy why not?

And breathe. The one thing I had to go on were Steam forums reports that Dishonored 2 wouldn’t load for some people who had second monitors connected to their PC. I had experienced this myself on my desktop, where the game would not load unless I unplugged my (nevertheless not in use) Oculus Rift – it simply did not lot like there being more than one output attached to the graphics card.

I’ve been deep in Device Manager on the laptop, trying to find and remove any legacy connections to monitors or TVs in case some part of the game or the OS thought it was somehow still attached to another screen.

Then I had a theory. Most laptops with dedicated graphics cards also have CPU-integrated graphics – Intel in my case, AMD in others’ – which is what the machine uses most of the time to save power. My laptop guns up the 8770m in games (sometimes only after manually directing it to do so in drivers), but runs Windows and desktop apps on its integrated and games-useless Intel 4000. What if the fact of having two GPUs made Dishonored 2 think there were also two screens?

So, in device manager, I disabled the Intel graphics – with some trepidation, given that this might well leave me unable to see anything at all on my screen afterwards. The screen flickered, then the OS returned, as if nothing had changed.

One thing had changed. Hello, Dishonored 2.

At approximately 3 frames per second, just in the menus.

After an extremely slow and painful process of trying to select menu options that moved 300 times slower than the mouse did, I was able to make it into settings and see something I hadn’t seen in D2 on desktop – a choice of which GPU it should run on. Currently, it was set to Windows Basic Driver or words to that affect, which is whatever interim mode Win 10 must have been running on following the disabling of the Intel GPU. With only a little bit of screaming, I was able to switch the option to the Radeon 8770M, and wahey.

Dishonored 2, running at 17-20 frames per second on lowest settings (and with its adaptive resolution thinger set to 50 for a further, but uglier boost). Surprisingly good-looking, but sadly not quite playable. I reckon that, in time, deep .ini editing and mods (plus D2’s own patching) may boost it a little.

I will achieve this eventually. I will have my brown and blurry 30 FPS 720p strangles. And they will not be bungled strangles. I swear it.

An infuriating coda to this pathetic saga:

– If I re-enabled the Intel GPU, Dishonored 2 would no longer load once again. This meant jumping through many hoops all over again if I wanted to do something other than Dishonured 2 on my laptop.

– I could not change the resolution, in either game or OS. Disabling the Intel GPU locked the res, for some reason. To achieve said 17-20 FPS, I had to drop the game lower than the laptop’s native 1920×1080. The only way to do this was to re-enable the Intel GPU in Device Manager, which immediately hard-locked the whole machine. I hard-reset with great anxiety, and thank God it started up as normal and then let me re-enable the Intel GPU without issue.

I changed the res down to 720p, disabled the Intel GPU again, loaded up Dishonored 2 again, was met with the 3 fps/Windows Basic Driver headache again, battled my way through to settings, switched to the 8770m, and there I was with a very nearly playable Dishonored 2.

A gigantic faff, and all to create a situation I don’t truly benefit from, but Goddamn am I pleased I managed to solve it. I hate being beaten by computers. Which is why I wasted so much of my, and now I suppose your, time on this very specific problem.

Please patch Dishonored 2 very quickly, Arkane.


  1. Zanchito says:

    Apparently there’s been a patch released for press versions today, speculation is it’ll be released to the greater public today too.

    • X_kot says:

      Given all of Bethesda’s bloviating about how the press should not get things before the masses, it would be amusing if they conveniently forgot their new principle so soon.

  2. Faults says:

    Dishonored 10? Bethesda have done very well out of this franchise indeed ;)

  3. Nim says:

    Just skip it until it gets patched. There are so many other great games to play.

    • Juan Carlo says:

      Laptop hardware is always weird as developers don’t design for it. Dark Souls 3 ran at 5 fps on release. I tried it again recently and it’s a decent-ish 25-30. Not sure if that is thanks to NVidia patching something or From. Point is, if you know your hardware is fast enough that it should run the game, just wait a few months and maybe it will at some point.

      At anyrate, unless you are throwing serious money down, you should probably just assume your laptop might not run something.

  4. Paul says:

    This game just demands 1070. It runs amazingly on that even with ancient 2500K. Such a brilliant game, I wish I could play instead of working today :(

    • suibhne says:

      It’s not that simple. I have a 1080, a significant step up from your 1070, and I had to play with settings for hours, switch frames rendered ahead to 1, etc. in order to get smooth-ish gameplay…and it’s still only smooth-ISH.

      • Paul says:

        Weird, I did not do anything. I installed the game, set the graphics preset to “auto” which defaults to high/very high with all stuff enabled, increased textures and water to ultra and went playing. 60fps majority of the time with some occasional drop to fifties.

