Will Red Dead Redemption 2 receive a PC version, and if so, what kind of visual upgrades could Rockstar deliver? The truth is that the existing console versions already possess high-end techniques sometimes reserved for high-end PC GPUs, so on the face of it, the options seem limited. And let’s remember that Rockstar hasn’t actually confirmed any PC version at all – though a data dump of the RDR2 mobile companion app seems highly indicative.
With that said, it’s fair to say that if a PC version does appear, prior Rockstar releases suggest that the developer will take the time and effort to get the most out of the more powerful technology – and that starts with the rendering API. Grand Theft Auto 4, Max Payne 3 and the wonderfully late port of GTA5 all stood head and shoulders above the console counterparts. Sure, GTA4 still has issues with attaining higher frame-rates, but their graphical feature set and scalability in general is wonderful. Common to all of these releases are Rockstar’s utilisation of what was then the latest rendering API. GTA4 did not support DirectX 10, but both Max Payne 3 and GTA5 utilise DX11 – with both the games scaling rather well, with multi-core CPUs allowing you to achieve desired high frame-rates.
The companion app data dump only suggests DX11 support, but DX12 or Vulkan could dramatically lower rasterisation costs, or enable a greater diversity and scales of onscreen objects at any time. Famously, GTA5 on Xbox One and PS4 had near equivalent settings for vegetation detail in the distance. But on PC, you could really pump up the values, dramatically increasing the amount of detail into the distance – the cost here being a terrific rise in CPU utilisation, something a lower-level API could address. As things stand, the console versions of RDR2 already have some great level of detail distances and level of detail transitions – but PC could deliver much improvement here, with lush grass pushed out kilometres from the camera even – all with little CPU overhead in comparison to a would-be DX11 version of the game.
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