BERSERK and the Band of the Hawk – PC Performance Analysis

When KOEI Tecmo revealed the official PC requirements for BERSERK and the Band of the Hawk, we were kind of optimistic. According to the specs, this new title should be running fine on a variety of PC systems. Well, unfortunately – and like pretty much all titles from KOEI Tecmo – BERSERK and the Band of the Hawk suffers from optimization issues.

For this PC Performance Analysis, we used an Intel i7 4930K (turbo boosted at 4.2Ghz) with 8GB RAM, NVIDIA’s GTX980Ti and GTX690, Windows 10 64-bit and the latest WHQL version of the GeForce drivers. NVIDIA has not included any SLI profile for this title in its latest drivers and from the looks of it there won’t be any in the near future. Moreover, we couldn’t enable SLI via other profiles.

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Surprisingly enough, BERSERK and the Band of the Hawk comes with lots of graphics settings to tweak. PC gamers can adjust the quality of Crowd Density, Texture Filtering, Particles, Environment, Reflections and Dynamic Shadows. In addition, PC gamers can enable/disable Grass, Light Shafts, Depth of Field, Radial Blur, Anti-Aliasing and Ambient Occlusion.

BERSERK and the Band of the Hawk comes with three presets: High, Standard and Low. On both High and Standard settings in 1080p, we were unable to maintain a stable 60fps experience on our NVIDIA GTX980Ti. This was due to some really awkward optimization issues. As you can see, both our CPU and GPU were underused.

Our guess is that the DX11 API is being pushed to the limits here due to the game’s huge amount of on-screen characters. On Low settings, we were able to get a stable 60fps experience no matter what was happening on screen. And while KOEI Tecmo claimed that an NVIDIA GTX980 was enough for 4K, we had major slowdowns in 4K (with sub-30fps in a number of scenes) on our GTX980Ti.

GTX980Ti underused in 4K

Given the fact that there is no SLI profile, our GTX690 behaved similarly to a GTX680. On Low settings and in 1080p, our GTX690 was almost able to offer a stable 60fps experience (there were some drops to 46fps during some scenes with heavy action). On Standard settings, our GTX690 was able to push a minimum of 34.6fps with an average of 39fps. On High settings, we were almost able to lock the game at 30fps (29fps minimum and 34fps average).

As it’s pretty obvious, the game suffers from major optimization issues and does not scale well on older GPUs. This basically means that while PC gamers can lock the game at 30fps and enjoy it, they will really struggle in order to hit a constant 60fps experience on High settings.

Thankfully, the game does not require a high-end CPU. In order to find out how the game performs on a variety of CPUs, we simulated a dual-core and a quad-core CPU.  On Low settings, even our simulated dual-core system was able to provide a stable 60fps experience. On High settings, we noticed severe stuttering on our dual-core system (when Hyper Threading was disabled). Enabling Hyper Threading fixed our stuttering issue. Given the game’s optimization issues (that as we’ve said are most likely due to DX11), our simulated dual-core (with Hyper Threading, simulated quad-core and six-core systems performed similarly.

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Graphics wise, BERSERK and the Band of the Hawk is a cute Dynasty Warriors game. The game sports huge amount of characters on screen, and the main characters are nicely detailed. While they are not among the best we’ve seen, they look exactly the same with those from the anime. And while there are a lot of low-resolution textures, invisible walls and all kinds of shortcomings you’d expect from a B-game (like outdated lighting system), it feels cool thanks to its art design. BERSERK and the Band of the Hawk is not a graphical showcase, however it’s pleasing to the eye.

BERSERK and the Band of the Hawk is a third-person game and while its enemy AI is not that advanced, it would benefit from proper keyboard+mouse control mechanics. However, the game does not support the mouse at all, prompts gamepad on-screen indicators (so yeah, good luck finding the key for LT), and does not even let you customize your controls while playing (you’ll have first to finish/complete the stage). So for the love of God; if you don’t own a gamepad, don’t even think about purchasing this title.

All in all, BERSERK and the Band of the Hawk suffers from ridiculous optimization issues. And to be honest, we were really disappointed with it. After all, the first impressions when browsing the graphics settings are quite good. However, even high-end GPUs are unable to offer a constant 60fps experience on High settings. As said, we are almost certain that this is due to DX11, so a DX12 or a Vulkan patch can – theoretically – resolve this optimization issue. The game also lacks proper PC controls (and I’m using the term “PC controls” because it’s inexcusable for a third-person game to not support the mouse in 2017). And while this isn’t the worst PC port we’ve ever seen, it’s far from being described as a good one. And that’s a shame because BERSERK and the Band of the Hawk had a lot of potential!

KOEI Tecmo has provided us with a review code for this game

UPDATE:

After further examination, it appears that the culprit for the game’s underwhelming performance is the Environment setting. On High, this setting cripples performance. This setting is set to High on both the High and Standard presets. By setting this option to Low, we were able to hit a constant 60fps experience with all the other settings maxed out. So it appears that this setting is to be blamed for the game’s performance issues and not the DX11 API. As such, we strongly suggest setting Environment to Low in order to enjoy the game until KOEI Tecmo releases a patch that addresses the game’s performance issues.

John Papadopoulos

John is the founder and Editor in Chief at DSOGaming. He is a PC gaming fan and highly supports the modding and indie communities.Before creating DSOGaming, John worked on numerous gaming websites. While he is a die-hard PC gamer, his gaming roots can be found on consoles. John loved - and still does - the 16-bit consoles, and considers SNES to be one of the best consoles. Still, the PC platform won him over consoles. That was mainly due to 3DFX and its iconic dedicated 3D accelerator graphics card, Voodoo 2. John has also written a higher degree thesis on the "The Evolution of PC graphics cards." Contact: Email