Nathan Drake is the latest PlayStation star to join the migration of Sony’s catalog to PC. Launching on PS5 last year with enhanced versions of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and its expansion, The Lost Legacy, the Legacy of Thieves Collection arrives this week on PC.
With many at Sony’s in-house porting studio Nixxes engaged, the honors here went to Iron Galaxy, which has also made a name for itself as a competent porting studio. The task was to take the roots of the old Naughty Dog engine used in the PS5 remasters and transfer them to a PC running under the DirectX12 API. It’s a considerable challenge, given the varied nature of the PC platform which is the polar opposite of the bespoke nature of the engine designed directly for PlayStation hardware.
Lost Ark shaders
A big hurdle for developers in the DirectX12 PC space is that of shaders, and more specifically, the compilation of shaders. These thick GPU code routines are required on a platform-by-platform basis with consoles and even fixed hardware like the Steam Deck. But on PC, you’ll need some or all of your custom shaders to compile, depending on your GPU generation, make, and model. These can be as simple as drawing the UI for 3D objects when you click the stick, rendering in an explosion with GPU particles, and more.
As such, the team has taken an asynchronous approach, just as we saw in Horizon Zero Dawn and Spider-Man. Essentially, they create them via one or more CPU threads as soon as you load the game and during gameplay. The goal here is to create all the required GPU shaders for every possible area of the game, store them in a local cache on your hard drive, and call them when needed. Due to this cost, you will need a fast CPU to allow the game to play without too much trouble as they are built, something you can easily check in the game menu. Once these shaders are created, you should have a mostly smooth experience unless you update your GPU driver. I did notice some stutters from time to time, but I applaud the way the team has done it, as it maximizes the hardware and allows you to immerse yourself in the game right away.
Unearthing the treasures
Both games in the collection are based on last year’s PS5 remasters, which means unlocked frame rates, 4K resolutions, faster input times, and multiple modes on consoles. On PC, this means a choice of graphics options, higher than 4K resolution, ultrawide aspect ratios, and access to AMD’s FSR 2.0 or Nvidia DLSS, plus the games’ own TAA solution.
Benefits over the PS5 version include a small increase in shadows which resolves one of the weaker aspects of the PS4 and PS5 version, offering a higher resolution map with a smoother edge. It’s certainly not a huge boost, but it can clean up some shadow aliases in certain scenes and may have a medium impact on performance depending on your hardware. You can also increase the detail level of foliage and geometry on PS4 and PS4 Pro, bringing it closer to the PS5 update, but not always, though I suspect this is a bug.
In many sections, you may notice a small increase in brush, bushes, and other distant foliage. This lines up exactly with the PS5, as does the little bump on the mid to far geometric build, meaning some rocks or trees have a higher poly count. The problem on PC is that this isn’t always present, with some sections on PC showing a lower LoD level than on PS5. I suspect this is also a bug, as other scenes directly match.
Ultra’s overall settings align exactly with PS5, aside from matching shadows to High, meaning Ultra may see a 2-5% performance hit over High, depending on per-scene shadow map requirements. Also, another omission on PC, or probably another bug, is that per-camera and object blur is not enabled, leaving PC without the motion blur effect, which would also have a couple of % impact. in performance. This is most easily noticeable in action over LoD, so hopefully the team will release a patch soon to get this working.
Here are the main differences between the graphics settings on PC and how they compare to the PS5 version:
- Texture filter lines almost exactly to High.
- Ambient Occlusion is the closest to Ultra, and the High setting doesn’t stand out as much different.
- Reflections are also pretty much identical between High and Ultra with a performance cost of around 1%, but noticeable as High on PS5 to be sure. 8%. It should be noted that the game allows SSR to be on or off by surface/material, with many pools of water only using cubemap reflections even on Ultra.
- Unsurprisingly, the textures match Ultra on PlayStation 5. They’re the same as High, except it allocates higher mipmaps into VRAM, so the higher quality is used farther. Note that on an 8GB card, like my RTX 2070, it will exceed the limit when the resolution is higher than 1440p.
Final configuration for PS5:
- Textures – Ultra
- Model Quality: Superior Enhanced
- Shadows – High
- Ambient Occlusion – High (Ultra)
- Reflections – High
- Anisotropic Filtering – High
- Note: A disparity from the current PC version means that the detail level is less than the PC maximum and motion blur by object does not currently work.
