A big thank you to Deckverse for working with us on the Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered review. You can check out his YouTube Deep Dive video below. Anything not under a "SDHQ" header is written by Deckverse.
There’s a reason why Marvel’s Spider-Man from Insomniac Games is considered as one of the best superhero games of all time. It’s an amazing combination of perhaps the most fun way to move around in a game world, a great story, and the brilliant and captivating soundtrack by John Paesano. Of course, you can criticize its Ubisoft-style watchtowers, unnecessary mini-games, quicktime events as well as repetitive side quests... yet in the end Marvel's Spider-Man is a great overall package.
My name is Timo and this is a Deckverse Deep Dive into Marvel's Spiderman Remastered! It has finally been released on PC and although it does indeed look great on a beefy GPU and big screens, it begs the question: how good does it run on the Steam Deck?
Upon first launch on the Steam Deck, the game resorts to medium settings by default: full screen, upscaling through AMD FSR 2.0 and a dynamic resolution with a frame rate target of 30 FPS. Everything else uses the Medium preset, except Depth of Field, which is on high and Shadow Quality, which is on low. With everything uncapped, this can lead to gigantic drain of 25W with temps going...much higher than they should.
While it can reach 60 FPS, it won't stay there for long and completely overheats the Deck while pushing battery drain to the maximum possible.
Nixxes Software, who are responsible for the port to the PC, seem to aim for a frame rate target of 30 FPS here, which can successfully be maintained by the Steam Deck in most cases. Only very rarely does the performance drop to around 25FPS for a few seconds, but due to the lack of an in-engine framerate cap there is a constant fluctuation upwards, which results in a very inconsistent gaming experience.
You could indeed use Waylands (SteamOS) framerate limiter you can find in the Deck’s quick access menu, but this will inevitably introduce a massive amount of input lag due to its forced triple buffering. Another valid option would be leveraging half refresh rate V-Sync. In theory while using a refresh rate of 60Hz, this would slice the same amount in half and therefor cap the FPS at 30. Sadly this too won’t work because of a driver-issue with Proton.
During my testings though, I came up with an idea that revolves around something Simon Hallsten, more widely known as Flightlessmango, created called MangoHUD, which is the statistics overlay pre-installed on every Steam Deck. While it does provide various stats like battery drain, temperature, and individual CPU core speeds, it is capable of much more, including capping framerate without triple buffering!
To do this, you will have to go into your game preferences and set the launch option to: MANGOHUD_CONFIG=fps_limit=30,no_display mangohud %command%
Make sure to uncap the framerate in the quick access menu and keep the screen's refresh rate to 60 FPS. The MangoHUD solution does come with some frametime fluctuations, but personally, I rarely noticed that in my playthrough.
Please keep in mind, that this preset will push your Deck’s hardware to its limit. Expect the device to get pretty hot and the game gnawing through your battery in no time - you can expect a battery life of one and a half hour - in rare cases up to two hours. But with my preset, you will be able to hit that beautifully smooth 40 FPS.
Swinging in the game pushes the builds a bit more and will have inconsistent framerates, but this generally evens out and never gets too bad to be jarring.
First off, I came across some interesting things that I would like to share with you. For example, I was initially very excited about FSR 2.0 in Spider-Man. Especially for the Steam Deck a true blessing, but the way it seems to work in Insomniacs proprietary engine result in both strange short frametime spikes and fuzzy visuals.
So I decided against those and opted for Dynamic Resolution scale on 45 instead, though I would love to see Nixxes add a specific 40 option. I’ve also noticed that the game’s Occlusion Culling isn’t always fast enough to catch up with a fast swinging hero from the neighborhood when using either FSR or ITGI, Insomniacs own upscaling technique.
During tweaking I furthermore noticed, that some textures on glassy buildings lack of reflections when set to low or medium. Even with screen space reflections activated, which fundamentally complement stuff like puddles, windows on buildings look rather dull.
Once we set Texture Quality to high, we get fancy cube maps, which mimic their surroundings. I also preferred to leave some of the medium preset unchanged to keep visual quality up, like texture filtering, ambient occlusion, and level of detail. Both Traffic and Crowd Density should be set to low though, as they will massively bloat up the data streaming and result in more framerate dips while traversing through the city.
Texture Quality Medium vs High. Just as an example of the windows reflections showing the big difference between the two settings.
Hair quality seems like a big strain in cutscenes and weather particle quality has also an unexpectedly huge impact to Spider-Man’s open world performance, so we set them both to low as well. Same goes with Depth of field, just make sure to not set it to very low as this ends up quite messy in some cutscenes.
Everything after that relates to personal preference, though I would definitely recommend on leaving Chromatic Aberration activated. Unlike how CA works in other games, here you will instead get a very slight but pleasant blurring towards the screen’s edge. This helps to visually fight aliasing which is often more noticeable in that area due to objects usually being closer to the camera. I personally prefer zero film and lowering motion blur strength to 5, because it still adds to the sense of speed.
We still have to accept some FPS dips while swinging through New York and in intense combat situations. This may be fixed in the long run since it’s related to the data streaming of Insomniacs engine due to the Deck’s limited power budget.
Through our testing of the build, we also note it is possible to cap TDP a little bit to curb the intense battery drain of the build. Setting the TDP to 12 stopped it from going over 22W drain and kept temps below 85c, with minimal interruption to stability. If you are okay with some drops when swinging though, you could lower it further. We tested TDP at 8 and it held up pretty well too, but it did compromise stability more.
Utilizing the golden 40 for Spiderman is an incredible way to play and works best for when you aren't leaving the house or only have little bits of time to be able to play. But what if you are going on a longer trip and want to maximize the battery you have? Well that's what SDHQ is here for!
Taking Timo's golden 40 settings, I started off bringing down the framerate using the launch command provided. While it did indeed have some instability, it really wasn't noticeable without the graph being in front of my face. I did end up playing around with some settings to see if I could improve the graphics while keeping battery down, but not much was able to move. Even turning down resolution and upscaling using FSR really looked horrible. This is a AAA game and while I wanted to bring it down further, changing just those allowed me to set a TDP limit of 9 to cap battery drain around 16W - 17W and keep temps below 75c.
With the TDP limit for the 30 FPS Battery build, the game still looks phenomenal and gives around 3 hours of battery life.
In my playthrough, I did encounter some random crashes when changing settings, especially when changing texture quality while in-game. Anytime I tried changing the texture quality from medium to high, or vice versa, while I was in-game (not on the main menu), it would crash. This was, however, my only instance of crashes and otherwise didn't encounter any game-breaking bugs.
Marvel's Spider-Man being on PC is something else altogether. Never did I imagine a day where we would be playing it...on our computers. And then adding on top that I would be able to swing through New York on a portable device? I would have called you crazy, yet here we are. Of course, there are definite compromises that need to be taken here, but in the end, you are getting an almost smooth 30 FPS or 40 FPS that would have never been possible before. It is hard to optimize and expect a AAA game to run like a dream come true on a portable device, but for this game, I would say it is one.
Deckverse is a Solo-project providing extensive high quality videos with accurate benchmarks, optimized Game setting presets and in-depth tech content all things Steam Deck. You can check me out on YouTube and can support Deckverse through Patreon!
Our review is based on the PC version of this game.
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