back to article God of War: How do you improve on perfection? You port it to PC, obviously

Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Long may this trajectory of PlayStation titles eventually coming to PC continue – because we now have God of War. How do you make a flawless PlayStation exclusive even better? The answer seems to be to port it to PC, which is what …

  1. Binraider Silver badge

    Attempting to keep former platform exclusives profitable, in the absence of PS5s in people's houses...

    I'm not complaining, but it does show just how poor the supply chain is.

    If Sony were really awake they'd be making a SteamOS substitute based on XMB for the desktop PC target. for most intents and purposes PS4/5 is a PC after all.

    1. msobkow Silver badge

      In the same way an iMac is "for most intents and purposes... a PC after all."

      1. david bates

        Well yes, an x86 Mac is a pc.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Khaptain

          PC = Personal Computer ..............

          Mac's, WinBoxes, Sinclair's , Spectrums, Atari's are all PCs..

          Let's not forget what it actually means ...

          1. Persona Silver badge

            The meaning of words change over time. Way back PC mostly meant IBM PC and compatibles that ran MSDOS and "personal computer" was the generic term. I don't ever recall people referring to the other "personal computers" as PC's. People always referred to them by their brand name, just as they still do for Apples and Macs. It was important to do so as software for a Dragon would not run on a TRS-80 etc. The difference with the IBM PC compatibles is that they were software interchangeable so you could refer to a Compaq or IBM PC as just a PC. The same applied to CP/M machines too: you referred to them a CP/M machines as they formed a compatible group. You would never ever refer to a CP/M machine as a PC.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              I seem to remember the term "home computing" being used a lot in that era

          2. W.S.Gosset Silver badge
            Trollface

            > PC = Personal Computer [...]

            Let's not forget what it actually means ...

            Pshaw. Next you'll be telling me that Macintoshes have windows.

        3. Piro Silver badge

          IBM PC compatible. Is it really?

          PC doesn't mean personal computer in the general sense.

    2. Blackjack Silver badge

      None of the Steam clones are really making money yet, be it Epic, Gog, Indiegala, you name it. That's why Humble became Windows only.

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Devil

      Attempting to keep former platform exclusives profitable, in the absence of PS5s in people's houses...

      Also Sony have got to port PS exclusives to PCs to stay relevant, since MS is buying up games studios to do the same thing... as well as starve the PS platform of future titles.

      1. Blank Reg Silver badge

        I think the main point of these ports is to show PC gamers what they are missing out on. Now with The sequel to GOW and HZD coming some PC gamers may not want to wait another 4 years to play them

        1. juice Silver badge

          > I think the main point of these ports is to show PC gamers what they are missing out on. Now with The sequel to GOW and HZD coming some PC gamers may not want to wait another 4 years to play them

          I think the key point was that Sony realised that there's an untapped market where they can make large sums of money, for relatively little outlay, and with little risk of affecting their core market.

          E.g. HDZ sold over 700k copies in the first month on the PC, and allegedly earned a 250% ROI (https://twitter.com/benjisales/status/1397707647856545792?lang=en).

          I'm not entirely sure how they're measuring their RO; it launched at £40, so even wiith the inevitable drop-off in sales and price reductions (plus taxes, Steam's fees, etc), I'd be surprised if they came away with less than £20-30 million in profit.

          I'm sure it may help to persuade some "PC Master Race" people to buy a PS5 to play future games from these series, but I suspect that'll just be icing on the cake, money-wise.

          After all, the PS4 and PS5 are just multi-core x86 machines with an Nvidia chipset. There's some nifty hardward in there - especially around the memory architecture - which even a high-end PC will struggle to keep up with, but porting stuff from them should be several orders of magnitude easier than porting stuff over from the PS2 and PS3, given how different/complex their architectures were.

          Easy money, especially when the PS5 is still so supply-constrained.

          1. Boothy Silver badge

            Quote: "After all, the PS4 and PS5 are just multi-core x86 machines with an Nvidia chipset."

            Small correction, I think you mean AMD, there is no nVidia chips in the PS4 or 5 (or X-Box for that matter).

            PS4 used an AMD GCN chip for GFX (same as in Radeon cards from around 2012), the PS5 uses AMD RDNA 2, same as you'll find in the current AMD Radeon RX 6000 series cards (due for replacement with RDNA 3 later this year, not that we'll be able to buy any!).

            For ref, the CPU is also AMD x64 in both PS4 and PS5, with the newer PS5 having a Zen 2 based CPU (basically same as the current X-Box, which also uses Zen 2 + RDNA 2).

