Latest Dishonored 2 patch helps, but not enough

I’ve had a torrid old time with Dishonored 2 [official site] to date, though I’ll warrant not quite as torrid as the Arkane staff who’ve likely been working all hours to try and redeem a very messy, reputation-trashing PC launch. A second emergency patch has just landed, and, unlike last time, the fixes are meaningful.

The game’s performance is still a long way short of where I want it to be, but, thank Grud, it is now playable at reasonable settings.

Here are the headline features of the 1.2 update, but you can get a more detailed breakdown over here.

  • General performance and optimization improvements
  • Auto-detection of the Visual settings was re-worked based on player feedback and observed issues. If still experiencing issues after updating drivers and downloading patch 1.2, advise using the “Restore Settings” option to apply the recommended settings for your hardware.
  • Max pre-rendered frames is now managed by the game, advise removing any previous manual customizations in graphics driver control panel
  • Fixes multiple related to game logic
  • Fixed various issues related to user interface
  • Fixed various issues related to mouse/KB and gamepad, including:
    — Mouse smoothing is now set to minimum by default
  • Fixed various issues related to using alt-tab related bugs
  • Fixed various issues related to multiple monitors
    — Fixed a bug where Resolution Scaling was deactivated when the game ran above 30 FPS
    — Changed the Resolution Scaling settings to be more clear
  • Added new settings in the Options menu:
    — Added a Framerate Limiter so the player can limit framerate fluctuation when playing without V-sync
    — Added TAA Sharpness option
    — Added more options to V-Sync settings. NOTE: If you previously disabled V-sync, please check your FPS limiter setting to ensure it is set to your desired limit.
    — Added Triple Buffering option

Of course, the bulk of issues are crammed into that first line. D2’s major problem has been low and wildly spiking framerate on many PCs, particularly those with AMD cards. Whatever they’ve done, that situation is now somewhat improved on my PC, though not without heavy compromise.

Also welcome is a fix for D2’s loading issues on PCs with multiple displays. It hasn’t fixed the problem on my laptop, although I’ll note here that I’ve had some communication with Arkane on that particular issue, and they have been able to identify what was wrong – it should be addressed in a later update.

Framerate limiting options are very handy too, as it can remove the spiking FPS issue so long as you’re prepared to have the maximum lower than you’d ideally like.

The full patch notes go into all sorts of stuff, but it’s the Performance section we’re most interested in, so let’s have those here.

  • Reduced framerate stuttering
  • Added a customizable FPS limiter to reduce the fluctuation
  • Framerate capped at 120fps to prevent physics issues which occur only above 120fps
  • Max pre-rendered frame is now managed by the game
  • Adjusted Texture Details settings so settings make a significant visual and performance change
  • Fixed a bug where AMD GPU experienced huge framerate drops when there is cloth simulation in the environment.
  • Adjusted ocean settings for perf improvement
  • Added frequency in V-sync UI
  • Fixed a bug where VRAM usage was higher than available VRAM
  • Fixed a bug where auto-detected settings were set too high for certain hardware
  • Added HBAO+ support for AMD GPUs
  • Fixed a bug where turning HBAO+ ON created some bad shadowing on player’s hands
  • Removed Environment Details settings as it was strongly tied to View Distance
  • Removed Fog Quality settings as it was not impacting the visuals or providing performance advantages
  • Adjusted auto detected settings for R9 290X2
  • Fixed a bug where Water Quality settings was only impacting ocean, not canals or pools
  • Improved CPU cores utilization on high and low-end machines

Again, it’s the first couple of lines that make the biggest difference. And note that they say ‘reduced’ not ‘resolved’ – that’s certainly the case for me. The framerate remains all over the shop (unless I limit it to 30), but it isn’t quite as awful as it once was.

Yes, with an unlocked FPS it’s roaming wildly between 25 to 60, but this is now only happening as I move around across large areas, rather than while I stay in more or less the same place. The game feels less jerky and sluggish as a result, and I am no longer bungling strangles due to sudden spikes or lags.

I ping from resigned to angry and back again on all this – sure, it’s only been a couple of weeks since launch and it’s not like my ridiculous little consumerist world ends because a newly released game was effectively unplayable for me during that time. On the other hand, we’ve got a publisher who’s actively working to suppress buying advice about their games, using the excuse that they’re so confident in their releases that reviews have become academic.

Put it this way: Dishonored 2 would quite possibly not have been number one in the Steam charts last week if its serious tech failings were known about in advance. Sure, perhaps this strategy means Bethesda get a short-term sales boost, but it also means they get a sharp-drop off in the subsequent week as unhappy word percolates, quite likely a torrent of refund requests, an erosion of consumer trust and an amplification of the ‘Bethesda always makes buggy games’ moan-o-trend. I’m not sure anybody wins here.

