February 12th Update for Battlefield V Adds DLSS

Subject: Graphics Cards | February 12, 2019 - 02:53 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, battlefield V, ea, dice, nvidia, DLSS, dxr

The Battlefield V Tides of War Chapter 2: Lightning Strikes Update #3 patch, beyond sounding like a Final Fantasy title, has quite a few major improvements. The headlining feature is improved RTX support, which we will discuss shortly, but fans of the game may appreciate the other bullet points, too.

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But first, because we are a computer hardware site, the RTX stuff. DLSS, which was recently added to 3DMark and greatly improved the image quality, has been added to Battlefield V. This setting uses machine learning to produce a best guess at antialiasing, versus calculating it with a direct algorithm (such as with TXAA or FXAA). Now that MSAA is somewhat uncommon, because it is incompatible with certain rendering processes, we’re stuck with either antialiasing via post-process or super-sampling. Super-sampling is expensive, so it’s usually either FXAA, which tries to find edges and softens them, or TXAA, which gives neighboring frames different sub-pixel positions and blends them. Both cases have issues. TXAA is considered the “higher end” option, although it gets ugly when objects move, especially quickly and visibly smooth. Because DLSS is basically a shortcut to provide something that looks like super-sampling, it should avoid many of these issues.

DXR raytracing performance was also improved.

Okay, now the tech enthusiasts can stop reading – it’s time for the fans.

Vaultable object detection is said to have a major improvement with this release. DICE acknowledges that Battlefield V movement wasn’t as smooth as it should be. There were a lot of waist-high barriers that players can get stuck behind, which the vaulting system should propel them over. It should be much easier to move around the map after this update, which is good for people like me who like to sneak around and flank.

DICE has also discussed several netcode changes, such as adding more damage updates per packet and fixing some issues where damage should be ignored, or healing should occur but would be ignored, and so forth. Basically, all of the netcode improvements were related to health or damage in some way, which is a good area to focus on.

Also, the Rush game mode, introduced in the Battlefield Bad Company sub-franchise, will return on March 7th "for a limited time"... whatever they mean by that.

The update should be available now.

Source: EA / DICE

War never changes? It is an EA-scalating problem!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | January 24, 2019 - 01:19 PM |
Tagged: ea, dice, battlefield V, rant, editorial, gaming

At some point EA and DICE will cross another even more absurd line than they already have, but it is hard to figure out how.  They are scratching their heads about why sales of Battlefield V have been so abysmal, and come up with bizarre scenarios such as a lack of realism or that there was a female on the cover art.   There are of course other explanations for the poor performance, and somehow they have decided to continue emptying a Luger into their foot.

Today they have found yet another reason to convince people not to buy the game, on top of so many other reasons; they've rescinded their promise to include the Rental Server Program that was included on each and every other one of their recent BF releases.  This is, of course, after they went after customers who had the temerity to keep older BF games alive on their own servers after Gamespy went off to silicon heaven. 

That is just the most recent of their blunderful performances, which include such highlights as rebranding loot boxes as booster packs and once again delving into microtransactions.  We won't even mention that the killer app of the engine is still slowly being implemented and that you need to buy a $1000 piece of hardware just to have the opportunity to see the work in progress; assuming your eyes are good enough to spot it. 

One hoped the declining sales figures might have a positive impact on EA and DICE's treatment of their customers but for now it seems they are just doubling down on being ...

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"Battlefield V developer DICE now says it's not sure whether it will be able to "deliver" the series' traditional Rental Server Program (RSP) for the latest game in the franchise."

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Tech Talk

Source: Ars Technica

EA didn't announce a Battlefield game nor speak of post-launch monetisation

Subject: General Tech | January 31, 2018 - 02:15 PM |
Tagged: ea, battlefield, lootboxes, dice

EA mentioned a new Battlefield game in passing, during a presentation in which they described how delaying BioWare's Anthem to early 2019 is not a delay.  To make things even more unclear they replied to a question about lootboxes by describing "a need to tailor monetisation and content additions to each game" and not wanting to "bifurcate the community". That second comment seems to refer to the paid expansion DLC which EA has historically released for Battlefield games and implies we may not see that model used in this mysterious new, totally not announced, game.  Pop by Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN for more prognostication.

