Up For Debate - Unfinished And Broken PC Game Launches

Written by Jon Sutton on Mon, Jun 29, 2015 5:30 PM

Broken game launches used to be an oddity. Before high-speed internet was the norm, for most gamers how the game launched was exactly how they would play it. Publishers were faced with a choice - release a game and have it be broken forever, or fine tune it to perfection and deliver a complete experience.

By now the Batman: Arkham Knight situation has bordered on the farcical, and everyone from Nvidia to Rocksteady are piling into Iron Galaxy’s port in an effort to fix it. However, they are by no means alone, and a worrying trend in recent years has seen broken game after broken game make it onto store shelves. Publishers seem oblivious to the problems until the inevitable backlash occurs, but what can be done about the grander and more ambitious gaming experiences demanding a huge amount more testing than was previously the norm?

The Joker's Last Laugh

There’s no denying it, the state of Batman: Arkham Knight, when it came out early last week, was unacceptable. At some point someone, somewhere, gave the PC port the thumbs up and began burning it onto thousands upon thousands of PC copies, ready for stores. Plenty of people must have been aware that Batman: Arkham Knight was in nowhere near an optimised state, but the decision was made regardless.

Publisher Warner Bros Games had two choices here - just push the game out and hope for the best, or suck it up and delay the PC port until it’s actually ready. It started headlong down the first choice, before hitting a speed bump and lurching awkwardly towards option two. Luckily we’ve already had a swift patch, and we’re expecting plenty more, but I can’t have been the only one thinking I would have just preferred a working game in July.

Whether we like it or not, developing for PC is a vastly more complicated experience than console, especially when targeting the high-end. The PC is a moving target, while the console’s remain stationary. This much seems obvious, which is why it can be all the more confusing when the PC version seems to be more of an afterthought. When there’s so much more that could possibly go wrong, logic suggests it should be given more time to optimised. The rumours surrounding Arkham Knight suggest just 6-8 weeks was given for the port, which is 30-40 working days, give or take.

Publisher Peril

Whenever we write about any AAA games here on GD, one of the first responses is always, without fail, in regards to PC optimisation. The likes of Ubisoft, EA and now Warner Bros have really damaged trust among PC gamers, and that’s why our first response is always “the game sounds great, but with publisher x behind it, it’s going to be unoptimised garbage.

The wait for GTA 5 was painful, there’s no doubt about it. But Rockstar delivered an incredible port with great performance and a stack of PC exclusive features. It was and is the best version of the game available, and it’s because Rockstar took its sweet time to make sure it works. But the GTA IV port was a mess. It seems memory is short with game publishers, as we see again and again publishers failing to learn from the mistakes of other publishers. Opting to push out an inferior version on PC and expecting to be able to slip it past the high expectations of a specialised audience, that loves to upgrade their tech for specific games.

The question is though, would we be prepared for huge, long waits for the biggest games if it meant it would run like a dream? Or will you accept nothing less than day and date launches alongside the console versions?

How would you like AAA publishers to approach game launches?

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07:02 Jul-10-2015

LOL just look at F1 2015, thats another example of an unfinished game xD.

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11:10 Jun-30-2015

Companies nowdays barely even try to get games work proporly mostly on pc because there are pirates but its can be avoided with good games, if the game is good so peple will support the developers, developers just dont understend that.

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11:30 Jun-30-2015

i don't think this game was bad...its just bad optimized

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19:46 Jun-30-2015

I actualy meant good optimized games :)

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21:53 Jun-30-2015

well, okay :)

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17:13 Jun-30-2015

Companies just don't realize that PC capabilities are much greater than consoles and they can make so much more for PC. Today the service sells, not the product.

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19:57 Jun-30-2015

An avrage pc is more capable of running games in higher frames then console so high end (wich should crash all consoles) run equal or worst

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09:40 Jul-01-2015

The average PC is actually slower than an XBox One. Check the steam stats

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09:49 Jun-30-2015

The consumer keeps on buying so they will not handle the problem. We are the stupid ones. A quick Google will give you all the info you need on a new game. Personally I'll never pre-order or play another early access game in my life.

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09:54 Jun-30-2015

The last 2 games I bought in early access (The long dark and besiege 2) I'm already sick of playing and the games are not even finished. Seriously, how long do these developers think an indie game can keep someone busy? I'm done with it.

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11:08 Jun-30-2015

This is what I have been saying. There is nothing preventing people from waiting for a review before ordering a game! Articles like this always mention "the trust has been broken", but people keep buying games anyway! If I was a publisher, I wouldn't take these people seriously either.

