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Games: Is There Still A “PC Gaming Master Race” in 2021?

As a recently joined and fully paid member of the PC gaming community, I can’t say that I have regretted the massive outlay.

Although it cost more than it should have, thanks to the Covid tax (Scalpers), I have loved my experience so far. Microsoft recently made a big deal regarding backwards compatibility, but this is far from a new feature as long as you have the right equipment. I first got interested in PC gaming as I love to revisit old games and built my first system during lockdown 1 in 2020. For a low cost, it allowed me to work from home and also get into the joys of PC gaming.

Unfortunately, as with most things in my life, good was never enough. This led to spending way too much time searching online to find the parts needed to upgrade and take my experience to the next level. I overpaid for what I have, but not by much. Considering how hard the new 30 series graphics cards have been to get, I consider myself extremely lucky and grateful. Nearly every game that I now play runs and performs better on my PC than any other hardware I own. However, there has been a worrying trend recently that I’d like to look into further.

The first Mario game in 4k (it’s wrong in many ways) yes, please. Why though? Because I can.

There have been a few games recently or that are due to release, that bucked this trend. It’s made me realise that the most recent console launch has closed the gap in performance by a lot, but I wonder how long this will continue. FIFA (and Madden), NBA 2K and Resident Evil will be the focus of this, and the decisions made recently that have made me worry about my choices.

EA confirmed FIFA 22 before their big 2021 Livestream event, but we all knew it was coming. As always, it was introduced with marketing names like Hypermotion, which sound great but tend to disappoint once you have tried it.

More concerning was that they confirmed that the PC version of the game will be the same as the Xbox One and PS4 games. The reason given is that the additional features would mean that the requirements to run the game would mean that many of the player install bases currently, would be unable to run the game.

Although I understand that some games are unable to run on old hardware, FIFA is not really a taxing game. On my first PC build with a 13-year-old CPU and small form factor GPU, I was still able to run the game at max settings and 4K resolution at over 60 FPS, This shows that there is considerable overhead and that additional elements could be added.

98% of games I have run better on my PC than on the Xbox One or PS4.

I don’t understand why developers are unable to make this trend continue. Being able to fire up a game from 10 years ago and have it run better and look better than my first play thru most of the reasons why I love my platform of choice.

Case in point, Crysis 3. This game is nearly 10 years old, but yet with settings set to maximum (1440p btw, as 4k is a bit of a dream still for me), the game looks truly amazing and is there are only and a handful of games that have topped the looks. There is more to games such as AI and gameplay, but this is a game that was way ahead of itself for the time.

As such, it seems like this is either a case of poor optimisation or a lack of effort from the makers. For example, Horizon Zero Dawn ran as well on my medium build PC as it did on my launch edition PS4, this shows that amazing play can be had across different generations without holding back the overall game.

That game has way more going on than FIFA, but it is still possible to have a good experience on low-end hardware. NBA 2K is the same, with the PC version being the same as PS4 and Xbox One, but no reason has been provided by the developer. The issue here on both games, being that the choice or ability to change settings to get a better experience has been taken away.

The above reason is why a lot of people choose to play on PC. If you are a player who prefers framerate over resolution, then you can change this to suit your needs or vice versa. Games should be able to scale their experience on PC (or across any platform), the issue is worsened by the fact that many players still can’t get their hands on the Next Gen consoles (current Gen?)  to try out the best possible version of these games or features on offer.

Resident Evil 8 has a different reason for being listed here. The performance issues on PC seem to be due to the anti-piracy software in use. However, modders were able to work this out before the developers of the game. A recent patch seems to have resolved this issue, but it took some time for this to be addressed. The question being, if it was so easy to fix why was it not done sooner.

Next-Gen consoles have reduced the gap between console and PC gaming but it will be a long time before they are in the hands of all the gamers that want them.

Games are not cheap,  and I understand it is not an easy process to ensure performance across ageing hardware, but games like Rocket league and Fortnight still offer the same experience. All be it with varying levels of performance.

Cyberpunk 2077 still runs on older hardware after all (albeit not very well).

Microsoft has shown that this is possible with Smart Delivery, which means buy a game once, and then get the best possible experience delivered to whatever hardware you own.

I hope this isn’t a trend that continues and that we are past the dark times of shoddy PC ports of games that happened in the early noughties, but it would be nice to know that the makers of the games understand our concerns and are willing to go the extra mile to make us part with our hard-earned cash.  

Let’s see more Smart Delivery and less that’ll do, when going forward in gaming.


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