Arkane have been very open since almost the start that they fully intend to fix Dishonored 2 [official site]’s performance problems, so kudos there. G’dang it’s a shame they didn’t nail this stuff down prior to release though, because in any just world the Dishonored 2 story would have been “Yeah, it’s ace” rather than “Oh God no.” The game runs pretty atrociously on my PC – yes, I can get it to playable with rock-bottom settings and non-native resolutions, but it looks like someone wiped a used nappy down my screen and still feels jerky and sluggish.
Goodish news: a patch has now landed (as an opt-in public beta), which begins to tackle the problems. Its fixes sound very promising on paper, but haven’t helped me in practice.
Here’s what the 1.1 beta patch does, in the main:
- Mouse improvements, including a fix for sensitivity being framerate dependent
- Fixes an AMD cloth physics issue, which impacts framerates at various points in the game
- Fixes an issue affecting CPU task priority – the game no longer switches CPU task priority
I’ll go from last to first, just for fun, like. The third point relates to an issue some players thought they’d found, whereby the game seemingly switches its CPU priority from high to low frequently, and some surmised that this was responsible for the wildly lurching framerate on many systems. (Including mine – the game can spasm between 20 and 60 frames per sec while standing in the same place). Various user-made tweaks came out, which some declared had an effect, but a counter-argument was that it was pure placebo and the game was slipping into low priority only in times when it didn’t need the CPU all that much. The fixes didn’t do anything for me, but good to see it’s built into the game now so people can at least stop blaming it.
Middle fix – yep, it did seem like AMD users (m’self included) were getting the rawest deal, so anything targeting that lot is good news. Perhaps distant cloth effects in different parts of the environment might explain why the frame rate pitch a wobbly just while rotating on the same spot?
And finally the first, which is the face-palm one. The mouse sensitivity… changed depending on frame rate? Your most fundamental means of interaction with the game randomly accelerates and decelerates? Quite a humdinger.
The net result for me? Not a lot. Not a lot at all. I still have to drop down to Medium on my overclocked R9 Nano, and that’s just to get an average frame rate of about 45 – and that’s with my monitor’s admittedly humongous 3440×1440 res dropped to 2560×1080. I certainly don’t expect 60/Ultra on this card at that native res, but 40ish/High would do me just fine. The settings I have to use to keep the game comfortably playable make it look awful, which is undeserving of a game this visually meticulous.
I don’t need 60 – the greater problem by far is the continued spiking. I’m still getting wild jumping from 25-60 if I take a chance on High or Very High and various individually toggled options in between – no one option seems to have any meaningful effect. Even turning the TXAA anti-aliasing down to FXAA or off entirely makes no difference, other than looking much worse.
Even on Medium/lower res it’s regularly slamming down to low 30s – I cannot achieve anything like consistency. That’s something that seriously affects feel – this is not a principles thing.
As for mouse movement, it does feel a little more fluid now, though still slightly off in a way I can’t quite put my finger on.
All told, beta patch 1.1 doesn’t get the game into a state where I realistically want to play it, which is a great shame. I’m even considering picking up a console copy so I can experience what enough people I respect claim is a fantastic game without getting undermined by all this boring tech stuff. But I can take comfort from the fact that fixes are in motion, and perhaps 1.1 is a necessary foundation for more effective stuff yet to come. This is probably the most important line in the update notes, in fact:
“Update 1.2 development is underway and will address a broader range of issues including performance and is estimated to be available in the next week.”
So, not long to go, hopefully. If you want to try out version 1.1 one, right-click on the Dishonored 2 entry in your Steam library, click properties, go to betas and select betapatch – public from the drop-down menu. It’s quite a big download, but also thrashed my hard drive for quite a while before it was ready, so go have some tea and toast once you set it going.
If you’re an Nvidia user, there’s also a new driver out which may help matters for you.
For a less whingey take on Dishonored 2, I shall once again point you in the direction of the enviably tech issue-free Adam’s review.