It’s been close to five years since the last Deus Ex game came out. A lot has changed since then. Technologies have been updated, most popular engines have made the shift to support realistic lighting properties or in more technical words physical based renderers, new consoles are on the horizon and the PC platform is growing stronger by the day. Mankind Divided finds itself in an interesting proposition. It might not be the best looking game this generation but it implements enough modern technology that puts it right there among the best in recent years.
The heart of any game is its engine and in the case of Mankind Divided, it’s the Dawn Engine that is pulling off all the strings behind the scenes. Based on IO Interactive’s Glacier Engine II, the Dawn engine was first announced during the latter half of 2014 and was said to support all Deus Ex games of the future. The main goals behind the engine was to further delve into its rendering capabilities, physics methodologies and at the same time improve existing and introduce new technologies such as enhanced depth of field, screen space reflection, post processing effects, color correction, parallax occlusion, global illumination, volumetric lighting and most importantly support for DirectX 12 and Tress FX 3.0 and huge areas to explore. Suffice to say that Eidos Montreal’s plans were rather ambitious and within the current climate of highly challenging industry scenarios, it’s literally a miracle that their tech demo almost matches with what they have achieved in-game with Mankind Divided, at least on the PC build anyway.
However the implementation of lighting could be weird at times. For example, when you land in Prague you are treated to a mostly dull lighting scenario. Honestly, the lighting looks flat in this section…it just doesn’t look right for some reason. May be it’s the color scheme of this area which results into the said effect but when you compare it to some of the indoor areas or the later sections of Prague there is a massive difference. In fact, the engine shows its muscle during the later stages of the game and its here we see almost all of the technologies that I discussed earlier.
Despite overwhelming positives with how the game handles its rendering technology, we can’t help but feel disappointed with the character animations. Whether it be Adam Jensen himself or the NPCs, the animations feel awkward, out of place…not to mention that lip syncing is totally off at times. It’s perhaps this aspect that hurts the game most and distances itself from your so called next-gen title. We could have been a bit forgiving if these issues were only limited to NPCs but given that the game’s lead also suffers from such issues is quite disappointing.
Deus Ex Mankind Divided is in many ways a true representative of each platform’s technical prowess. Provided you have the hardware, the PC version easily trumps both the PS4 and Xbox One. But before we jump into analyzing PC performance and how it manages to be a step above the console version, let us take a look at the graphical settings.
The PC version comes loaded with a plethora of options including Exclusive Fullscreen, Tessellation, Chromatic Aberration, Sharpening Filter, Subsurface Scattering, MSAA up to 8X, Temporal AA and more. I guess it goes without saying that this isn’t your usual console port and Eidos have gone to great lengths to justify that. However, note that you would need quite a hefty PC build to max out everything. Please note that at minimum spec, which is a HD 7870 2GB or GTX 660 2GB, paired with an Core i3-2100, the game targets 30 fps at 720presolution at the low quality preset. At recommended spec, which is a RX 480 4GB or GTX 970 4GB, paired with an i7-3770K, the game promises to offer 60fps average at 1080p, but at the High quality preset. But these are all developer estimations so the big question is what is required to run the game at a high resolution at 60fps with all settings maxed out? Let us find out.
Our test bed includes an Intel i7 5960x so as to remove any possibility of CPU bottlenecking along with 16GB of DDR3 memory. We tested the game on a variety of GPUs and you can find the average frame rates of 1080p, 1440p and 4K resolution on the screen:
GTX Titan X 12GB: 116fps
GTX 1080 8GB: 98fps
RX 480 8GB: 61fps
R9 390 8GB: 55fps
GTX 970: 51fps
R9 290 4GB: 48fps
GTX Titan X 12GB: 81fps
GTX 1080 8GB: 64fps
RX 480 8GB: 44fps
R9 390 8GB: 39fps
GTX 970: 33fps
R9 290 4GB: 30fps
GTX Titan X 12GB: 43fps
GTX 1080 8GB: 34fps
RX 480 8GB: 20fps
R9 390 8GB: 19fps
GTX 970: 16fps
R9 290 4GB: 14fps
To conclude you would at least need a 8GB GPU card to max out most parameters to run the game at 1080p and 60fps on PC. However if you are on a budget and are using a 4GB card, you can try switching off MSAA (and switch on the less taxing Temporal AA option), disable contact shadows, Level of Detail, Volumteric Lighting and Texture Quality to high, Shadow quality to low…a reasonable 1080p/60fps experience can be possible attained in this case.
Switching our focus to the console versions and we have the usual gap between the PS4 and Xbox One. The PS4 takes the lead here with a full native 1080p resolution whereas the Xbox One version runs at 900p. However do note that the game utilizes temporal AA which means the visible difference won’t be as big as it used to be before. Of course, this results into a softer look on the Xbox One version but I will take that over a sharper, more jaggied image quality.
Both versions employ a 30fps cap and for the most part, the game runs at that standard. Unfortunately, screen tearing is an issue at times; however it only seems to kick in during the non-interactive parts of the game. Other than that we are largely looking at a locked 30fps experience during the playable sections of the game.
When compared to the PC version, there is a clear difference in terms of texture quality, the hair rendering tech, the implementation of sub surface scattering, better anisotropic filtering and generally high quality shadows. I guess it goes without saying that the PC version at ultra is head and shoulders above the console versions. Overall, the console versions seem to be running at the highest equivalent setting on the PC.
Another point that we wanted to raise is the atrocious load times on consoles. Given that the game is borrowing similar technology from IO Interactive’s Hitman engine, this is expected, at least on consoles but given that this issue persists on PCs is something that is both surprising and shocking. Another downfall is the engine’s sound framework which fails to create any impact whatsoever during shooting and grenade explosions. In all honesty, they sound quite flat.
Deus Ex makes a solid eight gen debut. It performs reasonably well on modern GPUs and for the most part runs smoothly on both the PS4 and Xbox One. Obviously, you will receive a far better experience on the PC if you have the hardware but the console versions are in no way poor performers. Hopefully Eidos will put the Dawn Engine to good use and not wait another 3-4 years to develop a new game in an all together different generation.