Bethesda has announced that AMD is its exclusive partner for Starfield on PC - a move that has caused controversy in the PC gaming scene online. The title is scheduled for a 6 September launch.
Starfield is one of the biggest upcoming games of the year with the hotly anticipated open-world space exploration RPG awaited for years now. Announced via AMD's YouTube channel, the latest Bethesda-developed epic is made with some of Team Red's best graphics cards in mind which has Nvidia supporters concerned.
The performance of Starfield has been controversial as the game has been confirmed to be running at 30fps on the Xbox Series X with no performance mode to speak of at release. Considering that Microsoft's current-generation console runs on AMD's RDNA 2 architecture, the fears that some PC gamers have is not entirely unfounded. Starfield's AMD exclusive partnership means that there could be no support for DLSS 3 leading to struggling performance from Nvidia graphics cards and drivers.
The PC system requirements for Starfield are fairly taxing for a title that's running on an engine as old as the Creation Engine 2, which made its debut with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Fallout 4. The official Steam listing page sites recommended hardware of an AMD Ryzen 5 3600X / Intel Core i5-10600K paired with an AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT / Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080, so we're talking a fairly up-to-date machine all around here.
The proposed lack of DLSS 3 support, which is exclusive to the Ada series of graphics cards such as the RTX 4090 and RTX 4080, means the title could be entirely reliant on Team Red's A.I. upscaling technology. AMD's FSR is open-source and can be used across all recent AMD Radeon graphics cards, and even Nvidia and Intel cards. The trade-off, however, is that Nvidia's A.I. accelerated tech, combined with specified driver support, means that the PC games supporting DLSS tend to perform more consistently across the hardware it is optimized for. It also calls into question exactly how extensive ray tracing options could be in the game - if any will come to the platform.
Judging by the fallout that's followed this decision, people on both sides of the hardware spectrum appear angry. You don't have to look far to see the ire from even seasoned supporters of Team Red. The announcement on the r/AMD subreddit has received a strongly mixed reception. With a total of 636 upvotes and over a thousand comments, the post has been ratio'd to quite a degree.
One of the top comments reads: "I have zero faith it will run well regardless of what side sponsors it". Another says: "At this point, I expect any game that has the AMD Rewards sticker to be completely broken at launch and many months after that. I, Forspoken, The Last of Us Part 1, and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor made a very lasting impression in this regard".
Things aren't much better when turning your attention to Twitter either. The official AMD Gaming account post has concerned PC gamers worrying about the performance woes of Starfield. One response says: "My excitement for the game has dropped massively. Went from a guaranteed day 1 buy to hunting for a sale in the future". Some gamers were blunter. "Please stop sponsoring titles" surged through a litany of concern around DLSS support. "Do not block DLSS", "Welp, there goes the official DLSS support", and "How about allowing DLSS to work too" received many likes.
As someone who currently uses an Nvidia graphics card and enjoys the benefits of DLSS to make the most out of higher framerates and high resolution, the news that the tech may not be supported has me worried. I am unsure if Starfield will run well on my machine, and fearful for how the game could come across in its launch state given Bethesda's track record. Time will tell if, despite all potential technical issues, Starfield could be considered one of the best RPGs on the PC.
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Aleksha McLoughlin is the Hardware Editor for TechRadar Gaming and oversees all hardware coverage for the site. She looks after buying guides, writes hardware reviews, news, and features as well as manages the hardware team. Before joining TRG she was the Hardware Editor for sister publication GamesRadar+ and she has also been PC Guide's Hardware Specialist. She has also contributed hardware content to the likes of Trusted Reviews, The Metro, Expert Reviews, and Android Central. When she isn't working, you'll often find her in mosh pits at metal gigs and festivals or listening to whatever new black and death metal has debuted that week.