Rage: PC performance not perfect, but greatly improved

We take a second look at Rage--this time on the PC--to see if the video driver issues that plagued the game's release for many people have been addressed.

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When id Software released Rage a week ago, a significant number of users reported problems with getting the PC version to run properly. My written assessment and subsequent video review of the Xbox 360 version of the game were quite positive, but I've also put about nine hours into the PC version since launch. While the post-release patches have markedly improved the PC experience for me, some issues remain.

For the sake of full disclosure--and because, as with all PC games, one's experience can vary a great deal based on individual system performance, drivers, and configuration--I'm running the PC version of Rage with an i7 2600 chipset, 8GB of RAM, and using a Radeon HD 6950 video card.

When I first fired up the PC version Rage on launch day, I was dismayed by consistent and extreme texture pop-in around the periphery of my view. It was incredibly distracting, to the point that after about twenty minutes, I'd had more than enough. The video below, posted in the Steam forums shortly after launch is a fairly accurate representation of what I experienced on Rage's first day.

Other users reported "artifacts, frame rate issues, and audio stuttering," as other issues they experienced with the launch version of the game. After quick post-launch investigation, it was noted by ATI/AMD that the currently available Rage drivers were outdated, and they pushed out a new hotfix later that day. Nvidia users were also encouraged to download the latest beta drivers.

After applying the initial AMD Catalyst Rage performance driver update, the issues of texture pop-in vanished for me. That said, I noticed the manifestation of irregular quick hitches in frame-rate, and very noticeable and consistent problems with screen-tearing. Though infrequent and difficult to consistently replicate, I also experienced a couple of crashes.

By now, I'm sure some of you are asking why I didn't just use Rage's in-game menus to tweak my graphics settings to improve performance. It's because when Rage shipped, it didn't include the option to adjust much more than screen resolution and brightness. Much like trying to create an engine that's effective at assessing the performance capabilities of individual PC configurations, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

id Software explains the initial decision to structure the engine this way in the patch notes for the most recent Rage update, which added more user-facing performance settings to the PC version this past Saturday.

"Due to popular demand for more video and graphics options, this patch updates the video settings menu and exposes several quality and performance settings," the recent patch notes read, in part. Among the additions are the ability to adjust things like VSync, anisotropic filtering, texture cache size, and field of view options.

Given the pre-patch glitchiness I experienced, I was surprised to find that after Saturday's patch, I'm able to run the game with all of the available settings maxed. With the exception of a couple of areas, enabling VSync has all but eliminated the screen-tearing issue. The tiny frame rate hitches have disappeared, the on-screen action is now blazing fast--whether in a vehicle or on-foot--and I've only suffered one seemingly random crash in the last five or so hours of play.

It's still not 100% perfect--the textures on flapping banners in dungeons now flicker a bit--but it's a relatively minor annoyance that doesn't really impact the vast majority of the experience. I was, however, heartened to find this specific issue mentioned in Saturday's patch notes, and that it's a known driver-related issue that they're currently trying to fix. In fact, if you're all patched up with the latest drivers, but are still experiencing some issues with Rage, the recent patch notes also explain a few possible more in-depth workarounds, and shed some light on many of the known issues that folks have reported.

If you're thinking about picking up Rage for the PC, I'd recommend doing some research first. (Unfortunately, without a demo, there's no way you can properly "test drive" the game yourself.) The game is running well enough now that I'd recommend that someone with a similar system configuration to pick it up but, you'll need to decide if you think your system can handle the game effectively.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    October 11, 2011 3:00 PM

    Jeff Mattas posted a new article, Rage: PC performance not perfect, but greatly improved.

    We take a second look at Rage--this time on the PC--to see if the video driver issues that plagued the game's release for many people have been addressed.

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      October 11, 2011 3:17 PM

      I didn't have any problems with the game other then the fact that it was terrible. Obvious console port and the fact that you can't change ANY settings. You get low medium or high for graphics, can't change anything else. Any no toggle zoom, no "hardcore" PC player wants to hold down zoom.

