Video game developer Rebellion is well recognized today for their work on the Sniper Elite series. Its latest installment was well received by gamers, getting a further boost in popularity due to nazi headshots and gruesome X-ray kill cam replays. Taking a page out of cooperative games such as Left 4 Dead and their own Zombie Army Trilogy, Rebellion is bringing us today 'Strange Brigade', a brand new co-op third-person shooter.
We have to admit until a few weeks ago we’d never heard of the game. Announced ahead of E3 2017, we didn’t catch wind of it until recently when AMD announced their "Raise The Game" for those purchasing a Radeon RX Vega, RX 580 or RX 570 graphics card. In case you’re unaware, the game bundle includes three upcoming games: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Star Control: Origins, and Strange Brigade. The promotion’s currently active and will run until November 3rd. It’s valid for those purchasing one of the aforementioned Radeon graphics cards via direct add-in board sales, OEMs, and system integrators.
As for Strange Brigade, in short it’s a co-op third-person shooter, supporting four players with distinct abilities, putting them in the roles of 1930s-era tomb raiders, think Indiana Jones.
There’s loads of killing using conventional means such as guns and grenades, but characters also have access to magical powers which help to obliterate the baddies more efficiently. The action’s broken up a bit by puzzles that often involve shooting, moving, breaking, or otherwise interacting with the environment.
Gameplay aside, as usual we'll be looking into hardware performance, so let’s talk about that. Steve has spent about 48 hours playing the same section of the game over and over again, yeah that’s his idea of fun, Steve's a simple man.
The game supports DirectX 12 and Vulkan and we’ll kick the testing off by comparing the Radeon and GeForce GPUs using either API and go from there. Strange Brigade does include a demanding built-in benchmark which I found to deliver frame rates that were at least 15% lower than the most demanding section of the game I ran into, within the first hour of gameplay anyway.
Normally we’d go for the more demanding test but both AMD and Nvidia GPUs suffered from a bit of stuttering on the built-in benchmark and this really hurt frame time performance, an issue we never saw when actually playing the game. So we decided to measure performance using a manual 60 second in-game pass and report the average and 1% low result.
For the most part we'll be using the ultra quality preset with testing taking place at 1080p, 1440p and 4K. We'll also be enabling Async Compute which improves performance for the Radeon GPUs by about 5%. The game also supports AMD’s FreeSync 2 HDR technology, but that isn’t something we’ll be testing with.
Our most recent GPU test rig was used comprising a Core i7-8700K clocked at 5 GHz with 16GB of DDR4-3400 memory. For the GeForce GPUs the 398.82 WHQL driver was used, and for AMD the Radeon Adrenalin 18.8.2 driver which is an optimized driver for Strange Brigade. So please note we are testing with a game ready driver from AMD but not Nvidia, so it’s possible the green team might see a performance uplift with a future driver release, though performance does appear pretty spot on as you’re about to see.
So before we get too far into it, let’s compare the DirectX 12 and Vulkan performance using a few select AMD and Nvidia GPUs. Whichever API offers each team the best performance is the API I plan to use for that particular team and as you can see here, DX12 looks to get the nod.
The Radeon GPUs receive a slight performance bump, while the GeForce GPUs enjoy a rather significant performance increase. I should also note that AMD provided us with some of their own numbers are they confirmed that both AMD and Nvidia GPUs offer greater performance across the board using DirectX 12.
Just quickly here is a look at the impact Async compute has, by testing with it enabled and disabled. As you can see the Radeon GPUs receive a 5% performance boost while the GeForce GPUs only see a 2% performance boost. In either case not massive but every bit helps I guess.
Right so here we have the 1080p testing using the DirectX 12 API and the ultra quality preset. So if you’re hoping to enjoy Strange Brigade in all of its glory and keep frame rates above 60 fps at all times at 1080p, what kind of hardware are you looking at?
Well for that you’ll want at least a Radeon RX 570 or GTX 1060 3GB which I have to say is very reasonable. Both pushed an average of around 90 fps in our test and 1% low figures over 60 fps. We also see similar performance from the RX 580 and 6GB GTX 1060.
For lower end models such as the RX 560 and GTX 1050 you will likely want to reduce the quality settings a little. For those of you rocking a previous generation GPU you can still look forward to some pretty solid performance when playing Strange Brigade.
At 1080p using the ultra quality preset the R9 390 beat out the GTX 970 to deliver 88 fps on average, opposed to 81 fps. Interestingly the R9 390X wasn’t much faster than the non-X model and while it edged ahead of the GTX 980 for the average frame rate, the frame time result was much lower.