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Fallout 4 Steam In Home Streaming Review

Posted in PC Reviews
at 2015.11.18
With 0 Comments

Good evening Gamersworldbd readers! I know I’m late for the Fallout 4 Steam In Home Streaming review but I’ve been having such a blast exploring the wasteland that I couldn’t tear myself away to finally type up the review.

As per usual, first up are the specs. The highlights include the main host PC, Core i7 6700K, an EVGA Superclocked Geforce 980 4GB with the ACX 2.0 cooler and 32GB Ripjaws DDR4 2400MHz RAM. Intel NIC. Windows 10 Pro 64 Bit. The Surface Pro 3 is the i5 model and the Razer Blade is the 2014 model. And the NUC is D34010WYK, with a Core i3-4010U, 8GB RAM. Finally, everything is connected to an ASUS RT AC87U Router. Once again, read the detailed specs here.

Without wasting any more time, let’s get straight to the review!

Fallout-4-Fallout-Boy

Surface Pro 3 45 Feet, 5GHz, Wi Fi AC, “Balanced” Setting:

I was eager to startup Fallout 4 via Steam In Home Streaming since I was so excited about the game. I had the Xbox One controller connected via a USB cable to the Surface Pro 3’s sole USB port. The stream launched fine but I was stuck at Fallout 4’s game launcher since it doesn’t support the controller (yet). Thankfully the touch control worked fine but I had to tap twice for it to select. Soon I was loaded into the main menu to start exploring the wasteland.

Now Fallout 4 isn’t much of a looker (one of my major gripes with the game) and the wasteland looks even more bland via Steam streaming. The textures up close lack the vibrancy and higher resolution compared to playing natively. Although I didn’t notice any jagged edges but the game decidedly looked more washed out than usual as I was walking down Diamond City’s market area.

I then fast travelled to Sanctuary and it was daytime with a thick fog in the air. This is where I noticed some compression issues. The compression artifacts got worse as I was exploring the wasteland, specifically a stream under a run down overpass. Dare I say it Fallout 4 looked as bad as Mad Max while streaming. I’ve noticed that Steam struggles to stream water textures without severe compression issues as I faced in my Anno 2205 streaming review.

Fallout-4-Big-1

As I was walking around I noticed that Fallout 4 hitched at a certain interval, I’d say after every 3 seconds or so. Steam In Home streaming stars displayed around 1.5ms input lag and around 22ms display latency. Fallout 4 doesn’t have any aim assist built in while playing with a controller and I found it quite hard to line up my shots against a couple of Stingwings so I resorted to using VATS while my companion Piper did most of the shooting.  I then ran into a group of super mutants and since they weren’t flying about, I had a better time lining up my shots and it was perfectly playable without VATS.

On the plus side, the Surface Pro 3’s excellent speakers delivered a consistent audio quality with no noticeable flatness or muddled sounds.

I’m happy to say that not once did I encounter any disconnects or stability issues so that is a huge positive.

Overall it was good experience minus the loss of graphical fidelity and unsightly compression issues.

Surface Pro 3 10 Feet, 5GHz, Wi Fi AC, “Balanced” Setting:

One issue I keep having with Steam In Home Streaming is that often the client and the host PC fails to see each other. Sometimes, I have to disable the Windows firewall on the Host PC and restart Steam to establish a connection while this time I had to manually go to the Steam In Home Streaming menu on the host PC for it to “automatically” connect to the Surface Pro 3.

Anyway, I hit Stream and was greeted to a black screen which resulted in a “Streaming Client Failed” error message. I tried again but the same thing happened. What’s infuriating is that the Fallout 4 launcher had already started on the host PC. So, I restarted Steam on both machines (it installed a Steam client update on the Surface Pro 3) but it wouldn’t see each other.


Fallout-4-Big-2

Third time is the charm right? Yup, it was since had disabled Windows firewall and whoop-dee-do I was back in the Wasteland.