      • Zenicetus says:

        It’s not that simple either! I have a 970 running on High settings and the game is very smooth. Didn’t touch a thing, just let the game use auto settings.

        I don’t know why everyone is having such a different experience, but I suspect it’s not as simple as “you need X graphics card to make it work.”

        • Conundrummer says:

          B-b-but how will people offer tech support on the Steam forums without that reasoning!? We’re doomed!

  5. Banks says:

    I don’t think they can patch it so easily, as the flaws are at an structural level. This will remain a shitty port.

    And honestly, the game is quite boring and forgettable. A shame, considering it has all the ingredients to be a great game, but it lacks charm or punch or any sense of tension or delight, and never clicked with me.

    • Meneldil says:

      Aren’t you the same guy that says “DISHONORED 2 SUCKS” in every article about dishonored 2? Despite the rest of the world saying it quite great, or awesome, despite technical flaws that will be fixed eventually.

      • polecat says:

        And if they are? This is a site that does subjectivity…I’m glad loads of people are enjoying this but it hasn’t grabbed me either.

      • Banks says:

        Nope, you’re wrong. Maybe more than one people don’t enjoy this game as much as you do. Crazy right?

    • Premium User Badge

      Phasma Felis says:

      “I don’t think they can patch it so easily, as the flaws are at an structural level.”

      What does that mean, exactly? What are the specific bugs, or design decisions, or fundamental processes, that are so deeply entwined with the code that they simply cannot be practically fixed?

      I suspect that you don’t actually have any idea, but you’ve decided in your head that they won’t fix it and are casting about for wise-sounding words to justify that.

  6. Premium User Badge

    CrackedMandible says:

    Your tenacity against the machines inspires me. Keep up the good fight!

  7. gbrading says:

    I’m able to get the game running at a decent 60+ framerate if I set everything to Medium; it’s when it is set to High that the framerate starts tanking. I’m also using above the Recommended system requirements on a PC. I also weirdly get very low framerate on loading screens, specifically when you have to press Enter to load the level.

    Other than the technical issues I’m really enjoying the game; Karnaca has a gorgeous sense of place that reminds me a lot of Italy, with the sun-bleached buildings and languid sunsets.

  8. Sakkura says:

    The official minimum requirement is a 7970. There’s nothing confusing about whether your 8770M is below that. It’s way, WAY below it. Kudos on getting it running at all though.

    • Vandelay says:

      Yep, absolutely no confusion about that one with the bigger number being worse than the one with the smaller number!

      OK, we all know that the first number is the series and the following numbers are normally more important, but the relative power between each is only knowable if you have the technical specs and benchmarks.

    • brucethemoose says:

      Holy moly, that’s a suprisingly high “minimum” spec.

      Seeing how the XB1 basically has a 7790 (which very close to Alec’s 8770m), that’s a massive amount of overhead compared to the console versions. Much more than usual.

      • Sakkura says:

        This is where it does get a bit complicated.

        The 8770M has 384 shaders. The 7790 has 896, ie. 2.33 times as many. But yeah there’s still a ways up to the 2048 shaders on the 7970.

        I suspect they picked an overkill AMD card because they were having optimization issues on the AMD side. The GTX 660 they recommend on the Nvidia side used to compete with the 7870 rather than the 7970, and in most newer games it’s even slower than that.

  9. A Wanderer says:

    Well, you actually summarized my entire gaming experience this year, with my good old laptopt with a gt540m. Yeah, I know. I should upgrade one day. But at least I discovered a bunch of old games that I should have played since ages.

  10. Dances to Podcasts says:

    Why change GPU in device manager or game, but not in the graphics driver?

  11. Zenicetus says:

    Okay, so how many other recent AAA titles would cause the same or similar inability to play on your old laptop? What’s the point here?

    • Alec Meer says:

      Because the other games at least load

      • Zenicetus says:

        From the text, it sounds like you got it to load — “Surprisingly good-looking, but sadly not quite playable.” How about a comparison with Rise of the Tomb Raider, or DX Mankind Divided to put Dishonored 2 in perspective?

        If you can’t run those other games at sufficiently high frame rates on that laptop, then I don’t see a reason to slam Dishonored 2 for it.

        • Conundrummer says:

          He’s hardly slamming it. He’s basically saying, “In my frustration of trying to get Dishonored 2 running on my desktop gaming rig, and failing, I’m now going to try to run it on my less-than-formidable laptop and post the results for entertainment. Since the game isn’t even running on the hardware it claimed would handle it, I feel this is fair.”

          Fine by me, and nothing out of the ordinary for RPS.

  12. Ghostwise says:

    I just wanted to say I appreciated the comic book joke.

    Yeah I know, nobody cares. But I did, strewth.

