Since November last year, when Death Stranding was released on PlayStation 4, the game has remained on the platform’s exclusive list. But now that the launch of the PlayStation 5 is just around the corner, Sony has opened the door for gamers looking for stronger hardware. Death Stranding is available for pre-order via Steam, and this is good not only because the main competitor of the Valve game store – Epic Games Store – frankly, did not deserve popular love for a year and a half of its existence. Valve not only gave Death Stranding a trading platform, but took part in the creation of additional content, which this time will only be able to be appreciated by the owners of personal computers. It is enough to see the headcam on the head of Sam – the main character of the game – to understand what it is about: the worlds of Death Stranding and Half-Life are now officially connected, although without completing six additional missions, you will not know how deep the rabbit hole is.
Of course, we will save readers from plot spoilers. Moreover, we are primarily interested in the technical side of the Death Stranding port. In this, the PC version also gained an advantage over the original on the PlayStation 4. Judging by the picture, the default graphics settings are quite consistent with what we have already seen on the game console, but a suitably powerful computer is able to increase the degree of photorealism. Alas, before the full-scale release on July 14, the publisher forbade us to publish our own screenshots, but even according to the official images of the beta version, it is noticeable that the game is really prettier.
In addition, Death Stranding on personal computers supports a wide screen format, but resolutions with any exotic proportions, in addition to the standard 16: 9 and 21: 9, alas, turned out to be blocked. Apparently, the catch is that the Death Stranding graphics engine – the “home” code of Hideo Kojima’s studio called Decima Engine – always displays the image in the “native” resolution of the monitor, and the reduced settings are implemented by scaling frames. By the way, the latter gives quite a good result even if the 1920 × 1080 mode is activated on the 4K panel. However, artless image scaling is unlikely to be useful to players in Death Stranding, because it supports both competing technologies that perform this task better – DLSS 2.0 from NVIDIA and FidelityFX CAS from AMD.
We’ll touch on the latter a little later, but first you need to find out what hardware is required in order to guarantee a decent frame rate in three standard modes – 1080p, 1440p and 2160p. Immediately, we note that we conducted all the tests on the closed beta version of the game. In the coming days, Death Stranding will receive the final pre-release patch, which can still affect the speed and quality of graphical effects. In addition, neither AMD nor NVIDIA have released optimized drivers yet, so we advise you to be skeptical about the results of the preliminary benchmarks.
However, the upcoming update is unlikely to change the fact that despite the impressive graphics, Death Stranding works great even on graphics cards of the democratic price category – like the Radeon RX 590 or Radeon RX 5500 XT. At least at 1080p or 1440p, both devices guarantee roughly 60 frames per second or more. But what can I say, even the 43 FPS result, which the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti reached in 1080p mode, is not a reason to reduce the graphics quality (we ran tests at maximum speeds).
The appetite for the speed of iron wakes up in Death Stranding only at 4K resolution. Here gamers will need at least a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti to stabilize the frame rate at 60 FPS. Better yet, the flagship RTX 2080 It to have headroom for minimum frame rates. But those gamers who are ready to put up with light brakes for the sake of increased image clarity will be satisfied with the GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER.
But the main thing is that the owner of almost any modern video card can get everything at once – both high definition of the picture and smooth game play. “Green” NVIDIA GeForce RTX series accelerators allow you to enable frame scaling using DLSS 2.0, but absolutely all devices on which we launched Death Stranding support the alternative FidelityFX CAS algorithm. As for the qualitative results of both solutions, we are again deprived of the opportunity to show screenshots before the launch of the game on July 14th. But if readers are willing to take 3DNews’ word for it, the two technologies work equally well – so much so that an image stretched onto a 4K screen from a lower native resolution is hard to spot with the naked eye. However, the FidelityFX CAS version still seemed to us clearer in some aspects – such as the effects of rain drops, particles, etc.
However, DLSS 2.0 has more potential for performance gains. The neural network operates in two modes – quality or performance – and even though at a relatively low output resolution of 1080p, the Performance setting on NVIDIA cards gives a frame rate increase comparable to the FidelityFX CAS results on AMD hardware, on 1440p and 4K screens it increases FPS more efficiently. The reason is for sure that DLSS 2.0 uses the more aggressive the ratio between the original and final resolution, the higher the latter. 1: 4 is the standard aspect ratio for 2160p rendering, which means the GPU does most of its work at 1080p.