So, how did the graphics look while the Surface Pro 3 was closer to the router and getting more bandwidth for higher resolution textures? Not too shabby I’m happy to report. I started at the Castle in the midst of a fog, and unlike at 45 feet, the compression issues were not prevalent. Mind you it was still there but not as severe.

The textures and objects looked way more detailed so much so that it felt like streaming a next generation version of Fallout 4. One reason for the improved graphical quality is that it streamed at 1920X1080P. It still didn’t match the looks of playing natively but it was a significant improvement.

Now there was still some occasional stuttering but not as severe as before. Input lag was around 1.4ms so it was virtually the same as at 45 feet. I still had some issues lining up shots but it was playable without VATS. I did encounter some hiccups though.

Overall, I’d say I had a reasonably good experience streaming Fallout 4 with Steam at this range.

Razer Blade 45 Feet, 5GHz, Wi Fi AC, “Balanced” Setting:

Unlike the Surface Pro 3, I didn’t face any problem with starting the stream and launching Fallout 4 using the Razer Blade. The stream resumed in a foggy, rainy Sanctuary Hills where I previously left off. What really surprised me is that I couldn’t immediately notice any compression issues which I faced with the Surface Pro 3 at this range. Usually, games look bad at this distance due to the limited bandwidth (even when using Wi Fi AC on the 5GHz band) resulting in lower resolution textures which is then exacerbated by the Razer Blade’s “4K” screen. Nevertheless, Fallout 4 was streaming at 1920X1080p resolution.

Even during the day, graphics looked sharp around the Cambridge Police Station area with no noticeable aliasing, detailed textures and rarely apparent compression artifacts. Even more, the game wasn’t hitching intermittently, obviously helped by the Razer Blade’s discrete Nvidia GeForce 870M graphics card.

Fallout-4-Super-Mutant

Controls felt well too with input lag at around 1.3ms. Although I couldn’t pull of headshots, but I didn’t feel severely disadvantaged during a firefight with a couple of Super Mutants (I seem to run into them more than average). Controls felt responsive and solid with very noticeable lag. To be frank, I was quite surprised with the sudden increase in performance and graphical quality. I can guess that this is partly due to a new Steam client update as well as an updated Windows 10 build 1151 which may have upgrade all drivers (including the Wi Fi AC card) as well.

But my luck ran out though. I faced one or two freezes which lasted a second each and direct sunlight brought some heavy compression issues into the light. The fun came to a screeching halt as I went into a Super Mutant underground base where the game hard locked up and disconnected. It did the same upon successive reconnects.

Overall, Fallout 4 provided a good Steam streaming experience (while it lasted) with the Razer Blade at 45 feet that I didn’t encounter with any game before it.

Razer Blade 10 Feet, 5GHz, Wi Fi AC, “Balanced” Setting:

I’m happy to report that moving closer to 10 feet got rid of most of the compression issues since you had to squint hard to see any. Resolution was at 1920X1080P but as expected, textures were not quite as sharp as the original. Even at this closer range, there was no improvement in reported input latency which was at 1.3ms. This might suggest that Steam In Home Streaming does a good job of maintaining consistency in input latency regardless of distance and Wi Fi bandwidth. I didn’t feel disadvantaged battling yet another group of super mutants around the Diamond City region (I swear I wasn’t going around looking for Super Mutants on purpose!), and it was easy to line up shots and dare I say pull off a couple of headshots.

Game-Controller-Player-Big

Sadly there were a couple of lockups here and there which marred an otherwise good run. Steam really needs to fix these lockups if they want gamers to take Steam In Home Streaming seriously.

Verdict:

Fallout 4’s unique setting helps somewhat to mask streaming graphical issues but nothing can get past glaring compression artifacts at 45 feet over Wi Fi AC. Although the gameplay isn’t hampered by input latency thanks to V.A.T.S. but Steam In Home Streaming’s instability puts a dent on the experience. Worth streaming over a wired connection.

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