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DF Direct Weekly: should Redfall launch on Xbox at 30fps?

Plus: is Cyberpunk RT Overdrive a preview of the future of PC gaming?

There's only one topic we could plausibly choose to kick off the latest edition of DF Direct Weekly - the decision from Bethesda to launch Arkane Studios' Redfall with the game locked to 30 frames per second, with a 60fps performance mode to follow at some point in the future. It's fair to say that the announcement went down like a cup of cold sick with a range of Xbox fans online, with industry commentators suggesting that Microsoft really should be doing better.

In this week's Direct, we discuss the news to the limited extent that we're able to. Bethesda's tweet didn't provide any real context for why the game isn't going to launch in a state that reflects every single piece of marketing video we've seen to date. Every trailer and gameplay showcase appeared to run at a locked 60 frames per second and up until recently, the Xbox store page for Redfall indicated that this would run at 60fps or higher. So, the sobering fact is that the launch experience is not going to be the game as it was presented to date - and that's a problem.

Putting aside the marketing for a moment, there's the question of why 60fps is so important - and that's owing to the nature of the game. A shooter thrives on faster frame-rates for two reasons: firstly, more visual feedback on a fast-paced experience greatly aids the experience. Secondly, the higher the frame-rate, the lower the input lag - again, crucial for a first-person shooter and why the likes of Call of Duty and Fortnite offer 120fps options. For a game like this, 60fps looks better and feels better.

With so little to go on from Bethesda, it's difficult to speculate on what the problem is, nor when we can expect the performance mode upgrade to arrive. We're told that the game operates at 4K at 30fps on Xbox Series X, dropping to 1440p on Series S. Assuming that's native resolution (which is not a given), there should be leeway for both consoles to trade pixels for performance. If that leeway is not there, this may suggest that there are CPU limitations in play, meaning a further push for optimisation is required. We saw something similar with Gotham Knights, where CPU bottlenecks were mitigated significantly in the wake of the title's troubled launch, where we were happy to declare that the game was 'fixed'.

Here's DF Direct Weekly #107, with Rich Leadbetter, Alex Battaglia and Oliver Mackenzie discussing the latest gaming and technology news.
  • 00:00:00 Introduction
  • 00:00:52 News 01: Redfall to launch at 30fps on consoles
  • 00:16:15 News 02: Suicide Squad delayed to 2024
  • 00:21:54 News 03: Cyberpunk 2077 RT Overdrive mode launches
  • 00:38:13 News 04: Final Tears of the Kingdom trailer drops
  • 00:42:29 Supporter Q1: Does the negative reaction to Redfall's 30fps cap trivialize the filmic and artistic benefits of targeting 30fps?
  • 00:47:59 Supporter Q2: What's up with HDMI 2.1 capture cards? Why don’t capture devices support 4K/120Hz recordings?
  • 00:53:34 Supporter Q3: Does "code" in the games industry refer to source code or game store codes?
  • 00:55:42 Supporter Q4: Since the Steam Deck is well established, can you cover it from time to time?

From a marketing perspective in the face of the fact that 60fps isn't ready to ship, it's perhaps a good idea that Bethesda made the announcement when it did - reviewers are now prepared for this before launch and while it will be a factor in the reviews process, perhaps the disappointment won't be so pronounced. We know what's coming. However, there's still the sense that perhaps the game should have been delayed as what we get at launch will not reflect the way that it was marketed. The developers and publishers opted to show the game at 60fps which is strongly indicative that this is the way it's meant to be played. The big question right now is whether Redfall is actually 'finished'. If there have been developmental challenges, we need to hope that the rest of the game is polished and ready to ship.

I do want to differentiate the Redfall 30fps discussion from the idea of 30fps gaming on current-gen consoles in general, however. A fast-paced shooter is one thing, but not every type of game absolutely requires a minimum 60fps. We should expect to see 30fps titles return this generation if we're looking to push visual boundaries - and 30fps can be fine, of course, depending on the style of game and the crispness of response. This is a topic for another article though, one that I've already written, actually!

Elsewhere in the Direct, we discuss the decision to delay Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League and consider whether the extra development time offers Rocksteady the chance to re-evaluate the 'Games as a Service' underpinnings that are proving so devisive (spoilers: probably not?). We also share opinions on the final trailer for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, while also tackling a larger topic: is Cyberpunk 2077 RT Overdrive a vision for the future of PC gaming?

I'd say that this is certainly Nvidia's vision for the future of PC gaming and there is much to commend this level of ambition bearing in mind how much faster today's graphics hardware is compared to the baseline set by PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles. There's actually a path tracing renderer built into Unreal Engine 5 and while it's not built for real-time gaming, I'm sure Nvidia's engineers will be looking to work with Epic in adapting it with the kinds of techniques seen in RT Overdrive. And bearing in mind how dominant UE5 will be, that would be a major step closer to differentiating PC and console gaming in a spectacular way. Oh, and by the way, if you missed it, check out how scalable RT Overdrive actually is - this isn't just the preserve of high-end RTX 40-series cards.

As usual, the Direct ends with a bunch of Supporter questions, such as a point about the aesthetic value of 30fps gaming, why we don't have 4K 120Hz capture cards yet, whether we'll be doing more Steam Deck coverage and a question I really enjoyed. Why do we call games 'code' or 'titles'? It's an interesting reminder about the kind of jargon journalists routinely use and perhaps a lesson on accessibility for journalists. I do try to make an effort here - like explaining Alex's deep-cut reference to the 'Shades of Gray' episode from Star Trek: The Next Generation season two. As always, I hope you enjoy the show and if you do, please consider the DF Supporter Program to bring you closer to the team, along with early access opportunities, bonus material and much more. See you next week!

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About the Author
Richard Leadbetter avatar

Richard Leadbetter

Technology Editor, Digital Foundry

Rich has been a games journalist since the days of 16-bit and specialises in technical analysis. He's commonly known around Eurogamer as the Blacksmith of the Future.

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