Frame rates in the low teens with frequent stutter. Loading times upwards of two and a half minutes. Persistent screen tearing. Lichdom: Battlemage is a fun game on PC, but on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One it's the worst.
The animated GIF atop this post is running at 10 frames per second. Sometimes the game does too.
Developed by Atlanta studio Xaviant, Lichdom: Battlemage is a first-person wizard simulator that sees players crafting and combining spells, unleashing blasts of fire and ice and arcane energy in spectacular fashion. Well, spectacular fashion on PC. The console release is another story.
While Xaviant self-published on PC via Steam, the console release was handled by Maxium Games, a boutique publisher whose most recent release, Alekhine's Gun, was widely panned by critics. Still I looked forward to the console release of Lichdom, eager to sling spells from the comfort of my couch.
Then the first YouTube let's play videos started showing up. Justin "SlasherJPC" Celani sent us his video of the game first, showing off abysmal PlayStation four frame rates and unbearable loading times. His video is a little over four minutes long. Two and a half of those minutes are a single loading screen.
Twenty-seven seconds in we get a look at one of the tutorial videos that pops up during gameplay. The tutorial videos seem to run at a full 60 frames per second, likely held over from the PC version. That's insult to injury right there.
Having played and enjoyed the PC version I had planned on getting the PS4 version. Justin's video changed that plan.
Then came the nail in Lichdom: Battlemage's console coffin. Yesterday Eurogamer posted its Digital Foundry analysis of the console versions, titled "Lichdom is the worst-performing game Digital Foundry has ever tested"
The video accompanying the article is simply brutal.
As bad as the game runs on the PlayStation 4, it runs even worse on the Xbox One. vsync is nowhere to be seen, resulting in constant screen tearing, plus the Xbox One version is much darker than the PC and PS4.
Images via Eurogamer
Digital Foundry does note that the Xbox One version is the first CryEngine 3 game to run at 1080p on the console, though it's less of an achievement and more justification for other games not trying to hit that resolution.
So what the hell happened? How does a silky smooth PC game become a stuttering mess of a console game? How did a game in this state get released?
As far as I can tell the blame here lies with Maximum Games, the publisher responsible for the port. Xaviant significantly downsized last year and has since had its hands full with The Culling, an arena survival game that's shaping up to be a big hit for the small developer.
Maximum Games seems to be handling all support for the game, responding with patch promises on its Twitter page and most recently a post on its website titled "How We're Improving Lichdom: Battlemage."
The post details a recent update that made Xbox One achievements unlock properly, and promises a performance patch is in the works.
Many of you have expressed your frustration with the game's frame rate. As you read this, the team is hard at work on a fix. We are not satisfied with the game's performance, and we apologise for the wait as we prepare a patch. As soon as we know an accurate patch date, you'll know it too.
"We are not satisfied with the game's performance." And yet the game was released.