      Love how they tried to make is so that the textures load where you look, failed horribly.

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        October 11, 2011 3:20 PM

        I don't think you should be allowed to post again until you learn how to type on a phone.

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        October 11, 2011 3:32 PM

        That's not true, none of those settings or the console was locked at launch. They've since added a GUI for "hardcore" pc players to use a slider instead of commandline.

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        October 11, 2011 3:57 PM

        You don't know what a console port is, so please shutup.

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          October 11, 2011 6:09 PM

          This game is a console port, Driver San Fransisco is a console port, Bad Company 2 is a console port. Starcraft 2 is NOT a console port, Company of Heroes is NOT a console port. I think I can tell the difference.

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            October 12, 2011 6:53 AM

            Actually you have no clue what a console port is.

            A port in this context is when you change the underlying code base from one system to another. For example QUAKE 64 is a port of the PC game to the consol because they had to change quite a bit to get it working on the N64

            In this case because all 3 platforms are developed at the same time and use the same game code (maybe some different rendering code for each hardware) it's not a port.

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        October 11, 2011 5:35 PM

        Hardcore gamers can't hold a button down for zoom? LOL

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          October 11, 2011 5:53 PM

          2hardcore2holdakey

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          October 11, 2011 6:07 PM

          Not that they can't its that they don't want to. I can't stand having to hold the mouse button down to zoom.

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            October 11, 2011 6:11 PM

            Well it adds to the challenge, doesn't it? Or perhaps your use of ironic quotes around the word "hardcore" was intentional.

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          October 12, 2011 6:31 AM

          The UI in rage is a joke. 2 buttons to use a bound action? Cool, its not like I have 101 keys at my disposal. Console port.

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            October 12, 2011 6:39 AM

            This is a huge pet peeve of mine. IF they're going to make a console port or multi platform game, let PC users take advantage of what they have at their disposal. I mean for fucks sake, there was no excuse for PC fallout 3 to have size 50 fonts at a resolution of 1920x1200. And at 1080p having 3 items at a time appear in your inventory forcing you to scroll down. And binding actions? Yeah, I have an entire fucking 101 key keyboard to bind shit to, but I can only bind 8 things. Perfect...all of this because of not taking an extra 2 weeks to tailor A PC release to the PC.

            Rage suffers the same shit.

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            October 12, 2011 6:46 AM

            Two buttons? I thought there were 4 slots to map an item to, which could be easily bound to whatever button you like?

            Your nerd rage towards this game is unmatched.

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              October 12, 2011 6:55 AM

              Your second sentence is very true.

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        October 12, 2011 1:03 AM

        no "hardcore" PC player wants to hold down zoom.

        This is hilarious

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          October 12, 2011 1:06 AM

          How about no PC player who's been playing for a decade wants to hold down zoom. We're used to cycling zoom levels with a key, or at worst clicking a mouse button. Mouse + Keyboard != Gamepad, the controls should not function identically.

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        October 12, 2011 6:41 AM

        You say the game is terrible, based on the fact that you can't change any settings (which was later patched in)? What does that have to do with the actual game itself? Did you even play it or am I just feeding the troll?

        Also, I love that since you prefer toggle zoom you assume everyone (excuse me, "hardcore players") prefer it as well. Face palm.

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          October 12, 2011 6:44 AM

          The game is terrible because in the end, its a first person shooter with nothing new to the table. I have in the past been a huge id fanboy but now since they only care about $$$ and xbox 360, I'll pass on a 10 hour single player game. 60$ for a 10 hour sp rage experience versus skyrim. 60$ rage vs 41$ BF3. You tell me. ID has forgotten everything about their roots (PC tailored games that push the limit with great multiplayer). Fact of the matter is that they suck at making story based single player, always have - always will - they should just leave that to other developers.

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            October 12, 2011 6:55 AM

            Not every game has to bring 'something new' to the table. The game is a quasi-open ended FPS game with some RPG elements, has awesome controls and great visuals. If you bought the game expecting something other than what it was clearly marketed as, then that's your own fault and not the fault of Id.