  13. Vandelay says:

    Sounds like this will be a PS4 purchase for me. I was going to wait until I upgraded (which will be whenever Nvidia feel the need to drop the price on the 1070,) but sounds like that would even be a risk.

    Even if I was lucky, the requirement to disconnect a second monitor makes it a no buy for me. My computer is connected to an av receiver, so disconnecting that will leave me with subpar, uncomfortable, sweaty headphones. No thanks.

  14. Monggerel says:

    The only AAA game since 2013 that my laptop can run is Metal Gear Solid V. The new games don’t really look any better, but they sure take more to run, so I just kinda accepted not playing new AAA releases ever again. Overwatch runs at about 60 FPS at minimum graphics with 50% render. This is fairly normal – NVidia does need to stay in business after all, and strong arming your silly ass is the only way they can do that.

    • Ericusson says:

      Well, there were huge current and cooling limitations on laptops GPUs.

      The Pascal series is the first gpu which goes without being gutted to mobile computing/gaming.
      Even then you need to remember to switch the gpu to full performance in the drivers for anything to work properly.

    • ToomuchFluffy says:

      I’m in a similar position and I always have to think of Far Cry 2 and how good that looks and feel. And that one ran pretty well on high settings on my old GT240M… I doubt that anything but inefficiency and bad optimization are at fault with many newer games. Though it also helps when there are a few more options than just low, medium and high. *glares at Metro: Last Light*

  15. Nibblet says:

    While i lucked out and did not have any significant technical issues, i still stopped playing about halfway through.
    By comparison i lost count of how many times i finished the first one, or its dlcs.
    The writing has dropped in quality to the point of being unengaging, and stealth just feels “off”.
    The first game made a point of inferring many details of the story, like not flat out telling you that the heart was actually the empress, or that Emily was your daughter.
    Where as the sequel just dumps a ton of exposition in your face with no subtlety or even buildup.
    Stealth also seems far too random, with guards sometimes instantly spotting you from miles away, or from way below you, while other times being completely oblivious with you almost on top of them.
    Quick loading also tends to alert every guard in a 10 mile radius if you were hidden when you saved.
    Really wish i had waited for a steam sale and some patches.

  16. visor841 says:

    17-20 fps at 720p sounds wonderful. On my potato of a computer, I play AC:IV at 15 fps at 1024×600, and still have loads of fun. I’m pretty sure I’ve become immune to bad graphics. Of course, I’m also about to buy an RX 460, and very much looking forward to playing at my monitors full 1680×1050 with 60 fps. It’s so hard to even imagine right now.

    • inspiredhandle says:

      This is quite inspiring. Waiting for a 50″ 4K to be delivered has turned me into a brat, already thinking about the upgrade from my 970 to a 1080ti (when they come out). Thankfully I shouldn’t have to upgrade my cpu/mobo/ram etc if I do get a new gpu next year. Keeping up with the Jones’s with regards to computer hardware is a pricey thing indeed.

      Stay unfussy, friend. Your wallet will thank you

      • inspiredhandle says:

        Dammit. Timer ran out. That was of course meant to read “50” 4K tv”. That’d be an extreme desktop monitor. ?

  17. Andy_Panthro says:

    This is the reason I decided to avoid buying Dishonored 2 despite how much I want to play it.

    My laptop can manage to play Civ6, DX:Mankind Divided, XCOM2, Fallout 4… at about medium settings at 1080p. But I’m don’t think my 860M is going to manage this one, unless a patch makes it much more friendly.

  18. welverin says:

    Not a waste of time at all, this was a very amusing read.

  19. Caiman says:

    Kids today. I remember playing Driller on my ZX Spectrum at 3 frames per second. It was fine!

    • Someoldguy says:

      8 bit graphics should be enough for anyone!

      Joking aside, the way that the indie scene has grown in recent years does at least mean some more games are being made where gameplay and design are prioritised over eye popping graphical quality, despite so many reviewers focussing on it as if it’s the holy grail.

  20. Edski says:

    I betrayed my beloved lounge room PC and purchased Dishonoured 2 for PS4. The buggy mess of awfulness that is the PS4 version has chastised me mightily for that infidelity.

    • inspiredhandle says:

      It would seem that the experience of playing the ps4 version was punishment enough for your betrayal. Welcome back to the fold.
      Now DON’T DO IT AGAIN!

  21. Rutok says:

    Wait i am confused here.. is this the same dishonored 2 that gets top marks from this and every other pc gaming site?

    • Someoldguy says:

      A tad unfair – RPS never give marks and even the reviewer who loves it mentions some issues. Other pieces from other authors haven’t been so glowing and they’ve been fast to highlight performance issues. It always pays to wait a couple of weeks for the first rush of praise or invective to wear off and a more balanced perspective to emerge.