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07:36 Jun-30-2015

This is what i have been saying the whole time. Devs don't understand that stuff like this sticks with them for many years, look at how long R* took to get decent rep from us. People are still not sure with ubisoft as sometimes their games wok, others not. Horrible launches like this just destroy your companies reputation for releasing quality games. Steam can become a big player for us. If a game is steam tested before release they can either say that the product does not meet expected quality and they shall not release it, or release it and give warnings like they do with betas,

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09:23 Jun-30-2015

I seriously think devs don't care about their "rep" with gamers.

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09:45 Jun-30-2015

developers do, but publishers don't :)

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11:01 Jun-30-2015

Nowdays its all about the money for most of the developers

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11:26 Jun-30-2015

Money matter, that's it. The point i'm trying to put across is that if Steam were to review a game before putting it on the store, then what they would be doing is a second quality assurance check (clearly the first QA failed). Therefore as a buyer of a product i can be assured the product is to satisfaction, or have an expectation of the performance and bug issues i will encounter. If Steam, being the big player in gaming, has major potential to influence the final product. If Steam wont sell the game because its broken then steam gets 'good guy rep' and the developer looses profit. Thus the.

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11:32 Jun-30-2015

.developers will be encouraged to produce a quality game with little performance issues and bugs. If they go ahead and say we don't care how cr@ppy our product is at launch, steam give a notice like it does with betas and then when gamers riot and burn down developers houses or swat them for a horrible product, steam turns around and says, "but we told you so". This would make many people happy in my opinion as some save months to buy a game and cant play it, for me thats heartbreaking.

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11:57 Jun-30-2015

Say Valve decides the next Assassins Creed title won't be sold on steam because they think it shows too many faults and bugs.
Do you think it will diminish sales that much it will make the devs think better about it?
I don't.
First of all the PC game sales are only a portion of the total, and even then there are multiple other options for buying the game as a PC gamer. People will just use those other options instead of steam. So the only real loser in this situation would be Valve.
I have the highest respect for people having to save up months to be able to buy a game, but especially in their case I'd think I'd be a bit more careful with my money than to spend it on a day one release of a game. And even then, you can always ask for a refund if you don't like what it is or if it's broken.

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12:06 Jun-30-2015

There will always be ways around the solution, you are 100% correct there. If someone were to undercut steam because they know their product is not to standard, then that will raise some suspicion, plus it would also be like cutting off their own hand considering how many people use steam these days. In my opinion, steam makes enough from the market and other games, so one or five titles wont make a huge dink in their profit. Undercutting steam will also be doing Steam a favor, because now they wont need to be bothered with so many refunds.

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12:27 Jun-30-2015

I'm beginning to think this is one of those discussions best had in a pub with a pint or two :)
Truth be told I think we don't know enough details of how business is conducted between the two parties. It may well be I underestimate the position of Valve towards game devs/publishers. But for that reason I still think that if they pulled 1 or 5 major titles out of their stock it would hurt Valve the most in the long run.
I just can't see major devs begging steam to sell their games. Or maybe I look at it too extreme, and such a move by Steam could be a nudge in the right direction for devs to perform better. After all, I've always found it apparently doesn't take that much effort from the devs to iron out the bugs after launch, so why not just put more effort in it before? It's still the same investment in time, and it can increase sales considerably especially for the next title.

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12:27 Jun-30-2015

Lol, turns out you convinced me :)

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11:35 Jun-30-2015

"Nowdays its all about the money for most of the developers" if they care about money...why don't make good games and good optimized?!

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06:13 Jun-30-2015

Console peasants

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09:25 Jun-30-2015

What have they got to do with anything? Do you think they like playing unfinished, broken games? No. They are no different from you.

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11:38 Jun-30-2015

Yeah, i find it funny how these "simple console peasants" have less problems with games at launch then us pc gamers. Also the fact that games developed on a pc run better on console then the system they were made on makes them not so peasant like now is it? A gamer is a gamer, no mater what system you have.

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19:26 Jun-30-2015

Well, not trying keep the fire going, but there are a bunch of console players that are having a big laugh over this. That's not to say that some console players don't sympathasize with us.

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19:40 Jun-30-2015

well, they are not different than us...some pc gamer also laugh at console gamer too...the war never end...sorry for the english

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11:38 Jun-30-2015

i don't understand why almost pc gamer hate console gamer...i don't have console...but i don't hate console -_-

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11:52 Jun-30-2015

i know you just sad because pc got bad optimized...but that doesn't mean you can insult console gamer

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04:38 Jul-01-2015

Oh calm yourselves. You could have just ignored this. It't not even directly relevant what I wrote so why comment. I just like the way it sounds. "Console peasants". It is strangely arousing.

