Tango Gameworks and Bethesda's The Evil Within came out today to generally positive reviews. As we learned last week, the game's PC release is capped at 30 FPS, but there is a way to lift the cap via debug commands. Here's how.
According to Bethesda, you first need to enable the in-game debug console. This can be done by right-clicking the game in Steam, selecting "Properties," clicking the "Set launch options" button in the Properties window, then entering "+com_allowconsole 1" in the text field. Afterward, simply hit Insert to bring up the debug console, then enter the following command:
[NUMBER] should be replaced with one of the following:
- -2: This is the default, set to 30 FPS. This is the officially supported frame rate
- -1: This sets the FPS limit to 60. Fully playable, although there may be quirks (we're going to fix these).
- 0: This fully unlocks the FPS. We do not recommend playing above 60. We will not fix any issues above 60.
The promise of fixes for the 60 FPS mode is encouraging. It's also a change of tune from what Bethesda said last week. At the time, the company claimed that tinkering with the frame-rate cap or aspect ratio would not be "recommended or supported," and it advised everyone to "play the game as it was designed and intended."
According to Bethesda, the team at Tango Gameworks designed The Evil Within to use a 2.35:1 aspect ratio and 30 FPS frame rate on "all platforms." No justification was given for the choice. If I had to guess, though, I'd say Tango's reasoning is probably the same as Ubisoft's.
In an interview with TechRadar last week, Ubisoft's Nicolas Guérin claimed that 30 FPS is "more cinematic" and "actually feels better" for an action-adventure game. He added, "At Ubisoft for a long time we wanted to push 60 fps. I don't think it was a good idea because you don't gain that much from 60 fps and it doesn't look like the real thing. It's a bit like The Hobbit movie, it looked really weird."
Editor's note: Scott here. Just wanted to say that I think Ubisoft's "it looks more cinematic" reasoning is a bunch of hooey, and I seriously doubt that anyone in a key engineering position at Tango followed that same train of thought. Delivering frames at a fixed rate of 30Hz in a real-time, interactive game that responds to user inputs isn't the same thing as offering up a fixed frame rate for video. 30 FPS is a bare minimum, not the end goal.
I think it's much more likely that these game development houses are targeting fixed frame rates because they're making games that must work on relatively limited console hardware—and they're building them on a limited budget. Not dealing well with higher frame rates is surely the result a technical limitation in the game engine. Bethesda has this problem in Skyrim, where higher frame rates throw off the physics simulation.
I am happy to hear they plan to address this problem for 60 FPS mode. Making it work at any frame rate would be ideal—many games seem to manage this feat—but I'll take what I can get for now.
Just, please, don't try to sell 30 FPS as an ideal. If you want you games to look more cinematic, try producing higher-quality pixels instead.