Immediately after Nvidia’s RTX 20 series reveal, press were allowed to get hands on with a bunch of games on PC using the new hardware. After some wrangling, I got some hands on time with Battlefield 5 – and immediately started coming to grips with the aggressiveness of the game’s film grain.
Battlefield V‘s Rotterdam map was unveiled shortly before Gamescom kicked off, and understandably that was the map available to press at the Nvidia showcase. Press were booked in for late evening sessions – some appointments were scheduled to begin at midnight local time – and given the opportunity to try a 32 vs 32 Conquest match, the same as what people will experience when the BFV open beta kicks off next month.
The scheduling ended up being a little chaotic, with people’s appointments shifted around at last notice, so my gameplay session didn’t have a full 64 players. Unfortunately, I also ended up in a squad of three players instead of four, which restricts extra options for spawning across the map.
I was mostly looking forward to getting hands on with the flow of the game, as well as seeing some of the new rendering tech that DICE were talking up during the pre-briefing. But all of that immediately went downhill, courtesy of the most over-the-top use of film grain I’ve seen in ages.
It’s almost akin to a sheet of white noise over the entire screen. It’s so pervasive that the grain pierces through the cobblestones on the ground, pierces through the reflections in windows and vehicles, and just takes the sharpness out of the whole image.
It was so distracting that after a couple of minutes, I tried to disable it in the video settings. It was locked, and a nearby DICE representative gave me a brief earful for trying to mess with the video settings. (I doubt disabling film grain would negatively BFV‘s performance, but it was a long evening and not the time to press the point.)
The film grain was the most noticeable aspect of my booking, because after one quick round people were summarily cycled out of the room for the next group. There were a couple of neat aspects worth mentioning: being able to choose the gun you want from the off, rather than having to grind it out or purchase it through some form of in-game currency, is an immense improvement.
The build itself had a surprising amount of jitter, particularly when spawning. It is an alpha build of the game, however, and DICE has a strong enough track record in optimising the Battlefield and Battlefront series that I wouldn’t be concerned. (It would also be interesting to see the game’s performance without HDR or the RTX effects, and the difference in performance with the latter enabled/disabled, but we weren’t able to test that on the night.)
I’ve got another Nvidia briefing throughout all of Wednesday, and I’m hoping to get some more time with BFV to get a better gauge of the game in action. Hopefully by the time the public beta rolls around, the film grain will be toned down a notch. It’s a stunner of a game, as most DICE productions are, but the implementation here isn’t doing BFV justice.
The author travelled to Gamescom 2018 as a guest of Nvidia.