Deathloop in the technology test – ComputerBase

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With Deathloop, Arkane Studios bring the next game that goes its own way. ComputerBase not only took a closer look at the gameplay, but also at the technology, because it is tough on paper: In addition to DirectX 12, there is ray tracing and AMD’s upscaling technology FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR).

Update 09/17/2021 11:13 a.m.

ComputerBase also took a closer look at the CPU performance in Deathloop. Five processors had to prove themselves in the game, then Denuvo struck. There are big differences in the frame rate. However, there are no difficulties in reaching the 60 FPS mark with reasonably up-to-date processors.

With Dishonored (test) and Prey (test), Arkane Studios have repeatedly brought out favorite critics that never achieved resounding success with the mass of players, but found their fans in the niche. With Deathloop the situation could repeat itself this year. The preliminary reviews of the once again unusual game are consistently very good. As known from ComputerBase, this article is primarily about technology.

Void engine with FXR ray tracing, AMD FSR and other upgrades

Arkane again uses the in-house Void engine for Deathloop, which is based on the id Tech 5 engine, but has updated it comprehensively since the last appearance in Dishonored 2. Instead of DirectX 11, for example, only DirectX 12 is now supported and there is also visible news: The game can handle ray tracing, the rays are used for the shadows and the surrounding area.

However, the modern ray tracing option can’t hide the fact that Deathloop’s graphics look dusty. The developers try to compensate for this with a unique artistic style, but there is a noticeable gap compared to current flagship titles. The lighting in particular is convincing again and again in the game, but animations, character details, surfaces and a lot more are simply out of date.

In addition to ray tracing as a technical feature, Deathloop can also handle AMD’s upscaling technology FidelityFX Super Resolution (test) in order to increase performance with the lowest possible loss of quality. In addition, Nvidia’s Reflex API is supported, with the help of which the latencies of the engine on GeForce graphics cards can be reduced. This shows, as the test by Nvidia Reflex showed at the end of 2020, especially in the GPU limit effect.

There is no more than 120 FPS – or is it?

Aside from the graphics quality, the Void engine has to struggle with another disadvantage: At very high FPS it tends to produce graphics errors and a stuttering image output. This also applies to Deathloop, so more than 120 FPS cannot be displayed in the game at first. This is implemented using a frame limiter that cannot be switched off at first and does not allow more than 120 images per second.

But there is one strange exception: If VSync is activated, this image synchronization technology takes control of the frame output and the FPS limiter is switched off – even if the monitor supports more than 120 Hz. This works up to 360 FPS on a 360 Hz display.

If you want, you can switch off the frame limiter via the configuration file (entry “com_timeScaler” in the blackreefConfig.cfg file). However, this setting always jumps back when any option in the graphics menu is changed in the game. Since errors can occur due to the high frame rate, this step is not recommended anyway.

This also applies to the “VSync trick” and the question arises as to how the developers could overlook this connection. It has been shown that 144 FPS at 144 Hz and active VSync still run without problems. When the frame rate goes towards 150 FPS, however, the first graphics errors and frame time problems appear. But you are not immune to mistakes. A system is not recognizable.

Deathloop offers a good graphics menu on the PC with a lot of choices and useful options. In addition to the classic graphic presets (6 pieces), there are numerous individual options. Sample screenshots for individual options are missing, but each one offers a meaningful description. In addition, there is the already mentioned FPS limiter (30, 45, 60, 75, 90, 105, 120 FPS), but the game’s own downscaling is missing.

At FSR Deathloop breaks new ground

The developers have taken an innovative approach with the integration of AMD’s FSR technology. It is true that the well-known FSR presets can also be activated across the board in this game, but it can also be “smarter”. FSR can be set in Deathloop so that the upscaling only takes effect when the frame rate either falls below the VSync limit or below a manually specified frame rate between 30 and 120 FPS. The option can be configured in 1-FPS steps.

If you decide on one of the two intelligent options, one of the well-known FSR quality levels does not automatically apply. Instead, Deathloop throws three of its own quality levels into the ring, which reduce the resolution to a maximum of 85 percent, 75 percent or 50 percent.

  • Deathloop's graphics menu

    Deathloop’s graphics menu

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    On the next page: Ray tracing and AMD FSR in detail

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