            But otherwise, as you say, they are essentially PCs other than the OS. Power optimised (aka heat optimised) PC hardware, with a custom OS on top. So much easier to move/port games from PS4 to PS5, and of course from PS4 or PS5 to PC. As there isn't much all that different now between platforms. (Same goes for X-Box One/Series*).

            1. juice Silver badge

              > Small correction, I think you mean AMD, there is no nVidia chips in the PS4 or 5 (or X-Box for that matter).

              Yep. Absolutely no idea where I got Nvidia from.

              The only thing I can offer in my defence is that it was a Monday and my caffeine levels were woefully depleted...

              1. MJI Silver badge

                PS3 and X360 used IBM CPU NVidia GPU, except that the PS3 CPU also did a lot of GPU work

                1. AIBailey

                  Xbox 360 used an AMD GPU.

                  You might be thinking of the original Xbox, that was an Intel CPU and NVidia GPU.

                  1. MJI Silver badge

                    oops ATI not NVidia.

                    My oldest used console is Cell & NVidia

  2. Alistair
    Windows

    Not really a GoW fan

    Although one of the offspring certainly was. The SO liked it too

    Kudos for the Proton note. I've been running my games in wine for quite a while, rather well of late.

  3. quartzie

    Pick up the Horizon port again

    I've had a ton of fun with the PC port of Horizon Zero Dawn, and i can confirm the patched version is really a masterpiece.

    Compared to that, i was at times underwhelmed by GoW on PC, especially water could use some transparency.

    Both are great stories, though, and well worth playing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pick up the Horizon port again

      Popped in to say the same as well. H:ZD in its patched form runs buttery smooth and looks gooorgeous. At 50% off on Steam it's also a bargain for one of the best games the PS4 had. Imperfect gameplay and mechanics, but such an engaging story and way of building out the world around you.

      1. Ian 70

        Re: Pick up the Horizon port again

        Just don't do what I did and keep getting distracted by all the side quests and then forget the plot entirely by the time you get back to a main mission.

        1. Boothy Silver badge

          Re: Pick up the Horizon port again

          Sounds like Fallout 4!

          "Child, what child? Oh that child!" :-)

  4. sabroni Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    How do you improve on perfection?

    How about making it so it renders upside down? Or maybe make it so the centre of the screen isn't where the game thinks the center of the screen is?

    Just two of the problems I had last time I tried to game on pc.

    I've never had those problems gaming on console.

    PC Gamers have to like fiddling with PCs and be understanding when their brand new purchase refuses to run for some hideously obtuse technical reason.

    I'll stick to my Switch and new (to me) PS4 ta. When I game I want to plug and play.

    1. Binraider Silver badge

      Re: How do you improve on perfection?

      I don't dispute that PC *can* be fiddly and opens up many options. But largely, it's a case of bring your drivers up to date, install steam, launch game.

      Short of using wholly inadequate equipment or having deliberately chosen broken options beforehand, I do not know how you managed to get it to render upside down without telling it do so. Bad game perhaps.

      I have had as much klart getting a PS4 to size to the screen properly than I've ever had bother getting a PC screen right. Which is to say, little annoyance on either.

      Perhaps slightly more pertinent, is the utter lack of any new titles I have any interest in whatsoever on either platform. Which is saying something for someone that can probably be clinically diagnosed with an addiction to gaming (T.F. for Factorio and Kerbal Space Program).

      1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

        Re: How do you improve on perfection?

        > I do not know how you managed to get it to render upside down without telling it do so.

        Alt-DownArrow, isn't it? Shortcut for a MSWindows "accessibility" option very bizarrely enabled by default, apparently for people who want _immediate!_ ability to suddenly stand on their head and continue working without a moment lost. Alt-leftorright-arrow to rotate accordingly 90⁰.

        I can easily see the Alt key getting accidentally co-pressed while flailing in a frenzied moment.

        1. sabroni Silver badge

          Re: Alt-DownArrow, isn't it?

          No, that wasn't it. It was a graphics driver issue iirc, but not sure how I fixed it.

          1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

            Re: Alt-DownArrow, isn't it?

            Well...that behaviour is actually implemented by the graphics driver; windows just passes it thru.

            But if you've already nailed what the _actual_ problem was, then it's just a red herring. Just thought I'd mention it.

    2. RobLang

      Re: How do you improve on perfection?

      In 5 years the only times I've ever had to fiddle with a PC game is after a GFX card upgrade, where I've had to hit the "auto gfx settings" to accept the improved boost. Otherwise, not had an "obtuse technical reason" in memory.