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06:54 Jul-01-2015

If it wasn't relevant you shouldn't have put it here. Since it was here, people took it to mean you were blaming console players for the buggy release. Just try to stay on topic in the future ;)

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10:36 Jul-01-2015

Please just calm down. Its not like my mind broke for a few moments and I accidentally wrote that. "try". Ok I will try next time. I don't understand why a few of you got so defensive. Come crap on my head I insist

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10:43 Jul-01-2015

Let's bury the hatchet already, you guys.
The way I understand it mhmtkrpnr didn't really mean anything by his comment, and was not on to cause offence.
So there's no reason for this to keep being dragged on.

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10:46 Jul-01-2015

I'm not getting defensive or crapping on your head mate, I was just trying to give you some advice, I saw that you were kind of being misunderstood and I was just trying to advise you on how to avoid that. No hard feelings mate.

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12:03 Jul-01-2015

No all good. Still love you and GameDebate. And lol didn't mean a literal crap XD. Just an expression. But I doubt its well known. Thanks.

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04:45 Jun-30-2015

Hey publishers! Maybe if you spent less money marketing the games with big CGI trailers and ad campaigns and giant E3 press conferences, and instead let the quality of the games speak for itself, you could spend more money on getting the games running on all platforms!!! I know, it's a great idea right? I call it "making a product that works."

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03:09 Jun-30-2015

theres no excuses for piss poor game releases it happens on all to often on all platforms especially pc is the worst i try tell people dont buy day one if the games unoptimized dont buy it at all we can beat game devolopers and publishers from doing all this all the time and getting away with it how you ask? fight with

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03:11 Jun-30-2015

our wallet without our money they have nothing and maybe they will learn i try to express to people all the time DO NOT BUY ANYTHING DAY ONE regardless if its a AAA title or some indie game dont do it and if the games crap dont support it at all period or buy when its dirt cheap but theres way way to many

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03:12 Jun-30-2015

complusive people who feel the need to get a game on day 1 and get that full experience immeditialy myself personally i can wait for a year then the games on sale for $20 buy 3 games instead of 1 and still get the same expieience of not even a better one cause its usually a game of the year edition and most crap is

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03:13 Jun-30-2015

patched out already if only people could be patient and see reviews before they buy even if they chose to at full price i always wait for reviews (or a really good sale) sorry for these long winded posts its not meaning to insult no one its to educate people that we can stop this if we dont support it

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03:15 Jun-30-2015

or else AAA companies and others will continue to release this crap all the time we can stop it with wallets and dont believe trailers ether i never like trailers or barely watch them or think oh that game looks cool i always always look for gameplay trailers try to sell you the game gameplay is the experience you have

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09:26 Jun-30-2015

Are you the guy who does the zero punctuation reviews? :p
Lol, sorry but I understand you though.
Then again, that's just your opinion.
Me, I count myself among the sorry sobs who pre-order games. Not by default of course, but some series I just can't help myself.

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12:21 Jun-30-2015

no im not yahtzee but i actually do watch his videos :p i like them lol and ill admit i did pre order a few in the past most recent was gta 5 but it is very far and few in between also some companies are more trust worthy then others to but its still best to say no and wait but i do see your point too :)

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02:42 Jun-30-2015

i still dont understand how they even have the choice :/ gaming is a form of media and in no other media is it ok to release a product before its finished. u dont go see an xmen movie before theyve added the special affects or download an album when the artist has only wrote 2 n a half songs with the intention of doing

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02:43 Jun-30-2015

. . . the rest later lol tbh theyve abused this freedom and deserve 10mins on the naughty step and not allowed to work without an adults supervision honestly its almost come to that . . . anyway ! yea make sure it works first :)

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08:21 Jun-30-2015

rightly said my friend

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00:45 Jun-30-2015

Either delay the launch or offer an early access so people can help find bugs before the official launch. I don't know why this is so hard for the big name publishers to understand. I don't blame the developers as much as the publishers because the publishers are the ones screaming about deadlines. Most developers don't care about deadlines. Most developers just want their creation to be perfect.

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00:21 Jun-30-2015

I find it odd that the platform the game was made on, performed the worse.


Off topic but did Rocksteady's or Warner Bros stock price go down after the launch and the freeze of sales?

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01:59 Jun-30-2015

Maybe is cus i have very little idea of how game development work but ive always found it odd that games are so hard to port to pc when the things are programmed on pc.

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09:37 Jun-30-2015

Doubtful Halofan, Every one of Warner Bros' games has hit number 1 in the charts so far this year.

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11:14 Jun-30-2015

I thought because they had halted a game on a platform, they would go down but if they're the same then there is a lot of confidence in them.