            I love how you directly compare the playtime of a single player FPS with that of an open-ended RPG known for being enormous. ~10 hours is average to long for a FPS campaign, not including the multiplayer and coop campaign that you intentionally forgot to mention.

            Also, because you found BF3 for sale (posted yesterday I might add) and bought Rage at full price - somehow that's ID's fault?

            I'm not saying Rage was GOTY by any means, but if you people have some crazy ass expectations going into it don't be surprised if it doesn't live up to it.

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            October 12, 2011 7:26 AM

            So how far have you gotten?

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      October 11, 2011 3:19 PM

      Running a Core 2 Quad Q9400 and ATI 4870 512MB, should I even bother, or just go with the 360 version?

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      October 11, 2011 3:41 PM

      I probably spent 2 hours trying to get the game running the day I got it. Somehow, despite the patches and hotfixes, updating actually made things worse, and I'm currently running an ATI driver from 2 months ago, which as given me the best result so far.

      That said, I'm enjoying the game... Luckily, I'm able to do it for longer than 10 minutes at a time, unlike the first few days.

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      October 11, 2011 5:44 PM

      I think the only thing holding back perfect performance is my hard drive. I wonder if there's a difference with texture pop-in with SSD's.

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        October 11, 2011 6:16 PM

        It can't be loading those textures from the hard drive, not if they're immediately available just a frame or two later, can it? I think davinci was on here the other day explaining how it should just be one frame of latency, the way they do it.

        But if it IS loading from disk, of course an SSD would help.

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          October 11, 2011 7:04 PM

          I am running a full install of the game off of an SSD, but I don't really think that will affect you too much. I didn't try it off of my mechanical hard drive, so I can't tell if you if it is any better or not. I think it is much more important that you either have a fast graphics card, or a fast CPU with multiple cores.

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      October 11, 2011 6:12 PM

      On my nVidia setup I've had no problems other than screen tearing. At release I had to use the nVidia control panel to force on Vsync to fix it. The update just allowed me to do it in the game.

      I'm really enjoying the game, It's a very solid shooter and smooth as silk, just like all Id games. The genre is tired and overdone, but I'm having fun and I'll finish it. I probably won't go back to it or do a whole lot of side missions, but I'm still having a blast.

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      October 11, 2011 9:51 PM

      Sorry Id Fanbois. Q3 was the last good game they put out i paid full price for. I'll pick up Rage when it's under $10. When will you learn? Sure Carmack knows his stuff, but his company forgot that games are supposed to be fun. I spent way too many hours playing their games, but my momma didn't raise no fool, the old gray mule ain't what it used to be. Sad, but I don't blame them for chasing the console money carrot, got to keep the lights on!

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        October 12, 2011 12:48 AM

        Sorry for you. I ordered the moment it was available, didn't have any of the issues some people had and enjoyed the game.

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        October 12, 2011 1:05 AM

        My name is Blanche Fanbois, and I've always relied upon the kindness of strangers

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        October 12, 2011 2:05 AM

        This is the first FPS I've played in ages that is just plain fun.

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          October 12, 2011 3:53 AM

          My sentiments exactly. I had a lot of problems with this at launch in Europe (the 7th). But after installing the 2nd preview 11.10 driver from AMD (for my 6870) and installing the patch, in addition to adding some tweaks to a cfg file in the base dir (basically forcing vsync eventhough id claims it's broken on AMD), the game is all smooth sailing now with no crashes after hours of gaming. I maxed all the settings in the menus and put on 4x AA and max AF. The game looks and feels awesome now. The only times there are slowdowns, is sometimes while driving in the wastelands, fighting other buggy's. But of course, I could just turn down AA if I want it at 60fps all the time. The only ugly thing now, is the upclose textures, but guess that will never be "fixed".

          I can't get over how fun this FPS is. I read a lot of the reviews and were prepared for the worst. But after getting the game stable and not having to reconfigure the controls every time, it's now fun as hell. Old school FPS in a "modern" setting with a lot of fun elements and smart design decisions all the way (rarely you have to backtrack while on a mission on foot - yay zipline). I'd say it's one of the most fun linear FPS I've played in years.

