One Of The Weirdest PC Performance Tweaks I've Seen In A While

One Of The Weirdest PC Performance Tweaks I've Seen In A While

This past weekend, I decided to play some Assassin's Creed IV on PC. I don't know why, I just did. Whatever. That's not the point of this story.

I played the game on PS3 back when I reviewed it, then played more on PS4 to appreciate how much better it looked on better hardware. But I had never really done much with the PC version, despite liking the game. That's mostly because for me, the PC version never ran all that well. Sometimes it'd look great, hitting 60fps or close to it. But there were constant, maddening performance drops.

I re-installed the game recently, curious how it'd perform on my new(ish) GTX 970 graphics card. Turns out, yup, same problems as usual: Lots of dips down into the 30fps-40fps zone, irregular performance. I tried turning down the settings, and the performance somehow got worse. Huh.

I turned to Google, and quickly saw this old thread at the Ubisoft forums, titled "OK...this is a weird way to fix FPS issues, but it worked for me. Might work for you." That is an immediately intriguing way to name a forum thread, so of course I checked it out.

According to the poster, the charmingly-named "SgtSweatySac," here's what you do:

1. Start AC4

2. Load your savegame, and wait till you're fully in-world

3. Hold down your Windows Key and L to lock the PC

4. Unlock your PC

5. Click on the Icon in your taskbar for AC4

6. Enjoy the framez

I tried it. I loaded my game, checked my laggy performance, made sure it was all set. I hit Windows+L to lock my screen, then unlocked it. I clicked the game's icon in the taskbar and it loaded back up.

And… it worked. It worked perfectly. Suddenly, Assassin's Creed IV was running at a near-flawless 60fps. I jacked up all the settings, and it didn't miss a beat.

I'm sure this is a known thing among PC players of Assassin's Creed IV — this forum thread is from a year and a half ago, after all. All the same, it cracked me up both how unusual the fix was, and how entirely effective.

The soft consensus seems to be that by leaving and re-entering the game, the game forces triple-buffering, which eliminates some sort of software bottleneck that chokes the game when running with vsync. A similar fix can apparently be enabled using D3Doverrider, and I'm sure there are some other clever ways to get the game running better, too.

Whatever the case, and whatever the alternate solutions, I mostly just thought it was funny that a PC game as nice-looking as ACIV (I mean dang, it is gorgeous with everything cranked up) could be crippled by such a weird performance bug… and that the bug could be addressed in such a strangely simple way.

PC gaming! Even when it's annoying, it's kind of the best.


    Kind of like changing the SLI profile of Far Cry 4 to Batman: Arkham City works a treat 2!

    I gave this a try for the lolz and didn't get a single extra frame :(

    But that said, I'm already running uPlay in offline mode as I have noticed most Ubisoft games (Since as far back as FarCry 3) stutter less that way and deliver a more stable experience, for me at least, your results may differ.

    Semi related note, is Unity worth getting now that bugs and what have you have hopefully been ironed out?

      I have really enjoyed the game, its quite a bit of fun. Although I do miss the boats

        I'm really hesitant to try Unity due to its lack of pirate ships. I have it... I haven't even opened it.

        I completed AC4 on PS3 to 100% on launch. I picked it up on the cheap for PS4 recently, to show my brother who'd never played it. He agreed that the boats were frickin' awesome and the best thing the series had done.

        And just like that, in 5... they are gone. Taken away. STOLEN. We've been robbed!

    It would be real nice if Ubisoft would stop giving us these sh**house ports so that tweaks like this aren't necessary.

      Pretty much the only games that crash on my PC are Ubisoft games.

    That's cute, but isn't it fairly incompetent of Ubi that they allowed it into the shipped game? And isn't it further incompetent of them in not patching it out?

    The point to be taken away from this story is that Ubisoft are bad at optimising their games and don't fix them even when they are told how to....

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