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"Will it be set in the past, near-past, present, near-future, or future? Battlefield 5? Bad Company 3? Hardline 2? 1944? 2143? Hut hut! It’s all a big mystery for now. Assuming EA follow their traditional Battlefield behaviour, they’ll likely formally announce the game in May or June then release it in mid-to-late October."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

DigitalFoundry Shows Off Battlefield 1 Alpha PC Settings

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 7, 2016 - 10:13 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, GTX 1080, ea, dice, battlefield, battlefield 1

Battlefield 1 looks pretty good. To compare how it scales between its settings, DigitalFoundry took a short amount of video at 4K across all four, omnibus graphics settings: Low, Medium, High, and Ultra. These are, as should be expected for a high-end PC game, broken down into more specific categories, like lighting quality and texture filtering, but I can't blame them for not adding that many permutations to a single video. It would just be a mess.

The rendering itself doesn't change too much between settings to my eye. Higher quality settings draw more distant objects than lower ones, and increases range that level of detail falls off, too. About a third of the way into the video, they show a house from a moderate distance. The lowest quality version was almost completely devoid of shadowing and its windows would not even draw. The lighting then scaled up from there as the settings were moved progressively toward Ultra.

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Image Credit: DigitalFoundry

While it's still Alpha-level code, a single GTX 1080 was getting between 50 and 60 FPS at 4K. This is a good range to be in for a G-Sync monitor, as the single-card machine doesn't need to deal with multi-GPU issues, like pacing and driver support.

Mirror's Edge: Catalyst DRM Rumors Are Wrong

Subject: General Tech | June 7, 2016 - 08:42 PM |
Tagged: ea, dice, DRM, origin

GamersNexus wrote a piece that claimed Mirror's Edge: Catalyst has DRM that limits the number of hardware changes to four. According to an email from EA's press contact, it turns out that GamersNexus' article is not accurate. According to EA PR, if Origin detects five activations in a single day, the user will need to wait until 24 hours after their first activation to attempt again.

So you can change your hardware as many times as you want over the life of the game, just not more than four times in a single day, on a single account at least.

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Image Credit: GamersNexus
This message didn't seem to say what they were implying it did. Turns out, it doesn't.

I decided to ask EA when I read the error message that GamersNexus posted -- the article's  interpretation didn't seem right. The wording was as follows: “Too many computers have accessed this account's version of Mirror's Edge(TM) Catalyst recently. Please try again later.” It seemed very odd to me that the wording “recently” and “Please try again later” would be attached to a permanent bricking of the game.

Again, it turns out that this is not the case, unless our press contact was not up to date about this specific title. As much as I dislike DRM, being a proponent of art preservation and archival, this part of Mirror's Edge's DRM should not affect the vast majority of users. This is something that should only affect people who are literally benchmarking a half-dozen (or so) graphics cards.

In short, it sounds like this is a non-issue after all.

Source: GamersNexus

Awake Yet? Good! Optimizing Inverse Trig for AMD GPUs.

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 2, 2014 - 03:11 AM |
Tagged: amd, GCN, dice, frostbite

Inverse trigonometric functions are difficult to compute. Their use is often avoided like the plague. If, however, the value is absolutely necessary, it will probably be solved by approximations or, if possible, replacing them with easier functions by clever use of trig identities.

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If you want to see how the experts approach this problem, then Sébastien Lagarde, a senior developer of the Frostbite engine at DICE, goes into detail with a blog post. By detail, I mean you will see some GPU assembly being stepped through by the end of it. What makes this particularly interesting is the diagrams at the end, showing what each method outputs as represented by the shading of a sphere.

If you are feeling brave, take a look.

Take Your Best BF4 Battlefest Battleshots and Win!

Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2014 - 02:37 PM |
Tagged: giveaway, gaming, ea, dice, battlefield 4, amd

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For the next month, until August 12th, Battlefield.com, AMD and Sapphire will be giving away video cards, DICE giftcards and BF4 Premium memberships to the best screenshots submitted to their blog.

This week:

Daily Prize Package: An AMD Sapphire graphics card, a $50 DICE online store gift code, and a BF4 Premium membership code on your platform of choice.