All credit to Arkane’s engineers though, unlike last week’s patch, this latest beta update makes a big difference. The game’s still not where I want it to be, unfortunately – a steady 60 frames per second is an impossibility at any setting on my monitor’s native res. (Yes, that res is 3440×1440, but in literally anything else medium-high settings are totally happy on my Radeon R9 Nano. I absolutely do not expect maxed out, and not necessarily even 60 FPS at medium, but I cannot get a steady frame rate above 30 for love nor money).

To get that, I either need to lower the resolution (ugly) or use Dishonored 2’s newly-expanded ‘adaptive resolution’ options (somehow even uglier). In a less-than-ideal-but-basically-tolerable world I’d get it to 45 frames at high-ish settings, as that’s the point that my monitor’s Freesync kicks in and it thus shouldn’t feel/look jerky, but no, I can’t even get that on D2’s absolute lowest settings.

Yes, even on Very High it’ll climb up to 60 in some sections, but on any setting whatsoever it’s still pinballing wildly from low 30s to 60 and anything in between. The odd thing is how little difference any setting makes. Just a handful of frames – although Ultra does reduce the maximum frames to just under 50 and the minimum to low 20s. I don’t expect to be able to use maxed-out settings in any new game, so that’s fine.

I really don’t want to use the Adaptive Resolution option, which essentially renders the game at a lower resolution then upscales it to your screen’s on the fly, in order to compensate with frame rate drops. Even with extra fine-control options now added, it looks awful and it only helps me by a handful of frames in any case – like the main settings, whatever I choose seems to be fairly academic in terms of performance.

So what I’ve ended up doing is setting D2 on High and using the new frame limiter option to lock it to 30 frames per second. I know this is outrageous in the eyes of a certain section of PC gaming, but right now I’ll take smooth over fast, if it makes the difference between playing now and not playing for months, or possibly ever. I’ll note that it’s still falling to mid-20s occasionally, particularly in combat. I haven’t been able to identify exactly what the individual problem setting is.

It’s bearable in the main. The thing finally looks pretty and, apparently, the wonky mouse controls have finally been fixed, but D2 still feels a little rough in the hand. Just a bit off, somewhat twitchy in addition to the innate sluggish feel of 30 FPS in a high-speed action game like this. But it is now playable, which is more than I had before.

Is it good enough? No, not for a big, expensive game like this, and maybe it will never be made so – time will tell. Its performance has, at least, now inched away from disaster and into mere disappointment, and perhaps now I will finally be free to actually play the thing, rather than spend all my time muttering bitterly at its settings screens.

Honestly, I really do look forwards to the day when I’m not writing unnecessarily long and whingeing news posts about Dishonored 2’s performance. It’s not at all how I wanted to be discussing an interesting and ambitious game. I pray that, one day soon, I’ll finally be able to think about Dishonored 2 rather than Dishonored 2’s launch problems.

As with the last one, the version 1.2 update is tagged as a ‘beta’, which means you need to right-click on the game in your Steam library, select properties, then beta, then choose ‘betapatch’ from the drop down menu. Takes quite a long time to install itself.


  1. gbrading says:

    I’m still not happy. The game is rendering some fairly large and detailed environments, but it’s far from the most graphically intensive game out there. It should be able to support at minimum a stable 60fps at 1080p at High settings on the Recommended system spec. But it can’t even do that (I know, because my system is an exact match). I have to bump everything down to Medium in order to get that.

    Dishonored 2 is clearly an excellent game underneath but doesn’t absolve it of these technical issues. Bethesda’s anti-consumer review policy only helps to worsen matters.

  2. DeadCanDance says:

    Thank you Alec for your reports on the performance of this game and its patches. I myself am waiting for a better build so I can buy this.

  3. Kefren says:

    I’ll wait until it’s all running perfectly, and Denuvo has been removed. Ideally available on GOG too. And at a lower price. My current GOG & Steam games backlog will keep me going until then (at least seven years).

  4. Zenicetus says:

    I would like to see the game running fine for everyone, but I’m wondering how many of these problems are related to high monitor resolutions? Alec can’t get the game running acceptably at 3440×1440 monitor res. My game runs absolutely fine at 1920×1200 with a GTX970 on High settings.

    People shouldn’t have to down-res if they’re running higher resolutions, but this wouldn’t be the first game to require lowering the graphics settings at high monitor res, to get a reasonable frame rate.

    Obviously my game will be even better (I could bump the graphics settings) if it’s further patched up so it runs at 60fps on these higher monitor resolutions. So I hope we get there.

