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Borderlands 3 launched last week, and the game is in wretched condition. Reviews of the title have been good on the merits, though pretty much everyone agrees that Borderlands 3 is, at best, a retread of previous titles. Whether that’s a good thing depends entirely on how much you enjoyed those previous games, but the consensus seems to be that the game doesn’t do a great job with expanding on core gameplay mechanics or reinventing the wheel.
Unfortunately, the merits of the execution have been swamped by technical issues. Borderlands 3 players have been unhappy enough with how the game plays to swamp various online forums, including Steam’s forums for Borderlands 2. Borderlands 3 is an Epic Games Store title, not a Steam game, but that hasn’t stopped players from opining on the game. But there are performance issues galore, on both consoles and PCs. Digital Foundry recommends playing the game in 30fps locked mode on the Xbox One X because frame rates are too erratic to justify unlocking them. Players have also reported heavy lag.
PC gamers often like to crow about how superior components lead to superior gaming experiences, but that’s not proving to be the case here. The situation with DX12 has proven to be so bad, some gamers are reverting back to DX11 in order to improve stability. Gamers who want to shift the title back into DX11 instead of DX12 may find that the game performs better that way.
In some cases, there are reports that Borderlands 3 won’t even boot in DX12 mode. If you’re having that problem, you can manually set the game to DX11 by heading for your Documents folder in Windows 10. From Documents, navigate through “My Games,” “Borderlands 3,” “Saved,” and “Config.” There’s a “GameUserSettings.ini” file in this directory. Open it using Notepad and locate the “PreferredGraphicsAPI” setting. It’s probably set to DX12. Change this to DX11, and the game should boot in that mode instead.
AMD has said that its latest driver is supposed to improve performance by up to 16 percent, and the company has introduced support for Radeon Image Sharpening on its Polaris GPUs with the new 19.9.2 driver release. But the performance issues we’re seeing crop up are dwarfing these improvements overall, and the problem seems to be the overall state of the game — Nvidia users aren’t being spared. AMD told Overclock3D that “2K and Gearbox are planning to release a final DX12 implementation in a future patch,” which raises serious questions about why the game was kicked out the door with a non-final implementation of its renderer. The answer, of course, is that it had to be on store shelves by such and such a date. When a game has this many issues at launch, it’s not as if the dev team didn’t know about them. It’s always the case that the dev team didn’t have time to finish fixing them before a must-ship deadline.
At this point, it might be wise to wait a few weeks before diving into Borderlands 3, even if you’re a longtime fan of the series. It definitely sounds like Gearbox has plenty of work to do to bring the title into some kind of playable condition, and even AMD’s just-launched drivers don’t seem to be fixing the problem for everybody. Again, the issues don’t seem to be hitting any specific GPU vendor or CPU configuration — the reports thus far suggest the game is buggy for everyone.