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). We, PC gamers, want to get started with 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. We are shocked to see that the port will be available on PC thanks to Nixxes, an established development studio who has made some of the most successful console-to-PC ports in 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. It’s not surprising, as the semi-sequel shares many of the same elements and engine. However, it will launch on PC by the end of . Today’s news confirms that both PS5 and PC versions of the ray-traced reflections will be available 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.) Ars Technica had yet to receive any answers from Sony representatives regarding the legitimacy of the leak as of press time.
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 PC games will support ray traced shadows. This is a less expensive computational option and allows for more light-bounce data to draw shadows.
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). The latter is a must-have for anyone who wishes to use ray-tracing effects with Nvidia GPUs. They will likely require help to maintain performative frame rates while expensive effects are turned on. DLSS generally renders fewer pixels, while achieving a high level of pixel density and antialiasing.
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.