These were the best (and worst) technical PC games of 2022

2022 was a big year for PC game releases, for better and for worse. We’ve seen remarkable gains in fidelity in titles like dying light 2, but also fundamentally broken PC ports like Gotham Knights. As 2022 comes to a close, I wanted to take a look at the best and worst PC games we’ve seen in the past year.

Note that ReSpec is a technical column – I’m focused on the technical aspects of PC releases, not necessarily my favorite games in general. Elden Ring, for example, it won our best games of 2022 roundup and is one of the favorites. But it doesn’t appear on this list in the same light.

Best: Portal RTX

Portal RTX it’s a very demanding game, and I debated putting it on this list because of how few people can actually play it. But if nothing else, Portal RTX it’s a great showcase for Nvidia’s RTX Remix modding toolkit and how ray tracing can work to redefine how a game looks.

We are long past the days of Quake II RTX where some oversaturated lighting and distracting reflections were the best ray tracing showcases we’ve had. Physically based materials, more efficient path tracing techniques, scaling and frame generation have contributed to more realistic lighting in games and Portal RTX it’s our first showcase of the power those techniques can have.

I’m particularly excited about what it means for RTX Remix going forward. Modders have already released versions of Max Payne, Half-Life, e SWAT 4 revitalized through RTX Remix, and they all look amazing. I’ll be taking a closer look at these games (and hopefully more) in the future.

Worst: Gotham Knights

Robin fights the mob in Gotham Knights.

Gotham Knights it is at the opposite extreme: it is an ugly look at the past. In the line of the infamous Arkham Knight pc port, Gotham Knights shipped to PC with massive stuttering issues combined with mediocre ray tracing options. Even with a bunch of touch zoom features, Gotham Knights cannot maintain a stable frame rate.

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It doesn’t help that the game looks dated as well. It was originally designed with last-gen consoles in mind before the publisher decided to pull the plug, but it falls short of even that standard. Shortly after release, a flurry of images comparing the game’s graphical fidelity to 2015 Arkham Knight began to flow (and spoiler: Arkham Knight won that battle).

Personally, this one hit hard. Even with some problems that you can read in our I havegentleman’s ham review, I was excited to play the game. I can’t stand the overwhelming stuttering, though, which hasn’t been fixed even months after release. It’s worse than Elden Ring’s stutters and every other game I’ve played this year, and I don’t see the problem being fixed anytime soon. Recently, a patch for Gotham Knights actually made the game unplayable on steam. wow

Best: Uncharted Legacy of Thieves Collection

Uncharted Legacy of Thieves Collection running on Samsung Odyssey Neo G8.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Uncharted Legacy of Thieves collection is an excellent example of how to do a PC port well. Solid performance, a wide variety of graphics options, and precompiled shaders make for a smooth experience on virtually any platform, and a long-awaited debut for Nathan Drake on PC.

PlayStation has knocked it out of the park with all of its PC releases, but unexplored is toned down compared to god of war e Marvel’s Spider-Man. You’ll find some improved textures, but the original console version is mostly intact. Instead, the port focuses on stability by compiling in-menu shaders to prevent stuttering and providing upscaling for any GPU in the form of Nvidia’s FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) 2 and Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS).

The only downside is the size of the installation. Uncharted Legacy of Thieves Collection it requires 126GB of space (after all is said and done, it’s about 113GB, but we’re splitting hairs here), and a lot of that size comes on the back of improved textures. Installations over 100GB are common on PCs with these high resolution resources, but games like Far cry 6 allow you to skip the higher resolution resources for a smaller install size, which I’d like to see in unexplored

Still, if the only thing I can complain about is the install size of a PC game released in 2022, that’s pretty damn good.

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Worst: Warhammer 40,000 Darktide

A wall reading "Death before Dishonor" in Warhammer 40K Darktide.

I will admit, Warhammer 40,000 Darktide is one of my personal favorite games of 2022, but that’s despite its load of technical issues. A long and bug-filled beta period led to an even more broken release at launch, which featured constant network disconnections, game-breaking glitches due to ray tracing, and myriad visual bugs.

A few examples: turning off the nebulous and overly demanding underground scatter setting meant that the skin simply wouldn’t render on characters; enabling DLSS to improve ray tracing performance would crash the game; and lens flares could cause a massive drop in frame rate, which is one of many options that can create a nasty CPU bottleneck in the game.

Since launch, developer Fat Shark has continued to improve the game, and it’s now in a much better place. There’s no denying the game’s tumultuous launch status, however, which is disappointing considering it was one of the few new titles released with DLSS 3, rather than a rollback to older versions.

Best: Marvel’s Spider-Man (and Miles Morales)

A comparison of a finishing move in Spider-Man Miles Morales.

Marvel’s Spider-Man e Thousands of morals took a different approach to Sony’s PC ports, relying more on PC technology than stable performance. Both are stable games, but they’re also packed with ray tracing, a wealth of scaling options, and technology like Deep Learning Anti-Aliasing (DLAA) and DLSS Frame Generation.

The ray tracing looks fantastic Marvel’s Spider-Man, and allows you to push reflections and shadows beyond what’s available on PlayStation 5. Thousands of morals it’s particularly impressive with DLSS 3, although AI-generated frames don’t always look perfect.

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Now that Spiderman 2 it’s announced for next year on PlayStation 5, I can only hope we see it on PC. If these first two releases are anything to go by, the second game will hopefully shine even brighter on a high-end gaming platform.

Worst: Stray/Elden Ring

Elden Ring running on Asus ROG PG42UQ.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

I’m grouping vagabond e Elden Ring here because they both had the same problem: shader compilation stutter. Elden Ring was patched in a much better state, just like bum, but both launched with consistent stuttering on PC due to the shaders being compiled on the GPU.

This is mostly a problem with Unreal Engine, as you can see Gotham Knights. Having said that, Elden Ring it uses a custom engine, which shows that it can also affect game engines. Shaders (programs) must be moved to your GPU before they can run, causing a slowdown when new shaders are introduced.

The good news about these two releases is that they are now playable, quite the difference Gotham Knights. Still, it’s disappointing to see such severe stuttering in two games that were widely considered among the best of the year.

PC ports in 2023

Looking ahead to 2023, I’m hopeful that the days of stuttering build shaders and scrapped PC ports are behind us. FortniteThe transition to Unreal Engine 5 shows a bright future for the large number of titles that use Unreal. On the other end, we’re still seeing the next generation Wizard 3 update and titles like Callisto Protocol liberation in devastating states.

On the other hand, more PC releases are adopting technologies like FSR, DLSS, Frame Generation, and latency reduction tools like Reflex, which help engine-optimized games run more smoothly. I am sure that in 2023 we will see even more progress on that front.

This article is part of ReSpec, an ongoing bi-weekly column featuring in-depth discussions, tips, and reporting on the technology behind PC gaming.

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