Home / Gaming / New Fallout 4 1.2 patch improves performance on all platforms — but at a cost

New Fallout 4 1.2 patch improves performance on all platforms — but at a cost

Fallout 4 has been widely lauded in the gaming press as a stunning achievement, but performance issues and stuttering have negatively affected the title on all three platforms. The situation was particularly bad on the Xbox One, but the PS4 still struggled to maintain smooth frame rates as well.

On the PC, the situation was even more erratic. The Nvidia GTX 980 Ti I’ve used to test the title was more than capable of maintaining 100 FPS, the maximum refresh rate you can use to play the game without running into problems related to physics and engine issues. But there were many areas of the game where performance cratered to 25-30 FPS.

Now, Bethesda has released the 1.2 patch for Fallout 4 on all three platforms. Eurogamer reports that the PS4’s frame rate is much improved over the previous version of the game — but Bethesda appears to have hit its frame rate targets by lowering visual quality.

You can see the change in the screenshot below. On the left is the Corvega Factory (a particularly problematic area) before Patch 1.2, on the right is the same factory after Patch 1.2.

Original-vs-Updated

Original on the left, current 1.2 on the right

The shadows on the left-hand image are being thrown by a staircase that stretches out of frame. On the right, those shadows are removed. I don’t have a “Before” image on the PC, but here’s what that same area looks like on Ultra detail using a GTX 980 Ti.

Ambient occlusion is better on the PC but the old shadows are gone.

Ambient occlusion is better on the PC, but the old shadows are gone. (Click to enlarge.)

Again, it’s comparable with the PS4 version. There may be minor differences in quality and ambient occlusion, but the shadows are gone. There’s another way to see the change between the old and new version of the game. First, here’s a shot of the shadows trash can fires used to cast. Apologies for the blur, I had to screencap a YouTube video. Some have speculated this issue is confined to the Corvega factory, since Bethesda called it out specifically, but I don’t think it is.

PS4-Fire

(Click to enlarge)

The next screenshot is taken from well outside the factory, not too far from Diamond City. See how there’s a distinct web of lines around the trash can? Now compare that against a screenshot of a similar fire I took today. Again, this is with a GTX 980 Ti, Ultra detail, all settings maxed.

A similar fire + container, but without anything like the same shadow detail.

A similar fire + container, but without anything like the same shadow detail.

You can see the ghost of the upper ring around this trash can, but the network of lines is gone. There seems to be less flicker as well, though I’m not certain enough of that to guarantee it.

There’s nothing wrong with Bethesda tuning its games to better match shipping hardware, but it’s unfortunate that the company appears to have cut detail on the PC without giving gamers a chance to re-enable it. I haven’t had time to dig into this exhaustively, but I took a look through the FalloutPrefs.ini file to see if there were any obvious changes that would explain the shadow difference. I haven’t found any, though more enterprising modders may be able to reverse the changes.

The good news is, while they’re clearly visible, the changes don’t actually impact the experience of playing the game all that much. If you love Fallout 4, you’re still going to love it after this patch — and overall frame rates do seem to have improved as a result. I love Fallout 4, particularly some of its narrative bits, but I’d like to see Bethesda bring back some of its graphical goodness.

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