    • Chorltonwheelie says:

      I’m running 1440×2560, everything at ultra, 60fps (v-sync’d) so…..not a boast but I don’t think pixel count is the cause.

    • Foulplay says:

      I run all games at 3440×1440 with watercooled overclocked SLI Titan X’s (from 2015) and an i7 4790k at 4.6. Even on a single card I can get most games running closer to 100fps than 60fps at that resolution.

      The Division is the game I find the most demanding, it runs around 40-80 and I have to disable PCSS soft shadows and a few other settings to keep it playable. With a custom settings file I improved things and get closer to 80 FPS most of the time.

      Doom flies at 100fps almost without fail on full ultra settings.

      Even Crysis 3 on ultra runs great.

      Dishonoured 2 however runs terribly, and is not graphically demanding enough to warrant the lack of performance.

      The game itself is the issue rather than the resolution, ironically after the 1.2 beta patch it was running a lot better, but now the frame pacing is so badly screwed up it’s literally vomit inducing.

      Panning the view makes the graphics judder and double up whilst it’s in motion. I can play games in VR and in stereo 3D for hours, but I can’t try and play this game for more than a few seconds in it’s current state.

  5. Scripten says:

    Have they added support for Phenom II CPUs? It’d be great if my system, which is VR-capable and has yet to meet a game (that runs at all) that it can’t handle on High, could run Dishonored 2 at all. Especially considering I can’t refund the game. I realize that using more modern functionality is great and all, but coming from someone who does OS development on a system that has decades of backwards compatibility, it’s not that bloody hard to substitute code for those of us with barely last-gen CPUs.

    • smisk says:

      Came here to post about this as well! The issue seems to be that the game doesn’t work on CPUs that don’t support SSE 4.1 which includes all Phenom CPUs. There are plenty of less powerful Intel chips that run the game, so I’d guess they just didn’t bother supporting this configuration since only a small minority of people still have this hardware.

      There’s still enough people angry about it that there are two large threads on the topic in the Steam Discussions, and I’d love it if RPS could reach out to Arkane/Bethesda about whether they plan on addressing this issue! My Phenom II has done just fine at running every AAA game so far, and I’d like to wait a little longer to upgrade.

      Scripten – You seem to have some knowledge on this topic, do you have any idea how much the additional instructions in SSE 4.1 affect performance versus 4.0? And whats the difficulty of implementing it? From what I’ve seen it just takes a change in compilation options to support different ISAs, but I don’t know a ton about this.

      • Scripten says:

        Exactly. I don’t work with PC hardware, but the same general ideas go on when you deal with assembler-level code. The devs wanted the shiny new features. Cool, fine. But at the very least, add in a byway for people who don’t want to upgrade their CPUs until they absolutely have to. I have a 965. It can brute-force well enough to keep up with the shinier stuff for at least a little longer. (And I highly doubt that the CPU does any particularly heavy lifting anyway.)

      • Scripten says:

        Sorry, missed that last question addressed to me. Like I said, I don’t really do anything with x86, but from what I understand, the new instructions offer fairly minor improvements for the end user. The biggest draw is that they simplify certain operations for the developer. I’m probably not the best person to ask about the subject, but that’s my two cents.

  6. Godwhacker says:

    Been working fine for me luckily- it’s absolutely wonderful. Real shame they didn’t sort this stuff out before launch though

  7. jellydonut says:

    Not gonna bother buying this game until/if I build a new PC. Why did they fuck up their launch like this?

  8. Antongranis says:

    I think we should all be angry, wheter you bought the game or not. Launches like this are under no circumstances acceptable.

  9. Blackcompany says:

    I am curious about two things where performance for Dishonored 2 is concerned:

    -What proportion of folks with problems are running on i5 or lesser processors?

    -What portion of the folks with no issues, are running on i7 of some sort or another?

    In other words, I wonder if some of the stutter is processor bound stuff affecting the game’s overall performance. On the whole it does not seem as if it is – mostly issues seem to be related to frame rates and Bethesda’s wonky tech being, well, wonky – but I do wonder just how much lifting the processor is required to do for this game.

    Not saying the game has no issues. It definitely has issues that need fixed. Just curious.

    • thedosbox says:

      I got as far as the observatory and hadn’t noticed any major issues. This is with a i5-4670 & GTX 1070 @ 2560×1440. IIRC, most settings were at High, though AA was disabled.

      • Chorltonwheelie says:

        Yeah, I’m on an i5 3570k and have no stutter at all.

  10. A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

    So, does it fix the weird mouse movement issue where the same steady hand movement results in wild, erratic screen movement? Hard to tell from the patch notes, but Alex’s comments suggest it’s better.

