Why have two or even three gaming monitors on your desk when you can have one, smooth, curved, 49-inch beautiful? That was the reason I switched to one of the best curved ultra-wide gaming monitors around (opens in a new tab) recently, and without any counter-argument that came to mind, I soon found myself before such a dazzling one.
My first usage experience was great too. Launching Cyberpunk 2077 (opens in a new tab) and starting the game in Overdrive ray tracing mode with path tracing enabled (opens in a new tab) it was fantastic. The game’s dystopian world stretched out on either side of me and wrapped around me, taking immersion to a whole new level. It was really time to party with Johnny Silverhand! Descending with my team in Warhammer 40K: Darktide (opens in a new tab)was also epically intense, with hordes of mutants rushing from all directions represented on the screen as terrifying swarms. My buyer satisfaction has increased.
But then my problems began.
Without thinking, I went to launch Fallout New Vegas (opens in a new tab)planning to start a new replay, only to find themselves in a stretched, warped 21:9 horror depiction of post-apocalyptic America. Of course, I suddenly thought that I had set the graphics settings wrong in the game. So I went ahead and restarted the game, which was needed to get to the graphics options menu, and quickly dived into the resolution options. And… to quote Dirty Harry, “I was unlucky.”
There wasn’t a single ultra-wide option in the menu system, and to make matters worse, even if I forced my monitor to the most likable resolution, the in-game overlays remained horribly wrong. Lockpicking and even the Pip-Boy were functionally useless as the menu options were inaccessible to my view, off screen, due to FOV issues.
And so the problem I had annoyingly overlooked was discovered – old games just don’t play ball, almost always, with the ultra-wide resolutions and viewing angles required by their aspect ratios. This is a problem I would face many times in games like Warhammer 40K: Space Marine, SiN Gold, Black and White 2 and many others, and now it’s virtually unplayable due to the legacy lack of ultrawide support. Ultrawide just wasn’t something for mainstream PC gaming when those games were originally released.
It hurt especially because while I absolutely play modern PC games, as someone who started playing PC in the early 90’s, it seems Very of my time playing old classic games. Yeah sure, I still had the old monitor but it didn’t fit on my desk anymore due to the 49″ ultrawide and well I was hardly going to go back to my original when newer games looked so stunning on the new screen or was I?
Of course, I did everything I could to fix the problem and, in short, I quickly became incredibly indebted to free apps like Flawless Widescreen (opens in a new tab), which automatically fixes many old games that never offered support for ultra-wide displays, making them playable at these resolutions, fields of view, and aspect ratios. However, even with apps like Flawless Widescreen, not all games are supported. This includes, annoyingly, Fallout New Vegas.
After digging around on the internet, I finally managed to find the complicated manual hacks I had to do to get New Vegas remote gaming on my 49 inch 21:9 ultrawide. Many lines of the falloutprefs.ini file had to be manually overwritten, improving the resolution, aspect ratio and field of view both in-game and in-game menu overlays. I also had to adjust the game’s FOV in terms of how the character’s hands and weapons were displayed. It took a lot of trial and error, with countless restarts of the game.
Eventually I was able to run the game with ultra-wide resolution and aspect ratio, but even then I couldn’t fix the Vigor Tester Vit-o-matic at the start of the game showing so large that it prevented progress, because no buttons or full screens were actually visible options to make choices. No matter what I manually corrected, this Vit-o-matic display could not be fixed and was severely blocking the game. Ultimately what I had to do was go through the Vit-o-matic in stretched warped Full HD which at least showed the vigor tester in its entirety as it crushed the FOV, then after making my character’s SPECIAL selections, revert back to my custom settings, for the game to display properly.
All in all, what I’m trying to say here is curved ultra-wide gaming monitors If Great. They make new games look amazing and definitely increase the level of immersion in my mind. However, if you are a fan of retro games and spend a lot of time playing computer games from the 90s, the fact that you may have to jump over annoying technical hurdles to be able to play these classic games. And in some rare cases, you may just have “shit bad luck”.
In those cases, you have one more option that I now realize is a really important tool in the arsenal of ultrawide monitor users – picture-by-picture modes. Most ultra-wide monitors allow you to split the monitor back into multiple smaller screens by activating PBP mode, which in my case allowed me, even without another system connected, to turn off one side of the screen. This is obvious far from perfect as I bought ultrawide to enhance the viewing experience, but if playing a classic game at a more traditional resolution and aspect ratio is going to make it playable on my current setup, so be it.