Previously a Sony PlayStation 4 exclusive, Kojima Productions’ Death Stranding arrives tomorrow on PC – and it’s a port that we can recommend without hesitation. While there’s limited scalability beyond PS4 in terms of visual features, performance is exemplary – but what’s really exciting is that this is a game that’s quite unlike anything else on PC. Known for its state-of-the-art, industry-leading character rendering and beautiful environments and effects, Death Stranding is stunning on PC. As a first taste of what the Decima Engine can deliver outside the bounds set by the PlayStation 4 platform, it’s astonishing. Not only that, but the PC edition also delivers the horsepower for Kojima Productions to deliver the game the way it was originally intended.
Asked what kind of scalability the PC port offers over the PS4 original, Kojima Productions technical director Akio Sakamoto is emphatic: “High frame-rate for sure! As we had originally designed the game in 60fps, this is a feature that I must say out loud! Of course, it is not locked to 60fps, and according to your hardware, it can go much higher.” Based on our hands-on experience with the game, the studio more than delivers – and in ways that we didn’t expect. Upon loading up the game, the first surprise is that we have a Sony-developed engine running on PC under a Microsoft graphics API: DirectX 12. Bearing in mind that older PC Decima engine revisions (for development purposes) ran under OpenGL, we fully expected Vulkan as the API of choice.
“Firstly, our goal from a developer standpoint was that we didn’t want to do anything technically lower than what we accomplished on PS4. So, when we looked at the PS4-dedicated API and thought about how to bring it to PC, we realised that it would be very difficult to maintain the same quality if we worked with DirectX 11,” says Sakamoto. “Because of this, the next step was to think about DirectX 12 or Vulkan. We started to discuss these technical issues with our partners Nvidia and AMD, while also looking into information from various other sources. We of course looked at the market at that time (how many people are using Windows 10 in the market, or information on DX12 etc) and also knew we needed to consider the timing of the PC version release. The result of all this discussion and debate was that we decided to go with DX12. I could also mention that not much information on Vulkan was available at the time either.”