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        October 12, 2011 2:13 AM

        Jokes on you, the game is fucking awesome :)

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        October 12, 2011 6:24 AM

        No need to apologize, I'm having a blast.

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        October 12, 2011 6:45 AM

        You have it all wrong. Rage is a fantastic game, the only drawbacks are texture compression indoors. The game uncompressed would have been 150GB.

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        October 12, 2011 7:21 AM

        I think you just strung a bunch of random phrases together...

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      October 11, 2011 10:07 PM

      Runs very, very well now. Overall though, it's a critical non-success for id. I'd love to see DLC that's worth a shit, but I don't think it will happen. I *do* like the engine when it works correctly.

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        October 11, 2011 11:04 PM

        Engine is great, but not when you are close to things. Agree with non-success.
        Doom 3 was more like "id game" than this thing, and I even liked the story more in D3 (yeah, there was one).

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          October 12, 2011 12:43 AM

          I think trying to squeeze on to as few discs as possible on the console and memory limitations are the reason for the low-res up close textures.

          Curious what people will be capable of once they start tinkering with mods and such.

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            October 12, 2011 3:25 AM

            They have 25gb of textures. If they wanted to double the resolution they'd need 100gb. Would anyone want to install a game that came on 10 DVDs?

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              October 12, 2011 3:38 AM

              No one would. Eventually going to try and tinker with level creation so I can see what the engine limitations are.

              I have no idea if it supports detail or macro textures or any of the common alpha-channel effect mapping techniques.

              From what I gathered is that the engine flag's how to texture in 3 different ways. Lack of detail textures really makes terrain look ugly up close, but the trade off for no texture tiling is an almost even one.

              The way its implemented in Rage makes it the perfect graphic engine for terrain in racing game.

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              October 12, 2011 4:35 AM

              Would anyone want to install an OS that came on 13 floppies? :D

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            October 12, 2011 6:59 AM

            RAGE was 150GB uncompressed.

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      October 12, 2011 12:43 AM

      Console port, what bs. Fact is Nvidia is more supported and optimised for by devs, ESPECIALLY id. Your basically saying that John Carmack can't code if your accusing rage of being a console port, which is completely moronic and ignorant.

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      October 12, 2011 12:49 AM

      Furthermore what is this close to things rubbish... Metro 2033 has this exact same feature, you know why... because its how things look in reality when you are very close up, blurred.

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      October 12, 2011 12:59 AM

      for those insisting it's not a console port, I'd like to point you to a quote in Carmack's recent kotaku interview:

      http://pc.ign.com/articles/119/1199237p1.html

      makes it pretty clear in my mind that the lead dev platform was not the PC

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        October 12, 2011 1:14 AM

        Console port= engine that runs bad, looks bad and has very limited ability to adjust graphics quality for PC. None of this applies to rage, nuff said. Nothing to do with if a dev supports console games ahead of PC, you'd be stupid not to (sadly).

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        October 12, 2011 2:29 AM

        Who cares? 'Console port' has connotations that simply aren't applicable to the game.

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        October 12, 2011 3:12 AM

        So in spite of the fact that they've made it very clear that their main dev platforms were PCs, and that they developed for the three platforms simultaneously, you're still going to stand by your statement that "the lead dev platform was not the PC"?

        So, what... based on a hunch or something? Based on a feeling? Do you think id is lying?

        I just don't get all the "port" commentary. It's like the term has no meaning anymore. There was a time when "port" meant "the game was developed for platform x, and now we're going to 'port' it to platform y." Now it seems the term has been hijacked to mean "the game doesn't favor my platform preference primarily, so it is a 'port.'"

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          October 12, 2011 3:28 AM

          Relax, id has stated that the main target for Rage was the console market not the PC.

          I think about every game ever made had the PC as their main development platform, but not the target platform for the final product.

