The time has arrived, folks. The tech heads over at Digital Foundry have gotten their hands on The Lord of the Rings: Gollum and we might as well get right to it; their analysis doesn't make for pretty viewing.
Usually we like to wait for the DF word on these sorts of things, but Gollum hardly needed an expert's touch for us to realise how rough the game is right now. Having said that, the team's perspective is always welcome, even if it highlights perhaps even worse news for anyone playing this game on Xbox Series S.
Weirdly, Microsoft's all-digital console features two performance modes and they're both capped at 30FPS. The lack of a higher frame rate cap in one of these modes doesn't seem to matter so much with Gollum though, looking at DF's findings.
"We haven't forgotten Series S, which takes performance to heretofore unseen levels. Starting with the so-called performance mode (which maxes out at 30fps), there are regular drops into the 20s even with DRS engaged and we get the same streaming hitches as the Series X version.
Expect big lurches in frame-times without obvious cause, so good luck timing your jumps. In cutscenes, in performance mode I remind you, Series S drops into the low teens. There's really nothing performant about this mode, but I dread to think what other visual sacrifices would be necessary to bring the game just to a locked 30fps."
It gets worse. The Quality mode, which opts for a locked 1440p but still 30FPS, is "the worst way to play Gollum on current-gen consoles" according to the analysis.
"Quality mode is the other option on the junior Xbox and this is easily the worst way to play Gollum on current-gen consoles - I'm not sure why it's included. At a fixed 1440p, Series S runs at 20-25fps through the whole opening cave section, with the erratic camera and animation refresh bug making the game practically unplayable at points.
All movement is simply out of sync with the frames being rendered, even at 20fps. Even later sections don't improve as we work our way into the lava-filled mines or the prison camps. I'm all in favour of having more options, but as it stands this mode is one to avoid for Series S users."
This news doesn't come as a massive surprise given how poorly the game seems to run on any console, but yeah, it's safe to say you should probably take extra steps to avoid this title if you're playing on Xbox Series S.
The rest of Digital Foundry's written analysis is worth a look if you're curious to learn about some of the technical underpinnings of The Lord of the Rings: Gollum. It might not be the greatest game to actually play, but it's always interesting reading about this stuff anyway!
As for whether the game will get better in the coming months, we'll have to wait and see. The development team has committed to patching the game up post-launch, so we can at least hope that the most egregious performance issues may be fixed in future.