The PC experience of The Callisto Protocol is ruined by stuttering due to a combination of causes, one of which is undoubtedly the well-known Unreal Engine shader compilation issue, as reported by other publications such as Rock, Paper, Shotgun, and DSO Gaming. This stuttering is caused by several factors, including one of which is undoubtedly the known Unreal Engine shader compilation issue.
To give you an example of this, let’s have a look at the outcomes of the built-in benchmark that is accessible through The Callisto Protocol PC. The first time I ran the testing tool at 4K resolution with all parameters turned up to maximum, the outcome was a choppy mess that averaged just 45,2 frames per second on a fairly powerful machine (Intel i7 12700KF, RTX 4090). This is with the AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution 2 upscaling option set to Quality.
We decided to quit the game and restart it with the same configurations to see if the stuttering might be attributed, even in some small way, to the now-famous shader compilation issue plaguing the Unreal Engine.
The outcome was astounding: the test was now averaging 75.7 frames per second, which is a 67.4% improvement. This was because we had already run the scenario when the shader compilation stuttering disappeared.
It should be made clear that this is not the only aspect of The Callisto Protocol PC with optimization problems. We tried disabling ray tracing, which can be used for shadows, reflections, and something called transmission (only after you’ve activated shadows), and the frame rate increased to 122,2 FPS, which is a 61.4% increase. This was successful in increasing the frame rate.
We strongly advise that you disable the ray-traced effects since compared to the rasterized ones, they do not appear to be that much of an improvement in terms of appearance. However, it won’t help with the terrible stuttering that you have.
There are occasions when the findings that benchmark tools provide might differ significantly from what gamers experience when they are playing. However, this is not the case with the PC version of The Callisto Protocol. Even more so considering the strong computer, we were using, we had slowdowns that were unpleasant when we were playing at the beginning of the game.
It just needed a pipe to burst or an unexpected adversary to arrive out of nowhere for the frame rate to suddenly drop to 20 or even 10 FPS for a few seconds. You don’t need to take our word for it; have a look at the video that we’ve provided down below.
In one especially awful period that can be found in the video just above the one you’re now seeing, the frame rate dropped below 10 frames per second. After that, it increased to more than 100 frames per second. To tell you the truth, we have never encountered anything like this before.
Even though this game is optimized for AMD (it was even included in the most recent Raise the Game bundle alongside Dead Island 2), NVIDIA has not yet released a Game Ready driver that is optimized for this game.
However, the scope of the problems in The Callisto Protocol PC is too extensive for these excuses to have any bearing on the situation. Aside from that, the game has a solid visual presentation. Still, it’s not the first Crysis, and even the first one provided a superior gameplay experience thanks to its consistent, albeit slow, frame rate.
In addition, the shader compilation problem with Unreal Engine has to be brought to light as soon as possible. Too many games are plagued by the perplexing decision to cause players to experience stuttering the first time they play through the game, rather than simply requesting that they wait a couple of minutes while the shader cache is completed, as some games appropriately do. This is in contrast to the few games that make this request.
Alexander Battaglia, an employee at Digital Foundry, correctly anticipated that this would be a problem with The Callisto Protocol PC. It turns out that the game is one of the instances that is the worst so far.
The survival horror subgenre is not helpful in this regard either because the frame rate may suddenly drop for no apparent reason, which will render most scares and surprises completely ineffective.
In conclusion, we strongly suggest that you postpone purchasing The Callisto Protocol PC until such time that Striking Distance Studios fixes the shader compilation issue and improves the game’s optimization.