    To be a voice from the other side, that’s the only issue I’ve had (apart from hating the blurry look of the TXAA processing, but that’s just me. FXAA does the job just fine). Nvidia card here, so maybe that’s why. Shouldn’t be, of course, but amd cards always seem to get a mention with rubbish release states.

  11. Stevostin says:

    Hmm two things:

    – I am glad I’ve switched to nVidia after years of AMD. Did it precisely because this tends to happen with AMD (although HL2 was the opposite)

    – that being said, you’re not being reasonable. The resolution boost from the 1080p basis is silly big and it was obvious from day one that it wouldn’t cope well with realtime 3D. Sure other games fare better to do that trick but keep in mind that what you deem as bad for a game engine on your monitor ends up into the best 3D games by a long shot on my 1080p (and a 970 GPU). Based on my understanding and to be fair, most articles posted here, I won’t jump to 4K or the likes until probably two years and a 1170 not yet existing GPU.

    • Alec Meer says:

      It is a big res – though 1440p ultrawide is a long way short of 4K – but I have this problem in literally no other game. And I’ve been playing at 1440p resolutions for something like six years now.

      Yes, 1080p remains the sensible industry benchmark, but it’s not even slightly the entirety of PC gaming and hasn’t been for yonks.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Yeah, that’s the point I tried to make above. I’m running close to 1080p (1920×1200) with a 970 card and it’s running just fine on High settings.

      I’ve also read trouble reports from people at 1080p so that’s not the whole issue. It should have been better optimized, and seems to prefer nVidia cards and i7 CPUs. Still, how reasonable is it to expect to run 60fps at high eye candy settings on a 3440×1440 monitor resolution?

      When game companies publish minimum and recommended specs, they don’t specify what monitor resolution those specs apply to. It’s left up to the user to figure out if they’re pushing the envelope too far with their resolution.

      This is why I’m waiting to jump to anything higher res than my current 1920×1200 monitor… along with the fact that I use it for graphics work where it has to be calibrated, and that’s an expensive class of monitor.

      • Aldehyde says:

        Alec doesn’t say he expects 60 fps at high settings.

        Besides, the game looks good but I’ve yet to see anything that is so incredible that it shouldn’t run better than it is for many.

        And 3440×1440 isn’t that insane a resolution. Certainly not 4k.

      • Foulplay says:

        These days its very reasonable to expect decent FPS at 3440×1440, although I run a pair of Titan X I originally intended to use for 4k and then ditched the 4k monitor in favour of the Acer X34 100hz Gsync ultrawide. The majority of games on ultra settings at, or close to, 100fps. I set a framerate limit of 99, and turn off any form of Vsync.

        My wife has an AOC 60hz 3440×1440 ultrawide and an nvidia 1070 and plays all games fine at that resolution with ultra settings with no problems or framerate issues.

  12. fish99 says:

    On my Level 2 docks save, I’m definitely seeing less FPS drops, and the general feeling moving around is that the game is stuttering less (I5-3570K, 970, 16GB). The mouse feels a bit laggy though (maybe because the game is controlling pre-rendered frames now?), although I’ve never tried the mouse ini fix.

    TXAA is still blurry even with the sharpness on 20, but I guess a small improvement there is welcome. Try switching between TXAA/FSAA and no-AA though and you’ll notice how overbearing TXAA is in this game, even though it’s fine in other games.

    Overall, a good step in the right direction.

    • nanotechnics says:

      Anything lower than TXAA makes the game look even worse, weird dots and diagonal lines in object when moving around.

  13. GlasWolf says:

    So Bethesda formally change their review code policy to ensure no release-date reviews, then less than a month later release a game with severe and widespread performance problems. Hmmm *strokes chin*…

  14. nanotechnics says:

    Excellent article Alec, thanks.

    It’s infuriating to see how Arkane has dealt with the PC version of this game. The newest patch didn’t do much for me, 90% of my time is invested in trying to use different combinations of settings that would finally make the game look and play better, but to my utter dismay, all of the combinations have proven to be useless.

    On my GTX 980 the game can only run barely smoothly at Medium settings, High, Very High will give me 60 FPS in some areas, then out of the blow the frames would drop to 40 or 35.

    The game feels sluggish, and often ugly. Well thanks Arkane for ruining my most anticipated game of fall 2016.

  15. Retroblique says:

    i5-6600K (4.2GHz), 16GB RAM, GTX 1070 8GB here. Going with “auto” settings (mostly very high) and bumping textures, models and draw distance up to Ultra gets me a steady 60fps @ 1440p, where pre-patch it was fluctuating between 30-60. Can Ultra everything and effectively ditch adaptive resolution if I drop to 1080p. I’m keeping HBAO+ turned off because the halos/fringing looks pretty ugly.