The launch of Elden Ring was marked by strong reviews praising its gameplay and art direction, but also by questions about its technical performance on each platform – PlayStation, Xbox and PC. At Digital Foundry, our analysis is ongoing on the recently released version 1.02 of the game, but we wanted to provide some initial thoughts, recommendations, and performance expectations for anyone planning to pick up the game at launch. This will be followed by our full analysis as soon as possible thereafter, detailing PC and console performance.
First, let’s look at the situation on consoles. The performance metrics we saw during the game’s network test last year seem largely unchanged on PS5 and Series X. Both continue to offer two modes – a frame rate mode and a quality mode. However, even running on patch 1.02 launch day, the frame rate mode continues to run in the 45-60fps range on PS5 and Series X, while the quality modes in each range are are between 30 and 60 fps. Both machines run at fully unlocked frame rates, and just like the network test, there’s still no 30fps cap to even out the flickering playback in quality mode. The result? Very variable performance for the quality mode in particular, where the 60fps is rarely – if ever – reached on PS5 or Series X.
By comparison, the PS5 generally runs at a higher frame rate than the Series X, although neither is clearly ideal. Ultimately, neither console delivers a consistent 60fps in the final release. That being said, there are workarounds for every platform worth considering. The Xbox Series X is greatly enhanced by its system-level support for Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) if you have a compatible display. VRR helps minimize perceived jitter in its 45-60 fps range in frame rate mode, creating a smoother experience by matching screen refresh to frame rate. It might not be a solution for everyone, but for those with compatible TVs, it’s the best option on Xbox right now. S-series users also benefit from VRR here. Given that this rig’s frame rate mode currently runs between 40 and 60 fps, it’s a viable choice, but not a perfect one, given that Series S performance veers towards the lower end more often. lower end of this range than the X series.
Meanwhile, hitting a steady 60fps on PS5 involves a whole different tactic. Unfortunately VRR support isn’t available on Sony’s machine at the moment, but, as with the network test, just running the PS4 app on PS5 clears the frame rate to 60 frames per second. The compromise? The game runs at a lower resolution – at what appears to be a rebuilt 1800p – and with lower grass density settings than the native PS5 version. It’s basically the PS4 Pro code path, using the higher power of the PS5 to achieve a more consistent level of performance. Even with these tradeoffs, running the PS4 app on PS5 is currently the best option on any console for achieving a consistent 60fps – and is recommended if you value outright performance over image quality and high-end graphics features.
The situation of the PC also deserves to be clarified. As it stands, the PC version using the latest 1.02 patch has a number of issues that will affect all hardware configurations on all graphics settings presets. Elden Ring is From Software’s first foray into low-level APIs on PC and the game uses DirectX 12. As we’ve seen in other DX12 titles, there can be some serious and distracting stuttering issues.
First, there are stutters lasting up to 250 milliseconds when new effects, enemies, and areas appear on screen. These types of stutters diminish as the gameplay experience continues and enemies, areas, and effects are revisited by the player. A second more prevalent stutter appears to be related to loading new game areas – when traversing terrain, moving from one area to another can result in minor one-off frame drops a few times per minute, or at worst, a drop in frame time glitches that drop the frame rate from 60 to 40.
Variable refresh rate monitors using G-Sync or Freesync help alleviate a level of the distracting nature of some of these issues, but relying on tech isn’t a good situation given how versions of the console do not suffer from these stutters. Other issues worth noting are the lack of support for ultra-wide displays, the lack of support for frame rates above 60 fps, and the unintuitive graphics options that lack visible scaling. As we’ve seen with other titles suffering from similar issues such as Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Halo Infinite, it might be wise to wait for more fixes before investing time in the PC version of Elden Ring. .
So overall it’s a bit of a mixed bag for Elden Ring right now on all platforms. Many of these issues could and should be fixed in future updates, and hopefully From Software will be able to bring the game’s performance to a level worthy of the rest of the title’s quality. We’ll go into more detail in future videos and articles, so stay tuned.