Vanquish wasn’t considered an easy game in 2013, when it first launched on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. This month’s Windows PC port, according to some players, is even more difficult. It’s not because of rebalanced gameplay — it’s because playing the game at higher framerates lead to enemies dealing out increased damage.
One of Vanquish’s new features on PC is the ability to change the framerate. The original console version was locked at 30 fps, and players find that sticking with that setting is fine; the game’s hard, but not impossible.
Yet for some reason, cranking the framerate any higher makes enemy fire much stronger than before, even without making any other changes to the game.
“If you lock the framerate to 30FPS AR mode will activate after 6-7 seconds of taking enemy fire,” wrote NeoGaf user Wesker, referring to Vanquish’s slowdown feature, which kicks in when the player is in danger of dying. “[But] if you're playing at a much higher framerate, like 144FPS, it will activate in just 1-2 seconds.”
Wesker provided two comparison GIFs to illustrate the issue. Here’s how the game looks like at the standard 30 fps setting; when the screen turns red, it means the player’s taken a life-threatening amount of damage:
When running Vanquish at 60 fps, that effect appears much earlier. The player quickly takes more damage, with the only change being the framerate:
Players on NeoGAF and Vanquish’s Steam discussions board note that they found themselves dying faster than expected as a result; reviews for Vanquish on PC also note its increased difficulty. (Anecdotally, members of Polygon who are replaying the game on PC find it harder as well.)
“This might explain why I'm dying faster than I should on normal,” wrote a Steam poster. “At least it doesn't make it unplayable but would like to see it fixed.”
Little Stone Software is responsible for bringing Vanquish to PC. The studio ported another Sega-published game, Valkyria Chronicles, to the platform before, and it featured a similar issue on higher framerate settings. Playing above 30 fps led to a greatly increased rate of interception fire, which in turn made the game’s matches a lot harder.
Update: A patch is now available for the game that purportedly fixes the issues with playing at higher framerates.
Now available to download through Steam, the update targets what Sega calls “invincibility frame timing (which sometimes allowed the player to get hit more frequently at higher frame rates),” as well as the speed of health regeneration.
Some players note that “There still seem to be some issues with enemies suddenly dealing absurd amounts of damage,” however.
“Melee 1-hit KOs seem as common on PC Normal as they are on console Hard,” wrote on Steam user. “Enemies sometimes seem to step through their AI routines at higher speeds than usual, which typically makes them either hyper-aggressive or hyper-confused, depending on where they are standing.”
While the issue might not be related to frame rate, but there may still be some difficulty differences that players notice.