      1. Boothy Silver badge

        Re: How do you improve on perfection?

        My one tip for doing a GFX card upgrade, assuming you're swapping out a functional, but older card, is to un-install the existing drivers, before putting in the new card.

        i.e.

        1. Boot up PC with old card still in.

        2. Download new drivers (never use the ones on the disk in the box, they'll be ancient), don't do anything with this download yet.

        3. Uninstall anything Radeon/GeForce. If prompted to remove old setting, select 'Yes'.

        3. Shut down, remove old card, insert new.

        4. Boot up, now install the new drivers you downloaded earlier. If given the option for a clean install, select 'Yes'.

        Never had this fail for me so far.

        For anyone who's had issues, typically you can just remove and reinstall the driver with the 'clean' option to fix issues. Worse case there are clean up tools for nVidia and AMD GFX drivers, although I've never needed to do this myself yet, and I've been doing this a while now!

        1. RobLang

          Re: How do you improve on perfection?

          That's great advice but I didn't even need to do that! Possibly because my last three cards were nvidia based.

    3. Boothy Silver badge

      Re: How do you improve on perfection?

      Quote: "... renders upside down? Or maybe make it so the centre of the screen isn't where the game thinks the center of the screen is?"

      I've been PC gaming since the 90s (Amigas, Spectrum before then), and I can honestly say I have never had either of those issues! Both those look like local driver issues, or some custom setting that you applied to the driver that broke the game (such as altering the scaling etc)..

      Quote: "PC Gamers have to like fiddling with PCs and be understanding when their brand new purchase refuses to run for some hideously obtuse technical reason."

      Not really a thing for most users.

      Most new game issues are down to drivers, so either the person with the issue is using an unsupported OS (like Win 7), an unpatched OS (i.e. they turned off Windows update in Win 10/11), or they neglected to check that the new AAA game they just bought also came with a 'game ready' driver that they should have installed (few games need this, and it's almost always a new AAA game).

      There are other issues, such as bad hardware, but those are very much a minority.

      Occasionally there will be a genuine bug in a new release, that crashes lots of peoples machines, perhaps due to some specific hardware that wasn't tested, and needs fixing by the devs, But this isn't all that common, although when it does happen, things can get quite vocal on forums etc! So it often sounds worse than it is.

      Personally, on my home built system, I leave Windows update (Win 10 home) to manage all drivers other than the GFX card, which I update manually once in a while, typically when a 'game ready' driver comes out for a game I bought (and I don't buy many new AAA titles). Otherwise I just mostly leave it alone.

  5. D@v3

    PC vs console gaming

    having been a console gamer for years, as my available time has changed, my inclination to spend hundreds of pounds on new consoles and then £50 for new games has diminished. As a result i have discovered the joys of Steam and the ability to play old games that i never got round to on console, on my not hugely specced out PC.

    Mostly has been fine, apart from, for no reason that i can fathom, 1 in every 10 plays or so, on certain games, the frame rate seems to drop to about 1 frame every couple of seconds. completely unplayable. takes 2 minutes to even quit the game.

    So, I shut it all down, leave it a couple of days, come back and it is all fine. Highly annoying, but largely the only issue I've had with PC gaming, (apart from stick drift on my cheap controller, which can be temporarily fixed by giving the controller a bit of a blow, which is fine as it brings back memories of blowing N64 cartridges to make them work)

    1. Boothy Silver badge

      Re: PC vs console gaming

      Quote: "Mostly has been fine, apart from, for no reason that i can fathom, 1 in every 10 plays or so, on certain games, the frame rate seems to drop to about 1 frame every couple of seconds. completely unplayable. takes 2 minutes to even quit the game."

      Sounds like some background task is kicking in. Main culprits tend to be Windows (or Office) updates or AV software doing an automatic scan, often after downloading new definitions.

      Could also be other background tasks that you don't really need. I periodically check my system tray to see what's running, and if I really need there all the time (so many companies like to have their software running all the time where there is no need for it!). As these other tasks might be trying to updates etc,

      If this is every 10 days (or so) it's unlikely to be Windows/Office updates, as those are usually monthly (with a few exceptions here and there).

      If you have AV, make sure it's not Nortons or McAfee, as those are well known for being massive resource hogs.

      Alternately it could be you're running out of physical RAM, so it's hitting virtual memory, which is on disk and vastly slower. But if this was the case, I'd expect to see it more regularly, rather than every 10 days or so. Unless those gaming sessions each 10 days are longer? Lots of games leak memory, so consumption grows over time, but this usually requires long sessions (6+ hours etc). A restart of the game typically resolves this,

      You could try popping up Task Manager the next time this happens, and sort by CPU, see if anything shows up?

