While 2017 was overall a great year for PC gaming, with lots of games running smoothly on our platform, we also saw some really mediocre PC releases. Therefore, each and every month we’ll be focusing on such a release. We’ll cover games that suffered from numerous PC optimization issues, such as Nier: Automata, as well as titles that performed fine but had noticeable CPU optimization issues (like for example Styx: Shards of Darkness).
So, let’s take a look at NieR: Automata. The game was released in March 2017, a bit over than ten months ago. As we wrote on our PC Performance Analysis, the game suffered from some weird resolution issues, its ambient occlusion option was tied to the post-AA setting, it packed mediocre PC keyboard controls, and some users reported performance issues on mid-tier hardware.
Sadly, nothing has changed as Square Enix has not released any PC patch at all for NieR: Automata. As such, and in its current vanilla version, NieR: Automata is a mess on the PC. Square Enix has abandoned this game right from the get-go and should be ashamed for releasing such a product. And even though there is a mod to improve the overall experience, this should not be used as an excuse for Square Enix’s laziness on this particular matter.
Laziness, yes this word describes perfectly the PC development of NieR: Automata, especially when it comes to its PC controls. As we’ve said numerous times, third-person (and twin-stick shooters) work perfectly fine on the PC. By now most of you are aware of great third-person games that work wonderfully with mouse+keyboard but what about twin-stick shooters? Well, the solution that most indie developers use – and works perfectly on the PC – is using the WASD keys to move a character/ship and using the mouse to shoot your enemies. Hell, even DOS platformers, like Abuse, use this control scheme. However, Square Enix simply ported NieR: Automata’s console controls to the PC.
Now since Dark Souls Remastered releases in a couple of months, this whole thing reminded me of what happened with the PC version of Dark Souls. Some gamers tried to justify its 30fps lock by saying that ‘the game was coded for 30fps’ but here we are with a remastered version that will be running at 60fps. So yeah, FromSoftware was inexperienced and super lazy with Dark Souls PC. Yes, it would require more work in order to make the game run at 60fps – than simply porting everything from consoles – but it would have proper PC controls and smooth framerates, something that the remastered version will feature. In other words, it wasn’t a matter of ‘if the developers could make it happen‘ but rather a matter of ‘if the PC sales would justify spending extra time in order to offer a solid PC product‘.
Before closing, we do have to mention Kaldaien’s FAR mod for NieR: Automata. Kaldaien has done an incredible work, offering better graphics settings, the ability to increase performance by lowering the Global Illumination effects, and native resolution support (as the game, for some unknown reason, upscales from a lower resolution without this mod). This is a must-have mod for NieR: Automata as without it, the game is a mess.
In conclusion, NieR: Automata remains exactly the same with its initial release version. Square Enix has not released a single PC patch for it and has not addressed any of its PC issues. And while Kaldaien’s FAR mod resolves the biggest one (the resolution issue), it does not improve the mediocre PC controls. And that’s a shame because underneath this mess, there is a really interesting game!