Articles

Wolfenstein: The New Order Performance Review

Author:Brent Justice

Editor:Kyle Bennett

Date: Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wolfenstein: The New Order is out on PC. It utilizes the id Tech 5 game engine and sports fast paced first-person shooter gameplay. We look at some video card performance, make some comparisons, and look at image quality as well. Can this game overcome the stigma associated with RAGE since its the same engine?

Introduction

Wolfenstein: The New Order was released at midnight, Eastern Time, on Tuesday May 20th, 2014. This game is a first-person shooter developed by MachineGames and published by Bethesda Softworks. The previous game, in this series was Wolfenstein released in 2009 developed by Raven Software, id Software, Endrant Studios, Blur Studios and published by Activision. Therefore, though this new game follows in the same series, it is developed and published by completely different studios from the last game.

You are Captain B.J. Blazkowicz, the American War Hero. After emerging into this world of darkness, you must launch an impossible counter-offensive against the monstrous Nazi regime. Only you dare stand up against an unstoppable army of Nazi robots and hulking Super Soldiers. Only you can stop Deathshead. Only you can rewrite history.

Spoilers might be present, but we certainly make an attempt not to discuss too much about the actual gameplay storyline. If you have watched the Wolfenstein trailers, nothing here should surprise you.

The moment this game was unlocked on Steam we fired it up on our test bench. We played through the game for a total of five hours, taking notes and finally finished through chapter 3 of the game. There's a point in the game where you have to make a decision. We ended up taking Wyatt's timeline. We played through "Deathshead's Compound," the entire tutorial, "Asylum" and completed "A New World" and decided to stop and put this article together for you.

We've gone back through each level carefully, noting performance, image quality, finding what's playable, finding a performance run-through, and performing GPU performance tests. Our run-through is going to be in Chapter 3, "A New World," from the beginning to the big robot battle. There are no cut scenes during the run-through.

Before we jump into all the details, note that there have been some reported graphical issues with the game. PC Gamer has reported some very odd graphical issues, and potential fixes. As always make sure you have the latest drivers installed. PC Gamer has also reported the texture "pop-in" issue with this game, we can confirm this is very much a big issue with this game, and we've seen it before with Rage.


Game Engine

Let's start off with the system requirements and then we'll talk about the game engine. The official minimum system requirements for this game call for: 64-bit Windows 7/Windows 8. That's right, this game is 64-bit and you will need a 64-bit OS. The minimum processor is indicated as needing an Intel Core i7 or equivalent AMD. Yep, an i7, not an i5 or lower. Minimum memory is 4GB of RAM, graphics are stated as needing a GeForce 460 or ATI Radeon HD 6850, and 50GB of available hard drive space.

The only recommended specifications is that for AMD GPU users it is recommended to install Catalyst 14.4 WHQL drivers. These are some high minimum requirements, and after what we've experienced, we wonder why they've stated these requirements to such high levels.

This game, as you might imagine, is based on an id Software based game engine. This game uses id Tech 5. The first game, and most notable game for using this engine is RAGE released in 2011. This game engine is more than three or four years old, but it is still the latest game engine from id Software. That means this game is OpenGL based. There actually are not a lot of games using id Tech 5 gaming engine. RAGE uses it, from 2011, this game uses it here in 2014, and a new game The Evil Within will use it also in 2014 and then the upcoming, date to be announced, Doom 4 will use it.

The problem with id Tech 5 is that it has received a bad rap, with negative connotations from its use in the game RAGE. We looked at RAGE when it was released and found many graphical issues with the game. There were, among many things, inconsistent texture quality. We found a very annoying texture loading, or texture "pop-in" when moving the camera around. To learn more about that game, and the id Tech 5 gaming engine itself and features, please read our RAGE evaluation.

We did not feel that RAGE, even for 2011 felt like or look liked a game from 2011, it seemed outdated, even then. So here it is 2014 and we would hope that the engine has been improved a lot for Wolfenstein: The New Order. There was much that needed to be improved, and with this game, the time has been there to do it. The question is, has it?

OpenGL

Wolfenstein: The New Order uses the OpenGL API. It is very rare to see a game using OpenGL these days, but id Software has uniquely stuck with OpenGL for its gaming engines, and id Tech 5 is no different. If you are unfamiliar with the different OpenGL versions, and what features are supported Wiki does offer a comprehensive overview of each one. It should be noted that OpenGL 4.4 is the latest version of OpenGL released in July of 2013. It is of course up to AMD and NVIDIA to provide said support into the drivers to open up that feature set to the GPUs.

Wolfenstein: The New Order, however, does not run under the latest version of OpenGL according to "qconsole.log" file. Comparing to DirectX, we have DirectX 11 (D3D11), DirectX 10 (D3D10), and DirectX 9 (D3D9). We are used to seeing games have options for some, or all of these API versions within DirectX. Naturally, D3D11 games are what we look forward to today. We look forward to that feature set of games as developers can use new and awesome features to push games forward. OpenGL has different versions too, and there are different versions that correspond comparatively to DirectX. OpenGL 4.0, for example, is the DX11 equivalent. OpenGL 3.3 is the DX10 equivalent, and OpenGL 3.2 is the DX9 equivalent.

Utilizing the "qconsole.log" file Wolfenstein: The New Order outputs we have determined that the game recognizes our video cards support OpenGL 4.4. This is good news in that NVIDIA and AMD have OpenGL 4.4 support. However, further reading the log file we find that this game does not run in OpenGL 4.x mode, instead this game runs under OpenGL version 3.2. That means that this game is on the level of a DirectX 9 (DX9) feature set type game.

Here is a snippet from the "qconsole.log" file.

------- Initializing renderSystem -------- GetWGLExtensionsWithFakeWindow: OpenGL Vendor: "ATI Technologies Inc." GetWGLExtensionsWithFakeWindow: OpenGL Renderer: "AMD Radeon R9 200 Series" GetWGLExtensionsWithFakeWindow: OpenGL version: "4.4.12874

------------------------------------------------------------------

"CreateOpenGLContextOnDC: Using gl version 3.2 created OpenGL 3.2 context CreateOpenGLContextOnDC: Using gl version 3.2 created OpenGL 3.2 context ----- GL_Init ----- OpenGL version 3.2

60 FPS Cap

This game imposes a 60 FPS cap on the gamer. Even with VSYNC disabled, the game engine, or rendering engine, is locked at 60 FPS. There might be a way to overcome this through editing configuration files, or some such manipulation. However, the fact remains, there are no in-game options to overcome this barrier. They want you to play this game at a maximum of 60 FPS, no matter the hardware. So much for SLI or CrossFire performance advantages. So much for 120Hz display gamers. Guess you guys don't count.

This type of framerate control instantly brings our minds to thinking of this game as a console port, or console friendly game, rather than exploiting the features of PC gaming. This is not something most PC gamers want.

RAGE was even worse at this fact. RAGE not only had a 60 FPS cap, but also lacked graphics options, instead relying on the game to normalize framerate to 60 FPS. Thankfully Wolfenstein: The New Order does have plenty of video card graphics options to adjust, but the framerate cap is not welcomed from PC gamers.