      1. D@v3

        Re: PC vs console gaming

        all sound like good solid ideas, and all things i have checked in the past.

        task manager shows the game running at around 50-60% RAM, with a couple of gigs free and barely anything else running. The PC isn't used for much else than gaming these days, as i have enough of sitting in front of a screen all day.

        when it does happen, it is as soon as the game loads, so not anything to do with the length of session. When it works, it's fine for hours, when it's not it's instant.

        Not sure what AV i have on it, if any (if im honest) but seeing as i do no surfing or emailing on it, and the only internet it sees is the steam store and downloading game updates, i figure it is a fairly low risk, and there is nothing important on it anyway, so if it gets infected it's only re-downloading massive game files that will need to be done..

        it's the sort of thing that is really annoying when it happens, and when it does i generally swear loudly at it, switch it off and go and read a book instead, so never get bothered by it enough to try to find the cause / solution.

        1. Boothy Silver badge

          Re: PC vs console gaming

          Fair enough, looks like you have it in hand :-)

  6. juice Silver badge

    I'm always curious about GoW's high ratings

    Since for me, it was just good, not great.

    (Warning: long and potentially grumpy musings to follow; I'll try to avoid any spoilers though!)

    I recently played through Hellblade: Senna's Sacrifice for the first time. Which, despite the somewhat cheesy name, turned out to be a fantastically bleak tale, with some spectacular graphics and voicework, set within a Norse framework.

    So having finished it, I was in the mood for more such things. And seeing as GoW is now pretty cheap on the PS4, and how it has high scores all across the board, I figured I'd pick it up.

    And, well. While I played it through to the end, mainly for the story, there was disappointment.

    tl;dr: whole lot of grinding and returning to previous areas. Combat is frustrating, and the ending is a let-down

    Graphically, it's generally fantastic - I even found myself watching a 1-hour video on YT about how they implemented realistic wind/grass movement for the game. The bit with the turtle in the witch's garden is a particular standout.

    And the story is generally pretty well written and interesting; I especially liked the little conversations to be had when travelling by water, especially once Kratos and the Boy get ahead of things[*]. And the awkward relationship between father and son was well done.

    OTOH, the way in which the Boy's reaction to certain revelations is handled felt distinctly clumsy, especially as regards how it affects the two dwarves. It felt like something which the game's writers had insisted needed to be part of the plot, only for the director to hand-waved it through as quickly as possible.

    And that then takes us to the gameplay, which falls somewhere between Zelda, Metroid and the Batman Arkham series. You run around a series of areas which are designed to look like an open-world map, but which really aren't. And in best Metroid/Arkham style, these areas are filled with puzzles and secrets, many of which can only be solved once you've acquired certain abilities.

    Which is annoying on a few fronts.

    First, for the ability-specific puzzles, there's often the confusion over whether you've simply missed a bit of the puzzle, or if it can only be solved by something which you don't yet even know about.

    Secondly, this also means that you're expected to do a lot of backtracking to previously explored areas. Which can be a pain, since you don't get fast-travel until about halfway through the game - and even then, it initially just allows you to travel back to the central area, and then (after completing some more quests) after that, only to specific "portals" on the map. So you spend a lot of time trudging back and forth, even after you get fast-travel.

    (Pro-tip: you don't actually need to walk when fast-travelling. Just go through the portal, and then stand still and wait...)

    Thirdly, and perhaps more abstractly, is the fact that pretty much all of the puzzles in the game are designed specifically for Kratos. Which was also true in the Arkham series, but there, they were set up specifically for Batman by the Riddler.

    Conversely, in GoW, it just somewhat tweaks my suspension of disbelief when coming across some millennia-old massive mechanism which can only be activated by someone carrying a giant boomerang-axe with the ability to freeze cogwheels. It's almost as if the entire game is just a giant playground...

    Oh, and there's also the annoying way in which rifts and chests can be sat in the middle of relatively low-level areas, but which spawn one or more ultra-high-level enemies without warning. Again, I'm guessing this is meant to encourage you to return to these areas once you've levelled up, but I'm really not a fan of any game which expects you to learn and explore via character-death.

    And then there's the combat, which I generally just found frustrating.

    There's the fact that the God of War - the guy who literally killed every single fighter, animal, demon, monster and god over in the Grecian world - initially has the combat abilities of a spineless hedgehog, and must start again from scratch with gathering XP and equipment to unlock moves and improve his equipment.

