There was good news for Resident Evil fans last week, as Capcom announced free updates for Resident Evil 2 Remake, its sequel and game that debuted with an impressive RE engine: Resident Evil 7. These upgrades have effectively brought existing RE-powered series entries to the Resident Evil Village feature set, with the introduction of air tracking and support from 120 Hz. PC patches for this trio of titles have also been released, but it can be said that the upgrades have been somewhat hit and missed. Perhaps more importantly, later quality problems around RE Village on PC, it’s disappointing to see less bright PC ports. I looked at the Resident Evil 2 Remake and in several respects the new code is quantified inferior to the older versions. In the context of other disappointing releases of Capcom PC, it is clear that the technical quality of these games is not where it should be – and players deserve better.
In fact, the situation with these computer upgrades has proven to be a problem for so many users that Capcom quickly updated older versions, available for download via the Steam beta branch. On the one hand, it’s a positive move for Capcom to react so quickly to community outrage – but significantly, it also shows that the update is so flawed that even Capcom agrees that existing versions had to be updated. New versions are still the default download, although the vast majority of computer users are better off with older versions. Composing my critique, I focused on the most challenging game in the group – Resident Evil 2 Remake – although many of the highlights relate to other titles.
I don’t have much positive to say, but there’s no doubt about it: air tracking support gives a boost to overall quality, especially because RT reflections replace the horrible reflections of screen space found in the older version. Global ray-tracked lighting is also a good plus, replacing ambient screen space occlusion with much more precise ambient shading, and even including local light reflection at the top of the static GI for dynamic elements. However, RT is low resolution and quality, with no upward scalability for more powerful hardware. In addition, another semi-hidden upgrade is the interlacing / chessboard option used by consoles, which now works well on a PC, a good way to increase performance with limited drawbacks (mainly on RT reflection quality and transparent effects).
And actually, that’s about it – if you want to check out the RT features, I’d recommend this patch. However, in all other scenarios, the ‘upgrade’ is bad and not worth your time or effort – and that starts with performance. Turn off RT and compare the similarities with the older version of the game and there’s an incredibly big drop in frame rate for exactly the same image quality. This seems to be due to the suboptimal implementation of DirectX 12, while older versions simply ran much faster on the old DX11 API. Tested on the GTX 1060, the Resident Evil 2 Remake seems to be 25 to 30 percent slower in terms of average frame rate – a stunning state of affairs. At 1440p, that’s the difference between running 1440p at a relatively consistent 60fps or alternatively, running in the 40s on a new version. This is a condemnatory indictment for Capcom’s DX12 implementation and affects all GPUs, not just the GTX 1060 – even heavyweights like the RX 6800 XT and RTX 3080 are affected.
In addition to performing worse by default, the older version of the game also offers a better graphics experience in several scenarios. If you’re not playing with RT on, less than impressive SSAO is the only option. Bizarrely, Nvidia’s superior HBAO + from the older version has been removed from the newly patched game [UPDATE: HBAO+ can be enabled – this is achieved by ensuring that the RT toggle is in the off position]. Similarly, the supersampling slider does not work in the new code, it works and looks the same no matter what it is set to. Again, this works well in the older version. The reflections in the screen space – although not impressive in the older code – worked correctly in the existing game, but this is no longer the case with the new version. SSR also completely disappears when the gun is targeted, something that didn’t happen in the older version (and that happens on consoles, if the PS5 build is something that is needed).
And while we’re on the subject of broken features, Capcom simply has to deal with its temporal anti-aliasing solution – which works quite well on consoles, but not on a PC, failing to varying degrees depending on the game. For example, in the recent Monster Hunter Rise, the TAA does nothing. In Resident Evil Village, it seems to have some degree of coverage, but the world is far from the effect quality in console games. The lack of efficiency in the anti-aliasing solution is further exacerbated by the confusing inclusion of a sharpening filter over which the user has no control, which further reduces the quality of the presentation compared to generally fine versions of the console.
So unless you want to use RT features, my advice is to stay away from new patches. Too bad the RT isn’t better, but there’s a way to improve performance if you have an Nvidia GPU. I used the Green Team DLDSR super-sampling option to reduce it from 5120×2880 to 3840×2160. However, I also used the AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution in quality tandem mode. This essentially increases from just below 4K to 5K, and then we use Nvidia’s super-sampling technique to reduce back to ultra HD. It seems to improve RT quality, and even the edges look improved to the touch.
In short, I’m happy to see that the air tracking has scored – especially since the RT itself doesn’t have much success in performance (even if the transition to the DX12 has!), But the point is that even the only positive point about the upgrade is still a little disappointment . It could have been better – a feeling that extends to the whole company. Capcom added air tracking, but did nothing to improve problems with the existing game – such as a reduced animation rate for zombies, who become a slide show with enemies at a distance. It was a complaint I had back in the days, it could have been easily fixed, but it was more present in the updated game. It’s confusing why some features are added, while unresolved issues aren’t resolved, while other features are tapped. All this – except for a large reduction in the number of staff.
After the drama with Resident Evil Village, I honestly think it’s time for Capcom to rethink its approach to its PC versions. There is no doubt about the quality of the titles themselves, but a new and improved focus on technical smoothing is needed. As controversy continues, it’s hard to avoid the feeling that Capcom’s PC product just isn’t getting the same level of care and attention as the console being built, and to be clear, computer users don’t deserve to be treated like second-class citizens.
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