  • Saturday, July 12 – EXPLOSIONS
  • Sunday, July 13 – HELICOPTERS
  • Monday, July 14 – VISTAS
  • Tuesday, July 15 – INFANTRY
  • Wednesday, July 16 – TEAM PLAY
  • Thursday, July 17 – NAVAL
  • Friday, July 18 – PARACHUTES

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Why not team up with the Fragging Frogs to play BF4 and work together to make the best screenshot submissions you can?

DICE loves teasing us with Star Wars

Subject: General Tech | May 7, 2014 - 03:50 PM |
Tagged: gaming, Star Wars, Star Wars Battlefront, dice, ea

We have been not so patiently waiting for this announcement from DICE and EA ever since last years E3 but we finally have a rough idea when we can expect Star Wars Battlefield ... in about another year.  While that is not the answer we were hoping for it does give hope to fans that we will indeed venture once more into a galaxy far far away!  EA even suggested there could be as many as six new titles announced at the next E3 though we do not know how many will take place in the Star Wars universe; who knows they might even set one in the Legends Universe.  Click on the links at Polygon for the full story.

STAR WARS: "LEGENDS" - Full Trailer from marc dominic rienzo on Vimeo.

"Publisher Electronic Arts plans to show more from Star Wars: Battlefront, the DICE-developed game set in the Star Wars universe, at this year's E3, EA CEO Andrew Wilson said during an investor call today."

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Gaming

Source: Polygon

All Hands on DICE. Fixing Battlefield 4 is "#1 Priority"

Subject: General Tech | December 5, 2013 - 01:59 AM |
Tagged: dice, BF4

DICE has announced that they are working on Battlefield 4, its expansions, Mirror's Edge, and Star Wars: Battlefront 3. Or at least, they have been working on them. For now, Battlefield 4 will be the only product in active development. DICE and EA have acknowledged issues with the game in terms of stability and connectivity. Until that becomes satisfactory, they will pause development on all other titles and expansion packs.

PC Gamer received a statement from an EA spokesperson about these claims. Apparently the China Rising DLC was basically completed before this decision was made; everything else will wait. Really, you just cannot keep bombers and motorbikes sitting on the shelf.

I mean, it is interesting that they say this. Still, I cannot see what this actually means. EA will not pull environment artists and sound engineers to fix these issues. It is a good "commitment to our customers" statement and I applaud them for admitting problems with the game (oddly, I found this version much less error prone than Battlefield 3) but, despite sounding clear, I wonder how much extra resources will result from this. Sure, it was a petty example, but it questions where the line actually is.

Battlefield 4 is available now from multiple retailers (just not Steam).

Source: PC Gamer

Rumor: AMD Gets Exclusive Optimization for all Frostbite 3 Games

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 18, 2013 - 03:39 PM |
Tagged: radeon, nvidia, geforce, frostbite 3, ea, dice, amd

UPDATE #3

The original source article at IGN.com has been updated with some new information.  Now they are saying the agreement between AMD and EA is "non-exclusive and gamers using other components will be supported." 

The quote from an EA rep says as follows:

DICE has a partnership with AMD specifically for Battlefield 4 on PC to showcase and optimize the game for AMD hardware," an EA spokesperson said. "This does not exclude DICE from working with other partners to ensure players have a great experience across a wide set of PCs for all their titles.

END UPDATE #3

This could be a huge deal for NVIDIA and AMD in the coming months - according to a story at IGN.com, AMD has entered into an agreement with EA that will allow them exclusive rights to optimization for all games based around the Frostbite 3 engine.  That includes Battlefield 4, Mirror's Edge 2, Need for Speed Rivals and many more games due out this year and in 2014.  Here is the quote that is getting my attention:

Starting with the release of Battlefield 4, all current and future titles using the Frostbite 3 engine — Need for Speed Rivals, Mirror's Edge 2, etc. — will ship optimized exclusively for AMD GPUs and CPUs. While Nvidia-based systems will be supported, the company won't be able to develop and distribute updated drivers until after each game is released.

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Battlefield 4 will be exclusive optimized for AMD hardware.

This is huge news for AMD as the Frostbite 3 engine will be used for all EA published games going forward with the exception of sports titles.  The three mentioned above are huge but this also includes Star Wars Battlefront, Dragon Age and even the next Mass Effect so I can't really emphasize enough how big of a win this could be for AMD's marketing and developer relations teams. 

I am particularly interested in this line as well:

While Nvidia-based systems will be supported, the company won't be able to develop and distribute updated drivers until after each game is released.

