Does Primal run better on the PC than its predecessor?
If Far Cry 4’s performance on the PC at launch was anything to go by, one wouldn’t be wrong to expect the same level of issues in Far Cry Primal. Far Cry 4 on the PC was marred by optimization problems and frame hitching issues that hold it back from reaching the excellent performance on consoles. But are things different this time around with Primal? Does it run better on the PC than its predecessor?
As usual, before we jump into analyzing the PC performance, let us take a look at the graphical settings. The graphical settings are actually decent this time around. You can modify the texture quality, shadows, geometry details, volumetric fog, motion blur, terrain and water quality. If you are expecting intensive options such as the one featured in The Division that you are obviously setting yourself up for disappointment. Far Cry Primal’s development cycle has been shorter than the upcoming MMO and unlike The Division, Far Cry Primal is a straight up console port.
Moving on, the performance before launch was quite awful. The game had severe frame rate and performance issues which have been rectified to an extent via a day one patch. Fortunately, via the day one patch, Ubsioft has somehow prevented Primal from developing into another Batman Arkham Knight PC disaster. We ran the game on an i5 3570K, 8GB Memory and GTX 980. This is way beyond the the hardware specifications that Ubisoft recommends so we should be able to tear through this game at Ultra settings, right? Well, not really. Running the game at 1080p resolution with every setting notched up to Ultra failed to deliver a consistent 60 frames per second experience. Now it must be noted that Far Cry Primal is a great looking game and in some places, specially while wandering around the lush foliage of forests with light shafts casting through the leaves, the image quality is ridiculously amazing at times. But really with that kind of hardware it really should not have any issues reaching a consistent 60fps, despite the fact that the game does remain in that region at times.
But a driver update should resolved this minor issue, right? Nvidia has released driver updates for Far Cry Primal and according to our tests it has actually helped the game gain a few more frames but we still witnessed drops in some areas. Overall the updated drivers don’t bring in huge gains in performance.
Playing around with the graphics settings, we recommend playing the game at High. There are some differences between Ultra and High settings but nothing that will distract from your experience. But if you have a less capable PC, switching the setting all over to Low will still result into a fairly decent looking world but expect low quality shadows and pop-in issues. The latter could be a experience killer given the dense nature of the game’s world. We suggest sticking to the high setting for best possible experience performance wise.
We also wanted to briefly talk about the differences between the console versions and the PC build. For this article we are going to use Xbox One version and see how it stacks up against the PC build running at 1080p with every setting maxed out. Right off the bat you can observe better draw distance and increased foliage density. The shadows on console versions are equivalent to lowest setting on the PC whereas the textures are close to the high settings. Character models look similar across both the PC and Xbox One. Terrain quality, volumetric effects, and fur quality of animals all look remarkably similar on both platforms.
If there is one thing that has disappointed us besides the inconsistent performance is the lack of Nividia Hairworks options. That’s rather surprising since the previous game had them. It’s even more shocking considering the game uses fur technology something that Nvidia enhances right out of the bag for more powerful PC hardware. But given that the game has really okay performance with our hardware, the lack of Nividia Hairworks could have deteriorated performance even more.
We have also heard reports that game runs terrible in SLI compared to a usual hardware configuration. We haven’t been able to verify this in this article but there are reports out there that can confirm the same.
So is Far Cry Primal a good PC port? Well in many ways it’s, yes. But in many ways it’s also not. We have consistently mentioned the importance of 60 frames per second in video games in almost all of our analysis and Primal to an extent delivers that on PC. It’s certainly not a disaster as Batman Arkham Knight was but with a few more patches, Ubisoft can bring the PC version up to speed.