Dark Souls 3

I mentioned a while back that I had been meaning to play Dark Souls 3 for a good long while but I’d never actually dipped my toes in. This fact has changed pretty recently. See, I finally found myself with some rare and much-needed free time, so I thought I’d give the game a go. In fact, I figured I could even livestream my attempts. That seems like good fun, right?

Unfortunately, Dark Souls 3 quickly became a problem for me. No, I don’t mean that it’s too difficult. It’s really not. My issues with the game are purely technical.

My first attempt at playing Dark Souls 3 was on my PS4, and I very quickly became nauseated. I don’t know why this is an issue, but I think it’s perhaps a combination of the way the camera moves (which isn’t a problem on its own) and the unstable framerate, which makes the game look like it’s lurching and jerking around instead of moving fluidly. I toughed it out for a little while for the stream, but I eventually had to put it down so I didn’t get any sicker.

Not one to be defeated by a little nausea, I decided to check out the game on PC to see if it ran more smoothly. And, by golly, it did! The game looks sharper, crisper, and, most importantly, smoother on PC than it does on PS4. However, it streams like garbage. This is a known issue, but a lot of folks who attempt to stream Dark Souls 3 on PC experience terrible, choppy output.

Dark Souls 3

I dug into the issue a bit, and some people insist that it only performs badly if you play it in fullscreen mode. So I attempted to change it to windowed mode in the settings, but all that happens is the screen flashes, and then the option automatically toggles back to fullscreen. If I attempt to manually shut down the game before said flash happens, the game reverts to fullscreen mode upon startup.

Additionally, I’m having problems with the game UI loading in one corner of the screen, which is a known issue for people who output to a television instead of a computer monitor.

Now, I hate to draw lines in the sand here, but what I’m about to say is going to read as controversial to some. But it has to be said…

Situations like this are exactly why I stopped gaming on PC ten years ago and stuck almost exclusively to console gaming for the past decade. When I play a game, I just want it to work. I don’t want to spend hours of my life combing through user forums to fix a problem that I would never encounter on a console. (There are rare exceptions where a game is poorly optimized on consoles to the point of being broken, but even those extremely rare cases tend to be patched so long as there’s money to be made on the console port.) My recent acquisition of a gaming PC has been a perpetual reminder of this.

Anyway, now that I’ve rekindled the ages-old PC-vs.-console war, let me continue my tale.

Eventually, I was forced to give up. As much as I wanted to keep playing, technology just wasn’t on my side. Over the course of the next few weeks, I waffled back and forth between versions, playing as much as I could stomach on each platform before calling it quits. In total, I put in about five and a half hours on each version (PC and PS4), and made it to the Undead Settlement in both instances.

Dark Souls 3

But then I acquired a PS5, a beautifully gigantic beast of a machine that runs Dark Souls 3 at a hard-locked 60FPS without choppy Twitch output or frustratingly off-center UI. The smooth framerate means I don’t feel nauseated while playing, and the fact that I’m playing on a console means I’ve not had to look at user forums even a single time in order to fix something that was broken for some mysterious reason. On PS5 — to steal a line from Todd HowardDark Souls 3 “just works.”

To be perfectly clear, this is actually the PS4 version of the game, which I have on disc. The PS4 version of Dark Souls 3 runs incredibly well on PS5.

And I’m having fun with it. While I definitely don’t think I’ll finish it anytime soon (I have too much other stuff going on right now, and I just dipped my toes back into Final Fantasy XIV, which is already proving to be a colossal timesink), I feel like it’s something I could pick away at a little at a time. And really, Dark Souls tends to work really well with that sort of playstyle.

So if you still haven’t picked up Dark Souls 3 and are considering playing it on PS4, I would highly recommend that you wait until you have a PS5. Of the three platforms I’ve now played Dark Souls 3 on, the PS5 is the only one that runs the game without a single hiccup, burp, or slow, casual descent into technology-inspired madness.

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1 year ago

Beautiful writing. I agree, Dark Souls 3 can be a nightmare in terms of its technical problems. I am now playing it on PS4 Pro, and while is not perfect, it is miles better than the standard PS4 version! And what you said about PC gaming is exactly why I came into consoles again.

Besides, even if you manage to get your games running fine on PC, there are so MANY options to tweak on each game that by the time (which can take weeks) I end up tweaking the game to perfection, I don’t even play the damn game!!

So all in all what I mean to say is that, consoles, even with their problems, limit us in a way that actually makes us play our damn games.

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