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Quantum Break reinforces the stereotype that PC ports are trash

Almost three years ago now, Quantum Break was announced at the tragic Xbox One reveal event where it appeared to be some sort of weird hybrid TV show/video game follow-up to Alan Wake. And after being in development since at least 2013, publisher Microsoft Studios and developer Remedy Entertainment decided to confess in February of this year that the time travel-oriented third-person action-adventure game would be making its way to capable Windows 10 PCs as well.

While it’s not clear exactly how long the PC version of Quantum Break has been in development, the fact that it wasn’t made public until this close to its release should have been what poker players call a “tell.” This is especially true considering that it was being bundled with the Xbox One version. Yet again, a PC port exists where it probably shouldn’t have.

Following its launch, Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry called the port “a profound disappointment,” referring to its inability to reach a consistent 60, or even 30, frames per second using an Nvidia Titan X GPU. The frame rate, the report claims, is in turn limited to about 85 percent of the refresh rate of the monitor being used to play the game. This results in poorer performance from distinctly more powerful hardware than the Xbox One.

For PC gamers accustomed to sharp pictures and buttery smooth movements on their expensive rigs, this is basically unacceptable, and rest assured, Remedy is on the case.

“We are monitoring both Windows 10 and Xbox One Quantum Break and figuring out what issues are real and if any are widespread or not,” the developer wrote on Twitter. “Collecting data and researching is slow, but we are on it.”

One of the most prominent issues, however, is the temporal reconstruction technique Quantum Break takes advantage of to avert the strain of a 1080p resolution on the weaker Xbox One hardware. For some reason, this feature also made its way to PC, and not only does it exhibit a mere reconstructed 720p image as opposed to a native 1080p one, but it also brings about an unwanted ghosting effect that could have been avoided by negating this feature altogether on PC.

“Ghosting is just a result of the temporal reconstruction,” Remedy head of PR Thomas Puha tweeted in response to a curious follower. “Just the way we render things.”

He added that any film grain incurred was also “a stylistic choice,” despite not having been asked about it.

Furthermore, integration with the Universal Windows Platform apparently prevents Quantum Break from being considered anything more than a trial version on PC without the use of a solid state drive. What’s more, because of Nvidia’s negligence of a proper driver update for the game, Quantum Break‘s performance suffers discernibly more with, say, a GTX 970 than with an AMD card.

From what we know so far, Quantum Break on PC sounds disastrous, though Microsoft has been dedicating itself, gaming-wise at least, almost exclusively to Xbox these past few years. And with the recent launch of the Universal Windows Platform, it may take some time to perfect certain optimizations. Unfortunately, PC ports of console games have a long-standing history of being notoriously unsatisfactory.

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