The Callisto Protocol On PC Is Plagued With Performance Issues

The player character stares at a disgusting toilet.

Screenshot: Striking Distance Studios / Kotaku

With today’s launch of The Callisto Protocolone consensus in the gaming media is that this is a decent PS5 Empty space-like, but a terrible PC game. The reason for this is that the game stutters grimly, even on top machines. I’m here to tell you it isn’t to have stutter, but you do need to turn off some of the bells and whistles.

This morning, A rock paper gun said that it could be a fun game “if it ran on PC”, Eurogamer suggested that “PC is almost unplayable”, while PC gamer called it “a stuttering nightmare.” This is all reflected by The Callisto Protocols Steam pagewhere the game currently carries the deathly orange epithet “Mostly Negative” based on over 4,000 player reviews.

The problem, aside from anyone’s specific complaints about the game itself, is that it runs like absolute crap if you run it with settings that your PC would love to support.

The Callisto Protocol launched today on PC with some pretty hefty spec requirements to see it run at its peak. While it claims to run on graphics cards as low as a GeForce 1060 or Radeon RX 580, when you get to the top, it is eye-catching. For what it weirdly calls “Max” settings (despite there being a level above that), it calls for a Radeon RX 6700XT or GeForce RTX 2070, running Ryzen 7 2700X or an i7-9700. For the more than max “Ultra” level, it suggests a rig with a Ryzen 9 3900X or i9-9900K, with a Radeon RX 6900XT or a GeForce RTX 3080. It seems that people who can meet these requirements are not get the performance they counted on.

My PC, an increasingly modest Ryzen 5 5600X with a GeForce RTX 3070, more than meets the the game’s “Recommended” specifications of a Ryzen 5 3600 and GTX 1070, which would make me assume I should be able to enjoy some of the fancier options. For example, I would expect a bit of ray tracing action to be available and it could extend beyond “Medium” in the default settings. Hey, my computer is about to hit “Max” – this isn’t an unreasonable position!

But damn, it doesn’t. If I enable any amount of ray tracing or set the base specs to “High”, the game runs at a very unstable 12 fps. It’s laughably bad, and it’s very easy to see why people are instantly mad about their $60.

The PC specs for The Callisto Protocol show suggested hardware for Max and Ultra.

Image: Studios at striking distance

The good news is that I’m pretty sure everyone meets those recommended specs shall be able to perform the game, if they are willing to make faithful sacrifices.

Now I absolutely must emphasize that the PC launch days are always a clusterfuck of rage, because given the near-infinite permutations of PC hardware, there will always be a sizeable contingent of players who stumble upon a lineup that a developer hasn’t tested. So I can’t be sure if my (admittedly quite generic) machine might have been lucky here, but I suspect not. More importantly, I don’t know if your setup is one that will have a glitch until patches are out. That said, try this:

From the main menu (and note that you can’t access most of the options during the game), select Options, then Pictures. At the bottom of the list is Run Benchmark, which lets you test the game on your PC. Mine, no matter how much it should have done better, told me it recommended “enable FSR2 Performance mode”. Again, it’s Options – Images and then Advanced. At the top of the list is ‘Upscaling’. Mine was set to ‘Temporal’ which I think prevents the game from time traveling. However, I had to change this to “AMD FSR 2”.

With that done I was able to change the next setting, “FSR 2 Quality Mode”, from the pleasant sounding “Quality” to the much more disappointing “Performance”.

Done that, the game transformed. I can now play it at a fairly stable 60fps, occasionally dropping to 45 for a few glitchy seconds when entering new territory, but then quickly back to 60fps.

Honestly, it still looks pretty good. I mean, if you like grim, dingy starships splattered in mutated corpses and entrails. I really didn’t know what I was missing, though I expected it to be better reflections in the puddles of human blood, and perhaps more bristles on the rugged faces of the ship’s frenzied crew.

That said, no, of course this isn’t good enough. Either the specs were wildly inaccurate, or the game urgently needs a massive amount of patches. That’s always particularly frustrating when there’s a PS5 version that works without any of these issues.

We’ve reached out to publisher Krafton to ask when we can expect a patch.

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