Starfield bet on FSR. Now Nvidia players pay the price

Bethesda / Bethesda
Starfield is a good change of tempo for PC releases in 2023. The recreation could be very secure, comparatively bug free, and it’s optimized to run on a variety of {hardware}. That doesn’t imply the recreation isn’t demanding. It could be very demanding, and it’s clear Starfield leans on AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution 2 (FSR 2) to push body charges larger.
As I used to be gathering my finest settings for Starfield on PC, it grew to become clear that the recreation is designed round having FSR 2 turned on. That’s not inherently an issue. For a recreation as demanding and visually spectacular as Starfield, although, leaning too closely on a singular function could make some players, particularly these on much less highly effective {hardware}, select between efficiency and picture high quality. And in the case of Starfield, that’s not a choice they need to must make.
The actuality of the scenario

Let me catch you on top of things on the saga with FSR 2, AMD, and Starfield up so far. About a month in the past, AMD introduced it was the “unique PC associate” for Starfield, confirming the recreation would help AMD’s FSR 2 at launch. It is smart, too. FSR 2 is supported on consoles and PCs, and it could actually massively enhance efficiency for a recreation as bold as Starfield. 
There had been issues, although. Some speculated AMD’s partnership meant the firm would block Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) from being in the recreation on PC. Since then, AMD has confirmed it didn’t block DLSS, saying that Bethesda Game Studios is free to implement the function if it needs. The firm admits that “cash completely exchanges palms” with these partnerships, although says that it gives full help for builders in the event that they want to implement DLSS.
But DLSS isn’t in the recreation, neither is Intel’s XeSS. That’s an issue, primarily as a result of FSR 2 isn’t practically nearly as good as DLSS is. It’s an ideal performer, and the picture high quality holds up properly in some conditions. When FSR 2 is pushed, nevertheless, it falls wanting DLSS in the case of picture high quality.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends
Obviously, I can’t do a direct comparability in Starfield, however you possibly can see how FSR 2 falls aside in a recreation like Diablo 4 at its Ultra Performance mode. DLSS maintains rather more element, whereas providing the same stage of efficiency. It’s value noting that Starfield solely goes right down to 50% decision scaling, in any other case often known as the Performance mode of DLSS and FSR. The Ultra Performance mode of DLSS may assist carry some much less highly effective GPUs as much as an appropriate stage of efficiency, however it’s not an choice in Starfield sadly.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends
Similarly, in Hogwarts Legacy, you possibly can see a transparent drop-off intimately with FSR 2 in comparison with DLSS of their Performance modes. There are actually video games the place FSR 2 appears acceptable, however after they’re pushed, DLSS virtually at all times wins. For a extra in-depth comparability, I like to recommend watching Hardware Unboxed’s evaluation of 26 video games with each options.
A mod exists that provides DLSS into Starfield at present, however I didn’t observe a major distinction in picture high quality in the restricted time I needed to fiddle with it. This is par for the course with most of these upscaling mods, and there are often much more vital variations with native implementations of FSR and DLSS, as you possibly can see in each Hogwarts Legacy and Diablo 4.
There’s little question that FSR 2 is a good piece of equipment from AMD. It gives enormous efficiency features and stable picture high quality, and it really works with practically any GPU. The drawback for Starfield is each that it completely helps FSR 2, and that it was designed round the function.
Designed round upscaling
Over the previous couple of months, the PC gaming neighborhood has been in an uproar over options like FSR and DLSS. Makers of video games like Remnant 2 have confirmed they rely on the options to push visible high quality on PC, fairly than leveraging them to enhance efficiency on much less highly effective techniques. Starfield takes that concept to the excessive.
The recreation isn’t simply designed round upscaling options, however completely round FSR 2. All 4 of the graphics presets allow FSR 2 by default, starting from 75% render decision at the Ultra preset to 50% render decision at the Medium and Low presets. For context, that fifty% render decision is the equal of FSR 2’s Performance mode in different video games. As you possibly can see in my benchmarks beneath, that makes a large distinction in efficiency.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends
That’s with the RTX 3080, however the efficiency achieve from FSR 2 applies to much less and extra highly effective GPUs, as properly. If we have a look at AMD’s suggestions as the associate for the recreation, it says the RX 7600 delivers “nice visuals and body charges” at 1080p. Similarly, the RX 7900 XT gives a “no-compromise” 4K expertise. I translate that into 1080p High for the RX 7600 and 4K Ultra for the RX 7900 XT.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends
