Last week, the announcement that Ratchet and Clank is coming to PC next month caught the attention of gamers. While the game may not be targeted towards the core PC audience, the success of its port is critical for the future of PC gaming.
The new consoles, such as the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, share many components with PCs, including x86 processors, Radeon graphics, and SSDs. However, Ratchet and Clank heavily relies on proprietary PS5 components, specifically the solid-state storage and hardware decompression blocks, which have yet to be established in the PC space.
In order to make the PC port work, developer Nixxes will need to find solutions that can scale across a range of PC hardware. Legacy storage APIs on the PC side need to be updated, and there are currently no hardware equivalents to the PS5's hardware compression blocks. The Last of Us Part 1's PC port serves as a cautionary tale, as it experienced performance issues when the decompression work was shifted to the CPU instead of the PS5's hardware.
One possible solution for the Ratchet and Clank PC port is leveraging Microsoft's DirectStorage API built for DirectX 12 Ultimate. This API supports both CPU and GPU decompression, and it is hoped that Nixxes will utilize GPU decompression to achieve similar results to the PS5's hardware decompression blocks. If successful, it would be a first in the triple-A PC space.
The outcome of the Ratchet and Clank PC port is not only important for this specific game but also for future PC ports of Sony's first-party titles. As Sony's studios continue to push the hardware limits of the PS5, more demands will be placed on the SSD and decompression blocks. The use of DirectStorage in PC ports will lay the foundation for handling these advanced features.
Overall, the Ratchet and Clank PC port represents a crucial test for the future of PC gaming. It will demonstrate the ability to adapt console-exclusive features to the PC platform and set a standard for future PC ports of high-profile titles.