Fallout 4's Engine Physics Tied to Frame Rate and Other Foibles

Published: November 10, 2015 10:55 AM /



It's one of, if not the, biggest launch days of the year, in what is almost certainly the biggest several days of launch this year with Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 launching on Friday, and Rise of the Tomb Raider joining Fallout 4 today in destroying gamers' pocket books. Launch dates often reveal all sorts of here unseen information, as interested players start digging into things and messing around with them, and Fallout 4's huge amount of hype has ensured plenty are doing that.

The big news here is that Fallout 4 is tying the rate of action in game play to your frame rate. In essence, there isn't a fixed animation speed, instead that animation speed is set based on how fast your screen is refreshing, as the following video that Lord Socky made demonstrates:


While this is a common practice for some developers, particularly Japanese ones who lock frame rates at 30, this does cause a lot of issues in game play, as instead of delivering a smoother performance with increased frame rate, the game instead actually speeds up and slows down depending. For those with 120 or 144 hertz monitors who have free sync or other settings enabled it may create issues unless you modify the ini file to lock it back to 60 FPS. Also when frame rates dip, this will significantly impact how the game plays, making it choppier in practice—something that may be especially noticeable for those on consoles where the game is having a lot of issues right now. Additionally, for those whose cards may be on the lower end, the settings for the game don't appear to have any option to voluntarily lock the frame rate to minimize the amount of jumping around that may happen unless you modify the ini file.

Fallout 4 Settings 1

Fallout 4 Settings 2

And in case you're thinking maybe it's on the launch where you load things like mods, and set stuff like resolution, there is some bad news for you. Yes, that menu does appear to exist. However, it lacks options to go above 1920/1080 resolution, set FPS locks, and appears to most significantly lack any area to load modifications in it. For resolution, and FPS, you can set the ini file, although you need to turn that off read only for it to retain it between multiple launches. The start up area notably is different than past Gamebyro Creation Engine games as you can see below:

Fallout 4 Options
Please forgive my bad cropping work...

Continuing in further issues, it appears that loading time concerns aren't contained to the XBox One version of Fallout 4. Instead, if you are using a HDD instead of an SDD for the game—even a 7200 RPM one, with a GTX 970 graphics card—you may find the load times taking 3-5 times as long, hitting over 30 seconds in interior or exterior places on ultra settings. Please note that the game is generous also on recommending ultra settings, as I have a solid but not spectacular R9 280, which led  to the recommendations there above. You can see a loading time comparison by Unreal below with those specs, with the exterior load time on the HDD taking 30 seconds:


Quick Take

It might not surprise a lot of people that a Bethesda game is having launch issues, but it is a consistent issue and Bethesda on these matters shouldn't be given a pass just because it's Bethesda. To steal a quip a colleague of mine made about the GAME situation, Fallout 4 is so buggy even physical versions of the game have bugs (referring to the issues on the pip-boy edition there). Note on the lack of a spot for mod loading it doesn't necessarily mean anything and could be patched in later, or it could foretell that Bethesda is planning on using Bethesda.net for loading the mods as a sort of cloud solution to the situation.

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More Info About This Game
Learn more about Fallout 4
Game Page Fallout 4
Bethesda Softworks
Xbox One, PC, PlayStation 4
Release Date
November 10, 2015 (Calendar)
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