When it comes to performance, the PC can break free from the PS5’s 120fps maximum if its hardware is powerful enough. For my tests, I set everything to High, which gives the PC a potential performance gain of 2-13% with the caveat that MB and LoD differences on PS5 make up for shadow increases. The PS5 has 3 modes that follow a fixed resolution: Fidelity is native 4K, Performance offers 1440p, and Performance+ is fixed at 1080p. If you have a VRR display you can unlock Fidelity and Performance at 60 or 120fps maximum and it’s these modes that we’ll be comparing to PC.
Starting with native 4K Fidelity mode, PC is 37% behind PS5 in RT cinematics. These fluctuate throughout the section, meaning the PS5 can have a frame rate 9 to 15fps higher than the RTX 2070 on my PC. Due to low CPU and high GPU demands, we’re not near CPU limits here, meaning at this high 4K setting we’re 100% GPU bound on both. Covering a wide-open puck and then the action-packed raider tribute action sequence, the RTX 2070 arrives with an average fps of 35.2 versus 47.5 on the PS5, an average 34% advantage in favor of the PS5. With my AMD RX 6800 on Ultra settings, we can get close to 60fps locked in 4K. It can drop below 50 at some points, but with FreeSync enabled it would be almost invisible without this kind of frame rate test. That works out to about a 24% improvement over the PS5 at 4K ultra settings.
1440p mode doesn’t change any of the settings, but the resolution drops 55% compared to 4K fidelity mode, meaning we’re getting closer to the CPU than the GPU. The API and driver cost of PCs is significantly higher than on PS4 and PS5 and we can see this with the CPU demands. Even with a 6 core/12 threaded Zen 3 5600x running at 4.6 GHz, we may find ourselves CPU limited even at 1440p on the RX 6800. This is not always the case, and drops can occur at sector points or, sometimes without any real discernment. cause for them. We see this in PS5 120fps 1080p mode too, with certain areas dipping into the 90s when traveling, suggesting the engine is still reliant on the CPU for some of its data transmission work. This translates to a much more powerful CPU that also suffers from bottlenecks at the same points.
The Lost Legacy in Fidelity mode on PS5 can hit 60fps at some points, but this game is more demanding than Uncharted 4 at some points, and we can see this mode hitting 30 in short heavy moments. As such, the RX 6800 is still about 25% faster than the PS5 in similar sections, and the PS5 is about 30% faster than the RTX 2070. The boost for PC comes in FSR2.0 or DLSS 2.0, which can help resolve GPU limits. Note however that quality mode in DLSS runs at 1440p, but is more taxing on the GPU than 1440p alone. It offers a small increase in fidelity, but still introduces some ghosting artifacts in particle effects that aren’t present without them. As such, I recommend the Balanced setting if you’re using this level of GPU, as it can close that 30% gap, albeit at lower resolution and image quality, but it’s worth the performance gain bump.
I would recommend that most set the game to High in all areas and then use DLSS or FSR to get the best balance of 60 or 120fps if you have the CPU and GPU to hit that. The small visual gains made in Ultra, aside from shadows, are pretty much invisible, and this includes the extra foliage and geometry that the PS5 version has. Still, the engine scales exceptionally well on various hardware specs, including the Steam Deck, but that obviously requires some bigger cuts to get a smooth 30fps level.
The Uncharted games have been a diamond for the PlayStation platform, and nothing has ever dull their shine on PC. Despite lacking a level of tweaking that we’re used to on PC, the port here is accomplished and still offers enough options to customize the game to your needs. Framerate boosts, resolutions, and shadows can all vary in importance, but the choice is a good one. As are ultrawide display options found in the menu, and full FSR 2 and DLSS 2 support to help you get more from your GPU. But they’re predominantly the same as last year’s PS5 version, and in most respects, they’re not a huge leap from the 6-year-old and 5-year-old versions of the PS4 Pro. CPU demands to get to and over 120 fps can be higher than expected, and without a very high-end CPU and GPU, it wasn’t always possible to get a locked 120 fps, even at 1080, at least with the latest version. current. That said, you can run the game at over 160fps and even 8K if you have the necessary hardware. A few minor bugs remain, but I hope Iron Galaxy will have patches soon that resolve the ones I noted here and to the team during my review.