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Valve Explains How It Fixed Elden Ring on Steam Deck

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While Elden Ring has been having numerous issues on PC, the version on Steam Deck is now running a lot smoother and Valve’s Pierre-Loup Griffais has shared how they fixed the handheld gaming PC’s problems with the game.

At launch, one of the biggest issues those who chose to play Elden Ring on PC ran into was related to frame rate and stuttering. As reported by Eurogamer, its “working theory” was that “we were looking at yet another PC game suffering from shader compilation issues: split-second pauses whenever a new visual effect came into play.”

This is a much bigger issue to solve on PC as the range of hardware specs on systems are obviously a lot greater than seen on console. Using this same thought process, the Steam Deck also “has an advantage, because it is a fixed piece of hardware, just like a console.”

“On the Linux/Proton side, we have a pretty extensive shader pre-caching system with multiple levels of source-level and binary cache representations pre-seeded and shared across users,” Griffais said. “On the Deck, we take this to the next level, since we have a unique GPU/driver combination to target, and the majority of the shaders that you run locally are actually pre-built on servers in our infrastructure. When the game is trying to issue a shader compile through its graphics API of choice, those are usually skipped, as we find the pre-compiled cache entry on disk.

“Shader pipeline-driven stutter isn’t the majority of the big hitches we’ve seen in that game. The recent example we’ve highlighted has more to do with the game creating many thousand resources such as command buffers at certain spots, which was making our memory manager go into overdrive trying to handle it. We cache such allocations more aggressively now, which seems to have helped a ton.

“I can’t comment as to whether this is the problem the game experiences on other platforms, as well, but we’ve been playing on Deck with all these elements in place and the experience has been very smooth.”

As shown in a video from Digital Foundry, “using a mixture of the medium quality preset with strategically boosted high settings (textures and anti-aliasing) along with a reduction in shader quality from medium to low (it doesn’t seem to make any difference to the visuals) and engage Valve’s system level 30fps cap and what we have is effectively a 720p rendition of the PlayStation 4 version of Elden Ring.”

Another benefit the Steam Deck has is that “because Valve’s 30fps cap delivers even 33.3ms frame-times – unlike From Software’s internal clock-based solution – you get a much smoother experience.”

For more on Elden Ring’s performance, check out our review of how it runs on PS5 vs. Xbox Series X/S.

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Adam Bankhurst is a news writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBankhurst and on Twitch.


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