The world of PC optimizations and partnerships has been around for a long time so this isn't a huge surprise for anyone that follows PC gaming.  What is bothersome to me is that both EA and AMD are saying are rumored to have agreed that NVIDIA won't get access to the game as it is being developed - something that is CRUCIAL for day-of driver releases and performance tweaks for GeForce card owners.  In most cases, both AMD and NVIDIA developer relations teams get early access to game builds for PC titles in order to validate compatibility and to improve performance of these games for the public release.  Without these builds, NVIDIA would be at a big disadvantage.  This is exactly what happend with the recent Tomb Raider release.

UPDATE

AMD called me to reiterate their stance that competition does not automatically mean cutting out the other guy.  In the Tomb Raider story linked above, Neil Robison, AMD's Senior Director of Consumer and Graphics Alliances, states quite plainly: "The thing that angers me the most is when I see a request to debilitate a game. I understand winning, I get that, and I understand aggressive companies, I get that. Why would you ever want to introduce a feature on purpose that would make a game not good for half the gaming audience?"

So what do we take away from that statement, made in a story published in March, and today's rumor?  We have to take AMD at its word until we see solid evidence otherwise, or enough cases of this occurring to feel like I am being duped but AMD wants us all to know that they are playing the game the "right way."  That stance just happens to be counter to this rumor. 

END UPDATE

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NVIDIA had performance and compatibility issues with Tomb Raider upon release.

The irony in all of this is that AMD has been accusing NVIDIA of doing this exact thing for years - though without any public statements from developers, publishers or NVIDIA.  When Batman: Arkham Asylum was launched AMD basically said that NVIDIA had locked them out of supporting antialiasing.  In 2008, Assassin's Creed dropped DX 10.1 support supposedly because NVIDIA asked them too, who didn't have support for it at the time in GeForce cards.  Or even that NVIDIA was disabling cores for PhysX CPU support to help prop up GeForce sales.  At the time, AMD PR spun this as the worst possible thing for a company to do in the name of gamers, that is was bad for the industry, etc.  But times change as opportunity changes.

The cold truth is that this is why AMD decided to take the chance that NVIDIA was allegedly unwilling to and take the console design wins that are often noted as being "bad business."  If settling for razor thin margins on the consoles is a risk, the reward that AMD is hoping to get is exactly this: benefits in other markets thanks to better relationships with game developers.

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Will the advantage be with AMD thanks to PS4 and Xbox One hardware?

At E3 I spoke in-depth with both NVIDIA and AMD executives about this debate and as you might expect both have very different opinions about what is going to transpire in the next 12-24 months.  AMD views this advantage (being in the consoles) as the big bet that is going to pay off for the more profitable PC space.  NVIDIA thinks that AMD still doesn't have what it takes to truly support developers in the long run and they don't have the engineers to innovate on the technology side.  In my view, having Radeon-based processors in the Xbox One and Playstation 4 (as well as the Wii U I guess) gives AMD a head start but won't win them the race for the hearts and minds of PC gamers. There is still a lot of work to be done for that.

Before this story broke I was planning on outlining another editorial on this subject and it looks like it just got promoted to a top priority.  There appear to be a lot of proverbial shoes left to drop in this battle, but it definitely needs more research and discussion. 

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Remember the issues with Batman: Arkham Asylum?  I do.

I asked both NVIDIA and AMD for feedback on this story but only AMD has replied thus far.  Robert Hallock, PR manager for gaming and graphics, Graphics Business Unit at AMD sent me this:

It makes sense that game developers would focus on AMD hardware with AMD hardware being the backbone of the next console generation. At this time, though, our relationship with EA is exclusively focused on Battlefield 4 and its hardware optimizations for AMD CPUs, GPUs and APUs.

Not much there, but he is also not denying of the original report coming from IGN.  It might just be too early for a more official statement.  I will update this story with information from NVIDIA if I hear anything else.

What do YOU think about this announcement though?  Is this good news for AMD and bad news for NVIDIA?  Is it good or bad for the gamer and in particular, the PC gamer?  Your input will help guide or upcoming continued talks with NVIDIA and AMD on the subject. 

UPDATE #2

Just so we all have some clarification on this and on the potential for validity of the rumor, this is where I sourced the story from this afternoon:

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END UPDATE #2

Source: IGN