These were the best (and worst) technical PC games of 2022

2022 was a big year for PC game releases, for better and for worse. We have seen remarkable achievements and confidence in titles such as dying light 2, but also basically broken PC ports like Gotham Knights. As 2022 comes to a close, I wanted to take a look back at the best and worst PC games we’ve seen in the past year.

Remember that ReSpec is a technical column – I focus on the technical aspects of PC releases, not necessarily my favorite games overall. elden ring, for example, won our best players of 2022 roundup, and it is a personal favorite. But it does not appear in this list in the same light.

Best: Portal RTX

Portal RTX is an incredibly challenging game, and I debated putting it on this list because of how few people can actually play it. But if nothing else, Portal RTX is a wonderful showcase of Nvidia’s RTX Remix modding toolkit and how ray tracing can work to redefine the look and feel of gaming.

We are far past the days of Quake II RTX where some oversaturated lighting and distracting reflections were the best showcases of ray tracing we had. Physically-based materials, more efficient path tracing techniques, upscaling, and frame generation all worked to bring more realistic lighting to games, and Portal RTX is our first showcase of the power these techniques can have.

I’m especially excited about what it means for RTX Remix in the future. Modders already have versions of Max Payne, Half-Life, in the SWAT 4 revitalized by RTX Remix, and they all look incredible. I will be taking a closer look at these games (and hopefully more) in the future.

Worst: Gotham Knights

Robin fights the mob in Gotham Knights.

Gotham Knights is at the opposite end – it is an ugly look into the past. In terms of the infamous Arkham Knight pc port, Gotham Knights on PC shipped with massive stuttering issues paired with lackluster ray-tracing options. Also with a number of upscaling features on tap, Gotham Knights cannot maintain a stable frame rate.

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It doesn’t help that the game looks dated either. It was originally designed with last-gen consoles in mind before the publisher decided to pull the plug, but it doesn’t fall to that standard. Shortly after launch, a flood of images comparing the game’s graphical fidelity to 2015’s Arkham Knight started flowing (and spoilers: Arkham Knight who won the battle).

Personally, this one hit hard. Also with some topics that you can read in our Didhim knight review, I was excited to play the game. However, I can’t stand the overwhelming stuttering that hasn’t been fixed even months after launch. It’s worse than elden rings stuttering in every other game I’ve played this year, and I don’t see the issue being resolved anytime soon. Just recently, a patch for Gotham Knights actually made the game unplayable on Steam. Yikes.

Best: Uncharted Legacy of Thieves Collection

Uncharted Legacy of Thieves collection runs on Samsung Odyssey Neo G8.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Uncharted Legacy of Thieves collection is a prime example of how to do a PC port right. Rock-solid performance, a wide breadth of graphics options, and pre-compiled shaders make it a smooth experience on basically any rig — and a long-awaited debut for Nathan Drake on PC.

PlayStation has knocked it out of the park with all of its PC releases, though Uncharted is toned down compared to god of war in the Marvel’s Spider-Man. You’ll find some enhanced textures, but the original console release is mostly intact. Instead, the port focuses on stability by compiling shaders in the menu to prevent stuttering and providing upscaling for each GPU in the form of FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) 2 and Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS).

The only downside is the installation size. Uncharted Legacy of Thieves Collection requires 126GB of space (after everything is done, it’s about 113GB, but we’re splitting hairs here), and much of this size comes on the back of the enhanced textures. 100GB+ installations are common on PC with these high-res assets, but games like Far cry 6 allows you to skip the higher resolution assets for a smaller install size, which I like and Uncharted.

Still, if all I can complain about is the install size for a PC game released in 2022, that’s a very good thing.

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Worst: Warhammer 40,000 Darktide

A wall reading "Death before dishonor" and Warhammer 40K Darktide.

I admit, Warhammer 40,000 Darktide is one of my personal favorite games of 2022, but that’s despite its truckload of technical issues. A long and bug-filled beta period led to an even more broken release at launch, which featured constant network connections, game-breaking crashes due to ray tracing, and numerous visual glitches.

A few examples: turning off the foggy and overloaded subsurface scattering setting meant that the skin simply wouldn’t render on characters; Disabling DLSS to improve ray tracing performance would crash the game; and lens flares could cause a massive reduction in frame rate, which is one of many settings that can create a nasty CPU bottleneck in the game.

Since launch, developer Fat Shark has continued to improve the game, and it’s now in a much better place. There’s no denying the game’s tumultuous launch, however, which is disappointing that it was one of only a few new titles released with DLSS 3, rather than ported back to older releases.

Best: Marvel’s Spider-Man (and Miles Morales)

A comparison of a finisher move in Spider-Man Miles Morales.

Marvel’s Spider-Man in the Miles Morales took a different approach to Sony’s PC ports, heavier on PC tech rather than stable performance. They’re both stable players, but they’re also packed with ray tracing, a host of upscaling options, and technology like Deep Learning Anti-Aliasing (DLAA) and DLSS Frame Generation.

Ray tracing looks fantastic Marvel’s Spider-Man, and it allows you to reflect and shadow over what is available on the PlayStation 5. Miles Morales is particularly impressive with DLSS 3, even if the AI-generated frames don’t always look perfect.

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Now that Spider-Man 2 is announced for PlayStation 5 next year, I can only hope we see it on PC. If these first two releases are anything to go by, the second game will hopefully shine even more on a high-end gaming rig.

Worst: Stray/Elden Ring

Elden Ring runs on the Asus ROG PG42UQ.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

I group strip in the Elder Ring here because they both had the same issue: stuttering shader compilation. Elder Ring was repaired to a much better condition, as well dispute, but they both launched with consistent stuttering on PC due to shaders compiling on the GPU.

This is mainly a problem with Unreal Engine, as you can see Gotham Knights. That said, Elder Ring uses a custom engine, showing that it can impact player engines, too. The shaders (programs) have to move to your GPU before they can execute, which causes a slowdown whenever new shaders are introduced.

The good news for these two releases is that they are now playable, much differently Gotham Knights. Still, it’s disappointing to see such severe stuttering in two games that were widely considered the best of the year.

PC ports in 2023

Looking forward to 2023, I’m hopeful that the days of stuttering shader compilation and borked PC ports are behind us. FortniteThe transition to Unreal Engine 5 shows a bright future for the massive number of titles that use Unreal. On the other end, we still see the next gen Witcher 3 update and titles like The Callisto Protocol Publication in destructive states.

On the plus side, more PC releases are embracing technologies like FSR, DLSS, Frame Generation, and latency-reduction tools like Reflex, which help games optimized on the engine side run more smoothly. I’m sure we’ll see even more progress on that front in 2023.

This article is part of ReSpec – an ongoing biweekly column that features discussions, advice, and in-depth reports on the tech behind PC gaming.

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