Forspoken, Square Enix’s next big action RPG, launched this week and has done so to an extremely mixed reception on PC. It may just be January’s emptiness, but the game has sparked much debate about everything from its tone to how the publisher distributed code (or not) to outlets: PC Gamer’s review remains a work-in-progress.
But I can tell you one thing: Forspoken has ridiculous system requirements (opens in new tab), and the PC version doesn’t seem to warrant them. The Steam reviews for the title are extremely mixed and while some only complain about the talking bracelet (really), many are annoyed by the state the game was launched in. Currently, about 55% of total reviews for the title are negative.
An “unoptimized mess” says Hastur (opens in new tab), who rocks an RTX 4080 and also thinks the visuals are downgraded from the hype trailers just because of those pesky consoles. They’re not the only ones complaining about this apparent visual mismatch, it’s a theme in multiple reviews: “Inaccurate graphics,” says YoutubeMajed, “nothing like the trailer.”
Some reviews get a little existential about it. “You could tell they even played the cat’s voice,” says Shiba.gif (opens in new tab)“Why would you pronounce a cat’s meow? Even looking at a moving object will drop your fps by a large amount, but in a stationary environment you will be totally fine. I recommend having next year’s GPU [because] the 40 series doesn’t cut it.”
I mean, if this doesn’t work well on such GPUs, that suggests some pretty fundamental issues. “Literally unplayable on an RTX 3070 at 1440p,” wails poor Phoenix (opens in new tab)“the textures don’t even load because the game has a [bleep]tons of VRAM to work”. Another user just calls it “stutter city (opens in new tab)“.
“There may be a memory leak”, theorizes Darth_Vapour (opens in new tab). “The longer I play the game, the more the frame stutters and eventually it crashes. I’m running a water-cooled 3080 12GB with 64GB RAM on an I9 processor, which I built myself. So no, it’s not my hardware. So I don’t even know how the first big boss is!”
Certain negative reviews are more about the game’s content, obviously a subjective call, but even those who enjoy the characters and world say the game’s current state precludes recommending it: “textures are blurry, massive stuttering in the city and grainy/blurred/hazy models are a huge problem,” says OnlyMyGameRules (opens in new tab). “I feel like waiting or [developer] Luminous can fix performance issues and lower requirements before buying is the right decision, at least on PC.”
That user also says they stopped playing after a particularly annoying crash bug, and crashes seem to be happening across the board. Poor old Kali here had 13 crashes in an hour (opens in new tab)
And it feels extraordinary that a publisher the size of Square Enix is launching a title like this, at a premium price, in such bad shape on PC. Let’s not forget that some of these negative reviews may come across as a little mean, but the writers paid $70 of their own money for the privilege (“Note to self”, writes io (opens in new tab)presumably not the Hitman developer, “don’t buy any Square Enix games from now on.”)
The point is that this is expected of this publisher. Speculation about the review code allocation for Forspoken has been about the quality of the game or otherwise, but it may very well have been less about what the game is than about the state it was meant to launch in: and as several high-profile examples have shown , it can be incredibly difficult to recover from that bad first impression, especially on a platform where users can get a refund within the first few hours.
Or as one Steam user puts it: “I like speedrunning”, writes SchfiftyFive (opens in new tab)“and my favorite category of this game is refund.”
Overall reception of the game, aside from its performance issues, has been decidedly mixed. There are definitely positive reactions among the reviews, with some liking the weirder direction the publisher has taken with this one (apart from any performance issues). Unfortunately, many others think that once you get past the discourse, it’s just pretty average (opens in new tab).