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Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves – an accomplished but unambitious PC port

Naughty Dogs Uncharted has finally arrived on PC in the form of The Legacy Collection, bringing together Uncharted 4 and The Lost Legacy in a double-pack, initially enhanced for PlayStation 5 earlier in the year and now finally available for PC. As is the custom, Digital Foundry will be telling you what the settings actually do, which ones to choose for the most optimal experience and also stacking up Iron Galaxys port against the reference PlayStation 5 version. Theres a lot to like in this conversion and the quality of Naughty Dogs work remains intact, but equally, theres a sense that PC should be delivering more.

First impressions for a PC port are often defined for me by looking at its options, where we find something of a mixed bag. There are things I like such as support for FSR 2 and DLSS, with separate sharpening sliders for both. However, there are other things that I found disappointing or counterintuitive for the PC audience. For example, resolution and refresh rate are tied to your desktop resolution and you have no real control over them in-game, beyond an internal resolution slider. There is also the lack of graphical options in general – around five meaningful settings overall, along with anisotropic filtering, which everyone ends up ramping to the max anyway owing to its minuscule cost on todays PC hardware. HDR also appears to be missing at first glance, but it is there, the option becoming available when HDR is enabled on the Windows desktop.

First impressions are mediocre then but what did impress me is Iron Galaxys approach to shader compilation. Hitching and stuttering in PC titles has become a heinous issue and it requires a proactive approach to ensure a stutter-free PC experience. The solution here is to compile them when the game loads for the first time. Its a time-consuming process, clocking in at around ten minutes on a 12900K with high-end DDR5, so expect that to take longer on more mainstream processors. You can ignore this and plough on into gameplay, but loading takes longer and CPU utilisation increases as its essentially crunching shaders in the background as you play. I recommend waiting however long it takes for the process to complete before beginning the game proper.

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Everything you need to know about Uncharteds PC port – including a quick look at the problematic review code that was thankfully fixed before launch.

Before the day one patch dropped, I had plenty more negative things to say about the game but having reported our issues to Sony last week, its great to see key visual problems and remaining stuttering issues fixed – even if it did mean delaying our coverage to test the launch day code. Remaining issues are thin on the ground, but despite taking a punt on improving motion blur for the launch version, the effect is still broken and requires work. On top of that, despite standard and enhanced model options, the games level of detail has issues: draw distance in some respects is actually better on the PS5 version even up against PCs enhanced setting.

Another problem is loading. PlayStation 5 loads a chapter point in around 2.5 seconds, up against circa 16 seconds on a PC with a 3.5GB/s NVMe drive. This gulf isnt down to PS5s faster SSD but rather the inefficient loading system on the PC port. When loading, the game smartly turns off v-sync for the duration, but only one or two CPU threads are used to process incoming data – leaving a lot of processing horsepower untapped. The loading times are not objectively bad, but it is weird to see such single-threaded loading in a game releasing in 2022, especially as other ports of Sony first party titles have excellent loading speeds on PC – Marvels Spider-Man being especially impressive.

Getting into the few graphical options the game has, I have been able to get close to matching PS5 settings but not as close as I would like to allow for a like-for-like performance comparison between console and PC graphics hardware. Ambient occlusion, for example, presents on PS5 in a manner thats consistent with the medium setting – which basically looks identical on all higher settings, right up to ultra. Reflections? PS5 looks better than low and worse than ultra, but medium and high look the same to my eyes. Shadows? This one sees PS5 aligning exactly with the high setting, with ultra looking a little more refined. Textures on PS5 match both high and ultra, but the latter option seems to cache texture data to the point where an 8GB GPU may struggle with the top-end setting.

Setting selections and the effectiveness of those settings is minimal, unfortunately.
Optimised Settings Approximate PS5 Settings
Textures High High or Ultra
Model Quality Enhanced Higher than Enhanced
Anisotropic Filtering Ultra High or Ultra
Shadows High High
Reflections Medium or High Medium or High
Ambient Occlusion Medium or High Medium or High or Ultra

Altogether, optimised settings and how they relate to PlayStation 5s presentation are best expressed in the table above where there are obvious ambiguities. In practice, my settings selection will barely look different than the fully maxed experience as this games ultra settings are what I would call poor or placebo – unlike the most recent Sony ports which have generally offered meaningful enhancements above the console version. On an RTX 2060 Super in a dense scene, I have measured the optimised settings at 1440p offering a seven percent performance uplift over maxed or a ten percent performance uplift with medium ambient occlusion enabled instead of high.

I typically use the RTX 2060 Super and the Radeon RX 5700 to test out optimised settings at 1440p, which is also the resolution used by PlayStation 5 for its 60fps mode. The RX 5700 manages to be around eight percent faster on average than the RTX 2060 Super. Both of these GPUs are right on the edge of 60fps, which would be fine for a VRR display, but I think the more realistic use-case is to use DLSS or FSR 2 in their balanced modes, which takes gameplay into 80fps-90fps territory. These modes are well implemented and may even offer quality improvements over nature resolution rendering.

With the major issues I had with the title fixed in the day one patch, The Legacy Collection on PC is accomplished enough but is somewhat lacking in ambition. It performs well, it does not have intrusive stutter and it looks like the PlayStation 5 version for the most part. I like it, but I want it to be better. The graphical options are limited and the few upgrades it has over the PS5 version do not tend to make the game look noticeably better. Furthermore, the games level of detail is worse than PS5, which is something that should never happen. Uncharted is good in a plain way. It does the job it needs to do and the inclusion of reconstruction technology support is welcome, though Id like to see XeSS added to complete the set. However, Iron Galaxys work clearly fails to fully take advantage of the platforms potential in the way that Marvels Spider-Man did – and thats a shame.

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