How Valve fixed the Elden Ring on Steam Deck TechRadar

One of the more intriguing stories to emerge from the Steam Deck launch was the news that Valve leveraged its Linux-based Proton compatibility layer to effectively troubleshoot the troubled PC version of Elden Ring. Immediately after completing my Steam Deck review, I caught Elden Ring working “out of the box” without Valve’s optimizations in the game, so I tried the “pinned” experience. Were the issues really fixed, and if so, how did Valve do it? Also, we’ve had a few other fixes since then, which raise another crucial question: Is Elden Ring on PC now fixed?

Going back to our PC launch coverage, the in-game stuttering was unbearable, our working theory was that we were reviewing another PC game that was suffering from shader compilation issues: split second pauses every time that a new visual effect came into play. I’ve been talking about it a lot lately – not a problem on consoles because the fixed nature of the hardware means that the shaders are pre-compiled and included in the package. However, on a PC, where hardware specifications vary widely, the process is more complicated. Steam Deck has an advantage in this regard, as it is fixed hardware, just like a console.

“On the Linux / Proton side, we have a fairly extensive shader pre-cache system with multiple levels of source and binary level cache representations pre-seeded and shared among users,” Valve’s Pierre-Loup Griffais told us. . . “On deck, we take it to the next level, because we have a unique GPU / driver combination to aim for and most of the shaders you run locally are actually pre-built on the servers in our infrastructure. When the game is trying to emit a build of shaders via its chosen graphics API, these are usually ignored, as we find the precompiled cache entry to disk.

An in-depth look at how Elden Ring looks and works on the Steam Deck, how Valve modified the game, and how it compares to PlayStation 4.

However, Griffais believes that most of Elden Ring’s problems were caused by other factors, as spotted on Twitter by several developers who reviewed Github’s commitments to the open source compatibility layer.

“The shader pipeline-driven stutter is not the majority of the big problems we’ve encountered in this game,” continues Graiffais. “The recent example we highlighted has more to do with the game creating several thousand resources such as command buffers at certain points causing our memory manager to overrun trying to handle it. We cache these allocations so more aggressive now, which seems to have helped a lot. I can’t say if this is the problem the game is having on other platforms as well, but we played Deck with all these elements in place and the experience was very smooth. “

Look at the video content above and you will see that it is. Using a mix of the medium quality preset with strategically improved high settings (texture and anti-aliasing), as well as lowering the quality of the shader from medium to low (doesn’t seem to make a difference to the graphics) and involving Valve’s maximum level 30 system fps and what we have is actually a 720p rendition of the PlayStation 4 version of Elden Ring. Not only that, as Valve’s 30fps limit also offers 33.3ms frame times, unlike From Software’s internal clock-based solution, you get a much smoother experience.

Steam Deck compares favorably to the PS4 – resolution aside – and Valve’s 30fps cap achieves a good frame rate, unlike From Software’s solution.

You may experience performance issues: Many on-screen opponents seem to stress the CPU (and possibly the GPU as well), causing performance dips and wobbly frame times, while Flying Dragon Agheel’s fiery blast sees conventional GPU-based dips at frame- rates. Ultimately, it’s fascinating how the Steam Deck mirrors the PS4 at these stress points. The Steam Engine easily outperforms the Xbox One S in terms of sustained performance and visual features, which is quite a feat for an AMD APU with a 15W power limit. And at least at launch, Steam Deck offered a level of more consistent performance than much other powerful PCs.

All of which brings us to the inevitable question of how Elden Ring now works on PC, with at least a few fixes behind it from the sad experience of day one. On the Steam Deck, not much has changed. However, on PC we have two conflicting experiences based on very similar hardware. I originally asked our PC specialist Alex Battaglia to check out the latest 1.02.03 update and there was a mix of good and bad news.

On its Core i9 10900K-based system with an RTX 3090 running at 4K at high settings, Elden Ring has managed to reduce the impact of much of the intrusive stuttering we saw at launch, a substantial improvement. However, a new problem was added to the mix: an occasional freeze with consecutive pauses of 735ms (!). These breaks have appeared on multiple executions. So, at first glance, we saw a welcome improvement disappointed by the appearance of new problems.

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However, in repeating the tests on my Core i9 10900K-based system with an RTX 3080 Ti, which is essentially a slightly scaled-down RTX 3090 with less memory, I didn’t encounter any of the groundbreaking hitches Alex made on his system. If it weren’t for the results, I would have been tempted to say there was a good chance the Elden Ring was indeed fixed on PC, pending further testing on low-end platforms. At this point, the best we can offer is that, in our experience, major problems with the game have been resolved, but there is no guarantee that no further problems will occur. Meanwhile, user theories of how to fix problems continue to spread – removing GamePass and disabling the Microsoft Device Association root enumerator, for example.

I have to say though: playing 4K60 on the RTX 3080 Ti was a fantastic experience, as I’m sure locked 1440p60 would be better than the last generation console experience. Interestingly, the new patch made very little difference to Steam Deck’s performance, which was already in good condition a few days after the game’s launch, before a patch beyond 1.02 was released. . And yes, a fully portable Elden Ring is extremely compelling and adds even more charm to Valve’s device – the only real downside is battery life – with the 30fps cap in place along with optimized settings, you’ll still struggle to get two hours of gameplay before running out of it. power.

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