And certain sufficient, in each circumstances, the graphics playing cards can’t preserve a stable 60 fps in demanding areas of the recreation like New Atlantis. You want FSR at High and Ultra, with 62% and 75% render decision respectively, to bump the playing cards over that fated mark. You can flip graphics settings down, however that’s not a place you wish to be in with AMD’s newest and biggest 1080p and 4K graphics playing cards.
If you don’t have a current-gen GPU, FSR 2 will be the distinction between playable and unplayable, particularly in case you have a lower-end card. I often set my advisable settings for a recreation round turning upscaling off, however with Starfield, I like to recommend conserving it on as a result of the recreation will be so demanding.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends
Despite being designed round upscaling, Starfield doesn’t look nice at its decrease graphics presets. As you possibly can see in the picture above, the Low and Medium presets lose a ton of element and wash out in a multitude of aliasing. That’s not coming from the lowered graphics settings; it’s coming from the incontrovertible fact that FSR 2 is struggling to maintain up with a 50% inside render decision.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends
That screenshot was taken at 4K, as properly. If we step right down to 1080p with the RX 7600, you lose much more element. Above, you possibly can see the High preset, which comes with a 62% render decision. The solely distinction between the photos is FSR 2.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends
As I’ve established, it is a wonderful approach to play the recreation with the RX 7600. If you step right down to the Medium preset, the scenario is way worse, although, as you possibly can see above.
Unlike a lot of the web, I’m not towards builders designing their video games round upscaling, particularly releases as bold as Starfield. It’s very important, nevertheless, to help as many upscaling options as doable if that’s the aim. Cyberpunk 2077, for instance, can carry even the strongest PCs to their knees. But it additionally helps nearly each taste of PC tech you could possibly ask for.
Starfield hangs its hat completely on FSR 2, all whereas asking to push the identical stage of visible constancy. The function works throughout all GPUs, however the exclusivity means the overwhelming majority of the PC market — who use Nvidia GPUs — can’t use the function they most likely purchased their graphics card for in the first place: DLSS. According to the newest Steam {hardware} survey, 38% of players have a graphics card able to utilizing DLSS of their system. That’s most likely a low quantity, as properly, contemplating the Steam {hardware} survey elements in machines with built-in graphics who undoubtedly gained’t be enjoying Starfield. 
This isn’t to bash on AMD, both. In an alternate actuality the place the recreation was completely designed round DLSS, there can be comparable issues, as a bit of players are locked out of getting the finest expertise their {hardware} is able to. Even video games like Remnant 2, that are designed round these options, help DLSS and FSR. It’s honest to ask a recreation as massive as Starfield to have that very same consideration to element.
No FSR 3 in sight
When AMD introduced that it could be the unique PC associate for Starfield, on-line boards and subreddits lit up, speculating that the recreation would launch alongside AMD’s hotly anticipated FSR 3. This function, much like DLSS 3, makes use of body interpolation to massively enhance efficiency, and it really works throughout PCs and consoles.
FSR 3 isn’t supported in Starfield, and it would by no means be. AMD has lastly revealed that FSR 3 is coming in September by means of updates to Forspoken and Immortals of Aveum, and it laid out an inventory of companions and video games that may help the function in the future. Starfield was surprisingly absent from that listing.
Considering the shut advertising and marketing partnership between AMD and Bethesda for Starfield — I imply, AMD even launched an unique Starfield graphics card — you’ll suppose that both social gathering would say one thing if FSR 3 was coming to the recreation shortly. It’s nonetheless doable FSR 3 will come ultimately, however I don’t suspect it to be any time quickly. There’s undoubtedly a greater argument for completely supporting FSR if Starfield did certainly launch with FSR 3.
Instead, we’ve FSR 2. It’s on no account a nasty function, however it’s undoubtedly a measurable distance behind DLSS when it comes to picture high quality, and the studio’s determination to design its recreation round one upscaling function locks out the majority of PC players from having the finest expertise their {hardware} is able to.
The intent isn’t the drawback right here; it’s the execution. With a recreation as visually spectacular as Starfield — and really taxing as a consequence — there must be cautious consideration to offer PC players as many choices as doable to optimize their efficiency and picture high quality. Unfortunately, Starfield dropped the ball on that entrance.
Thankfully, the PC launch is great in any other case. I’ve skilled no hitching all through my expertise, and it scales very properly to higher-end CPUs. There’s already a mod that provides DLSS into the recreation, as properly. Hopefully we’ll get an official launch a while quickly. It would possibly take a while, or we would not see it in any respect. After all, Starfield lacks some fundamental PC choices like an FOV slider, brightness/gamma adjustment, and HDR.

Editors’ Recommendations

Recommended For You