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00:02 Jun-30-2015

games these last two years are poorly optimized and contain a lot of bugs -_-

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01:30 Jun-30-2015

it will get better since developers would have to optimize more to get better graphics from the consoles, same with ps3 and x360 games at release vs end of life

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23:56 Jun-29-2015

I have no problem waiting for games to get fixed. That is much better than releasing them in such terrible condition! Take as long as you need to developers!

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23:50 Jun-29-2015

I'll just wait until I have a system that can run it and it's on sale as a GOTY version with all of the DLC and fixes.

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01:48 Jun-30-2015

Disregarding on sale (arkham city goty wasnt expensive, about half price of release date aaa console game) i agree...

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09:53 Jun-30-2015

GOTY version?
When?

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22:16 Jun-29-2015

Look on the bright side guys. Devs are hopefully going to learn from this as a prime example of what NOT to do if you want a successful PC game. I personally am optimistic and think this is going to lead to a major win for PC gamers in the long run.

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22:10 Jun-29-2015

So that means i should upgrade my pc.LOL

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03:15 Jun-30-2015

nah man that thing is crisis 4 proof:P

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11:47 Jun-30-2015

I know i mean i run every game above 0.0000000001 fps that's good for me.My rig is a "beast".

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20:49 Jun-29-2015

I wonder if the indies will start at some point to adopt this kind of "Rush Behaviour" ?

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09:29 Jun-30-2015

Indies aren't immune to anything. They are all people. If they want quick $$$ or want to spend the time, whether it be a year or a decade, to make a quality game then it's up to them.

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09:39 Jun-30-2015

I think plenty of indies do this exact thing, but without a marketing budget they just sink without trace.

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20:06 Jun-29-2015

Should i upgrade my Gpu if im planning to play at 1080p??

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21:11 Jun-29-2015

Depends on what you want from your gpu. The one you have is okay for 1080p, you can get good fps with medium settings on most new games (some worse some better depending on the game). If you want high settings and 60fps you need an upgrade

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20:03 Jun-29-2015

publishers ought to learn from Bethesda. They announced fallout 4 at e3 when the game was pretty much done content wise, and gave a release of November which gives 5 months which is used to iron out the game.

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23:54 Jun-29-2015

Until Fallout 4 releases there's nothing to learn. Bethesda has one of the worse reputations for releasing broken games. Until they prove otherwise what they've said about Fallout 4 could just be lies.

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01:35 Jun-30-2015

we want the base fallout 4 engine and the creation kit and just leave the rest to us, we've always made mods which beat what bethesda gave us anyways :3

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01:39 Jun-30-2015

I can just smell my pristine underground facility filled with gun parts and ammo and a large wood powered hot tub for the naked companions :3

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19:55 Jun-29-2015

personaly i don't preoder any game i think all gamers should do this

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19:11 Jun-29-2015

Let me complete the title for this article:


Unfinished and Broken PC Game Launches "are full of sh*t and not worth our time and money!"

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Can They Run... |

| 30FPS, Medium, 720p
Core 2 Duo E7500 2.93GHz Radeon R7 250X Sapphire 1GB Edition 4GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-10870H 8-Core 2.20GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile 16GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 4k
APU A10-9700E 4-Core 3.0GHz Radeon R5 M320 2GB 12GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i5-11400 6-Core 2.7GHz GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Asus TUF Gaming 6GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Low, 1080p
Core i5-6500 3.2GHz GeForce GTX 1060 16GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Ryzen 5 3500 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1660 Asus Phoenix OC 6GB 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz GeForce GTX 1060 Gigabyte Windforce 2X OC 3GB 16GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-12700K 16-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Asus ROG Strix Gaming OC 8GB 32GB
| 60FPS, Low, 1080p
Ryzen 7 2700X Radeon RX 550X 4GB 24GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i5-10600KF 6-Core 4.10GHz Radeon RX 580 Asus Dual 8GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i5-11400F 6-Core 2.6GHz GeForce GTX 1060 MSI Gaming X 6G Edition 16GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Ryzen 5 2600 Radeon RX 580 4GB 8GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i5-4570 3.2GHz Radeon HD 7970 OC Sapphire Edition 16GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i7-8086K 6-Core 4.0GHz GeForce GTX 980 4GB 32GB
| Low, 1080p
Core i5-7400 3.0GHz GeForce GTX 1050 Palit StormX 2GB 12GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1440p
Ryzen 7 3700X 8-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Gigabyte Aorus Master 8GB 16GB
100% Yes [4 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1440p
Ryzen 7 3700X 8-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Gigabyte Aorus Master 8GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Ryzen 5 3600 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Ultra 16GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 4k
Core i9-10900KF 10-Core 3.70GHz GeForce RTX 2080 Super MSI Ventus XS OC 8GB 64GB
| Medium, 1080p
FX-8300 Radeon RX 560 Sapphire Pulse OC 2GB 16GB