Fallout 4 PC Performance Analysis, GameWorks Done Right?


There’s quite a bit of controversy surrounding the graphical prowess and capabilities of the engine within Fallout 4. Immediately when the E3 trailer surfaced this year comparisons were quickly made to Fallout 3, and they initially weren’t favorable. Aside from an obvious widening of the color palette, the actual fidelity seemed to remain largely the same. Texture resolution, AA quality and anistropy quality were very similar with particle effects, shadows and lighting being strikingly similar in design and implementation that were seen in the Gamebryo that Fallout 3 was developed on. In reality, however, the underlying engine powering Fallout 4 shares few similarities with the aging Gamebryo, and is actually an evolved variant of the Creation Engine that was designed in-house and first used in Skyrim.

Despite being updated with more modern AA, a new particle engine, better tree rendering, new physically based deferred rendering and more advanced real-time shadow map rendering, criticism still persists around how it looks.

GameWorks might have been implemented correctly in Fallout 4. But will that be enough for discerning fans?

Inside you’ll see all manner of rendering technologies such as tiled deferred lighting, screen space reflections, bokeh depth of field, height fog, filmic tonemapping, dynamic dismemberment using hardware tessellation and a novel volumetric lighting technique that’s referred to as God Rays, which makes heavy use of hardware tessellation. It’s this last one that’s NVIDIA partnered and the main inclusion from their GameWorks.

GameWorks making that limited appearance in Fallout 4 has lead to a rash of criticism from gaming enthusiasts who prefer open graphics techniques and technologies or perhaps even integrating a well-implemented and optimized version of GameWorks so as to not detract from performance from either major vendors GPU’s. Batman Arkham Knight, initially The Wither 3, Assassin’s Creed Unity and several others have soured the taste of GameWorks for most, so it’s within reason to expect a negative reaction to its inclusion. But NVIDIA has been listening to feedback and criticism, and in the right hands, the GameWorks code for various effects can be optimized and implemented without much of a negative performance detriment while increasing visual fidelity appreciably. And Bethesda assures us that it’s well optimized and that those God Rays won’t cause poor performance.

In this, we'll look at AMD and NVIDIA's performance separately, looking at how certain controversial settings perform. Then we'll see what Fallout 4 does in regards to other system resource usage. Let's begin, shall we?