Taking Aim at Shooter Engines

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Earlier this week, my review of DOOM 2016 was finally posted. In fact, please go over here and read it. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

And wait…

And wait…

Ok now that you’re back, you all know how much I loved the new DOOM, more so than after leaving the closed Alpha and open Beta with a feeling of “meh.” But then again, they were multiplayer only, and you all know my stance on multiplayer gaming. It wasn’t until I played the single player campaign that I fell in love with the game, so much in fact that I’m going through it again on Ultra-Violence difficulty, and getting my rear handed to me right and left. It’s that brutal.

And I don’t even want to think about playing it on Permadeath mode, ERRRRRR, Ultra-Nightmare. I probably won’t even survive the start of “Rip and Tear.” But there are already those who have beaten the game, including this guy who finished it in just under EIGHTY MINUTES! (Be warned: obvious spoilers for those who didn’t finish the game already.)

But while watching this clip, and after playing the game myself, I can’t get over how amazing the new DOOM looks, let alone how fast the game is.

However, last week, I had the absolute displeasure of playing another game on console, the dreaded Homefront: The Revolution, a game that chugged so badly on my Xbox One. Now before you Sony fanboys start celebrating, let it be known that sites like Digital Foundry found that the Xbox One’s performance was better, but not by much. The game’s performance on consoles is so terrible that you aren’t even able to aim correctly, and virtually makes the game unplayable in the current state as it is.

I will mention, however, that I also played the game on PC, and the performance there is much better. You are able to at least aim precisely as a result. (I played at 900p resolution with medium quality, and the game rarely went below 30 frames per second.) However, the game itself is so bad I don’t see myself going back to it, and deleting it will give me back nearly 40 GB of precious hard drive space on my Steam partition.

But before planning this column, I spoke with our esteemed editor about the performance of Homefront, and he brought up Lichdom: Battlemage. I’ll admit I didn’t play the game, but he told me about the performance on PC compared to the console ports. Even our review of the PS4 version has stated the issues, which were thankfully resolved after a patch was made to address it. Both Homefront and Lichdom have one thing in common:

They both run under CryEngine. They both run decent on the PC, yet they are both terrible performers on consoles. I would even bet if these games played on PS4 Neo and Xbox “Scorpio” they too would have bad performance. Meanwhile let’s go back to DOOM, and how it runs AMAZING on consoles. In fact, it actually runs better than it does on my laptop, which I have to set to 720p and low detail in order to get 60 frames per second. Yes, I know that my GTX 960M is nowhere near the level of the Titan X or the new GTX 1080, so you can leave those comments behind, but I’ll stick with playing it on the console myself.

This got me thinking of something else. Id Tech 6 is an impressive engine. Then again, so was id Tech 5. RAGE, despite its dull gameplay, was a technical marvel on Xbox 360, running a smooth 60 frames per second (despite some texture lag, more so if you don’t install the game to the hard drive.) And let’s not forget how great Wolfenstein: The New Order was. Another game that ran a near constant 60 fps, with very little sign of texture lag at all.

In my DOOM review I wrote that “I really hope that more games take advantage of it,” referring to id Tech 6. What I didn’t know at the time of writing it was that John Carmack does not license the engine in the way Unreal Engine is licensed. Only games published by Bethesda (namely RAGE, Wolfenstein and DOOM 2016) use it. Can you imagine what Dishonored would look like if it used this engine? It would be jaw dropping (not saying the game isn’t already, but it would be able to maintain 60 frames per second easily.) I could say the same thing about Fallout and Elder Scrolls, but I think they are standing firm on their Creation Engine.

I really hope that id changes their stance on licensing, meaning more games using id Tech 6 would show dominance. But it’s their call in the end.

Currently Playing: XCOM 2-Alien Hunters (PC,) DOOM (Xbox One – Ultra Violence Difficulty)

Waiting For: Mirror’s Edge Catalyst

Editor’s Note: John Carmack originally licensed id Tech 5 only to Bethesda games. However, Dishonored used Unreal Engine 3, and of course Fallout 4 and Skyrim use the Creation Engine.

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