Reviews for the console version of Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham Knight were overwhelmingly positive, but PC players aren’t so happy. Users on Reddit and Steam are reporting all sorts of issues with the game, including stuttering, wildly variable frame rates, and crashes, to name a few. There are also reports of memory leaks causing the game to spike to over 12GB of memory usage before crashing completely. In response, Steam users bombarded the game’s profile page with negative reviews.
While the performance issues affect both Nvidia and AMD users, including those with high-end cards like the GTX 980 running the latest “Game Ready” drivers, once again AMD users seem to be suffering the most. Hours before the release of Arkham KnightRocksteady updated the game’s minimum system requirements, noting that “there are some known performance issues with Batman: Arkham Knight for PC owners using AMD graphics cards,” and that it is “working closely with AMD to resolve these issues as quickly as possible.”
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time AMD users have suffered underperformance compared to Nvidia users, with recent releases such as the The witcher 3 and Project cars both show similar problems. Like The witcher 3, Batman: Arkham Knight includes several Nvidia GameWorks technologies, including Enhanced Rain, Interactive Fog and Smoke, and Interactive Paper Debris. However, unlike with The witcher 3, those effects seem to work poorly on both Nvidia and AMD cards. Users also report that disabling GameWorks features does little to help with frame rates.
While it’s highly unlikely that Nvidia’s involvement in the game has had any detrimental effect on AMD’s performance – despite what AMD is likely to say – the fact that it runs so poorly on its own hardware is disappointing to say the least. In a recent interview with Ars, Rocksteady’s Lead Engine Programmer, Dustin Holm, explained that an “entire team at Nvidia” worked alongside the company to develop the game.
[Nvidia has] a team of people in their GameWorks division developing this whole new set of technologies that do really amazing things that are optimized to run on their cards. They then come to us with these proposals of some ideas of things that they can integrate into.
A lot of the content is developed by them – we work together on some things – but a lot of it is super technical. For example, they do a brilliant fluid simulation. Until now that kind of simulation has been way out of the realm of what we can do in real time but they’ve got some super big video cards that can run anything we’ve built but they can run a little bit extra so they can put their own stuff on top of it too can rotate. It’s been the same process for all games.
When questioned on the topic of GameWorks performance and AMD cards, Holm said, “We work with Nvidia and we rely on their capabilities to make it work well on their hardware, which they do, and no, those [GameWorks] features don’t run on AMD, but we also work with the AMD driver team to fix performance issues so they can develop drivers. It’s my job to make sure you get a good experience, so we’re doing our best to make sure everything runs smoothly on all platforms.”
Other problems for Arkham Knight including corrupted game files for those who preloaded the game on Steam causing crashes and freezes as well as significant frame drops when gliding or calling and controlling the Batmobile. The game itself is also limited to 30fps by default and requires editing the game files to disable it. To do this, users must navigate to “STEAM_INSTALL_FOLDERBatman Arkham KnightBmGameConfigBmSystemSettings.ini” and look for the line item “Max_FPS=30” and change it to “Max_FPS=9999”.
Despite all reported problems with Arkham Knight, not everyone suffers, and some users claim that the game works perfectly on their hardware. Indeed, a resident of the Ars Orbiting HQ (Britannia Module) who briefly played the game last night experienced no problems at all. What makes all of this even weirder is that the game runs on a modified version of Unreal Engine 3, an engine that has been around for a long time and scales well on different hardware.
Still, there are definitely performance issues Arkham Knight. Whether they come from drivers, poorly optimized code, or from a shoddy PC port remains to be seen. The latter is likely, though, especially given Warner’s track record: the PC ports of Mortal Kombat x and Injustice suffer from all sorts of problems. For now, let’s hope that Warner and/or the GPU companies work hard to fix this as soon as possible.