    And the stamina of said hedgehog, to boot; at the start, one hit from a shambling zombie armed with a toothpick is pretty much enough to take Kratos down.

    Then there's the way in which so many enemies - including the Visitor, who's pretty much your first opponent - are partially or completely immune to axe attacks. Which is all the more frustrating in this initial battle, since Kratos does so many cool things - including all those things mentioned in the review, and more besides, such as self-healing - in cut-scenes. WHY IS KRATOS SO LIMITED WHEN I'M CONTROLLING HIM, WHEN HE'S SO AWESOME IN THE CUT-SCENES???[**]

    Things did improve once Kratos's abilities were levelled up, and once I got a better handle on using The Boy's archery to distract or stun enemies [***]. But it's still a very far cry from the fluid combat of the original GoW games, and once you pick up the old Blades of Chaos and can indulge in the old moves, it genuinely almost felt like a different game altogether.

    And enemies only have a single "stunned" death animation. Which feels a bit cheap, especially when it comes to some of the mini-bosses, such as the trolls.

    Finally on the combat front, and while trying to stay spoiler-free, there's a set of optional 1vs1 challenges which can be taken on, once you've got the key to unlock the doors for them.

    And these enemies are ridiculously tough. After a lot of retries, I managed to do one, and was debating trying to grind Kratos up to make it easier to take down the others, but then discovered that I'd accidentally reached the end of the campaign. At which point, I just couldn't be bothered!

    Which also takes me to the way the campaign ends. Which frankly - and despite an interesting revelation about the Boy - was distinctly underwhelming. Because - and while still trying to stay spoiler free - we only really get to meet (and/or kill) a small handful of Norse z-list characters in this game. Everyone else - including several popularised in Marvel movies - gets little more than a bit of a story in one of the various tales you hear while boating around the lake or fast-travelling.

    I don't really have an issue with setting things up for a sequel, but the way it was handled here definitely felt like a letdown.

    And then there's various other things. E.g. I'm not a great fan of crafting mechanisms at the best of times, and the plethora of stuff thrown at you in this game felt a bit overwhelming, especially when you can start to socket stuff and/or craft new things. I'm just here to hit things in the face with sharp and heavy weapons!

    But that's enough grumpiness for a Monday morning. Suffice to say that for me, it was a good game rather than a great game. And while I'll probably pick up the sequel (assuming I can find a PS5 to play it on), it'll be at some point long after release, when it's in the cheap section of CEX!

    [*] Look, I have to get some pleasure out of this Monday...

    [**] Admittedly, the obvious answer is that I'm crap at playing this game. Still...

    [***] On a brighter note, summoning Ratatoskr is one of the greatest video-game pleasures I've had for a while!

    1. Screepy

      Re: I'm always curious about GoW's high ratings

      I agree :-)

      I didn't even get to the end of GoW. I happened to be playing it alongside Red Dead Redemption 2. And I found RDR2 draw me in way more than GoW.

      GoW felt too linear particularly when playing it against the vast open-worldness of RDR2. I thought I'd come back to it after finishing RDR2 but never did. Uninstalled GoW a few weeks back as I needed space on my PS.

      Loads of my friends and colleagues loved GoW with many saying it was one of the best games they'd played in years.. The fact that it was game of the year when released makes me think I've probably missed something... oh well

      1. juice Silver badge

        Re: I'm always curious about GoW's high ratings

        I ploughed through to the end for the story - which as per my ramblings above, I was sorely disappointed to discover ended in a blatant "to be continued" way.

        But if it hadn't been for the strength of the story, I'd have walked away from the game. The amount of grinding and backtracking was frankly OTT, especially when I did "just one more mission" to try and boost Kratos's abilities, only to discover that I'd accidentally completed the game, but there were still a number of challenges which my current build would still struggle with.

        Not least because the aforementioned "locked behind doors you need a chisel for" challenges are meant to be optional, but at the same time, the story tied into them is integrated into the main plot, given the amount of exposition in the later part of the game which relates to said challenges. Which I hadn't completed and therefore had no in-game context for.

        I mean, it's still a good game. But it's not a great game.

        On the other hand, I did make the mistake of picking up the ps4 "uplift" of GoW 3. And if there's ever been a prime example of a video game trying too hard to cater for "hormonal and horny teenage males living in 90s America who love games from Acclaim", that game is it...

  7. MJI Silver badge

    Some players

    Have now decided they NEED a PS5 after playing this on PC

    So it can help sales, IF you can find a PS5

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