Dying Light technical review.

Posted: January 27, 2015 by ryanlecocq in Reviews, Technology

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Good luck… running this game.

This one actually puzzles me quite a bit.  Don’t let the developer’s claims that this isn’t a sequel to Dead Island fool you.  It’s a sequel to Dead Island.  It runs on an upgraded version of the same game engine and looks very similar.  In fact I would say that the new engine adds maybe 15-20% better visual quality when the two are compared at max settings side by side.  Here’s the puzzling part: Dying Light takes about twice the computer to run decently when compared to the previous entries.  Even users with systems meeting or exceeding the recommended requirements will see frequent drops below 60fps.  People with average systems or console users can expect to play at about 30fps with frequent drops below that.  The strange thing is that it doesn’t seem to matter what specs you have or what level you turn the settings to, there are still random drops in framerate.

The game is also almost impossible to benchmark accurately to give an idea how well you can run it.  You may play for 20 minutes with average framerates of 45-60, imperfect but playable, but then have one alleyway that plunges the game to 20 frames-per-second and turns it into a very frustrating bottleneck.  This appears to be a minor hiccup on a benchmark, but when playing can be the difference between fun and fury.

Honestly, in a time when cheap or free development tools are widespread, it’s hard to see why Techland has stuck with their proprietary engine.  It puts out decent graphics and until this game didn’t require that crazy of a system to run.  That being said, Unreal engine or CryEngine are capable of looking much better and can run well on pretty much anything, including the older consoles.

Although I pretty much have nothing too positive to say about this game’s performance, there is a silver lining.  The truth is that the system requirements for this game are padded to reduce the effects of those performance hiccups.  It doesn’t really help though, as the game suffers at any level, by about the same amount.  I was able to play at low settings and 1366×768 resolution on a laptop with an HD 8770m 1GB, which is a pretty low-midrange mobile gpu.  That’s way below the minimum requirements and I was able to generally stay well above 30 frames-per-second.  To play at 1080p with fairly consistent framerates, you need a system with somewhere between the official minimum and recommended requirements.  An HD 8750 or GTX 760 can handle it fine on one monitor with high settings.  The bad news is you can’t really max it out period.  I personally am not wealthy enough to afford a system with 3 high-end GPUs, but that’s why youtube exists and there are many people posting videos right now that show Dying Light not maintaining steady framerates on systems that probably cost half as much as the game’s development.

It’s a pretty fun game so far, just go in knowing that this game is going to stutter a bit, even on your awesome gaming computer.  It won’t completely shatter the immersion of bashing in zombie heads, but occasionally a simple jump between two scaffolds in an alley will become the hardest part of the game, due to random poor performance.

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