          Yeah people are getting pissy about their preferred platform not being favored, but several games released on PC have been god awful on the platform. Simple things like rebinding keys and FOV that adjusts to the aspect ratio should never be over looked. Mouse input shouldn't feel like your mousing over a bowling ball that submerged in molasses either.

          There are good reasons to be pissed, a game being buggy at launch isn't a great reason to be pissed off and does no one any good.

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            October 12, 2011 3:39 AM

            I'm not talking about the "target," I'm talking about the "dev." senor135 argues that "the lead dev platform was not the PC." That is just simply not true. Furthermore, i've seen countless claims that the PC version of Rage is a "port," which is also not true.

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              October 12, 2011 3:48 AM

              I think he poorly worded his post where dev platform should have been lead platform.

              At least I hope people don't really believe that studios develop games primarily on consoles.

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            October 12, 2011 3:45 AM

            And what is this business about Rage's mouse code being a problem? I've seen this claim a few times now, but I have no clue what people are talking about. Mouse input is one thing id always gets right, and Rage is no exception. I simply have no clue what people who say this are talking about.

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              October 12, 2011 3:53 AM

              They have crappy mice with a low polling rate with vsync on trying to use 8k textures on a video card with 512mb ram.

              Rage has great mouse control, was using it as an example of things that are shitty too often in games that are brought to PC, not an example of whats wrong with Rage.

              The only real issue I have with Rage is sometimes dialogue from people gets stick in Front-Left or Front-Right channels in surround sound (and will switch to Rear-Left or Rear-Right if you turn around, but never pass through all the channels), making me feel like I am deaf in one ear.

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      October 12, 2011 3:30 AM

      Sale please.

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      October 12, 2011 3:41 AM

      Guys, i'm playing on a Q6600, with a 8800GT and i'm running at 1900x1200.

      It is probably the best looking game on my rig, the performance they have gotten out of my min spec box is amazing. Yes the textures pop in if I do a quick 180, but I never do that when i'm playing so I don't notice it.

      Great game in my opinion.

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      October 12, 2011 5:35 AM

      Its always ran good for me, patch just means less fiddling with a custom cfg file.

      Clearly they didn't use that full year of polish on the PC version though! The auto balancer is clearly not working great on many systems.

      The menu options wouldnt be neededif the automatic scaling did a good job

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      October 12, 2011 5:45 AM

      Rage question: Does anyone else have a serious issue with frame rate going to shit when entering a new area? I'll drive around and when I hit a new area, it goes down to maybe 8 FPS for about a minute and then it revs back up to 60ish. It's awful when your driving as you'll hit this a lot as new areas load. Once you're in an area, the game is great it's the loading a new area FPS drop that's awful...

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        October 12, 2011 6:21 AM

        SSD?

        Sounds like something is either struggling to keep up during loads or a part is intermittently failing.

        I do not get what you described at all. Once the game has loaded from save it's at 60fps all the way through.

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        October 12, 2011 7:18 AM

        Some of the tweaks gave me framedrops, but I don't know which. When id patched in the options, I removed the tweaks and used the ingame menu. There's a little bit more popin but performance is better, no framedrops. Might not be the same thing though because it was very minor for me to the point I wasn't even sure it actually happened.

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      October 12, 2011 6:05 AM

      I'm running an Nvidia card and have no issues, but I'm not using the beta drivers. Should I use the beta drivers anyway? I'm wondering if the graphics will be "even better" with the betas or if I should just leave well enough alone.

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        October 12, 2011 6:23 AM

        The betas work fine for me but in this case I'd say stick with your current drivers if you don't have huge issues. Unless they've recently releases a RAGE specific beta driver I'm not aware of.

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          October 12, 2011 7:50 AM

          1. Game works fine
          2. Change driver to make game work great
          3. Game doesn't work at all
          4. Change back to old driver
          5. Game still doesn't work
          6. Fffffffuuuuuuuuuuuu

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            October 12, 2011 10:13 PM

            7. Buy Nvidia graphics card.
            8. Game works the way its meant to be played.
            9. Celebrate this new found knowledge with fist pumps

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