Deathloop is, by all accounts, a damn good game. That said, its reception on Steam is sitting shakily in “Mixed” territory due to the various performance-related issues currently plaguing PC players.
The latest release from Arkane Studios, the ambitious devs behind Prey and Dishonored, Deathloop concerns an assassin named Colt as he explores a Groundhog Day-eseque time loop on a secluded island known as Blackreef. It’s Cole’s job to break the loop by dispatching a group of eight targets, each with their own backgrounds, talents, and reasons for wanting to maintain Blackreef’s never-ending party.
Oh, and other players can invade your game in the role of Julianna, a woman who’s hot on Cole’s trail trying to protect the loop. Fun!
Scratch that; it would be fun if Deathloop didn’t reportedly have issues on PC.
According to several reviews left on the game’s Steam page, Deathloop is prone to bouts of slowdown and stuttering that have soured players’ experiences on launch day.
“Game’s great just optimized, like, really bad,” explained one Steam user. “Stuttered like crazy on my RTX 3070ti at 1080p even with the latest drivers and [raytracing] off.”
“Want to play this game, but I cannot sadly because it stutters so much and it actually gets a little motion sickness-inducing,” a second wrote.
“It’s called the VOID engine because that’s where all my frames go,” joked a third, referencing the proprietary engine Arkane has used since 2016’s Dishonored 2.
Kotaku editor John Walker chimed in as well, telling me that Deathloop’s technical problems have ruined his early time with the game:
Deathloop was to be the first big test of my new PC. I upgraded the entire thing, including a GeForce 3070 with a Ryzen 5 5600X. I’d yet to put it to any challenge, and couldn’t wait to play a brand new, big budget game on full specs. So I was a little concerned when it immediately started telling me I was running out of VRAM and needed to set the quality lower. And then more so when after I fired an explosive weapon, the entire game slowed down to—and this is not an exaggeration—0.1 FPS.
We’ve reached out to Bethesda about these issues but didn’t hear back before publication.
Many reviews blame Deathloop’s use of Denuvo, a popular anti-piracy tool, for these slowdowns. Denuvo often interferes with legitimately-purchased games while doing little to hamper pirates from playing cracked releases. This tech most recently affected Resident Evil Village, which ran like crap on PC until the anti-piracy measures were removed.
“Unfortunately, they still haven’t realized that those who pirate don’t spend money with or without protection, and those who pay like us, have a game with problems,” another Steam user concluded succinctly. “A good game doesn’t need protection to sell, just be good, simple as that.”