Square Enix did not provide a Forspoken PC review copy to anyone ahead of launch, leading fans to fear the worst for the optimization on the platform. It's hard to blame them, given the sad state of many recent PC ports, not to mention the extremely high official Forspoken PC system requirements.
I was therefore very curious to check it out alongside everyone else when the game unlocked about an hour ago. Surprisingly, Forspoken PC comes with a built-in benchmark that not only tests frame rate across a series of environments but also measures load times, which is appropriate for the first Microsoft DirectStorage game.
As such, I immediately ran the benchmark tool and captured it. Much to my relief, there doesn't seem to be much cause for worry. Granted, the real test lies with the game itself, but that will require more time to assess.
Let's dive into each scene of the benchmark. The first one loads into the New York City level after 3.836 seconds, averaging 119 frames per second, although the level is empty of NPCs.
The second scene zooms up close to a dragon-like boss. Here, the frame rate averages 92 FPS, although the load time (7.453 seconds) is high.
The third scene is located in Praenost, the domain of Tanta Sila, a fiery and rocky environment that taxes the frame rate (74 FPS). The load time is the longest we've registered at 9.464 seconds.
The fourth scene brings us into the city of Cipal, where practically all of the story interactions unfold in Forspoken. The load time (3.207 seconds) is much lower here, and the frame rate holds steady at 79 FPS despite several NPCs in the plaza.
The fifth scene shows an overview of Junoon Castle, the seat of Tanta Cinta, a gorgeous depiction of classic high fantasy. This load time was rather quick at 2.852 seconds, and the average frame rate is also relatively high at 89 FPS.
The sixth scene loads the forest-like environment of Avoalet, the kingdom of Tanta Prav. This was the quickest load time in our Forspoken PC benchmark test with only 1.485 seconds, rivaling those found on PlayStation 5, though the frame rate is slightly lower at 77 FPS.
For the seventh and final scene, we're back into Cipal. The loading was again very fast at 1.870 seconds, and frame rates were also very high at an average of 102, although this time, the benchmark didn't load any NPCs.
On my PC (Intel i7 12700KF, 16GB RAM DDR4, RTX 4090, WD_Black SN850 NVMe SSD), I could max out every graphics setting at 4K with DLSS Super Resolution set on Quality and get an average of 93 frames per second despite not having the recommended 32GB RAM.
However, the average load time (not provided by the benchmark, so we calculated it manually) is 4.30 seconds, which is not what we hoped from DirectStorage compared to the one-second loads available on PS5. Even Square Enix said in a Steam forum post that they expected 1-2 seconds of load times with an NVMe SSD.
Still, it's not entirely surprising. Forspoken PC does not seem to take advantage of the latest version of DirectStorage (1.1), which adds GPU decompression like RTX IO, even if the developers themselves had asked for it during GDC 2022. Besides that, the PS5's architecture (and the Xbox Series X's, too) has been engineered around delivering the quickest load times, and the PC gaming environment isn't there yet despite its faster NVMe drives. DirectStorage should be a step in the right direction, but this first outing hardly impresses.
However, load times are ultimately far less important than optimization. The benchmark test suggests that Forspoken PC won't be nearly as problematic to run as originally feared. Having played the game on PS5, it's also safe to say it looks far better on PC in every regard.
There is currently a 120 FPS lock in place, which may annoy users equipped with very high refresh rate displays, though you'd be hard-pressed to run this game at high resolution and frame rate with graphics settings (ray traced occlusion and shadows included) maxed. And there's not much point in toning down the graphics to get an exceedingly high frame rate here since it's a single player open world action RPG, not a competitive multiplayer game. Modders will likely find a workaround for the 120 FPS lock in a short while, and when they do, we'll let you know.
By the way, there's a free Forspoken PC demo available for download for anyone on the fence.