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Dead Island 2 PC tech review: A capable UE4 port that’s smooth and stutter-free -By Fsk

Dead Island 2 is a cross-platform success story, offering reasonable image quality and performance across both last-gen and current-gen consoles – so how does it fare on PC? Does it buck the trend of recent Unreal Engine 4 releases by delivering a stable, performant experience, or is it another disappointing PC port in the 2023 #StutterStruggle saga?

To find out, I played through the first run of the single-player game on a range of PC hardware, reducing optimized settings and running performance tests.

Before we get to the results, let’s start with the first boot experience – which is largely positive. The initial logo screen can be skipped with the Enter key, but you’ll want to make sure you No Skip the (rapid) shader compilation step. It’s easily done, but this pre-compiling shaders before gameplay is crucial in ensuring a smoother, more consistent PC gaming experience. For those wondering, consoles are fixed hardware platforms, so shaders are shipped with the code.

Here is the video version of the full DF Tech review of Dead Island 2 on PC.

You have a lot of options available for modern PC releases, including support for arbitrary resolutions on a wide variety of aspect ratios, borderless full-screen, and FOV adjustments. The wide ultra-wide aspect ratio is dramatically cut down to 16:9 for cutscenes, but otherwise works very well. The settings screen works, but I’d like to see a game scene in the background to judge how the settings affect image quality in real time, but you can at least change the settings from low to ultra without restarting the game. can change.

True to its last-gen roots, Dead Island 2 looks good but doesn’t push any limits graphically, with a fairly standard lighting model with indirect lighting, good-looking character models, and some clever animations. Loading times are also fast, in line with current-gen consoles equipped with SSDs.

The only real concern here is image quality, which can appear a bit soft at times – even at native 4K. This is down to a limited number of sensible AA options, TAA is a bit blurry (but stable) at its high setting and FSR2 adds more detail but exhibits shimmer in leaves, fences or grating. Ultimately I chose TAA here. VRS (Variable Rate Shading) is also available, but I didn’t care for how it messed up the image so I left it on for my playthrough.

dead island 2 pc reflection

There are a lot of mirrors in Dead Island 2 – yet the player character is absent from them, except (occasionally) for their severed hands.

Another oddity is how reflections are handled. Instead of opting to cover or shatter mirrors in your environment to avoid this tricky rendering situation like many other games, Dead Island 2 has mirrors all over the place at the beginning, but they don’t work – you just need to have one. Get a low-resolution cube. Map that gets weirdly distorted when you pass through it. Equally odd is that the game’s screen-space reflections don’t apply to many of the world’s reflective surfaces, and when they do they transition awkwardly across the screen. These moments are a bit jarring – there are occasions when you see your hands floating in mid-air in a mirror. I saw similar issues on the PS5 as well, so hopefully this can be fixed in the future.

Moving on to performance, as current-gen consoles run at 60fps, I think that’s a reasonable target for high-end and mid-range PCs as well. I used the game’s intro sequence as a benchmark, as it offers explosions, particles, volumetric lighting, and real-time cutscenes.

My high-end configuration with an RTX 3080 Ti and Core i7 13700K processor maxed out the game at 4K at a stable 60fps for almost the entire run, with little or no shader compilation stutter. A more mid-range configuration with an RTX 2080 and a Ryzen 9 3900X set to use only six cores (one chiplet, mimicking the Ryzen 5 3600) resulted in practically unplayable frame-rates at this resolution. offered, and even dropping into FSR quality mode. Well below the 60fps threshold. I guess this means we need some customized settings!

In case you missed our coverage of the game on Xbox and PlayStation consoles, here’s Tom Morgan’s lowdown.

To track these down, I fired up the PS5 version I worked on, with the shadows closely resembling the PC version and the effects turned from Ultra to Medium. These two settings alone deliver a sizeable performance bump, allowing the mid-range device to hit a stable 4K 60fps with FSR quality mode on – although performance can occasionally crash into the 40s for no apparent reason. goes.

Native 1440p provides a more consistent experience, with frame-rates often reaching 100+ fps. I played through the game this way and can recommend it – especially with VRR – but without VRR you may want to use something like RTSS to cap your frame-rate to 60fps because In-game cap causes improper frame pacing. For anyone wondering about traversal stutter, I haven’t experienced it beyond minor hiccups – hence pretty up-voting.

So, my customized settings are as follows:

Mid-Range (~RTX 2080 + Ryzen 5 3600) 1440p + TAA (High)
Shadow + Effects (medium)
Other Settings (Ultra)
High-End (~RTX 3080 + Core i7 13700K) 4K+TAA(High)
Shadow + Effect (High)
Other Settings (Ultra)

Dead Island 2 on PC certainly has its quirks, a subpar collection of ugly reflections and AA techniques. This is another title that only comes with FSR2 as an upscaling solution in a world where there is no reason to give up on DLSS and XeSS. We’ve also seen UE4 titles like Ghostwire: Tokyo port Epic’s own, excellent, TSR from UE5 back to UE4. We would really hope to see this situation improve in an upcoming title update.

Overall, though, Dead Island 2 runs better than many of the recently released Unreal Engine 4 in terms of performance and stability without sacrificing too much in terms of image quality. So if developer Dambusters can do this after a nine-year development cycle across three different development teams, we should expect a similar level of quality from a less troublesome release. I’m not holding my breath, but maybe 2023 is going to be better than we expected.