Late last week, Naughty Dog revealed the recommended PC specs for The Last of Us Part 1, with a surprising amount of detail given in its blog post – right down to the exact hardware needed to achieve 4K 60fps on ultra settings. While the blog post is kind of obvious and straightforward, by reading between the lines, we can actually learn quite a bit about the port. That’s exactly what we did in DF Weekly #102, where a trio of PC nerds Alex, Rich and Oliver presented some interesting possibilities ahead of the game’s release on PC in almost exactly two weeks.
Firstly, the presence of DLSS and FSR 2.2 is a big deal for PC gamers as it means users of any modern GPU will be able to play the game at higher frame rates – which is especially important for “heavy” AAA games, like this one – but perhaps just as important as it means there will be a better alternative to the game’s usual TAA, which shows some crashing and flickering on the PS5. If these upscaling techniques are used at the maximum quality setting, we’d expect a cleaner and more stable presentation overall, which would be a nice bonus.
Secondly, given the presence of the ultra setting and the extremely high requirements even for 1440p resolution and 60 frames per second – previously listed as RTX 2080 Ti for $ 1000 – we can expect the game to offer some graphical advantages over the PS5 version, which already looks great. Part of it will be the expectation of achieving both 4K and 60fps on high-end systems, while PS5 users have to choose between 4K 30fps and 1440p 60fps, but even with that in mind, we expect scaling apart from the PS5 version in terms of relatively easy to tweak settings like draw distances, shadow quality, and so on. It remains to be seen how much of an impact these changes would have, but there’s certainly some potential for a shiny PC port on high-end hardware – including a native ultra-wide 21:9 or 32:9 presentation, which Alex points out during the show often requires a significant amount of time to implement in the in-game cutscenes.
In addition to the upper part, the minimum technical requirements are fascinating. Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckmann has promised that the game will run on Steam Deck, but the listed minimum specs, including a GTX 970 and GTX 1050 Ti, are way beyond Steam Deck’s capabilities. Normally you’d expect Steam Deck to run the game at a lower resolution or lower frame rate to compensate, but the minimum specs already list 720p at 30fps on low settings – so Steam Deck will struggle to play , despite having GPU performance close to PS4 at 720p resolution, or has the game been optimized for Steam Deck so we see much better performance than usual compared to desktop GPUs like the GTX 970? Or is FSR required for the game to run stably, in which case we’d expect something like a native resolution of 540p or lower? Each option is intriguing, but we’ll have to wait for the full game to know for sure.
Other news covered in the Direct this week was also intriguing, with Starfield finally getting a release date (albeit later than expected), and Bloomberg’s Suicide Squad reports being delayed after a rather disappointing recent reveal on PlayStation State of Play. In both cases, the delays make sense, especially given Bethesda’s penchant for delivering huge, beautiful game worlds, initially riddled with bugs, but Suicide Squad may be too far away to be “saved” from the games-as-a-service nature. We’ve also covered Microsoft and Sony’s ever-evolving circus, with Microsoft’s credible claim that Call of Duty could hit Switch (and GeForce Now customers), amounting to 150 million new devices, as well as the addition of ray tracing to Halo Infinite multiplayer. Interesting things!
Elsewhere in the Directaverse, we covered some important topics in response to questions from Digital Foundry fans. My favorite question this week was Zephyr, which asked if internal game engines are becoming unfeasible. This is something I’ve thought about a lot, as we’ve seen some high-profile cases of own-brand engines struggling to match their competitors, especially Unreal, in terms of features and polish. However, we Also clearly saw the downsides of one game engine used in so many titles, with the kind of “Unreal Engine 4” now permeating the gaming space and making it difficult for most games to stand out visually. It should also be said that this is probably one of the causes of the current #StutterStruggle epidemic on PC, with Unreal Engine 4 games being the most common offenders of Alex Battaglia’s patience.
- 00:00:00 Introduction
- 00:00:52 News 01: Starfield has a release date, Suicide Squad delayed
- 00:11:18 News 02: The Last of Us Part 1 PC Details!
- 00:22:46:News 03: Sony-Microsoft feud intensifies with Call of Duty matchups
- 00:36:50:News 04: Halo Infinite for PC with ray tracing!
- 00:44:14 Supporter Question 1: Are internal game engines already becoming unworkable?
- 00:52:10 Supporter Question 2: Would DF be interested in producing movies about building computers?
- 00:57:41:Proponent Question 3: With Moore’s Law slowing down, will PCs or consoles have to switch to ARM for better performance?
- 01:03:33 Supporter Question 4: Would Alex consider making a new “do you really need ultra settings” video given the emergence of new computing technologies like DLSS?
- 01:05:49 Supporter Question 5: Where is Alex’s Crysis Temple? Was it destroyed by Alex’s rage over #StutterStruggle?
I think there’s definitely a danger that the whole industry will become too dependent on Unreal and we’ll lose a lot of the unique technical and design features that internal engines can provide. At the same time, though, using Unreal doesn’t necessarily mean your game will be bland. Hi-Fi Rush is a great example of what I cited the last time this topic was brought up as an UE4 game that is nothing like its peers.
And as Alex points out in the Direct, there are still game studios like iD and Infinity Ward that are able to achieve much better performance and features with their own engines than would be possible with Unreal. So while custom game engines are becoming less and less popular, seasoned studios can still argue for carving their own path, especially when they can afford to take the time to deliver polished results. So many technically shaky games developed on in-house engines are criticized not because engines are bad, but because those individual projects are not given enough time or resources to run in a more polished state. Hopefully, the same pressure that is forcing some studios to move to Unreal will also cause other studios to stick to their own tech – and just spend a little more time troubleshooting technical issues to ensure the game is warmly received.
There have been some other great questions on the Direct this week, including whether we’ll ever make PC build videos, whether consoles can switch from x86 to ARM processors, and where the Crysis Alexa temple is currently located.
If you want to submit your own questions to Direct, please consider supporting us on Patreon. In addition to being able to influence the direction of future DF projects, you’ll also receive an invitation to join the great community on Discord, stay up to date with our latest projects, and browse content – including DF Direct! – before it reaches a wider audience. So: join us! We wish we had you.