On Thursday, Sony’s latest game-filled “State of Play” presentation included fantastic news for PC gamers: Its critically acclaimed Marvel’s Spider-Man is coming to Windows PCs on August 12. The news arrived shortly after a leak suggesting that Returnal and Sackboy: A Big Adventure are not only coming to PC this year as well but will include toggles to make them look and perform better than the PlayStation 5 versions.
The event was jam-packed with impressive-looking new games, though most of them have 2023 release dates (and everything shown on the upcoming PlayStation VR2 platform is thus far undated, as the new peripheral doesn’t have a release date). As PC gaming enthusiasts, however, we want to start with the PC-specific news.
Why Sony’s PC bullishness makes us believe today’s leak
Marvel’s Spider-Man launched on PlayStation 4 and PS4 Pro in September 2018 and landed near the top of our favorite games of that year. Its port, which we are surprised to see given its success at selling PlayStations, will arrive on PC courtesy of Nixxes, a development studio known for some of the best console-to-PC ports of the past decade. Sony acquired Nixxes in early 2021, but up until today, that acquisition hadn’t yet borne fruit, as Sony’s other recent Windows game releases didn’t credit Nixxes in any way.
Though the State of Play presentation didn’t mention it, Sony has since confirmed on PlayStation Blog that 2020’s Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales will also launch on PC by the end of 2022. For the most part, that’s unsurprising, since that semi-sequel shares the same engine and other technical elements—though that’s certainly a quicker transition from console to PC than the original game’s four-year stretch. Today’s news includes confirmation that the ray-traced reflections added to both games’ PS5 versions will appear on PC.
Shortly before the YouTube presentation went live, a leaker published supposed menu images from two other PlayStation games’ PC versions. The games in question, Returnal and Sackboy, have already been loudly rumored to launch shortly on Windows PCs. While there’s a chance the leak’s images have been faked, the images pertaining to Sackboy have been vetted by at least one well-regarded Reddit community’s moderators.
The legitimacy of these leaked images would not be surprising, given Sony’s recent track record on solid PC ports and its statements last week about PC game sales revenue. The company projected a 375 percent jump in PC game sales year-over-year between FY 2021 and FY 2022—and it’s going to need no less than five new PC game launches, each selling gangbusters, to reach that target. (I’m estimating more Sony PC game launches over the next year than that, including games that debut on PC, based on my calculations.) As of press time, Sony representatives had not answered Ars Technica’s questions about the leak’s legitimacy.
Why today’s leaked PC ports will look better than on PS5
Thursday’s images included toggles for “ray tracing,” which neither game includes on their original PlayStation 5 versions. Returnal‘s PC menus point to “ray-traced reflections,” which, if other games are any indication, will allow specific surfaces in the game to reflect light more naturally, as opposed to leaning on classic tricks like Screen Space Reflections (SSR). Both games on PC will support ray-traced shadows, which is also less computationally expensive and accounts for more light-bounce data before drawing shadows (as opposed to simpler shading and ambient occlusion methods).
In great news, both games will support arbitrary frame rate maximums, allowing players to exceed the 60 fps maximum for each on PS5. Returnal‘s PC port also includes automatic resolution scaling as an option for moments when the frame rate might dip. We do not have confirmation whether either port will support Nvidia’s popular image reconstruction technique dubbed Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS). Anyone who wants to toggle ray-tracing effects on Nvidia GPUs would appreciate the latter. They’ll likely need help to sustain performative frame rates with expensive effects turned on. DLSS also generally does a good job rendering fewer pixels while getting pixel density and anti-aliasing up to a handsome level.
Each game also includes several sliders for effects detail and intensity, resembling the menus seen in other Unreal Engine 4 games on PC—which is unsurprising, given that both games’ PS5 versions were made in Unreal Engine 4, as well. That’s great news for high-end systems and anyone who dreams of scaling these games on low-end machines like the portable Steam Deck.
As a personal aside, I highly recommend both games. Sackboy has proven to be a lasting option as one of the best co-op platforming games of the past five years, and I regret not getting it into that year’s “best games of 2020” feature. Returnal has only gotten better since its initial PS5 launch, thanks to much-needed bug fixes and fantastic new features.