It’s clear that Sony Interactive Entertainment is fully satisfied with its new strategy for PC gaming exploration. Since the launch of Horizon Zero Dawn on Windows in summer 2020, the pace of game ports first party accelerates only little by little. And while the number of new PC releases in the pipeline of the Japanese “consolier” has never been higher, the arrival of Spider Man on Steam and the Epic Games Store is a notable highlight in the development of this strategy.
Originally released on PS4 in 2018, then remastered for PlayStation 5 in 2020,open world superhero from Insomniac Games enjoys a special status in the Sony catalog as it is his game first party having met with the greatest commercial success in recent years, with more than 20 million units sold on PS4 alone. Today, it is the fourth PlayStation Studios-branded game to be released on PC – also after Days gone by and god of war. It is also the first whose conversion is signed by Nixxes, a Dutch studio specializing in ports, which Sony acquired for this very purpose in July 2021. Therefore, the fact of seeing such a name attached to the project only made our curiosity to see, what the game might look like on personal computers.
Graphics settings: enough to go beyond the PS5 version, especially for ray tracing
As its official and full title (Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered) states that this new PC version is of course based on the PS5 iteration of the game and therefore benefits from all its improvements and modifications. The aforementioned PS5 iteration, although it was part of the console’s launch game, is still today among the titles that make the most admirable use of the machine’s capabilities, with the use of ray tracing quite ambitious (all opaque and transparent reflections are affected) and a multitude of available display modes (with or without ray tracingwith frame rate targets of 30, 40 or 60 fps, with or without VRR…), allowing everyone to play in the conditions they want and get the most out of their equipment.
Good news, this malleability exists in the PC version. The title offers a good amount of adjustable graphical parameters, especially regarding those famous reflections i ray tracing. It is possible to choose a very simplified version of reflections, which can help graphics cards with the most modest hardware acceleration capabilities to still take over. Conversely, you can also choose to push all settings to the maximum to achieve reflections that are even significantly more realistic than on PS5, with improvements in their definition, their geometric complexity and their display distance.
Be careful though, you have to be very careful about the ramifications of such a choice on the frame rate. That’s because this fictional Manhattan is filled to the brim with windows, car bodies, and still plenty of other reflective surfaces that can quickly overwhelm the graphics processor. But that’s not all: the ray tracing also weighs heavily on the central processor – as it is he who must calculate the geometry of the reflected scene before the GPU can determine the path of the light rays there. For ray tracing at most it is therefore necessary to use an extremely fast CPU. The official recommended specs list an AMD Ryzen 9 5900X or an Inter Core i7 12700K as a minimum. Our own tests with a Ryzen 7 5800X confirm that the latter is too tight to guarantee a frame rate stable.
Performance: beware of “small” configurations
In general, it must be said that the game is very demanding on the hardware, both on CPU and GPU level. Even without ray tracing, moving at full speed through the city puts the first to the test, the one who has to both cope with the very dense population on the boulevards and be busy telling the GPU which of the countless triangles that make up the whole city, he must draw. If you’re using an entry-level or mid-range CPU, or a bit old, and you don’t want to regularly experience the microblocking typical of a processor that has reached saturation, it’s absolutely necessary not to leave frame rate unlocked and set it to a very reasonable value even if it is below 60 fps.
On the GPU side, our tests conducted with four different cards (associated with an Intel Core i9 12900K and 32 GB DDR5) were rich in lessons. First we notice how even monsters like AMD’s Radeon RX 6900 XT or Nvidia’s RTX 3080 can struggle if we try to run the game in native 4K, with higher graphics settings, to that of the PS5 and at 60 fps. Fortunately, the title offers many clever scaling techniques, including DLSS and FSR 2.0, to remedy this (see below).
Speaking of less elite models, the RTX 3060 Ti also confirms the game’s gluttony. While it’s usually more than capable, on multiplatform games, of offering performance at least equal to that of the PS5, here it simply fails to reach the constant 60 fps with ray tracing, even at 1080p. Without ray tracing, it does, but with surprisingly little leeway. These difficulties are also illustrated by the Radeon RX 5700, which even without ray tracing – which it is not capable of anyway – regularly drops below 60 fps.
Comfort options you will have some here
We allow ourselves to assume that these somewhat disappointing performances are the consequence of the degree of optimization specific to the PS5 of the original code. After all, we know that the Insomniac Games team is among the most brilliant in the world when it comes to console development; and translating such a base to the open world of the PC must not have been easy. Either way, it’s absolutely impossible to accuse the Nixxes of failing at the job, as evidenced by the sheer amount of comfort options on offer.
Thus, in the options menu we find a wealth of anti-aliasing processing and advanced scaling, including DLAA and Nvidia’s DLSS (only for owners of an RTX graphics card), FSR 2.0 from AMD (for everyone) and even the time injection solution designed in-house by Insomniac Games, already used by the console versions of the title, and with quite convincing efficiency.
In terms of controls, the title is of course fully playable with keyboard/mouse and natively recognizes both Xbox controllers and PlayStation controllers – and even supports haptic feedback and DualSense adaptive triggers, like on the PS5. The display adapts without shaking to every possible and conceivable screen format, be it 4:3, 16:10, 21:9 (ultrawide), 48:9 (triple screens) or any other arbitrary ratio. Load times are also impressive. They’re certainly not quite instant like on the PS5, but still devilishly fast… and this even when the game is installed on a mechanical hard drive: fast trips are always done in less than 10 seconds.
Finally, the icing on the cake is that the game offers full and official Steam Deck compatibility. On Valve’s PC/portable console hybrid, it performs surprisingly well – though far from perfect – at 30fps, in medium graphics preset and with FSR 2.0 in quality mode.
To discover our complete technical analysis of Spider Man on PC we give you a deal with our buddies of game cult. Here we describe the effect of all the game’s graphics settings and go much deeper into its performance profile on different configurations to help you figure out what to expect on your personal machine.