Port Report: Payday 2

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Port Reports are a series of quick first impressions of the technical aspects of a PC game. For an up to date account of Saints Row IV’s fixes and improvements, please visit its respective PCGamingWiki article.

The original Payday was created by Overkill, a subsidiary of Starbreeze Studios. Overkill was actually a successor to the now-bankrupt Grin. Grin was first and foremost a PC developer spending their 12 years of work making games for Windows who even had their own in house engine, so it’s no surprise that Payday 2 is really quite good on PC. Woops, just spoilt it all! Silly me. The initial build of the pre-release was a technological shamble. The less said about it, the beta. While the issues present at the time shouldn’t have been issues, the swift, direct action taken by Overkill was admirable (including fixing crashes for Radeon/Intel HD users, locked FOV and issues with half-second long freezes while moving around the level).

Performance is a double edge serrated blade. It’s very good but also incredibly stubborn. In situations where I could get great FPS I wouldn’t get anymore than 5-8 more by turning all the settings down. This could just be an issue with my own machine but it’s gonna hit someone somewhere and there’s a chance they can’t hold a smooth framerate and really need a bit more. Another problem is the lack of clear options. Here, take a look.

graphics_menu_basic

The apparent main setting (a slider, a massive slider,), “effect quality,” literally does nothing. Nothing for performance, nothing for image quality and nothing to sort out this dissonance between Payday being amazing and annoying. I literally checked for everything to see if there was a difference in quality: anti-aliasing, SSAO, post processing effects, shadow resolution, anything that could possibly come under the really really big umbrella as “effect.” I even reloaded the level to make sure it didn’t require a restart. Look for yourself, here are two screenshots, one with the slider to maximum and one with the slider to minimum. Take a guess.

Luckily, the next menu, “advanced”, it quite lovely and far clearer. Vsync, depth of field, texture quality (none of which are sliders, phew) and a stonking huge FOV slider.

graphics_menu_advance

In the comparison below, we see that low versus high, is really quite a graceful difference with the room, as a whole, still looking quite similar. Just blurry. The cable-cage on low is a bit jarring but that kind of inconsistency isn’t throughout.

One of the issues in the initial pre-release was the lack of ability to turn depth of field off, which was quite strong for that matter. How strong?

That strong.

I chose that angle through a door as it’s a very common situation in game, where headshots are vital to holding off cops that could storm through. Unfortunately, the depth of field blurs the sight and while it doesn’t look like it’d make much of a difference, as you can still see the green dot, I did notice myself doing better without the blur on. Maybe I was just bad though. Maybe I still am.

An FOV slider was implemented day one and I’d wager the range is between 60 and 100 degrees with there being no numbers alongside it. If you can only play with a specific FOV, you’re going to have to mess around with it in the safehouse (a hub-esque area, seen above) to find the sweet-spot.I’d suggest an FOV of 70 or 80 if you do have a couch setup.

Controls are a big plus, giving you a level of control that will feel familiar to the original heisters. For example: separate sensitivity sliders for looking and aiming, toggle or hold for both sprint and crouch and rather nicely, no mouse filtering (EG acceleration or deceleration), allowing the user to implement it at a level, and strength, they feel comfortable with (like a Windows option or buy a mouse with it). Despite all the pleasantries, as far as I could tell, there’s no controller support.

The sound department, mechanically, is standard. Separate sliders for music, sound effects and voice chat. There’s also a subtitle option (oddly placed in the game sub-menu) but it seems that the lines it does decide to sub are a bit patchy and aren’t really going to help the hard of hearing mid heist. A far cry from the likes of say, Left 4 Dead’s closed captions (which were a bit too helpful, if you ask me).

Conclusion

Summary of pros and cons:
+ Good performance
+ Great controls and options
+ Wonderful support from Overkill
- Little graphics options

Despite all the niggles and little digs I’ve made at the game, it doesn’t stop Payday from being absolutely amazing. I clocked up a ridiculous 50 hours in the tiny, pre-release beta (which only had 7 missions, compared to main games 30 or so). If you’re computer can run Payday and you’re even remotely interested, buy it. It’s concentrated fun. A huge congratulations to Overkill for making a profit on this (even before it was even released).

Port Reports are a series of quick first impressions of the technical aspects of a PC game. For an up to date account of Saints Row IV’s fixes and improvements, please visit its respective PCGamingWiki article.

  • Nicholas Perry

    The game needs an option to disable the Chromatic Aberration. Or adjust it at least. It looks awful

    • Jordan Dillon

      Thank you so much for putting a name to it. I always thought it was a side effect of the post process anti aliasing.

  • videogamer321

    I got around 30fps on the original Payday, will this run worse? I’m currently having a hard time deciding as I tend to like my games a bit smoother.

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